Acupuncture Silences Hypertension
Known as the “Silent Killer”, High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is quite common and estimated to be responsible for 10.7 million deaths globally each year. In England amongst adults around 31% of men and 26% of women (2015) have been diagnosed with high BP, which equates to 12.5 million individuals.
Hypertension occurs when the pressure of blood flow in your arteries becomes higher than normal. Over a long period of time, it can result in serious damage to the blood vessels leading to the development of further complications, some of which can be life-threatening. Some of these include; heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and other health problems. In all of these cases high BP is a primary cause.
BP is measured as two numbers representing highest and lowest pressure measurements, recorded as millimeters or mercury (mmHg). The top is known as the systolic (on contraction) and the bottom is the diastolic (on relaxation). The ideal adult BP is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
The good news is that it is quite easy to prevent having high blood pressure. If you are generally in good health then all you need to do is to incorporate some changes in diet and lifestyle. Supplements like potassium and magnesium are helpful for their role in homeostasis by playing a vital role in dilatation of blood vessels. Potassium lowers the high BP by acting on the walls of the blood vessel to relax them. Similarly, magnesium assist in producing prostaglandins (E1), one their function is to, control inflammation and blood flow. It relaxes blood vessels therefore reducing BP. However, magnesium supplement works more effectively when given in combination with potassium supplement1. Further high sodium levels in the body inhibits nitric oxide levels, thus increases the BP. Nitric oxide concentrations help to dilate regulate blood vessel.
Acupuncture lowers blood pressure
Another method for staying in good health or controlling your blood pressure is via Acupuncture. Acupuncture has been used traditionally for over 2000 years for a variety of conditions including BP. Studies have shown that it can aid BP by alleviating stress and stimulating the body’s process through which it can be lowered.
A US trial published in the journal Medical Acupuncture confirmed that acupuncture was helpful for patients with mild to moderate high BP. The study method used electroacupuncture over a period of 6 weeks in patients with hypertension. In the treatment group blood levels of norepinephrine, a blood vessel constricting hormone dropped significantly (41%), along with a drop in the enzyme renin (67%) and aldosterone (22%). The researchers concluded that with regular use, electroacupuncture could reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in people by managing their BP2.
Although the exact mechanism is still not know the one of the effectss of acupuncture on BP is said to be on the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). BP is the body is regulated by RAS. Renin is one of the hormones that help to regulate BP by increasing it (when it is abnormally low). Studies show that acupuncture helps to suppress the production of renin that is produced by kidney.
Other effects of acupuncture are on the vascular system, where it is able to relax the walls of the blood vessels. It also reduces oxidative stress and therefore any inflammation in the blood vessels. Another effect is via the influence of the neuroendocrine system, by releasing endorphins and activating opiod receptors3.
There is much evidence to support the acupuncture can be used as an adjunct to conventional therapy to manage BP in those with hypertension. With a high incidence worldwide, patients with hypertension endure not just complex health implications but also impact on their personal and social life. At times it can also become a heavy financial burden on their family. For this reason prevention and good BP management is essential.
- Houston, MC, Harper, KJ. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2008;10(7 suppl 2):2–11
- Li Peng et al. Long-lasting reduction of blood pressue by electroacupuncture in patients with hypertension: Randomised controlled trial. Medical Acupuncture, 2015;27(4) : 253-66.
- Li J, Sun M, Ye J, Li Y, Jin R, Zheng H, Liang F. The mechanisam of acupuncture in treating essential hypertension: A narrative review. Int J Hypertens. 2019:8676490.
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