NEW GUIDELINES for BLOOD PRESSURE!

November, 2017:

After analyzing data from a survey of over 9,000 people, the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) released new guidelines resulting in:

…a substantial increase in the prevalence of hypertension but a small increase in the percentage of U.S. adults recommended antihypertensive medication. …” More information (including this quote) found here.

More from the American Heart Association here. 

If you’re concerned about how this may affect you, any diagnosis or treatment you have or may need, please consult your doctor. You might consider how acupuncture may help.

RESEARCH ON ACUPUNCTURE FOR TREATMENT OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Searching PubMed (US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health) for “acupuncture + high blood pressure” currently returns 473 results with links to published research. Included below is a sample (with quotes from the articles):

 

Acupuncture Lowers High Blood Pressure

“The study discovered that patients taking antihypertensive medications benefitted from further reductions in blood pressure by adding acupuncture to the treatment regime. As a result, the researchers concluded that ‘acupuncture should be in the hypertension treatment guidelines and widely used for blood pressure regulation.’ ”

Acupuncture Lowers Hypertension Finding

“…This is a modern example of combining acupuncture with medications to achieve optimum results in patient outcomes. …

Abdominal and auricular acupuncture reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients

“CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrated that abdominal electro-acupuncture for 6 weeks reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and auricular acupuncture had a short-term adverse effect on both SBP and DBP.”

Acupuncture Reduces Hypertension…

Research conducted at the University of California Los Angels [sic] and UC Irvine has uncovered a mechanism by which acupuncture lowers blood pressure for hypertension patients.”

Acupuncture Lowers Hypertension…

“Published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the research team discovered that acupuncture exerts long-lasting therapeutic effects for hypertension patients. The normalization of blood chemistry in response to acupuncture stimulation allows the effects of the acupuncture to last well beyond the treatment period. …

… In a related study, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and University of California, Los Angeles concluded that acupuncture lowers high blood pressure. The investigated the effective action of acupuncture points P5, P6, LI10 and LI11 combined with electroacupuncture. The researchers found that acupuncture successfully reduces hypertension. Additionally, it was discovered that the application of this acupuncture treatment prescription protocol protected heart tissues and reduced arrhythmias.

They also measured how acupuncture achieves positive clinical outcomes for patients with high blood pressure. It was discovered that electroacupuncture stimulates neurons in specific brain regions that control sympathetic nerve stimulation throughout the body. The investigators mapped the neurological network stimulated by acupuncture and concluded that it is acupuncture’s ability to activate brain centers that allows it to lower high blood pressure.”

The effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using antihypertensive drugs

“The aim here is not to compare the effectiveness of acupuncture and drug therapy on blood pressure, but to simply report that on patients currently using antihypertensive medication, acupuncture facilitated a significant reduction in blood pressure and reduced the patients complaints. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggest that acupuncture should be in the hypertension treatment guidelines and widely used for blood pressure regulation.”

Acupuncture in Pregnancy

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Recently I ran into a patient who I had worked with across two pregnancies. It brought so much joy to see her out with her baby. While chatting, she told me how acupuncture helped her through each of her pregnancies. I love that!

I really enjoy working with pregnant women. It’s such a special time in life and I feel lucky to be able to offer something tangible that may help them through this time of great transition. 

Women’s bodies are going through so much change during pregnancy and I find, anecdotally from my own clinical experience, that their bodies are often more sensitive and receptive to the gentle art of acupuncture. During gestation, we give careful consideration to both the mother and fetus so as to nurture and support the process. 

Pregnant women are often particularly careful about what they consume and receive advice from their doctors about which over the counter and prescription medicines are safe while pregnant. Knowing that acupuncture can be safe and effective offers another treatment option where other options may not be advised. 

Another thing with pregnancy is that underneath the exterior of a what a blessed time this is, is perhaps a woman with stress.

Questions about readiness and change, possibly coupled with low energy, diminished sleep, appetite changes (to name a few) are often occurring simultaneously as they continue with regular responsibilities of work and/or childcare, making plans for changes in the future, re-shaping their homes, etc. It’s a lot! Getting acupuncture is a quiet time and allows them a place to rest and receive support. Patients often tell me they feel better coming in. 

Here is a partial list of general conditions common to pregnant women that I’ve worked with and found acupuncture to be helpful:

Fatigue 

Musculoskeletal aches and pains

Headache 

Nausea and/or vomiting

Stress

Depression

Constipation 

As we move towards greater integration of conventional / Western care and treatment with other complementary modalities (such as acupuncture), I hope we’ll see more studies on the safety and efficacy of acupuncture as part of a potential treatment plan for those with risk of pre-eclampsia (PE), gestational diabetes, and other riskier pregnancies. We’ll see… 

In the meantime, here are some links to scientific evidence around acupuncture and pregnancy: 

Debra Betts’ robust website with links to research for pelvic pain, nausea, breech presentation, prebirth, cervical ripening, and depression in pregnancy. Here’s the link to pain relief in labor: http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/research/reducing-labour-pain/

Nei-Guan point acupressure is a useful treatment for relieving symptoms experienced by women with hyperemesis gravidarum.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17645494

There is high-quality evidence reporting the benefits of herbal medicines and acupuncture to treat nausea in pregnancy.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26866600

In women’s health, acupuncture has been found to be beneficial for patients with premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea, several pregnancy-related conditions, and nausea in females who have cancers.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18803496

[This study was designed to check for a different condition, but also said the following.] Good clinical evidence has been reported for the effect of PC6 acupuncture in preventing or attenuating postoperative and pregnancy related nausea.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18356796

