Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Protects the Heart - UCLA Research

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) conclude that acupuncture protects the heart. Electroacupuncture applied to acupuncture points P6 and P5 in anesthetized rabbits with coronary artery occlusion resulted in less ventricular arrhythmias. Electroacupuncture also decreased heart infarct size, meaning, electroacupuncture protected the heart from tissue death due to obstruction of blood and oxygen supply. The researchers also showed that electroacupuncture stimulation caused a decrease in left ventricle dysfunction. Furthermore, a decrease in harmful ST segment elevation was observed as a result of electroacupuncture at P5 and P6. A raised ST segment is measured by an EKG, electrocardiogram, and may indicate a myocardial infarction.

The Study
In a detailed scientific investigation published in the American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, researchers compared a non-treatment group, an electroacupuncture group, a sham acupuncture group (acupuncture at non-acupuncture points), and two additional experimental electroacupuncture groups. The two experimental electroacupuncture groups combined acupuncture with chemical blocking agents specifically designed to block the regulation of the cardiac nervous system, opioid receptors and PKC pathways. PKC is a kinase enzyme that modifies other proteins and functions in signal transduction of extracellular stimuli including hormones and growth factors. Electroacupuncture did not induce cardioprotective effects when these blocking agents were used. As a result, the researchers conclude that electroacupuncture protects the heart through regulation of the cardiac nervous system, opioid receptors and PKC pathways. The group using only electroacupuncture, without interference from chemical blocking agents, showed the cardiac improvements whereas all of the other study groups did not.

About The AcuPoints
Acupuncture points P5 (Jianshi) and P6 (Neiguan) are located on the forearm approximately 2 to 3 inches proximal to the anterior portion of the wrist. P5 regulates the Stomach and menstruation and calms the Heart. It is traditionally used for heart pain, palpitations and emotional upset. It is also beneficial in the treatment of irregular menstruation, leukorrhea, and excessive clotting of the menstrual flow. P6 benefits the Stomach, relieves nausea, regulates the Heart and calms the spirit. It is used for the treatment of heart pain, palpitations, heart rate dysfunction, emotional disturbances, vomiting and insomnia. Traditionally, P5 is referred to as a Jing-River and Metal point of the Pericardium channel. P6 is classified as a Luo-Connecting point of the Pericardium channel and is the Confluent point of the Yin linking vessel.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 May;302(9):H1818-25. Epub 2012 Feb 24.
Cardioprotection of electroacupuncture against myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by modulation of cardiac norepinephrine release. Zhou W, Ko Y, Benharash P, Yamakawa K, Patel S, Ajijola OA, Mahajan A. Department of Anesthesiology, UCLA - University of California, Los Angeles.