Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Maybe a Little Needling is Good for the Heart

By Kathy A SvitilSeptember 1, 2001 5:00 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In another step toward establishing the scientific basis of acupuncture, John Longhurst has determined that strategic poking may fight heart disease by lowering blood pressure. Longhurst, a cardiologist at the University of California at Irvine, and his colleagues inserted acupuncture needles into cats near the median nerve, a traditional acupuncture point. That "acupoint" connects to a part of the brain called the rostral ventrolateral medulla, which influences the function of the heart and blood vessels. When the researchers zapped the needles with tiny pulses of electricity, the brain released chemicals that included endorphins and enkephalins. These natural painkillers seem to inhibit activity in that brain region, leading to a reduction in blood pressure that had been artificially elevated with drugs.

Acupuncture hasn't gained wide acceptance here for applications beyond treating pain. "But in China they use it for a bit of everything, including high blood pressure. If we can define the mechanisms that underlie acupuncture, there's a greater chance physicians here will use it," Longhurst says. His tests on patients with coronary artery disease and high blood pressure look promising.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 50%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In