Researchers from the University of California, Irvine mapped the mechanisms by which acupuncture regulates blood pressure. The study demonstrates that acupuncture stimulates chemical reactions in the brain that modulate the nervous system. This gives acupuncture the ability to control both the heart rate and blood pressure. The researchers conclude that electroacupuncture normalizes “elevated and depressed blood pressure” and regulates both the blood pressure and heart rate through GABA receptor mechanisms that modulate the sympathetic nervous system and vagal excitation.
The researchers measured these effects in a study of electroacupuncture to acupoints P5 and P6, located on the forearm. Acupoint P5, located on the flexor aspect of the forearm approximately three inches proximal to the wrist crease, is traditionally used by acupuncturists to treat heart pain, palpitations and chest oppression. This point also induces tranquility referred to as the acupoint’s ability to ‘calm the spirit.’ This point is also used to regulate menstruation and stomach disorders such as nausea and vomiting. Acupoint P6, located on the flexor aspect of the forearm approximately 2 inches proximal to the wrist crease, has similar functions. The ability of P6 to regulate disorders of the heart rate and rhythm is documented in both historical texts and modern research. The use of acupuncture point P6 is also in popular use for the control of nausea due to its efficaciousness and modern research demonstrating its ability to control morning sickness and nausea due to chemotherapy.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12(Suppl 1): P24. Published online 2012 June 12. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-S1-P24. P01.24. Central processing by electroacupuncture of vasodepression and bradycardia reflex responses. S Tjen-A-Looi, P Li, and J Longhurst. University of California, Irvine.