New research finds acupuncture effective in reducing blood pressure. The study discovered that patients taking antihypertensive medications benefitted from further reductions in blood pressure by adding acupuncture to the treatment regime. As a result, the researchers concluded that “acupuncture should be in the hypertension treatment guidelines and widely used for blood pressure regulation.”
Subjects chosen for the study had been taking antihypertensive medications for at least 24 months. Each subject was taking between one and three medications for the treatment of high blood pressure. The pharmaceutical classes of drugs were a combination of ACE inhibitors, diuretics and/or beta blockers. Common medication side-effects experienced by the subjects included exhaustion, dizziness, weakness, joint pain, headaches, sleeping disorders, edema, a feeling of coldness in the extremities and depression. To maintain a consistent method of evaluating changes in blood pressure from acupuncture treatments, no changes to dietary intake or physical activity were implemented.
Subjects received acupuncture treatments every other day for a total of 15 treatment sessions. The researchers discovered that combining acupuncture with medication therapy resulted in two beneficial medical outcomes. First, overall systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels reduced significantly. Secondly, patients noted less side-effects as a result of taking pharmaceutical medications.
Traditional Acupuncture Point Usage
The acupuncture points chosen for the study consisted of a standard acupoint prescription: K3 (Taixi), LV3 (Taichong), SP6 (Sanyinjiao), SP9 (Yinlingquan), LI4 (Hegu), HT7 (Shenmen), ST36 (Zusanli), K7 (Fuliu), LU9 (Taiyuan). A classic set of acupuncture points in common use in acupuncture clinics, they have specific medicinal functions and indications according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. K3 is a Shu Stream, Earth and Source acupuncture point. According to TCM principles, K3 benefits the kidneys, cools heat and strengthens the lower back and knees. Common indications for the use of K3 include irregular menstruation, spermatorrhea, enuresis, toothache, sore throat due to deficiency, tinnitus, deafness, emphysema, asthma and chronic thirst.
LV3 is also a Shu Stream, Earth and Source acupoint. LV3 pacifies the liver, regulates blood and opens the channels. Common indications for the use of LV3 include headache, vertigo, insomnia, irregular menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, arthritis and general joint & extremity pain, eye pain, rib pain and enuresis. SP6, translated as three Yin junction, is the meeting point of the three lower Yin acupuncture channels. SP6 strengthens the spleen, transforms dampness, spreads liver Qi and benefits the kidneys. Common indications for the use of SP6 include abdominal pain and distention, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, leukorrhea, uterine prolapse, infertility, difficult or delayed labor, nocturnal emissions, enuresis, dysuria, motor impairment or atrophy of the lower limbs, hemiplegia, vertigo from blood deficiency and insomnia.
SP9 is a He Sea and Water acupoint. SP9 transforms dampness and benefits the lower jiao. Traditional indications for the use of SP9 include abdominal pain & distention, diarrhea, dysentery, edema, enuresis, urinary incontinence, genital pain, dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruation and knee pain. LI4 is a Source acupoint and an entry point. LI4 disperses wind, relieves the exterior, suppresses pain and clears the channels. HT7 is a Shu Stream, Earth, Son and Source acupoint. HT7 calms the Shen (spirit), pacifies the heart and clears the channels. ST36 is a He Sea, Earth, Sea of Nourishment and Lower He Sea of the Stomach acupuncture point. ST36 orders the spleen and stomach, regulates Qi and blood and strengthens weak and deficient conditions. K7 is a Jing River (traversing) acupuncture point and is a metal and mother acupoint. K7 regulates kidney Qi and clears & cools damp-heat. LU9 is a Shu Stream, Earth, Source, Mother and influential point of the blood vessels. LU9 eliminates wind, transforms phlegm, regulates the lungs and stops coughing.
Several points chosen for the study are Shu Stream points, which are traditionally indicated for the treatment of bodily heaviness and joint pain. This may explain why subjects in the study experienced fewer side-effects due to pharmaceutical medications for high blood pressure. Source points were also chosen. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, Source points affect the internal organs associated with the acupuncture channel. The intention of the researchers in the selection of the these points may have been to nourish and regulate the Zang-Fu organs to help in the reduction of blood pressure.
Cevik, C., and S. O. Işeri. "The effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using antihypertensive drugs." Acupuncture & electro-therapeutics research 38, no. 1-2 (2012): 1-15.