Can Acupuncture Lower Your Blood Pressure?
Not so long ago, acupuncturists were viewed as little more than snake oil salesmen.
No one was doing any research on acupuncture, because mainstream medicine refused to admit that it had any basis in reality. Nevermind that the Chinese have been treating disease with acupuncture for thousands of years — successfully, I might add. Because it doesn't conform to our narrow Western views, stories about acupuncture were dismissed without even listening to them.
Today acupuncture has gone mainstream. Most of us everyday Joes are less concerned with why something works than with how well it works. We want to know three things:
Will it make me feel better?
Does it have unpleasant or dangerous side effects?
Will it cost me an arm and a leg?
The answers are yes, no, and no. So in spite of Big Medicine's efforts to stamp it out, acupuncture has slowly but surely gained a foothold in the field of health and wellness. Even the scientific world is beginning to take notice.
We have 20 years' worth of evidence. Why is this not standard treatment?
People have been studying the effectiveness of acupuncture for years. Interest really picked up in the late 80s and early 90s, and today there's a large body of research.The results are nearly always positive — but somehow they never seem to make waves. Every few months somebody publishes a study showing that acupuncture lowers blood pressure. It's headline news for a couple of days…then we never hear about it again.
"Acupuncture Can Lower High Blood Pressure," WebMD declared clear back in 2001. The article — just one of dozens from the early 2000s showing that acupuncture works — went a step further than most. "Scientists investigating its actions in heart disease have found not only that acupuncture works," it said, "but why and how."
Fast forward to today.
The same website published an article this month declaring, "Acupuncture Might Help Ease High Blood Pressure." Then they go on to say don't get excited, it's only a small study. It's "not conclusive".
But wait! Back in 2001, researchers were describing how and why acupuncture works for high blood pressure. They were talking about it becoming a standard treatment. Yet today they're giving us the same old, "Wait, we need more research" line. What happened?
Well, folks…Big Medicine happened.
Surprise! Big Medicine and Big Pharma can't make money on acupuncture
Big Medicine and Big Pharma have a great strategy for dealing with "alternative" medicine. It's a four-step plan. First they try to scare us out of using it. If that doesn't work, they co-opt it — maybe they start doing the treatment themselves and pass rules to stop anyone else who isn't a doctor. Or maybe Big Pharma changes one molecule of an herbal remedy, then patents it and calls it a drug. This kind of thing happens all the time.
If they can't do either of these things, they try to ban it. This comes up each year with supplements. Every year Congress floats a bill to call them drugs or outlaw them altogether, and each year it fails.
And if all these strategies fail, they have one last option: they simply ignore what's going on.
They refuse to talk about it. They refuse to research promising treatments. And if anyone is dumb enough to do some research anyway, it either gets buried or it gets ridiculed. In any case, it never gets the chance to catch on with the average person.
Because let's face it: you and I care about our health, and probably most people do too. But too many people still believe the lie that Big Medicine has our best interest at heart, and that Big Pharma wants to make us well. So most people, if they hear about alternatives like acupuncture at all, shrug and go on if their uninformed doctor tells them it's a load of hooey.
This is a far more effective strategy for the Big Guys than banning things outright. And this is what's happened with acupuncture.
Big Medicine can't take it over — it takes years of special training to become an acupuncturist.
They can't scare us out of using it — there are no possible side effects to point to, and no outlandish cost to get righteously indignant about. They can't ban it for the same reasons. So they have no choice but to ignore it and hope it goes away. Because for every one of us who lowers our blood pressure without pricey office visits and a prescription in our hand for life, Big Medicine and Big Pharma lose Big Money.
Acupuncture CAN lower your blood pressure
The evidence is pretty clear that for the majority of people, acupuncture can lower high blood pressure. If you want to give acupuncture a shot, here are a few things you should do:
- Choose a licensed acupuncturist. While acupuncturists in all states must be licensed, there are some other health professionals, such as chiropractors, who are allowed to do "needle-less acupuncture." It uses weak electricity rather than needles.
This treatment has its place. However, acupuncture is just one aspect of a whole alternative medical system — Traditional Chinese Medicine — and other health professionals just aren't going to have the training and background that a licensed acupuncturist does.
- Ask what his or her specialty is. Many acupuncturists, just like other health practitioners, have special areas of focus.
- Research before you make an appointment. Check out their website. Talk to other patients if you can. What kind of reputation do they have? Are people satisfied with their treatment?
- Choose someone you have a rapport with. Medicine — whether mainstream or alternative — is as much art as science, and acupuncture is especially so. Choose a practitioner who makes you feel comfortable.
- See if your insurance covers treatments. A few plans do.
- Let your M.D. know what you're doing — but don't be discouraged if they act like you're a little nuts. Doctors have mixed opinions about acupuncture. Some think it works, some think it's quackery. Regardless of their opinion, if you're taking blood pressure meds you may need your dosage adjusted as the acupuncture does its work.
Some studies show the effects of acupuncture on blood pressure can last weeks or even months for some people. However, it may not be a quick fix — each person is different, and while for some a single monthly session may do the trick, for others it may take a series of treatments to get to an acceptable level.
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