Blood Pressure, East and West
In a recent episode of Peter Attia, MD’s podcast, a fascinating discussion occurred surrounding the topic of blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure is crucial because elevated blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels can significantly reduce the likelihood of these potentially life-threatening conditions and improve overall cardiovascular health.
As an acupuncturist committed to promoting holistic health and wellness, I found Dr. Attia’s insights on measuring, managing, and treating high blood pressure informative and thought-provoking. This blog post will delve into some key points discussed in the episode, shedding light on blood pressure management from an acupuncture perspective.
- High blood pressure is incredibly common: Did you know that once we are into middle age (45 to 55), half of the men in my clinic will present with hypertension and 44% of women? About half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure or are on the verge of developing it. This prevalence underscores the importance of addressing and managing high blood pressure as a widespread health concern.
- Hypertension is called The Silent Killer because many people do not experience the symptoms: Clinically, I see the beginnings of heart disease daily that appear in subtle ways, but people do not recognize it as such. Headaches, lightheadedness, chronic muscle tension, heart palpitations, insomnia, and anxiety are among the symptoms of the beginning stages of heart disease. I believe COVID has amplified these tendencies, which I have discussed in my previous blog post, so I want to bring attention to blood pressure.
- The Importance of Accurate Blood Pressure Measurement: Dr. Attia emphasized correctly measuring blood pressure to obtain reliable readings. Here is the link he recommends for accurately measuring your blood pressure at home. Video: British Heart Foundation – How to measure your own blood pressure
- Acupuncture as a Complementary Approach: Acupuncture has a long history of being used to support individuals with hypertension. By targeting specific acupoints along the body’s meridians, acupuncture helps to restore balance and flow of Qi (energy), which can aid in reducing blood pressure. Research studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can positively impact blood pressure levels, providing a valuable adjunct to conventional medical treatments.
- The Flow of Qi: Blood pressure imbalances are seen as manifestations of deeper energetic imbalances within the body. In Chinese medicine, health is viewed as the harmonious flow of Qi (vital energy) and the balance of Yin and Yang forces. Acupuncture treatments aim to restore this balance by stimulating specific acupoints along the meridians, allowing the smooth flow of Qi and the harmonization of Yin and Yang. By addressing the root imbalances, acupuncture can help regulate blood pressure and promote overall well-being.
- The Role of the Kidneys: In Chinese medicine, the kidneys play a vital role in blood pressure regulation. Chinese medicine highlights the connection between kidney function and blood pressure imbalances, just like Western medicine. The kidneys maintain the body’s water metabolism and regulate the balance of Yin and Yang energies. Acupuncture treatments can help tonify and balance the kidneys, supporting their vital functions and controlling blood pressure.
- Emotions and Blood Pressure: Lonny Jarrett emphasizes the profound influence of emotions on our overall well-being. Emotional stress, such as anxiety, anger, and frustration, can create energetic blockages and disrupt the flow of Qi and blood. These energetic imbalances can contribute to elevated blood pressure. Acupuncture, as a holistic therapy, seeks to address the emotional aspects of health by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and restoring emotional balance. By harmonizing Qi’s flow, acupuncture helps alleviate emotional burdens and supports blood pressure regulation.
- Constitutional Patterns: Lonny Jarrett’s approach to managing blood pressure encompasses constitutional patterns in TCM. Each individual has a unique constitution reflecting their physical, emotional, and energetic characteristics. These constitutional patterns provide valuable insights into understanding how imbalances manifest in the body. By identifying an individual’s constitutional strengths and weaknesses, acupuncture treatments can be tailored to restore equilibrium and promote blood pressure harmony based on their needs.
- Lifestyle Modifications and Blood Pressure Control: Dr. Attia highlighted the crucial role of lifestyle modifications in managing high blood pressure. These include maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, reducing sodium intake, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress effectively. Acupuncture, as a complementary therapy, can support these lifestyle changes by promoting relaxation, improving sleep quality, and enhancing overall well-being. Acupuncture treatments can complement these lifestyle changes by helping to regulate the body’s energy flow and supporting the body’s self-healing capacities.
- Collaborative Care for Optimal Results: Dr. Attia emphasized the importance of collaboration between patients and healthcare professionals to manage high blood pressure effectively. As acupuncturists, we wholeheartedly embrace this philosophy. By working with patients, primary care physicians, and other specialists, we can provide integrative care that addresses the multifaceted aspects of hypertension. To achieve optimal results, we aim to create a synergistic treatment plan combining the best Western and traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine.
As acupuncturists, while we recognize the value of precision in assessing a patient’s health, our focus is on understanding the systems of the body and how they come together to create the whole person. We can include the precision of Western medicine diagnostics, such as blood pressure measurement, into Eastern diagnostic techniques, such as pulse evaluation and tongue examination, to understand our patients’ well-being comprehensively. This holistic approach allows us to tailor our treatments to address the symptoms and the underlying imbalances contributing to high blood pressure.
Dr. Attia’s episode on blood pressure sheds light on the various aspects of measuring, managing, and treating high blood pressure. As acupuncturists, we view blood pressure management as holistic, incorporating lifestyle modifications, acupuncture, and collaborative care. By embracing this comprehensive approach, we strive to support our patients in achieving improved blood pressure control and overall well-being. Suppose you are dealing with high blood pressure. In that case, I encourage you to explore acupuncture as a complementary therapy and seek the expertise of qualified practitioners who can guide you on your path to better health.