American authors who have spent the last two decades investigating the neural mechanisms underlying the ability of acupuncture to regulate blood pressure have summarised their work in a review paper. Their findings suggest that acupuncture has point-specific effects that can cause prolonged cardiovascular changes that far outlast the duration of needle stimulation. They note that stimulation of acupuncture points activates somatic afferent nerves, and -depending on the underlying situation (high or low blood pressure) – this results in the modification of autonomic nervous system outflow by reducing activity in brain stem nuclei that participate in the primary blood pressure response. The authors conclude that acupuncture has the potential to regulate cardiovascular function in patients with diseases such as hypertension. (Acupuncture regulation of blood pressure: two decades of research. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;111:257-71).

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