Tag Archives: High Blood Pressure

Combatting High Blood Pressure Using the TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine Techniques of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Using different treatment options like alternative and natural remedies and drugs, high blood pressure can be dealt with in a most effective way. One of the most widely used alternative remedy options for high blood pressure is acupuncture.

These days, high blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension is probably the biggest health problem in America and the world. It is usually the result of a stressful and unhealthy lifestyle. High blood pressure is also related to smoking, alcoholism, aging, obesity and diseases such as kidney diseases and diabetes. High blood pressure sufferers may manifest symptoms such as blurred eyesight, fatigue, restlessness, nausea, headache, and shortness of breath. Unregulated high blood pressure can lead to complications such as blindness, metabolic syndrome, renal failure, stroke, and heart attack.

Current medical science studies have recommended certain treatment approaches to reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure drugs can cause the occurrence of certain side effects in the long term. Hence, a patient can select certain safer alternative therapies. Various therapies and natural remedies such as relaxation techniques and aromatherapy can also assist in lowering blood pressure in a natural and safe way.

High Blood Pressure Acupuncture Treatment

With its origins dating back as far back as 4,500 years old, acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of treatment used all over the world. There are 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that are related to various bodily organs and various bodily functions. In an acupuncture procedure, hair-thin needles are stuck into certain points of the skin at varying degrees of depth. in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), this treatment is a highly effective alternative option, and can be used to treat a slew of disorders including hypertension, asthma, migraine, diabetes, osteoarthritis, joint pain, stress, headaches, and insomnia.

Based on the findings of the most recent scientific studies, acupuncture reduces blood pressure by obstructing the beta-acceptor of sympathetic nerves, and by activating the angiotensin-adrenaline system. Electro-acupuncture combines electrical stimulation with traditional acupuncture and can be used to also address high blood pressure. During an electro-acupuncture procedure, fine, sharp needles are stuck into trigger points or key points on the wrists, forearms, and legs. This treatment uses low-frequency currents passed through normal acupuncture needles. The needles are attached to a gadget that keeps on generating mild pulses of electricity. Two needles are used in order for the electrical impulses to pass one needle to the other. Multiple pairs of needles are then applied resulting in the activation of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals lead to the production of neurotransmitters that, in turn, help allay the excitatory responses of the cardiovascular system. This aids in the lowering of the activity of the heart and the need for more oxygen that, in turn, lowers high blood pressure in a significant manner. The needles need to be applied for 30 minutes, at most. The procedure should only be performed by a qualified and experienced acupuncturist. Several clinical studies have been published, that validate the efficacy of this treatment. The studies used the acupuncture points Li10, P5, P6, Li 11, LV3, Li 4, Sp9, K3, HT 7, and SP6.

When this technique is applied in treating high blood pressure, it is usually accompanied by herbal treatment. Using the herbs Prunella (Hsia Ku Cao), Shan Zha, and Tian Ma (Gastrodia Rhizome), the method usually leads to amazing results. Tian Ma can be effective in alleviating hypertension symptoms such as numbness of extremities, dizziness, and headaches. The chrysanthemum flower or herb Ye Ju Hwa helps alleviate hypertension via dilation of the peripheral vessels. You can take these herbs in the form of dietary supplements, herbal teas, or powders.

Acupuncture is natural and very safe way of helping you regulate the overall functioning of your body resulting in the lowering of blood pressure to healthy levels. It also helps relieve stress and brings about a relaxing and calming effect. Therefore, this healing technique is an effective and safe way to decrease the symptoms of hypertension, and stop its potentially deadly complications.

Chinese Medicine Treatment for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Almost 80 million adult Americans suffer from high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Additional information from the 2007 – 2010 (NHANES) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveals that a little less than 50% of these people do not have their high blood pressure under control. Someone is considered to have high blood pressure if he/she has a blood pressure of 140 systolic and 90 diastolic or above. Compared to women, men are more prone to high blood pressure (HBP) up to 45 years old. But beyond this age and up to 64 years, both tend to have similar rates of HBP. When women go beyond 64 years of age, their likelihood for HBP becomes higher than men. In terms of ethnicity, blacks that are non-Hispanic have the highest percentage of HBP in the States with 30.8% for women and 42.7 for men. Whites that are non-Hispanic have 33.5% for women and 30.8% for men, while Mexican-Americans have 30.1% for women and 28.8% for the men. One report revealed that a third of American adults have higher than normal blood pressure ranges that are still not deemed to be in the hypertension (pre-hypertensive).

How Does High Blood Pressure Develop?

Several factors can lead to the rise in blood pressure. Some of these include:

– Genetic predisposition
– Drug abuse (amphetamine, cocaine
– Prescription drugs: (steroids for asthma, painkillers, hormone therapy; birth controls pills)
– Thyroid disease
– Kidney disease

Risk factors include:

– Stress
– Poor nutrition
– Little or no physical activity
– Obesity
– Diabetes
– Smoking

Addressing the Underlying Cause: How Western Doctors Evaluate Hypertension Cases

Besides the most obvious evaluation, blood pressure reading, medical doctors have the blood work of their patients done as well as perform an ASI test (adrenal stress index test). This test analyzes DHEA and cortisone levels. DHEA and cortisone are hormones that originate form the adrenal glands as these glands react to what is known as a “fight or flight response,” or stress response, for short. The adrenal glands react easily to any endocrine system imbalances, especially changes in the thyroid gland. Those tests enable the doctor to consider every possible factor that can lead to the rise of hypertension or HBP, a lot of which often arises but are often overlooked and can be prevented. The physician will consider some of the factors that may be contributing to HBP, when making an assessment. These factors include:

– Blood flow issues (such as micro-blood stasis)
– Pain
– Immune and inflammatory deficiencies
– Metabolic acidosis
– Metabolic syndrome
– Food allergies
– Cortisol resistance and elevation

How Does Acupuncture Normalize Blood Pressure?

