Patients who had the treatment found the drop in their blood pressure lasted up to six weeks.
Electroacupuncture was used in the project, which is the first to scientifically confirm that the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture can benefit mild to moderate high blood pressure.
Electroacupuncture uses low intensity electrical stimulation.
“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.
“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.”
Longhurst and his UCI colleagues conducted tests on 65 hypertensive patients who were not receiving any hypertension medication.
Separated randomly into two groups, the subjects were treated with electroacupuncture — a form of the practice that employs low-intensity electrical stimulation — at different acupoints on the body.
One group received electroacupuncture on both sides of the inner wrists and slightly below each knee.
The researchers found a noticeable drop in blood pressure rates in 70 percent of participants — an average of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure (the high number) and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure (the low number).
These improvements persisted for a month and a half.
The other group were given electroacupuncture at other poins along the forearm and lower leg but no consequential blood pressure changes were found in this group.
The researchers said the findings in the first group were clinically meaningful and the technique would be particularly useful to treat systolic hypertension in patients over 60 years of age.
“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.