Q. My doctor recently prescribed atenolol for high blood pressure. The day after I started on atenolol I felt ill. When I went back to my doctor, he asked if I had ever tried acupuncture. I had not, but I was willing to try anything.
Immediately after the procedure I felt no better, but by the third day, when I got out of bed I felt like I had risen from the dead. It has been more than a week and I still feel better than I have in years. I do not know how much this improvement is due to acupuncture but I am grateful.
A. Acupuncture is most often used to help people cope with pain, but one study of 32 people found that acupuncture lowered blood pressure significantly from baseline (Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research, Vol. 37, no. 4, 2012). Nitric oxide levels in the blood also increased. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and helps lower blood pressure.
This study is preliminary, small and not placebo-controlled. Still, it’s an interesting finding. We are glad you got benefit from acupuncture. You may need to continue with acupuncture sessions to keep your blood pressure under control. A single treatment of any sort does not reverse hypertension.
You might want to explore other natural approaches to lowering blood pressure, such as beet or grape juice. We are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment for a discussion of many of these tactics, along with medications. For more in-depth information about such approaches, including details on the well-studied and evidence-based DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), you may want to read our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic.