Acupuncturist Questions Blood Pressure

Does acupuncture raise blood pressure?

After a session my friend's blood pressure actually increased. It did go back to normal after some time, but it was still concerning for her. Could acupuncture really have this effect? Or is it likely that something else caused her blood pressure to rise?

23 Answers

Likely something else causes your blood pressure elevated.
Acupuncture can rebalance and reharmonize your systems, it’s up to your provider.
It can raise blood pressure and it can lower it. Many patients come to treat hypertension.
In general Acupuncture will lower blood pressure, especially after time. A good acupuncture session has a deeply relaxing effect that should have a positive effect on BP. It is possible your friend received a poor treatment or that there were other factors at play. It would be very rare to see blood pressure go up unless a person had a low blood pressure issue.
Acupuncture can help to raise blood pressure. Please check with the licensed acupuncturist in your area to find out what causes the low blood pressure.
Acupuncture helps your body find balance and harmony. It could be that your friend was very nervous and was not instructed how to breathe and settle the mind.
I would suspect that her nerves or medications might have caused it. But, I wouldn't rule it out. Acupuncture, for most, will bring down the blood pressure. But, depending on the points selected for her treatment, it could have made things move too much or too fast for them. I would also to make sure you or your friend is getting treated by a Licensed Acupuncturist. Sometimes those with less training can have effects like that happen.
In a person with high blood pressure or normal blood pressure acupuncture will not be the cause of it temporarily rising. There is no evidence to show that acupuncture will raise blood pressure in a person with normal or high blood pressure. Several other factors may be the cause such as nervousness from getting the treatment, needles, etc. In patients with low blood pressure it can serve to raise it to a normal state but the acupuncture itself will not raise it if the blood pressure is normal or high. It would have been raised by another factor.
I'm not entirely sure, but what I do know is that acupuncture has been shown to lower high blood pressure, or normalize it if it is too low. But Qi flow activated by needling sure can have a powerful effect!!! If given the proper diagnosis and treating accordingly, acupuncture can balance that which is out of balance. It has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which aid in depression or mood. It influences histamine responses which help with allergies, helps regulate blood sugar, produces and affects endorphin production among many other functions. If your friend experienced a spike in blood pressure, it may have had little to do with the actual needling and more to do with her sympathetic nervous system being activated due to being nervous about treatment. If blood pressure is typically low, it may certainly get raised in effect of balancing out the system. What were her other reactions to treatment? Were they favorable? Sometimes, the pendulum needs to swing drastically in the other direction in order to find the middle ground!!!!
Anything is possible. Which means acupuncture could have caused the temporary spike in blood pressure, but also, could mean that it was caused as a byproduct of stress or anxiety, bad digestion, etc. Without having seen the client myself, this is a difficult question to answer. I believe it is best answered as a case-by-case.
Actually, acupuncture has two-way regulation: it means hypotension can rise, hypertension can be reduced. I don't know why your friend increased. Maybe the acupuncturist did not have good skills or maybe that something else caused her blood pressure to rise.
There are specific acupuncture points used to lower blood pressure but sometimes people are nervous during their first session. I always check on my patients to make sure they are feeling ok or leave a call button in the room so they know they can call me if they are not feeling comfortable during a treatment. This usually only happens during the first treatment when people don't really know what to expect. You can always ask your practitioner to check on you if you feel uneasy at any appointment-that will probably help.
It's more likely that excitement or nervousness from the treatment is what actually raised her blood pressure. Typically, acupuncture treatments lower blood pressure.
Likely something else is going on. Suggest this person checking with a doctor for renal and other functional tests.
I cannot speak for your friends specific condition, but odds are that there was another factor involved. If this was your friends first session, they may have had some anxiety, or excitement/anticipation. They may have been anticipating or experiencing some pain during treatment, etc. You do not mention how long after the session this happened - did you take b/p just prior and just after?

In any case, just let the practitioner know this happened so they can assess and act accordingly.

I have personally seen acupuncture to only have the effect of decreasing blood pressure and this is a well reported outcome. However, if your friend was anxious about needling, it might have been a sympathetic nervous response to the treatment, or an unknown mechanism operating within your friend, or something else entirely.
Acupuncture is an excellent therapy for LOWERING blood pressure. The only reason I can think of that may cause your friend’s BP to rise after treatment is because she was nervous. Or maybe she did not have a comfortable treatment, something must’ve been bothering her. Acupuncture almost always lowers ones blood pressure to a healthy and normal state.
I suppose if your friend was really nervous her blood pressure might have gone up, but I have never heard of the treatment causing it to rise. On the contrary, I have patients who come in to help them lower their pressure. I would suggest your friend checks her blood pressure before and after the next treatment, and talk to the practitioner about it. But my guess is that it was something else that caused it to rise.
Good question! Not seeing the patient in person, it’s hard to say what other factors may be present, but simply put, acupuncture increases circulation. If the patient has other factors like high cholesterol, plaque or arterial sclerosis (which is expected with age), the increased blood flow will slightly heighten blood pressure because of those factors otherwise inhibit blood flow. It’s nothing to be concerned about and should correct again shortly after.
Acupuncture increases circulation and is able to relax the muscles of the body, therefore should not raise blood pressure. Unless your friend has an unknown disease or other treatments that may contribute to his high blood pressure. I would recommend your friend consult with his MD for further testing.
Yes, it's possible acupuncture increased your friend's blood pressure. Acupuncture has been shown to have homeostatic effects - in other words: if your friend's blood pressure was low, for whatever reason, acupuncture may have had the side-effect of bringing the pressure up.

It's difficult to say much more than this because I don't know what your friend was being treated for, what the practitioner's assessment was, what acupuncture points were used or whether or not your friend saw a board certified acupuncturist.

The last point is particularly important. Whether we believe it or not and whether we like it or not, acupuncture has systemic effects. Providers who are not fully trained in the system have no way to predict whether or not those effects might occur and, if they do, how to mitigate them. Unfortunately, at the moment, there are a lot of providers out there who are trying to cash in on acupuncture - they take a weekend seminar and then offer services. This isn't nearly enough training, especially when compared to the thousands of hours a board certified acupuncturist typically has.

All that being said, I have two suggestions for your friend:

1. Make sure they're seeing an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist.

2. Talk to their provider about what happened after the acupuncture session. Sometimes these events can be diagnostic and might provide that last clue the provider needs to be able to adjust the points used and get better results.