Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have recently found that people with hypertension can benefit from electroacupuncture – a form of acupuncture that uses electrical currents to stimulate various pressure points in the body.
The study, conducted by scientists at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, showed that participants experienced reduced blood pressure for a period of up to six weeks following treatments - a factor which could significantly reduce risk for stroke and heart disease.
“This clinical study is the culmination of more than a decade of bench research in this area,” said Dr. John Longhurst, a University of California, Irvine cardiologist and former director of the Samueli Center. “By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the U.S.”
In a study of hypertensive patients, Dr. Longhurst and UCI colleagues administered electroacupuncture therapy to 65 subjects, separated into two groups. Each group received electroacupuncture in different locations; one group on both sides of the inner wrists and slightly below each knee, and the other group along the forearm and lower leg.
Whereas the research showed no reduction in blood pressure for the second group, the patients who received treatments on their wrists and knees experienced significant decreases in blood pressure. Additionally, the scientists reported finding “significant declines in blood concentration levels of norepinephrine (41 percent), which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and glucose levels; and renin (67 percent), an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps control blood pressure. In addition, the electroacupuncture decreased aldosterone (22 percent), a hormone that regulates electrolytes.”
“Because electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients,” Longhurst said.
In addition to funding from several private organizations, including the Adolf Coors Foundation, this project was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. The University of California, Irvine regularly receives substantial funding from the NIH for its various projects in health and medicine.
For example, in 2014, UC Irvine received over $105 million from the National Institutes of Health for various research projects.
Highly funded departments in 2014 included:
- ANATOMY/CELL BIOLOGY $11,873,011
- BIOCHEMISTRY $8,241,343
- INTERNAL MEDICINE/MEDICINE $17,746,186
- NEUROLOGY $7,026,552
- PEDIATRICS $7,315,928
- PHYSIOLOGY $3,097,910
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