Scientific studies to determine if acupuncture can help lower blood pressure have been done for over 20 years.
Yet the modern medical community is still slow to accept the results. In 2001, Specialist Mr Pascal J. Goldschmidt commented on research then that “Acupuncture seems to be having a relatively specific effect on the control of blood pressure“.
Recently, another research program at the Susan-Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, published their results of their acupuncture trial on 65 patients with mild to profit high blood pressure.
Chemicals such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, aldosterone and renin were also measured as part of the research to learn how the acupuncture may be influencing high blood pressure.
How does traditional acupuncture look at treating high blood pressure?
Flaws and Sionneau in their textbook The Treatment of Modern Medical Diseases with Chinese Medicine, devote a whole chapter on hypertension. Their book is based on current methods used in modern Chinese hospitals on the use of acupuncture for high blood pressure. Patients that present with high blood pressure fit into patterns of disharmony according to traditional Chinese medicine theory. These patterns include for example what is called Ascendant Liver Yang Hyperactivity. This is a pattern where the energy of the liver becomes excessive and then rises up. Some of the symptoms associated with this pattern include dizziness and headache, symptoms often coinciding with high blood pressure. The acupuncture point taichong in the foot may be selected to help these symptoms. There are other patterns of disharmony discussed in the text including phlegm fire, kidney yin deficiency, blood stasis and yin and yang deficiency.
If someone comes in for acupuncture treatment and they have high blood pressure, will the same acupuncture point be always selected?
Traditional acupuncturists diagnose according to traditional principles so a patient may be classified into a pattern of liver yang hyperactivity and this person may have high blood pressure or they may not. It is the other signs and symptoms that will determine the diagnosis and treatment. This is why one patient presenting with high blood pressure may get a completely different selection of acupuncture points compared to someone else.
What about this latest acupuncture research from the University of California? How did it affect blood pressure?
Dr Patrick B. Massey, revealed that in those patients with mild to moderate high blood pressure, the acupuncture significantly lowered the blood pressure. The results were not instant though and took up to a month of treatment.
The interesting fact is that the reductions in blood pressure persisted after the acupuncture sessions were completed.
It is estimated that in the USA, the cost of hypertension is over 70 billion dollars per year. There are no research programs being done in New Zealand on the effect of acupuncture and high blood pressure.