Researchers in China have discovered yet another benefit of acupuncture, in a recent study on high blood pressure. They investigated the effects of acupuncture at a specific point on rats with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
They showed that acupuncture reduces cell death in the brain by lowering blood pressure, which confirms previous studies. Their new discovery was that acupuncture prevents cell death in the brain by also changing the expression of genes that code for cell death. Their paper was published in the Neural Regeneration Research journal.
Hypertension in the long term can cause a variety of complications including reductions in circulation, blood oxygen levels, and energy. This can lead to excessive cell death in the brain and a variety of short and long-term conditions. The area of the brain most affected by cell death is the hippocampus. This plays an active role in memory, emotions and control of the autonomic nervous system, which is necessary for regulation and healing of the body.
The genetic discovery
Crucially, the researchers have now also found that acupuncture has an upregulating effect on genes that prevent cell death and a downregulating effect on genes that cause cell death. The effects were significant even after 21 weeks. This adds a new dimension to previous research, which showed that acupuncture was at least as effective for reducing blood pressure as standard medical treatment, but did not cover its epigenetic benefit.
Acupuncture prevents cell death in the brain
Hypertension contributes to a variety of other medical conditions. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. It also increases the risks of stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss and chronic kidney disease. By lowering blood pressure, acupuncture can therefore help to prevent a variety of medical conditions.
Acupuncture prevents cell death in the brain by lowering blood pressure. It also changes the expression of genes that cause our brain cells to die. The research on this additional benefit of acupuncture is significant.