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Can Acupuncture Lower Blood Pressure?

Scientific evidence helps answer the question, will acupuncture lower blood pressure? The answer in most cases is yes.
Anti-aging acupuncture treatment on young attractive female patient

High blood pressure is a serious health problem because it increases the possibility of a stroke or a heart attack. That is why doctors term it “the silent killer.” Many people would like to be able to control their blood pressure without medications, so they may wonder: can acupuncture lower blood pressure?

Will Acupuncture Lower Blood Pressure?

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.

Acupuncture for Hypertension:

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 was preliminary, small and not placebo-controlled. Still, it’s an interesting finding.

In the intervening years, Chinese scientists have published a number of other studies showing that acupuncture can help lower blood pressure. It works even in rats, suggesting that the effect is not primarily psychological (Chinese Medicine, Aug. 30, 2016).

Other research has been aimed at discovering exactly how acupuncture lowers blood pressure (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, online Sep. 4, 2016; Scientific Reports, Oct. 24, 2016). In a clinical trial, electric pulse and laser stimulation to the acupuncture points was combined with music (Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, Sep., 2016). The combination treatment was significantly more effective at bringing blood pressure down than plain acupuncture or a placebo pill.

We are glad you got benefit from acupuncture. You might need to continue with acupuncture sessions to keep your blood pressure under control. A single treatment of any sort does not reverse hypertension.

Other Nondrug Approaches to Control Blood Pressure:

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.

Revised 11/17/16

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I have chronic pain from Sjogren’s Syndrome and have been prescribed various pain medications; but nothing is more effective than the dry needling and breathing treatments I get from my physical therapist.

During the breathing treatments, I deep breathe slowly while he applies pressure to my chest and rotates to the abdominal, forcing more oxygen to all areas. The result is astonishing. 100% pain free with a floating sensation. The only drawback is that pain returns in approximately two days. Is there any research on this breathing technique?

Any documented studies that acupuncture actually reduces blood pressure long term? do you have to continue it indefinitely? what happened to the Harvard study that was started in 2001++++. can’t find any published results – did they just stop it?

Acupuncture is my best medicine for hypertension, diabetic neuropathy etc.
There is no doubt after being in medicine for 30 yrs and using Acupuncture for the last 15 that Needles are the most profound, safe, effective, non-toxic discipline. When you use it in combination of wellness, supplements, dry needling and myofascial release protocols with hands-on techniques and with needles as per Travell/Simons, the results are much more profound and consistent.
I’ve studied all aspects of the pathophysiology of what a needle does to the flesh ends up being 2 simple effects; igniting the healing cascade, like a knife cutting into a muscle (so no need for the exact points and possibly why this disciple should be compared to orthopedic surgery) and the wire or metal needle depolarize muscles which causes them to relax. The needle does this simultaneously which ignites healing in a more harmonious environment for complete healing.
The question was confusing in that, did her doc stop the bp med? Lower the med? Were you sluggish before the doc started the bp med?

Acupuncture is part of an integrated system of health care known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has an uninterrupted system of development dating back thousands of years in China and other parts of South-East Asia. Acupuncture takes a holistic approach to understanding and disease processes.
After bashing my head against a tree in a skiing accident at Falls Creek, I visited an acupuncturist, chiropractor in Brisbane in 1980. I was very curious to see if the needle insertion would be painful since I hated needles. But I quickly discovered that hardly anything more than tiny pinch when the ultra- thin and more slender than a human hair are inserted. Most of the time I now know that nothing at all is felt upon needle insertion.

After many years on Prinivil for hypertension, I became allergic, exhibiting rash &itching. If a person is allergic to one ace inhibitor, does that mean I can never use any other ace inhibitors? Same question for hydrochlorothiazide. I developed rash & itch with that also, after several years.
Thank you.

I write from Trujillo Peru. My English is not good because I speak Spanish,but I was reading about high blood pressure and is very wonderful everything You say about it. Is the first time I read about acupuncture to lower High blood pressure. I have high blood pressure and I will try with acupuncture.
Thanks to Joe and Terry Graedon.
God Bless You
Americo S.
Trujillo Peru

want to hear more

I would like to hear more about this subject

I didn’t believe in Acupuncture until two years ago. My son-in-law was studying acupuncture and natural medicine at a well known school and asked if he could use me to “practice” on. I had suffered with gradually worsening nerve pain in my feet for almost 20 years. I couldn’t walk in a mall or around the park. Various doctors prescribed pain meds which didn’t work or left me incapacitated.
I felt I had nothing to lose, so I let him treat me. After only four treatments spaced about two weeks apart I noticed an improvement. By the end of eight treatments, I could walk miles without pain. If acupuncture could ‘cure’ my nerve pain, I have no doubt it could lower blood pressure with accompanying diet change.

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