Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Hypertension: Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a type of Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles at specific points at particular depths on your body that are thought to have an impact on sickness. Even though this treatment has existed for thousands of years, it has only gained popularity in the last two decades. The more people who have tried it, the more positive reports we hear about. It isn't often that you hear of someone who has undergone acupuncture treatment say it wasn't an invigorating experience.
Acupuncture involves seeing an acupuncturist on a weekly or bi-weekly basis until twelve 30-60 minute sessions have been completed. The procedure consists of the practitioner using stainless steel needles that have been sterilized. The needles are wrapped individually and then disposed of when the procedure is finished, needles are never re-used. Acupuncture is usually painless, aside from an occasional sharp pain or even an aching feeling.The needles are then stimulated with either heat or electricity once they are all in the correct places.
Many people believe religiously in acupuncture as the treatment for most of their ailments including high blood pressure. Despite the inconclusive results regarding the procedure in treating high blood pressure, it is personal experience that seems to outweigh the results of research. Many feel it re-establishes a balance in the energetic flow of life.
There are three explanations as to why acupuncture may show improvements in high blood pressure and other diseases:
- Opioid release. Endorphins, which are part of your body's natural pain-control, are released into your central nervous system during acupuncture, reducing pain much like pain medication does.
- Spinal cord stimulation. Sometimes called the "gate theory", acupuncture stimulates nerves in your spinal cord, releasing pain-suppressing neurotransmitters.
- Blood flow changes. The acupuncture needles may cause the blood flow in and around the needle to increase. The increased blood flow may remove toxic substances or supply additional nutrients, or both, promoting healing.
Acupuncture can be used in addition to other treatments. In the case of hypertension, it may be used with medicine, change in diet, physical activity, and supplements that won't interact with your medications. The great thing about acupuncture is that it has no side effects and is becoming more available in the western world. It is also well-known for reducing pain.
Just like any treatment, you want to discuss any changes in your life that may have an impact on your blood pressure. This way, your doctor can monitor any differences in your blood pressure as a result of acupuncture. He may also be able to suggest other things you can do that will help you meet your blood pressure goals.