ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sticking it to High Blood Pressure With Acupuncture

Updated on December 4, 2015

Is there proof that it works?

There are many approaches to treating high blood pressure. Many people choose to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a treatment approach. More and more physicians are incorporating lifestyle changes and integrative medicine, combining CAM and conventional medicine where there is scientific evidence for safety and effectiveness. Acupuncture has been the subject of serious, on-going research, and the evidence is now coming in.

Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. It is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of qi and imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Acupuncture seeks to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain health through a variety of techniques, including the insertion of thin metal needles though the skin. Some practitioners also combined standard acupuncture with electric stimulation (electro-acupuncture), though this is not part of traditional practice.

However, high blood pressure cures are not part of traditional acupuncture. Blood pressure measurements are a modern diagnostic procedure, and hypertension is usually asymptomatic. TCM relies on analyzing disease symptoms, the tongue, pulse, and other observable body conditions. So much of the work around hypertension and acupuncture has been a collaborative effort betweenTCM practitioners and traditional medical doctors.

Evaluating Acupuncture as a High Blood Pressure Remedy

Numerous small case studies and research trials indicated that there was some benefit for acupuncture. In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the "Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials". Treatment of hypertension was recognized as effectively treated by acupuncture.

However, larger trials were mixed. In 2004, a University of Texas Southwest Medical Center study failed to find any long-term benefits. Eleven patients with normal to mild hypertension received electrical acupuncture over a four-week time period. There was a minor, temporary drop in blood pressure immediately after each treatment. However, there was no evidence of persistent, long term blood pressure reduction.

In 2006, the results of the first large clinical trial was released. The Stop Hypertension with the Acupuncture Research Program (SHARP) pilot trial enrolled 192 participants with untreated moderate to severe hypertension. The trial followed principles of TCM . After being weaned off of their medication, participants were randomly assigned to three treatments: individualized traditional Chinese acupuncture, standardized acupuncture at preselected points, or invasive sham acupuncture. Again, no benefit was detected.

However, studies continue on long-term treatment results. In 2007, the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, Irvine released findings that showed acupuncture can help normalize blood pressure. The Center found that acupuncture has a slow onset and prolonged effect. In their study, they combined acupuncture with low levels of electrical stimulation. These treatments lowered elevations in blood pressure by as much as 40 percent.

A recent article for the American Journal of Hypertension (2009) evaluated eleven acupuncture trials, including Chinese and German results. The authors reviewed and analyzed numerous scientific studies published over the past few years. Overall results were mixed. One study supported the slow onset of change, with no reduction at four weeks but significant reductions at eight weeks. Some studies imply no change when acupuncture is combined with drug therapy, other studies show a measurable improvement. One study even suggested acupuncture acts to stimulate nitric acid production in the body, acting in a similar fashion as foods known to reduce blood pressure such as chocolate.

Should you consider acupuncture a potential high blood pressure remedy?

While the reviews on acupuncture are mixed, anyone who has been treated for hypertension will know that regular drug treatments can have mixed results as well. Several prescription medicines once prescribed regularly have been found to have serious side effects. Despite new (and expensive) treatment options, the older diuretics have continued to be the main treatment drug for high blood pressure. There is no blood pressure cure. But acupuncture remains a possible - and for many patients a viable - part of their complementary treatment regime.

Finding an Acupuncture Practitioner For Hypertension

If you want to try acupuncture as a blood pressure remedy, you may not know where to start. First, you need to consider your own comfort level with complementary medicine. Then, since is may be a deciding factor, what kind of insurance coverage you have or if treatment is covered. In most countries, acupuncturist are licensed and regulated as an allied health field. In the US, acupuncturists must meet education and licensing standards determined at the state level. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects. All acupuncturists should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient. Treatment sites should be swabbed with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles.

In many states, physicians can practice acupuncture with no required formal training course in acupuncture. In some states, chiropractors may also practice acupuncture with little or no formal training. For non-physician acupuncturists, there are minimum training and practice requirements in most locations. Generally, this is at least 1905 hours of training and a certification exam. In 1995, the WHO developed a series of statements and guidelines on acupuncture related to basic training, safety in clinical practice, indications and contraindications. Most state licensing and regulatory requirements meet or exceed these standards. However, there are no practice acts for acupuncture in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, or Wyoming.

If approached realistically, and with clear expectations and discussion with the practitioner, you may find acupuncture helps deflate you hypertension.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Note that pharmaceutical medication, like acupunture, does not result in persistent, long term blood pressure reduction. If you stop taking the pills, your blood pressure goes up. I expect the side effects of acupuncture are fewer. The only down side seems to be the need to regularly re-visit the practitioner.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)