Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, though many don't know that they do. The reason for this is that there are oftentimes no other symptoms associated with high blood pressure. The only way to diagnose it is to have it checked. The problem with high blood pressure is that it has been found to do damage to the circulatory system, and is associated with a higher risk for heart attack, stroke and other health conditions.
Acupuncture is a safe, natural alternative
The most common high blood pressure treatments are pharmaceutical medications. These are not always effective in decreasing blood pressure to safe levels, though, and are also not free of their own serious risks and side effects. This is why there is so much research into whether acupuncture can be a viable option for reducing the use of blood pressure medication. And the results are in: acupuncture does help reduce blood pressure, without the unpleasant side effects of drugs.
Proven effective in numerous studies
At the University of California Irvine College of Medicine, investigations into the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture are ongoing and have produced intriguing results. Their first study showed that acupuncture has the ability to reduce ischemia, the lack of oxygen to the heart caused when blood vessels are blocked. Their next studies shifted focus from whether acupuncture works to how it works. One study found that acupuncture blocks the effect of adrenaline in the body, keeping blood pressure low even in stressful situations. Another study found that acupuncture's effects are associated with the release of naturally occurring opioids in the brain.
A different type of study at the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital in China tested how effective acupuncture is at lowering blood pressure compared to a common pharmaceutical used for this purpose, nifedipine. Researchers found that acupuncture is equally as effective as nifedipine in reducing blood pressure. Unlike drug therapies, though, acupuncture was found to exert a homeostatic regulation of blood pressure. This means that for patients with extremely high blood pressure, acupuncture significantly reduced systolic and diastolic pressures. For patients with moderate levels of high blood pressure, acupuncture moderately reduced systolic and diastolic pressures. The clinical advantage to this is that acupuncture provides a regulated lowering of blood pressure relative to the clinical needs of the patient. Drugs, on the other hand, may produce excessive lowering of blood pressure, especially during the first use of the drug or if the patient is dehydrated.
Other researchers have studied whether acupuncture is helpful when combined with drug therapy. In one study at the Shanxi College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers found that acupuncture combined with drug therapy is more effective for the treatment of primary hypertension than drug therapy alone. Acupuncture plus the drug felodipine produced an 86.7% total effective rate for lowering blood pressure to safe levels. Using only felodipine, the total effective rate was 73.3%. The researchers noted that this integrative medicine approach to the treatment of hypertension improved patient outcomes by 13.4%.
High Blood Pressure in Five Element Acupuncture
In Five Element acupuncture, your symptoms are seen as teachers. By listening to your symptoms, they can be used to guide you towards how to better care for your body. High blood pressure is one sign that something in your lifestyle is out of balance. Through the lens of the five element system, a five element acupuncturist can help you to understand what in your life is out of balance, and help you to take simple steps to improve your health and well being.
In addition to the acupuncture itself helping to lower blood pressure, acupuncturists also believe that it is important to listen to symptoms in order to learn why the body went out of balance in the first place. Failing to listen to the body about one symptom will inevitably lead to other symptoms showing up. The cause of high blood pressure is different in each individual, but one commonality is stress. Stress can come from a number of places, including physical discomfort, relationship issues, work, worry or anxiety. Acupuncture assists the body in clearing stress hormones, and acupuncturists are trained to discuss simple lifestyle shifts that can keep stress low in daily life. Decreasing stress has numerous positive effects for health, ones that are long lasting and improve well being in the long term.
Some lifestyle shifts that your acupuncturist may discuss with you include improving diet, finding an exercise routine that you enjoy, or mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Acupuncturists are trained to partner with their patients to find ways to improve health, naturally.
Acupuncture has been proven in numerous research studies to be effective in decreasing high blood pressure. For more information on acupuncture for high blood pressure, or to read the research studies, take a look at the Resources and Related Links section below. For more information about acupuncture, you can read About Acupuncture or learn more about the differences between Western and Eastern Medicine. To learn more about Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture, take a look at our About WTA section, or read about Our Philosophy. If you have any additional questions, feel free to Contact Us or Schedule an Appointment Online.
Resources & Related Links