[Fourth year medical students in London can take a course in Chinese Medicine. Here’s an essay on migraine + acupuncture + pregnancy.] “…acupuncture for migraine relief has been recommended by NICE as a non-pharmacological measure for migraine headaches(59). Since acupuncture has the potential to relieve migraine pain without the added fear of teratogenicity, it may be a useful alternative or adjunct for analgesic medications given in pregnancy.” http://www.cmir.org.uk/kcl-ssc-student-submissions

“Given the high prevalence of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, women and health professionals need clear guidance about effective and safe interventions, based on systematically reviewed evidence. There is a lack of high-quality evidence to support any particular intervention. This is not the same as saying that the interventions studied are ineffective, but that there is insufficient strong evidence for any one intervention. The difficulties in interpreting and pooling the results of the studies included in this review highlight the need for specific, consistent and clearly justified outcomes and approaches to measurement in research studies.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26348534

The summarized findings indicated a small but growing body of acupuncture research, with some evidence suggesting a benefit from acupuncture to treat nausea in pregnancy. Findings from the review also highlighted promising evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture to manage back and pelvic pain, acupuncture-type interventions to induce change in breech presentation, and pain relief in labor. The methodological quality of recent trials has improved, and the quality of systematic reviews was high. CONCLUSIONS: Interest is growing in the use of acupuncture to treat some complaints during pregnancy and childbirth, and evidence is beginning to consolidate that acupuncture may assist with the management of some complaints during pregnancy. However, definitive conclusions about its effectiveness cannot be reached and further research is justified.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19747272

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Headaches / Migraines

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From the Washington Post,  an account of treating migraines well with acupuncture,

“A month into my treatment, after eight sessions, I noticed that my migraines had begun to slow down in frequency and weaken in intensity. At the end of two months, I felt strong enough to scale my appointments down to once a week. Five months after I started acupuncture, I felt essentially cured. I rarely got the drowsy fog of fatigue — and if I did, it almost always went away on its own. I could work on my computer and spend time on the beach, and I was able to drink wine again. It has now been five years since I discovered acupuncture. I still occasionally get migraines, and if they seem to be amping up, I’ll use acupuncture, even a couple of times a week. But there have been months when I don’t need it at all.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/migraines-were-destroying-my-life-heres-what-finally-cured-me/2016/05/02/7007b840-f6b1-11e5-9804-537defcc3cf6_story.html?postshare=461462290441410&tid=ss_tw

I’d like to add a couple notes:

  1. Please notice that the patient really tried acupuncture. She didn’t just come once or twice but having noticed that she was trending well after a round of eight treatments, she continued on for further benefits.
  2. It’s not often that I’ll quote WebMD for acupuncture because quite frankly, I don’t always see them mention acupuncture as a viable treatment option for conditions that I’ve seen treated first-hand with acupuncture. But times may be a’changing and headaches are commonly treated by acupuncture so here you go, titled “Acupuncture May Be Effective for Migraines” at http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/news/20120112/acupuncture-may-be-effective-for-migraines — Here’s a quote from the article, “Three months after treatment, people who received traditional Chinese acupuncture continued to report a reduction in migraine days, frequency, and intensity.” There was also this gem, “Another study of nearly 800 people showed that 11 acupuncture treatments over six weeks were at least as effective as the blood pressure drugs called beta-blockers — often used for migraine prevention — taken daily for six months, Molsberger tells WebMD.”
  3. An essay exploring acupuncture for migraines (particularly in pregnant women) from a 4th year medical student in London: “acupuncture for migraine relief has been recommended by NICE…Since acupuncture has the potential to relieve migraine pain without the added fear of teratogenicity…necessary to carry out further research on the effects of acupuncture on those who are pregnant.” http://www.cmir.org.uk/kcl-ssc-student-submissions
  4. Here’s a nice link about tension-type headaches from Cochrane last month: http://www.cochrane.org/CD007587/SYMPT_acupuncture-tension-type-headache — First line, “The available evidence suggests that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension-type headache.” This was a review of 12 trials with 2,349 adults!

I hope more people suffering from headaches will consider acupuncture!

 

** Image on this page released under Creative Commons CCO. See https://pixabay.com for more info or to download images you like. Yay!

 

What about the research (RCT, randomized controlled trial) on Chinese medicine?

Search to see if there’s published research in a subject area that interests you.

On 3/1/2016, I searched several acupuncture topics (for fun) on MedPub (a database of the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health). I could have easily chosen other search examples such as “acupuncture + digestion” or “acupuncture + nausea and vomiting” but here are some examples of how many research trials were found:

“acupuncture” yielded 24,194 results

“acupuncture pain” yielded 6,493 results

“acupuncture low back pain” yielded 607 results

“acupuncture cancer” 1,263 results

“acupuncture chronic pain” 1,392 results

“acupuncture pregnancy” 849 results

“acupuncture migraine” 403 results

“acupuncture anxiety” 548 results

“acupuncture depression” 793 results

And one example:

JAMA, journal of the AMA, a meta analysis (comparing research studies) of 17,922 patients, regarding back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain, found that “acupuncture was superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for each pain condition – – Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option”

[ Oct 2012:   http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357513 ]

Definition “Research”: Webster’s 2nd Edition, c.1934 (1910)

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From http://www.merriam-webster.com March, 2016:

Full Definition of research

  1. 1:  careful or diligent search

  2. 2:  studious inquiry or examination; especially :  investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws

  3. 3:  the collecting of information about a particular subject