Acupuncture for Essential Hypertension: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Sham-Controlled Clinical Trials

Li D, Zhou Y, Yang Y, Ma Y, Li X, Yu J, Zhao Y, Zhai H, Lao L.
Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine 2014 March, Epub

Patients with high blood pressure may want to look to acupuncture for answers. A recent meta-analysis concluded that acupuncture lowers blood pressure in patients already taking medications for high blood pressure, or hypertension.

The meta-analysis, performed by Li et al. (2014), and published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, compares the effects of acupuncture and sham acupuncture for essential hypertension. Sham acupuncture means that instead of inserting needles at established acupuncture points, practitioners inserted needles at non-acupuncture points or used techniques where the needles did not puncture a patient’s skin. Authors analyzed four randomized controlled trials. These trials included a total of 386 patients with essential hypertension.

Results suggested that acupuncture, used 2-3 times a week for 6-10 weeks, was an effective means of lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients already taking antihypertensive medications. Patients experienced an average drop of -8.58 mmHg in systolic blood pressure, and -4.54 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure. Acupuncture did not significantly lower blood pressure in patients who were not taking such medications.

Authors recommend that future acupuncture trials for essential hypertension increase the duration and frequency of treatment. They also write, “Larger [trials] with longer follow-up periods would help clarify the potential efficacy and safety of acupuncture for treating hypertension.”


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