Acupuncture performs as well as drug therapy for treating high blood pressure
01/13/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture is often used to relieve pain and other health complaints. According to the results of a study, acupuncture is just as effective as drug therapy when treating high blood pressure (hypertension).

The study was conducted by researchers from the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital in China.

Can acupuncture reduce high blood pressure levels?

The study findings revealed that acupuncture is equally effective for the treatment of hypertension as the drug nifedipine.

Nifedipine is the generic name for a pharmaceutical drug used to treat high blood pressure and angina. It relaxes the heart muscles and blood vessels.

However, nifedipine can also cause these common negative side effects:

  • Constipation
  • A cough
  • Decreased sexual ability or desire
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Edema (swelling in the legs or feet)
  • A headache
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness

Nifedipine can also cause serious side effects like:

  • An allergic reaction – Symptoms may include trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, rash or hives, or swelling of the face, eyes, lips, or tongue.
  • Chest pain (angina) – Patients who take nifedipine report that the drug may aggravate angina or increase its frequency.
  • Edema (fluid retention) – Symptoms include swelling in the arms, hands, lower legs, feet, or ankles.
  • Liver damage – The symptoms of liver damage include jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
  • Low blood pressure or low heart rate – This can cause symptoms like lightheadedness or fainting.

For the study, researchers observed 51 patients with primary hypertension. The participants were randomly divided into two: an acupuncture treatment group and a drug control group. There were 27 individuals in the treatment group and 24 individuals in the drug control group.

The acupuncture group included 15 males and 12 females who were aged 37 to 72 years old. The average age of the group was 57.39 years. The patients in this group either had high blood pressure with systolic blood pressure 179.97 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or diastolic blood pressure 110.39 mmHg.

Meanwhile, the drug control group was made up of 14 males and 10 females aged 36 to 72 years old. The average age of this group was 59.14 years. The volunteers in this group either had high blood pressure with systolic blood pressure 181.95 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure 109.93 mmHg.

The researchers compared the effects of acupuncture therapy with the administration of nifedipine for the immediate reduction of high blood pressure levels in the participants who had primary hypertension. Based on the results of the randomized controlled clinical trial, both acupuncture and nifedipine reduced blood pressure by 30 to 40 mmHg. (Related: Scientists confirm: You can use acupuncture to lower your blood pressure.)

The study showed that acupuncture and nifedipine offered different advantages for the management of high blood pressure. Drug therapy reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressures after five to 20 minutes, but acupuncture took longer at 30 to 60 minutes.

The researchers noted that there was no statistical difference between the effects of acupuncture and nifedipine for the management of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

On the other hand, acupuncture significantly reduced systolic and diastolic pressures among the participants with extremely high blood pressure. Acupuncture moderately reduced systolic and diastolic pressures in the volunteers who had moderate levels of high blood pressure. The researchers said that acupuncture offers a clinical advantage since it can offer a "regulated lowering of blood pressure relative to the clinical needs patients."

The study determined that nifedipine can excessively lower blood pressure, especially during the first use of the drug or if the patient is dehydrated once the drug is taken. Compared to drug therapy, acupuncture's homeostatic properties suggest that it can be used to treat hypertension without any negative hypotensive reactions.

Treating hypertension with acupuncture and felodipine

The results of a separate study, which was conducted at the Shanxi College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, determined that combining acupuncture with drug therapy can effectively address primary hypertension.

In this study, the researchers randomly and equally divided the participants into an acupuncture treatment group and a drug group. The drug group was given felodipine, a calcium channel blocker that is used to treat hypertension.

In the drug group, using only felodipine had a total effective rate of 73.3 percent. In the acupuncture treatment group, combining acupuncture and felodipine had an 86.7 percent total effective rate.

The researchers concluded that the integrative medicine approach to the treatment of high blood pressure can improve patient outcomes by at least 13.4 percent.

To read more articles about natural treatments like acupuncture, visit

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