The neuroendocrine system is mainly made up of the adrenals/thyroid, pituitary, and hypothalamus. Acupuncture can regulate blood pressure by exploiting this system as well as the intricate working relationship it has with the nervous system. The process of metabolism and hormone regulation is regulated by the endocrine system. The ANS or autonomic nervous system has two branches: one branch is the parasympathetic branch (digest and rest). It normalizes body processes such as breathing and blood pressure. The second branch is the sympathetic system (fight or flight). It contributes to the regulation of the blood volume and the vascular tone of the heart. The CNS or central nervous system has a network that consists of the spinal cord and the brain functioning as a two-way communication system. This system processes all external stimuli and all information from the body. The nervous system collects all these Information which is sent to spinal cord then to the brain. The brain then sends out signals to the body via the same mechanism.

An ever-growing volume of research has been accumulated showing acupuncture’s normalizing/regulatory effect on the endocrine system, and the way this treatment can help bring back hormone level balance. This research includes studies on reproductive hormones, corticosteroids, and thyroid hormones. New and wide array of studies have also validated acupuncture’s effects on the ANS (autonomic nervous system) specifically on ANS issues such as epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), insomnia, and anxiety. Over the last ten years, due to advancements in imaging technologies there has been a rise in neuroimaging studies pertaining to acupuncture’s effects on the centers of the brain. One noted study showed that electro-acupuncture can help stimulate certain parts of the brain generating a hypotensive effect through the central nervous system.

New studies have shown that an overactive SNS (sympathetic nervous system) is one of the major contributors to HBP. The SNS can result in the vasoconstriction of the arteries in the heart when the SNS becomes dominant or over-stimulated, which then induces a state of hypertension. Very recent studies reveal that one of the mechanisms by which blood pressure is reduced with acupuncture is by down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system. One of these studies discovered that neurons in the brain can be activated with electro-acupuncture which slows down neurons in the brain activity by activating the nociceptin and opioid system (enkephalins, endorphins). The baroreflex control system, which is a feedback loop between the PNS, SNS, CNS, spinal cord, brain, and heart, brain can be modulated by endogenous opioids. When the PNS is stimulated, this feedback loop inhibits sympathetic nerve activity, and therefore reduces blood pressure.

Other studies demonstrate that acupuncture can be superior to a commonly prescribed angiotensin known as Captopril due to the fact that acupuncture has the ability to convert ACE – inhibitor (enzyme inhibitor) for high blood pressure. One such study concluded that electro-acupuncture was substantially much better than Captopril in controlling blood pressure when researchers compared electro-acupuncture to the Western drug. A study conducted in Germany comparing antihypertensive medications to real acupuncture concluded that with acupuncture, the lowering of blood pressure is comparable to monotherapies with ACE – inhibitors.

Acupuncture Points and Nerves

Acupuncturists choose a specific combination of acupuncture points when treating hypertension. These acupoints differ from person to person. They are selected based on the underlying causes and specific clinical presentation of hypertension. Acupuncturists can have several options to choose from; they can select points on the ears, distal points on the extremities, or points on either the back or front side of the body. Some points that are organ-specific or back acupoints known as as Shu, can be chosen for treatment. Organ-specific points can include Heart-related points like the Hsinshu (Bl 15) and Jueyinshu (Bl 14). These two acupoints are specific for the heart and pericardium respectively. This may seem like a coincidence but it’s not actually since they are found in at the level of T4 and T5 spinal vertebrae in the upper region of the thoracic system. They innervate the heart through the sympathetic nerves. Their TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) functions are listed below.

Hsinshu – BL15

– Clears Heart fire
– Resolves blood stasis and unbinds the chest
– Calms the SNS (spirit)
– Normalizes Heart Qi
– Nourishes and tonifies the Heart

Jueyinshu – BL 14

– Descends and normalizes Qi
– Unbinds the chest
– Normalizes the heart

Eastern Medicine High Blood Pressure Treatment

Being a dynamic system of medicine, Eastern medicine includes various forms of therapies that the practitioner can choose from. Because of this, blood pressure treatment protocols can differ from TCM practitioner to another depending on the perspective and style of the practitioner and on the presentation of the disease. Herbal medicine, in general, takes priority in most plans of treatment with acupuncture serving as an adjunct to it. The reason is because the patient can continue herbal treatment as home and the herbs work at a deeper level while acupuncture works at a more superficial level. But when combined these two therapies becomes a powerful l strategy that targets the underlying cause and the signs and symptoms of the disease.

No matter what the cause of your HBP is, for any treatment to be really effective, a great effort is required of the patient to make changes in his/her lifestyle that will bring about a healthy heart. This includes:

– Quality sleep
– -Meditation, yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi, and other light exercises
– Physical exercise recommended by your doctor/ acupuncturist
– Nutrition and diet changes