Over 115,000,000 Americans suffer from chronic high blood pressure or hypertension, a condition primarily caused by a sedentary lifestyle and high stress. A number of available conventional and holistic treatments can help control this disease and better your health.
What Is Hypertension?
One of the world’s deadliest diseases, hypertension is an increase in blood pressure above the normal levels. This can be a sign of heightened vascular resistance, augmented heart muscle (cardiac) contraction, or both. Normal blood pressure of a person measures around 120/80 mmHg. A hypertensive blood pressure, on the other hand, can register 140/90 and above. Hypertension is tagged the “silent killer” due to its scanty symptoms that hides the dangerous and deadly state of health of the sufferer. A hypertensive condition left untreated can make the person at significant risk of kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.
There are two categories of hypertension, primary and secondary. Primary hypertension is hypertension caused by an unknown factor. This is the most common type of hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be the result of certain disorders including side effects of medications, cancer, endocrine problems, and kidney diseases.
Western conventional treatment for hypertension is mostly long-term or life-long drug therapy coupled with lifestyle modifications. Drugs that control high blood pressure such as ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, dopamine derivatives, beta blockers and diuretics are usually prescribed by doctors to help control their patients’ condition. Lifestyle adjustments such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress reduction, and a decrease of tobacco, alcohol and salt consumption are helpful in managing this disease.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture originated in China and is a holistic form of therapy that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. It is one of the most popular forms of traditional Chinese medicine or TCM. Acupuncture treatment uses sterile and ultra thin needles inserted into specific points of the body known as acupoints to return the body to a normal state of health. Underneath the acupoints lay channels of energy known as meridians. Each of these pathways is connected to a certain internal organ or organ system. The needle insertion creates a mild electrical impulse in the meridian that stimulates the body and causes certain biophysical responses that allows the body to heal itself.
Western medicine still has to explain how acupuncture actually works. This unexplained medical phenomenon does not alter the fact that this treatment has been proven to successfully work for a wide variety of health problems. Acupuncture is mostly known as a treatment for pain and is even sometimes used as an alternative to anesthesia during surgery.
How Does Acupuncture Resolve Hypertension?
Traditional Chinese medicine explains that certain harmonious physiological relationships exist between each of the internal organs. There are times, however, when these relationships become disharmonized resulting in the rise of illnesses. Practitioners of TCM (that includes acupuncturists and Chinese medicine herbalists) palpate the radial arterial pulse, observe the tongue of the patient and listen to the patient’s signs and symptoms. When the practitioner determines the pattern of disharmony of these signs and symptoms, he will be able to determine the acupoints that need to be treated to restore balance and harmony to the body.
Usually, the Liver is the affected organ system when a person has hypertension. One needs to see that the Liver in TCM terms refers to the energetic function of the Liver, not the organ itself. A very important organ system in TCM, the Liver controls the flow of Qi or vital energy, as well as the normalization of Blood. Patterns of disharmony that results in hypertension include Deficiency in Kidney and Liver Yin, Liver Yang Rising, and Stagnation of Liver Qi.
Deficiency in Kidney and Liver Yin
Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can be due to aging causing the Yin energy of the body to weaken. This pattern arises when Yin is no longer strong enough to balance and contain the Yang energy of the body. The Yang energy then causes more heat to rise in the body which elevates the blood pressure. This type of deficiency may occur due to age-related conditions such as menopause. The acupoints Liver 3, Kidney 3, and Spleen 6 are needled to help boost the Yin energy of the body.
Liver Yang Rising
Liver Yang Rising is often manifested in symptoms such as a bitter taste in the mouth, headaches, sudden dizziness, red eyes and anger. This pattern of disharmony causes the Yan Qi to suddenly rise to the face and head and emotions can often run out of control. Points to treat in this pattern include Stomach 36, Liver 2, and Kidney 1. All these points are located either on the lower legs or feet and they all help bring Yang energy downward.
Liver Qi Stagnation
Liver Qi Stagnation can result from a stressful lifestyle. A distended feeling in the head, PMS, muscle tightness, digestive problems and agitation are some of its symptoms. The tension caused by this disharmony causes Qi and blood flow to slow down or stagnate. Treating it may involve the needling of points Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4. These points can resolve the slowing down of blood and energy.
Additional Treatment Information
Besides the aforementioned acupoints, there may be other points the acupuncturist can use to help normalize blood pressure. A number of points located on the ear can also have the same therapeutic effects as the acupoints mentioned above. These ear points are oftentimes treated to augment body acupuncture.
The Stomach 9 acupoint can help lower blood pressure in a rapid manner and is very useful in times of emergency. This acupoint is found next to the neck’s carotid artery. It is not advised to bilaterally treat this point (treat both sides of the Stomach 9 acupoint) since it can lead to hypotension (chronic low blood pressure).
Acupuncture Treatment to Manage Hypertension
If you want to relieve the symptoms of hypertension and help balance the patterns of disharmony in your body, then it is advised to go for acupuncture treatments on a regular basis. Receiving acupuncture treatments many times each week for the initial few weeks can help stabilize your condition and once it’s stabilized the number of treatment sessions can decrease. Acupuncture treatment is one way to get off or at least lessen your need for hypertension medications. Chinese herbal medicine is usually combined with acupuncture to boost the effectiveness of the treatment.