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Understand Blood Pressure with TCM

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure your heart uses to push blood through your blood vessels and around your body. It is typically measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is expressed as two values: Systolic Pressure and Diastolic Pressure.


- 120 is the Systolic Pressure (pressure during heartbeats).

- 80 is the Diastolic Pressure (pressure when the heart is at rest).


Normal blood pressure is generally considered to be around 120/80 mmHg. However, blood pressure can vary from person to person, and optimal ranges may differ based on individual health conditions and age.


High blood pressure (hypertension) can contribute to various health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney issues. Low blood pressure (hypotension) may also cause problems and symptoms such as dizziness or fainting. Regular monitoring of blood pressure is essential for maintaining cardiovascular health.



Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

a) Headaches: Persistent headaches, particularly at the back of the head. These headaches may be accompanied by dizziness or a feeling of light-headedness.


b) Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, even with mild exertion, can be an indicator of elevated blood pressure.


c) Irregular Heartbeat: An irregular heartbeat or palpitations can be associated with uncontrolled hypertension and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.


d) Vision Problems: Blurred or impaired vision may occur as a result of high blood pressure. This can sometimes manifest as seeing spots or experiencing visual disturbances.


e) Blood in the Urine: In some cases, high blood pressure can lead to kidney problems, resulting in blood in the urine. This requires prompt medical attention.




Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

- family history of high blood pressure

- too much salt in your diet

- being overweight

- drinking too much caffeine, such as coffee

- drinking too much alcohol & smoking

- Not doing enough exercise



How to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

a. Adopt a Heart-Healthy Diet:

- Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

- Reduce sodium (salt) intake, as excess salt can contribute to elevated blood pressure.


b. Maintain a Healthy Weight

- Being overweight or obesity puts extra strain on your heart, increasing the risk for developing high blood pressure and damage to your blood vessels that can lead to serious health threats. Maintain a healthy weight and keep your body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.


c. Engage in Regular Physical Activity

- Aim for some moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or vigorous-intensity exercise per week.


d. Limit Alcohol Consumption

- Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.


e. Quit Smoking:

- Smoking raises blood pressure and damages blood vessels.


f. Monitor Your Blood Pressure:

- People can use a blood pressure monitor to measure their blood pressure regularly at home. Patients with hypertension should measure their blood pressure frequently to keep it within the target range.



How TCM Can Help Manage High Blood Pressure

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. It is believed to help regulate the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood, promoting balance within the body.

For high blood pressure, certain acupuncture points may be targeted to regulate the cardiovascular system. Acupuncture can also affect insulin and blood sugar levels, play a certain role in regulating blood sugar, and has potential in preventing and controlling metabolic diseases.


Here are some commonly targeted acupuncture points for regulating the cardiovascular system in the context of high blood pressure in TCM:


  1. Neiguan (PC6 - Pericardium 6):

Location: On the inner forearm, approximately two and a half finger-widths above the wrist crease.

Function: Neiguan is known for its ability to regulate heart function, alleviate palpitations, and promote cardiovascular health. Stimulating this acupoint may contribute to balancing blood pressure.


  1. Hegu (LI4 - Large Intestine 4):

Location: On the back of the hand, in the web between the thumb and index finger.

Function: A versatile acupoint, Hegu is believed to have a calming effect. Stimulating this point may aid in regulating blood pressure and promoting relaxation.


  1. Geshu (BL17 - Bladder 17):

Location: On the back, on either side of the spine, level with the seventh thoracic vertebra.

Function: Geshu is considered crucial for promoting blood circulation. It may help address conditions related to the Blood in TCM and contribute to blood pressure regulation.


2. Herbal Medicine:

TCM often utilizes herbal remedies to address imbalances in the body. Herbs such as Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), Gouqizi (Lycium barbarum), and Huang Qi (Astragalus) are believed to have properties that may support cardiovascular health and regulate blood pressure.


3. Cupping Therapy:

Cupping involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. It is thought to stimulate blood flow and Qi circulation, promoting relaxation and potentially aiding in blood pressure regulation.


4. Moxibustion

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medical treatment that uses the heat generated by burning mugwort to stimulate specific acupuncture points on the body. For high blood pressure, moxibustion helps balance energy in the body, promote blood circulation, and soothe the nervous system.


5. Stress Reduction

TCM recognizes the impact of stress on health. Stress management techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness, can positively influence blood pressure.


6. Consult with a TCM Physician:

A TCM physician will assess your individual constitution and create a personalized treatment plan. This may include a combination of acupuncture, herbal remedies, and lifestyle recommendations tailored to your specific needs.


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