More patients visit the doctor with high blood pressure problems than any other problem. Hypertension can often occur without any symptoms but a large proportion of subjects have symptoms such a headache in the back of the neck upon rising in the morning, dizziness, tinnitus and altered vision. It was for these symtoms that patients sought diagnosis from their doctor and then found that they had hypertension.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat symptoms such as headache, dizziness and tinnitus and hence has been a subject of research interest to see if acupuncture for high blood pressure works. There have been a number of studies confirming that acupuncture for high blood pressure works. Some of these studies go back to 2001 where for example Professor Longhurst of University of California showed that acupuncture can reduce ischemia, the lack of oxygen to the heart.
Mr Pascal J. Goldschmidt, chief of cardiology at Duke University, commented on the research.
The findings are pretty clear that it’s not a placebo effect.
Acupuncture seems to be having a relatively specific effect on the control of blood pressure.
More than ten years later in 2012, research done again at University of California uncovered the mechanism as to how acupuncture lowers high blood pressure. They found that it stimulates brain neurons which then down regulate the excess sympathetic nerve activity. This research used electro-acupuncture and it was revealed that specific acupuncture points were successful in lowering blood pressure and others were not.
This is of course not surprising to a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine because they treat people on an individual basis and select specific acupuncture points depending on the cause of the problem. For example, one patient may have high blood pressure due to a condition of disharmony which in Chinese medical terminology is called Liver Yang Rising yet another person may have high blood pressure from a condition of disharmony known as Spleen Damp. Both conditions have quite different co-existing signs and symptoms yet both patients have hypertension. How to lower blood pressure with acupuncture are different in both cases. Sometimes researchers only use a specific acupuncture point to measure the outcome but in reality that point may not have been used commonly in the clinical setting.
Another study found that the acupuncture point yin tang, between the eyebrows, alleviated intercranial hypertension which can occur after a head injury. Acupuncture can also address the other symptoms of memory loss, vision disturbance, nausea, numbness and fatigue that are associated with intercranial hypertension.
Many patients coming to The Acupuncture Clinic initially seek acupuncture to help with the side effects of high blood pressure pills such as Renitec. This high blood pressure medication has the listed unwanted side effects of dizziness, headache, tiredness and coughing. In addition it causes cystitis and low libido. Patients then are surprised to learn that acupuncture can help restore harmony and balance and that they can reduce their high blood pressure pills gradually as their condition improves.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 600 million people suffer from high blood pressure and they also recommend acupuncture to treat this problem.