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Acupuncture for Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Though there's nothing in ancient acupuncture texts about high blood pressure, there are many accounts of the signs of high blood pressure recorded in these documents. Though high blood pressure may be present with no symptoms at all, headache accompanied by dizziness or a feeling of pressure in the head, red eyes, and tension in the upper body are associated with a syndrome known as Liver Yang Rising.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

To an acupuncturist, High Blood Pressure is often caused by Liver Yang Rising, Liver Heat Rising, or Liver Fire Rising, depending on the severity of the condition. Though the ancients never measured blood pressure, nevertheless they developed treatments for symptoms of hypertension or high blood pressure. Both acupuncture as well as herbal medicines can reduce blood pressure.

Acupuncture Treatment for High Blood Pressure

The treatment is to subdue the rising heat, and often to treat underlying Liver Excess that are the root of hypertension. It should be noted that when an acupuncturist talks about liver heat or liver qi, the practitioner does not mean that you have liver disease in the modern Western sense. The Liver, to an acupuncturist, refers to the mind or body's reaction to emotional stress.

Acupuncture Points Used to Treat High Blood Pressure

Ear Apex, Ear Liver, Ear Spleen
Acupuncture for hypertension

Acupuncture Point Large Intestine 4 (hu gu)
Acupuncture Point Large Intestine 4

Acupuncture Points Liver 1-3
Acupuncture Points Liver 1-3

Randomized Trial of Acupuncture to Lower Blood Pressure

Frank A. Flachskampf, MD; Joachim Gallasch, MD; Olaf Gefeller, PhD; Junxue Gan, MD; Juntong Mao, MD; Annette B. Pfahlberg, PhD; Alois Wortmann, MD; Lutz Klinghammer, MD; Wolfgang Pflederer, MD; Werner G. Daniel, MD
From Med Klinik 2 (F.A.F., A.W., L.K., W.G.D.) and Institut für Medizininformatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (O.G., A.B.P.), Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany; and Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, People's Republic of China (J.G., J.M.).

Background-- Arterial hypertension is a prime cause of morbidity and mortality in the general population. Pharmacological treatment has limitations resulting from drug side effects, costs, and patient compliance. Thus, they investigated whether acupuncture is able to lower blood pressure

Methods and Results-- Researchers randomized 160 outpatients (age, 58±8 years) with uncomplicated arterial hypertension to a 6-week course of real acupuncture or sham acupuncture

Seventy-eight percent were receiving antihypertensive medication, which remained unchanged.

One hundred forty patients finished the treatment course (72 with active treatment, 68 with sham treatment). There was a significant (P<0.001) difference in post treatment blood pressures adjusted for baseline values between the active and sham acupuncture groups at the end of treatment.

In the real acupuncture group, systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased significantly after treatment by 5.4 mm Hg (95% CI, 3.2 to 7.6) and 3.0 mm Hg (95% CI, 1.5 to 4.6), respectively.

Conclusions-- after 6 weeks of treatment, real acupuncture according to traditional Chinese medicine, but not sham acupuncture, significantly lowered mean 24-hour ambulatory blood pressures; the effect disappeared after cessation of acupuncture treatment.

Effect of acupuncture-point stimulation on diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive subjects By Williams T; Mueller K; Cornwall MW.

Effect of acupuncture-point stimulation on diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: a preliminary study.
Physical Therapy, 1991 Jul, 71(7):523-9. (UI: 91271437) AT- UCLA Biomed W1 PH793 (PE title: Physical therapy.)

Abstract: Electrical stimulation of four specific acupuncture points (Liver 3, Stomach 36, Large Intestine 11, and the Groove behind the ear for Lowering Blood Pressure) was examined in order to determine the effect on diastolic blood pressure in 10 subjects with diastolic hypertension. Subjects were randomly divided into two groups: (1) an Acu-ES group, which received electrical stimulation applied to the four antihypertensive acupuncture points, and (2) a Sham-ES group, which received electrical stimulation applied to non-acupuncture-point areas.
A repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed a significant, immediate post stimulation reduction of diastolic blood pressure for the Acu-Es group versus the Sham-ES group.

Further studies are needed to determine whether there are other acupuncture points, stimulation characteristics, or modalities that can enhance this treatment effect and whether the treatment effect can last for a clinically significant period of time.

Chinese Herbs for High Blood Pressure


When we think of blood pressure problems, we normally think of high blood pressure. However low blood pressure can also present risks. Abnormally low blood pressure is often associated with blood loss, shock, or heart failure. Acupuncturists also see low blood pressure as an imbalance caused by deficient Qi or Yang.
Acupuncture points such as Governing Vessel 20, acupuncture point Kidney 3, or other strengthening Qi acupuncture points can be used to build and raise the qi.