Acupuncture may not lower blood pressure

By Tom Nordlie • Published: February 1st, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For more than twenty-five-hundred years, acupuncture has been used to treat symptoms of hypertension.

But does this traditional Chinese healing practice really reduce blood pressure?

According to a study published in a recent issue of the journal Hypertension, the answer is “not very much.”

Researchers recruited almost two-hundred volunteers with moderate hypertension. The participants were weaned off blood-pressure medication, then randomly assigned to one of three groups.

One group received acupuncture treatment tailored to each participant. Another had standardized treatment using pre-selected acupuncture points. The third received sham treatment where needles were inserted at sites not used in acupuncture.

All three groups were treated by qualified acupuncturists and underwent about twelve sessions spread out over several weeks.

When the treatment began, researchers took blood-pressure readings every other week. After ten weeks, all three groups showed virtually the same results.

They had an average reduction of almost four percent for systolic blood pressure, measured when the heart pumps. And there was an average reduction of three to four percent for diastolic pressure, when the heart rests.

Additional readings were taken every few months after the treatment ended. After one year, no treatment effects were observed.

The researchers acknowledged that acupuncture might have provided better results if the treatments had continued for a longer time.

So this study doesn’t completely rule out the possibility acupuncture can help hypertensive patients.

But for now, it appears Western medicine has pinned down the best treatment options.