Acupuncture at Taichong LIV-3 leads to decreases in systolic blood pressure, which can be correlated with increases in connectivity between areas of the brain related to emotional processing and blood pressure control. Researchers from China randomly divided 30 hypertensive patients into a verum acupuncture group (needled at Taichong LIV-3) and a sham acupuncture group (needled at a non-acupuncture point on the anterior thigh). Significant differences in systolic blood pressure were found only in the verum group. Examination of fMRI scans showed that acupuncture at LIV-3 specifically increased activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, as well as functional connectivity between regions in the frontal lobe, cerebellum and insula. Since the frontal lobes are evolved in emotional processing, the authors suggest that these brain areas may constitute a neural network that could represent a pathway for the control of blood pressure by the emotions, and could also explain the effect of acupuncture at LIV-3 on hypertension.
Acupuncture Decreases Blood Pressure Related to Hypothalamus Functional Connectivity with Frontal Lobe, Cerebellum, and Insula: A Study of Instantaneous and Short-Term Acupuncture Treatment in Essential Hypertension. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:6908710.