Dr. Holly R. Middlekauff, M.D associate professor of medicine at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine and a team of researchers conducted a study which involved the use of acupuncture on 14 heart patients.
The group was split into three with the first group receiving acupuncture at the traditional sites, the second receiving it in ”non-acupoints” (not traditional acupuncture points) and the third did not receive it at all.
The researchers then created mental stress by giving the patients mathematical problems which they were required to solve mentally and answer aloud alongside various other colour and word tests.
After 20 minutes the blood pressure and heart rate of the first group remained the same as before the stress induction and the activity of the sympathetic nerve (sympathetic nerves are more active in heart patients than in people with a healthy heart) was reduced. Interestingly, the activity of the sympathetic nerve increased in both non-acupoint patients and the patients who received no acupuncture at all.
“We need to do more studies in large patient populations and repeat the procedures over a period of weeks, rather than just once, as we did in our study. But in clinical experience, it has been used successfully and with long-range results in improving hypertension, and it may also be beneficial in lowering sympathetic nerve activity,” says Dr. Middlekauff.