Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical technique first dated around 2697 B.C. and it consists in treating various diseases by stimulating different regions of the body using needles. During a four millenniums acupuncture has developed considerably and became an empirically derived science part of the so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In spite of the fact that acupuncture is still subject of a lot of scientific controversies its acceptance has gradually increased during the last decades among the public but also among scientific community. Western scientists are subjecting acupuncture to rigorous tests in order to obtain information about how it can influence the evolution of a disease and haw it can be of valuable help in treating various conditions.
The theoretical base of acupuncture is the existence of an energy flow within the human body similar to the blood flow if this energetic flow is somehow obstructed and an organ doesn’t receive enough energy, the result is a disease. Moreover, Chinese physicians have identified a series of bilaterally symmetrical meridians- 12 main meridians, 8 subsidiary ones, and a few hundreds of energetic nods called acupoints that are disposed longitudinally over the meridians and that are stimulated in order to treat different conditions.
The diagnosing methods in acupuncture consist in the visual inspection of the patient listening to his breath asking questions about his condition, analyzing his tongue and even smelling his breath and urine. If the physician considers that the energy flow is inadequate whether if it is excessive or below the normal level then he stimulates acupoints in one or mere locations in order to restore Qi balance.
Medical techniques based on the stimulation of energetic nods include acupuncture-using a needle, acupressure-finger pressure, electropuncture, and mixobustion- that uses also needles but combines it with the heating of the acupoint by burning herbs.
A new area of investigation in acupuncture studies its effectiveness in cardiovascular disease’s treatment. Studies have shown that acupuncture can lower blood pressure, and that it functions by releasing opioid peptides into the circulatory system, moreover, electroacupuncture was used successfully to treat hypertension.
In some isolated clinical studies has been proven that acupuncture can lower blood pressure in a certain measure, in patients suffering of essential hypertension that being high blood pressure without any known organic cause.
In spite of the lack of randomized unanimous accepted studies about the role of acupuncture in treating coronary heart disease or hypertension many scientists confirm the existence of neural-hormonal mechanisms that are stimulated by acupuncture proving in this manner its effectiveness.
Researchers have shown that acupuncture can increase blood pressure in low blood pressure caused by shocks caused by intense bleeding, drugs or bacterial toxins.
In electroacupuncture, low frequency current stimulation has been used to treat various pathological conditions; high frequency current stimulate, whatsoever has produced notable results. The mechanism behind this process is believed to be the stimulation of nerves responsible with cardiovascular reflexes. By stimulating the acupoint the body produces acetylcholine which triggers a chain of reactions in the brain at hypothalamic level and in the midbrain and in the medulla that improves cardiac functions.
Recent experiments have treated the deficiency of blood supply in the myocardium, condition known as ischemic heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias with outstanding results. Scientists have proven that acupuncture and electropuncture can ameliorate pathological cardiac conditions due to the stimulation of medullar endorphins and enkephalins via an opioid mechanism; it has been proven that acupuncture can improve the blood flow in the heart and thus the level of oxygen in the myocardium but it fails to dilate narrowed coronary vessels.
Acupuncture may also increase effort tolerance in patients with coronary heart disease it has also shown a great potential in vasodialation due to its capacity of widening blood vessels; also in treating Raynaud’s syndrome characterized by the constriction of small blood arteries and in treating diabetic ulcers in the extremities caused by hypotension.