Research from the University of California, Irvine has shown that regular electroacupuncture treatments may help to lower high blood pressure, or hypertension. This acupuncture treatment works by increasing the number of opioids known as enkephalins released in the area of the brainstem that controls and regulates blood pressure.
The tests were carried out on rats and showed that lower blood pressure lasted for a minimum of three days after the treatment, meaning it may have long-term benefits. The UCI research team previously explored the benefits of regular acupuncture in certain wrist locations, and found that patients experienced drops in blood pressure with this treatment.
The results of this study show that there is the potential for long-lasting positive effects from electroacupuncture. As hypertension is so common among the global population—affecting one third of adults—finding new treatments for the condition is vital. Hypertension has the potential to lead to stroke and major cardiac events such as heart attacks, making it a very dangerous condition. While human trials are necessary before it can be administered as a proper treatment, the benefits of electroacupuncture seem promising. Long lasting results for chronic hypertension without the use of medications could be extremely beneficial for those with the condition who are wary of drug interactions with other medications. Acupuncture has little to no adverse side effects, making it a viable option for many with hypertension should it prove to be as beneficial for humans as it has for rats.