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Hypertension: Acupuncture Treatment



Acupuncture is effective for both primary hypertension and some forms of secondary hypertension, such as renal hypertension. Clinical treatment outcomes are particularly favorable for neurogenic hypertension or mild to moderate hypertension, especially in cases where blood pressure ranges between 140-160/90-95 mmHg.


There has been a considerable amount of clinical research on acupuncture for hypertension. One well-confirmed aspect is the immediate blood pressure-lowering effect of acupuncture. Current understanding of its mechanism includes the involvement of the pituitary gland, adrenal hormones, and endorphins. As hypertension is closely related to the central nervous system, acupuncture's blood pressure-lowering effect is likely achieved by initially stimulating the central nervous system, reducing sympathetic excitability, and causing a series of endocrine activity changes.


Long-term effects of acupuncture in lowering blood pressure have also been confirmed. However, it's important to note that acupuncture's hypotensive effect mainly manifests in hypertensive patients. In cases of various shock states or hypotension, acupuncture can have a varying degree of hypertensive effect. Most reports suggest that blood pressure typically begins to rise within 4-30 minutes after acupuncture and remains relatively stable without significant fluctuations. If it does drop, re-application of acupuncture can induce a rise again. Acupuncture has a synergistic effect with hypertensive drugs but without their side effects. Its hypertensive effect is clinically used in the treatment of shock.


Acupuncture can also raise blood pressure in normotensive individuals with low blood pressure, significantly increasing total peripheral resistance and stimulating β-receptors rather than α-receptors.


The dual effect of acupuncture on blood pressure, both lowering and raising it, exemplifies its regulatory function. The impact of acupuncture largely depends on the functional state before its application. Acupuncture can lower blood pressure when it's high and raise it when it's low.


Given the chronic nature of hypertension, convenient and simple techniques like auricular needle embedding or acupressure are highly recommended. Generally, auricular acupuncture is more satisfactory than body acupuncture, but finding the correct ear reflex points and achieving optimal needle sensation are key to enhancing effectiveness.


Many hypertension patients have consistent reflex points, with the strongest reactions typically in the head and posterior neck, followed by the shoulder, back, and limbs. Carefully locating tender reflex points in these areas for needling or moxibustion is an effective strategy for treating hypertension.


Due to the significant diurnal variation in blood pressure, timing acupuncture treatments based on blood pressure rhythm patterns can be beneficial. For many patients whose blood pressure peaks in the afternoon, scheduling acupuncture sessions in the afternoon is advisable.


Many hypertensive patients also have hyperlipidemia. Auricular acupuncture treatment for primary hypertension not only significantly lowers blood pressure but also reduces blood lipid levels.

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