Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic condition which it is estimated, affects approximately 25% of the population, and 50% of those over the age of 60. It is important to screen for it as it is a significant risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Uncontrolled hypertension can also lead in the long term to kidney damage. This piece will examine hypertension briefly from a biomedical standpoint and discuss the possible benefits of traditional acupuncture in its treatment.
Hypertension is when he blood pressure exceeds 140/90mmHg. The higher number is the pressure when the blood leaves the heart when it contracts and the lower number is when the heart relaxes allowing it to fill with blood.
There are 2 types of hypertension, primary and secondary. Primary or essential, is the more common. Secondary, as the name suggests, arises as a complication from other conditions affecting the body, usually the kidneys, the blood vessels or the heart.
Treatment for high blood pressure usually takes the form of lifestyle changes such as reducing salt, caffeine and alcohol, and regular exercise. Drugs may include include ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics.
The approach taken by traditional acupuncture in the treatment of high blood pressure is essentially the same as it is for any condition. Acupuncture is a holistic treatment, and so seeks to look at the person as a whole.
Although it is not the aim of this piece to discuss in detail the technical aspects of acupuncture theory as it relates to treating hypertension, a practitioner might look at some of the following aspects.
In general, attention is always paid to the pulse – the different qualities of strength and rhythm, and the tongue – the coating and the shape. These all point to types of disharmony or imbalance in the body’s qi (energy).
Once this information as well as a general medical history has been obtained the acupuncturist to begin formulating a treatment plan. This is deciding the treatment frequency, the specific acupuncture points to apply the needles to, as well as some of the same lifestyle changes as those used in Western Medicine. The aim is to create better health, greater wellness and less dependence on drugs with all their various side effects.
The available research evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of Hypertension
A list of all the various conditions, including hypertension with links to the relevant research can be found on our acupuncture page.
The research discussed, includes several systematic reviews and a randomised controlled trial of 80 patients that compared 2 groups, one treated with acupuncture and one treated with the ACE inhibitor, Valsartan. The conclusion from this was that the therapeutic effect of lowering hypertension seen in the acupuncture group was significantly superior to that of the medication group.
So to conclude, traditional acupuncture can be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and some research trials indicate this. However more research is needed to fully confirm the benefits.
What should you do next?
Call us on 01903 230066 and ask to speak to one of experienced acupuncturist who can advise you on the best way forward.
Whatever you do do not stop taking your medication without medical advise.