Acupuncture, a therapeutic method derived from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is being explored as a potential treatment for hypertension or high blood pressure. It involves the insertion of ultra-thin, flexible needles into specific acupoints on the body to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. Modern acupuncture techniques may also incorporate electro acupuncture, which uses low-intensity electrical pulses through acupuncture needles.
Understanding Blood Pressure
Blood pressure (BP) refers to the force exerted by blood on the walls of arteries during circulation. It is determined by the contraction of the heart muscle and is measured in systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic blood pressure represents the maximum pressure exerted when blood is pumped out of the heart, while diastolic blood pressure is the lowest pressure recorded when the heart is filling with blood. A normal blood pressure reading is typically denoted as 120/80.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Blood Pressure Regulation
While the exact mechanisms of how acupuncture works are not fully understood from a scientific perspective, it is believed to have an impact on the central nervous system, blood flow, and hormone production. Acupuncture may affect the hormones involved in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), which helps regulate blood pressure and fluid-electrolyte balance. Additionally, acupuncture may influence the limbic system, leading to increased levels of dopamine, which can help decrease oxidative stress and maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Studies have indicated that acupuncture, when performed according to traditional Chinese specifications or combined with Western medicine approaches, may be effective in managing blood pressure. A recent study published in the Medical Acupuncture journal revealed that electro-acupuncture, which uses low-intensity electrical pulses, can lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension for up to six weeks. Combining acupuncture with standard blood pressure medication may have a greater effect on reducing blood pressure compared to medication alone.
Safety and Considerations
When seeking acupuncture treatment for hypertension, it is crucial to consult a licensed and board-certified acupuncturist to ensure safe and effective therapy. Acupuncture is generally considered safe to use alongside most blood pressure medications. However, it is essential to discuss with healthcare professionals and follow their guidance.
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