Electroacupuncture in the Treatment of Hypertension Research Study


Condition/Disease: Hypertension
Lead Researcher: Shaista Malik, MD, PhD, MPH
Location: UCI Health Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute located at
1202 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 AND
UC Irvine Institute for Clinical and translational Science (ICTS) located at 101 The City Drive South Bldg- 25, 2nd Floor Orange, CA 92868

Purpose: To determine the effectiveness of Electroacupuncture in decreasing blood pressure in women and men who are newly diagnosed with hypertension as well as those already on medication. The study includes once or twice a week 30-minute electroacupuncture (EA)therapy session over a period of 32 weeks. Participant will be assigned randomly to a sequence of two different EA treatments.


During needle stimulation, we have shown that sensory nerves located beneath acupoints send information to several regions in the brain that receive input from many other acupoints, as well as from visceral organs such as the stomach and gallbladder. For example, a balloon is distended in the stomach or an inflammatory chemical is applied to the gallbladder to simulate food ingestion or inflammation. During stimulation of these visceral organs, blood pressure is elevated. Nerves located under acupuncture points on the arm or leg that are stimulated by the acupuncture suppress the increased pressure, in part, because they cause the local release of endorphins and enkephalins, part of the brain’s opioid system.

These studies employ anatomical, pharmacological and physiological techniques to monitor activity in neurons in several areas of the brain and to dissect the neurotransmitter chemical signals, like opioids, that are responsible for the acupuncture-cardiovascular effect. We now know that these endorphins and enkephalins reduce the increased activity that is generated during stimulation of the visceral organ. Thus, these studies provide new information about how acupuncture works to lower blood pressure.



  • Age of 39 years or older
  • Women and men who are clinically diagnosed with hypertension without cardiac diseases
  • Your blood pressure is not greater than 170/110 mmHg
  • For women:
        • You are not pregnant or nursing an infant
        • You are not on estrogen hormone replacement medications or you are permitted by your family doctor to stop hormone replacement therapy 7 days prior to the study and throughout the study

Time Commitment:

This is a short-term study requiring 24-32 study visits over the period of 32 weeks, depending on your response to EA therapy. Possible time commitment for this study is between 6 to 12 months, based on your level of participation.


You may receive no direct benefit from being in this study. While researchers hope that electroacupuncture can decrease your blood pressure and be effective with fewer side effects than the standard (usual) treatment, there is no proof of this yet. If you are in the group that receives the EA therapy, you may benefit from participating in the study.


$50 gift card per 8-week course of treatment at completion of each EA treatment. If you have high blood pressure in the range of 130-170/80-110 mm Hg, you may be eligible to participate in this study.

To learn more about this study and to inquire if you are eligible, please contact:

Ashwini Erande  aerande@uci.edu

Stephanie Tjen-a-looi  stjenalo@uci.edu

UCI IRB Approved: 08-27-2020 | MOD# 27986 | HS# 1999-2222