Medical Research

Acupuncture HRV results vary with point choice

Kristen Sparrow • February 08, 2011

I do have some problems with this study, even though it does address my two favorite topics, HRV(heart rate variability-a way to monitor stress response) and acupuncture. I strongly disagree with their opening statement that there is no evidence that acupuncture has effects on HRV. There have been studies too numerous to mention on this topic, and it begs the question of why they would study the issue if there was no evidence. I also wonder why they picked an acupuncture method that is not in current practice, i.e. a single “instantaneous” puncture. I would love to hear that single point, “instantaneous” puncture is just as effective as traditional “point combination,” 20 minute sessions. That would be a boon to my practice and will await more studies with an open mind. All that said, I am buoyed by the thought that some points affect HRV more than others since that may give some keys to more effective acupuncture treatment.

To learn more about acupuncture, HRV, and my practice please click here.

Acupuncture to Danzhong but not to Zhongting increases the cardiac vagal component of heart rate variability.
Auton Neurosci. 2011 Jan 6.
Kurono Y, Minagawa M, Ishigami T, Yamada A, Kakamu T, Hayano J.

The Oriental Medical Center, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.

There is currently no convincing evidence that acupuncture has any specific effects on autonomic nervous function as assessed by heart rate variability (HRV). We examined whether the stimulation of neighboring acupunctural points, Danzhong (CV17) and Zhongting (CV16) on the anterior median line of the thorax, induced different effects on HRV. In 14 healthy males, epifascial acupunctural stimulation (single instantaneous needle stimulation on the fascial surface without producing De-Qi sensation) was performed at CV17 and CV16 on different days in a clinical study utilizing a cross-over design. We found that the stimulation of CV17, but not of CV16, decreased the heart rate (P=0.01, repeated measures ANOVA) and increased the power of the high-frequency component of the HRV, an index of cardiac vagal activity (P=0.01). The low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, an index of sympathetic activity showed no significant changes for either point. Our observations could not be explained as either nonspecific or psychological/placebo effects of needle stimulation. This study provides strong evidence for the presence of a specific acupunctural point that causes the modulation of cardiac autonomic function.