Is Acupuncture Helpful in Reducing Hypertension?
Did you know that hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more than one in three Americans, but most people may not even know they have it? Since hypertension can lead to heart attacks and other life-threatening health problems, it’s crucial to learn all you can and take action to lower your risk. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer safe, natural, and pain-free ways to keep your blood pressure in check.
But first, what is hypertension?
Blood pressure is the actual force of blood pressing against your artery walls. Getting your blood pressure tested is a quick, simple process. It’s measured in two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is considered high if your systolic pressure is at or above 140 mm Hg and/or your diastolic pressure is at or above 90 mm Hg.
Effective self-care techniques to lower blood pressure:
• Get daily aerobic exercise
• Meditate or relax to reduce stress
• Practice slow, deep breathing
• Get plenty of rest
• Reduce salts and fats in your diet
• Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
• Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine
Often called “the silent killer,” hypertension doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it gets severe enough to lead to significant health problems such as heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and metabolic disorders. It has also been linked to dementia and cognitive impairment.
What causes hypertension?
More than 90% of cases of high blood pressure are known as “essential hypertension” and have no identifiable cause. “Secondary hypertension,” on the other hand, is caused by underlying conditions such as kidney disease or certain medications. The risk factors for essential hypertension include age (the risk is higher after age 35), race (African Americans are at higher risk), and a family history of the condition.
Stress is another contributing factor. Stress is the body’s natural response to the various demands we place upon it. In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an imminent attack or threat by a wild animal. Unfortunately, modern-day stress is considerably higher, more frequent, and more consistent than our predecessors experienced.
Medical studies have shown that our white blood cells, which defend our body against viruses, decrease under increased and constant stress. This reduces immune resistance, leading to physical disease and emotional instability. In addition, the body keeps the stress response active even if the stressors are no longer present. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs, kidneys, and adrenal glands, which can pave the way for various signs and symptoms, including high blood pressure.
While you can’t control those factors, there are many you can control:
• Being overweight
• Being stressed
• Consuming too much salt
• Drinking heavily
• Not exercising
• Using tobacco
Managing stress is also critical.
1. Get adequate sleep. Try for at least eight hours of restful and restorative sleep.
2. Practice meditative exercises. For example, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga can help create a healthy body-mind awareness and help relieve your mind of stressful thoughts.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet. Be mindful of what you eat; you will feel less stressed and more balanced. Also, avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption.
4. Make time for relaxing activities. Find ways to relax and enjoy activities that promote a stress-free environment.
5. Breathe. Deep breathing is one of the easiest techniques to reduce stress and calm the nervous system.
Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and trigger physical and mental health issues.
How can Acupuncture and TCM help lower blood pressure and reduce stress?
Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your blood pressure. Typical Western treatments include controlling your risk factors and taking medication if needed. However, by incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your treatment plan, you can treat your hypertension and improve your overall health and well-being in complementary ways.
Dr. Michael takes a holistic, or “whole body,” approach to treat hypertension and considers inharmonious conditions of the whole system that can involve the function of the liver, kidneys, digestive system, and heart. Treatment is based upon the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”). This vital energy flows through pathways called meridians, nourishing all of the body’s organs and protecting them from illness; when the flow of Qi becomes diminished or blocked, disease and illness result.
The goal of treatment is to find and address the underlying imbalance(s) affecting the flow of Qi, leading to elevated blood pressure and various symptoms. By addressing the root causes of stress and hypertension, TCM can help your body regain its natural balance. Doing so will also strengthen your heart health and reduce the risk of future health conditions.
Acupuncture and TCM have proven effective against a wide variety of health concerns. For example, studies have found that a particular form of acupuncture called “electro-acupuncture,” which uses electrical stimulation, may be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. Therefore, in addition to healthy eating and regular exercise, patients should consider routine acupuncture treatments for the greatest long-term results.
Acupuncture is just one aspect of natural healthcare. Modalities like herbal medicine, nutrition, and more, may effectively contribute to restoring the body’s natural healing ability. Most people experience little or no pain when receiving acupuncture. Many people experience a deep sense of relief and relaxation.
From a modern scientific perspective, stimulation of acupuncture meridian points causes the release of many nervous system chemicals in our brain, spinal cord, and muscles that help reduce stress, optimize blood flow, and restore the body’s ability to heal naturally.
The only way to find out if acupuncture is the perfect treatment plan for you is to try it. Contact our office today to book your appointment.