Acupuncture for Hypertension
One-third of Americans suffer from hypertension. This common condition has spread primarily due to increased stress and a sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately, holistic treatments such as acupuncture can help manage hypertension and improve your overall health.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension is an elevation in blood pressure beyond normal levels, indicating increased cardiac (heart muscle) contraction, increased vascular resistance, or both. A normal blood pressure measurement is 120/80 mmHg. Any reading above 140/90 is considered hypertension. It is often also called High Blood Pressure, HTN, HBP, or more grimly as “the silent killer”, as the condition often causes few subjective symptoms before becoming fatal. When untreated, hypertension can lead to an increased risk for strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure.
Hypertension is divided into two groups: primary and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension accounts for the majority of cases where the exact cause of the condition is unknown. Secondary hypertension is caused by a variety of disorders, which include kidney diseases, endocrine disorders, cancer, and drug side effects.
Current Western Medical therapy is long-term pharmaceutical suppression of the condition combined with lifestyle adjustments. A combination of Diuretics, Beta-blockers, Dopamine derivatives, Calcium channel Blockers and ACE Inhibitors are prescribed to control the blood pressure. Decreasing stress, salt intake, alcohol, and tobacco with an improved diet and regular exercise can help manage your hypertension.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a system of holistic medicine that originated in China approximately 5,000 years ago. Along with Chinese Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture is one the primary modalities of treatment in Oriental Medicine. During an acupuncture treatment, fine sterile needles are inserted into the body at specific locations to provide a regulatory effect on the body. These acupuncture points exist along energy pathways, called meridians, which connect the surface of the body to the internal organs. As the body is needled, a mild propagated electric sensation can be felt along the course of the corresponding meridian.
While the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, acupuncture has proved itself to be clinically effective for a variety of health conditions. It is highly effective in the treatment of pain, and in China it is even sometimes substituted for anesthesia during surgery. These powerful effects highlight the significant physiological effects of acupuncture treatment. Further research is undergoing investigation to determine the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for other conditions.
How Can Acupuncture Treat Hypertension?
While the ancient Chinese Medical doctors did not describe hypertension in the same manner we do today, Oriental Medicine theory accounted for the various physiological processes surrounding this condition. In this system of medicine, various physiological relationships exist between each of the internal organs. When these relationships become disharmonious, a variety of disease patterns manifest. By observation of the tongue, palpation of the pulse at the radial artery, and listening to an individuals signs and symptoms, an Acupuncturist is able to discern the appropriate pattern diagnosis.Then, the acupuncturist will decide upon a selection of acupuncture points to balance the body.
Hypertension is typically caused by a disharmony of the Liver organ in Oriental Medicine. It is important to understand that this refers to an energetic function of the Liver and not necessarily the physical liver in the body. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy, called Qi, in the body, and the regulation of the Blood.The most typical patterns causing hypertension include: Liver Yang Rising, Liver Qi Stagnation, and Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency.
Liver Yang Rising
Liver Yang Rising is a pattern that manifests as a sudden uprising of Yang Qi to the head and face. The symptoms include anger, red eyes, sudden dizziness, headaches, and a bitter taste in the mouth. Out of control emotions are often the origin of this pattern. It is necessary to suppress the rising Qi by needling the following acupuncture points: Kidney 1, Liver 2, and Stomach 36. These points are all located on the feet and lower legs, helping to guide the Yang energy downward.
Liver Qi Stagnation
Liver Qi Stagnation is a pattern that is often due to a stressful lifestyle. Common symptoms include agitation, digestive issues, tense muscles, PMS, and a feeling of distension in the head. This added tension causes a constriction in the body creating increased resistance to the flow of energy and blood. Treatment may include the use of acupuncture points Large Intestine 4 and Liver 3. This combination of points contains analogous locations on each hand and foot creating a strong circulating treatment, which is able to break the congestion of energy.
Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency
Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency is a pattern that occurs due to the weakening of the body’s Yin energy from aging; we essentially begin to dry up. As the Yin is no longer able to contain and balance the body’s Yang energy, a heat caused by this deficiency rises up and raises the blood pressure. This pattern is the cause of a variety of aging-related symptoms, including menopause. Acupuncture treatment includes the use of the points Spleen 6, Kidney 3, and Liver3 to tonify the cooling Yin energy of the body.
Additional Treatment Information
In addition to the acupuncture points mentioned above, it is common to use several additional points for their direct effect on regulating the blood pressure and managing hypertension. Several points on the ear are very effective and can have immediate effects on lowering your blood pressure.hese include bleeding points on the tip and backside of the ear. These auricular acupuncture points are commonly added in conjunction to the body acupuncture points to enhance the treatment.
Stomach 9 is an acupuncture point that is located directly adjacent to the carotid artery of the neck. This point can rapid reduce the blood pressure controlling an emergency situation, if necessary. It is traditionally contraindicated to needle this point bilaterally, as it may cause a state of hypotension due to lowering the blood pressure too quickly.
Managing Hypertension with Acupuncture
Regular acupuncture treatment can help balance the disharmonies of your body and relieve the symptoms of a variety of diseases. When managing hypertension, it is recommended to receive acupuncture treatments several times per week during the first few weeks. Once your condition has stabilized, it may be possible to receive treatments less frequently. Acupuncture treatments may help you to avoid or reduce the use of hypertension drugs, under the supervision of your medical doctor. Integrative therapy is becoming increasing popular for individuals who wish to avoid or minimize the long-term effects of drug therapy.
Combining acupuncture treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine can increase the effectiveness of the treatment, and is offered by many Licensed Acupuncturists.
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