Medical Research

HRV and different Electroacupuncture frequencies in Healthy Volunteers

Kristen Sparrow • July 07, 2011

Now we’re talking. A study looking at different electroacupuncture freqencies and what happens to Heart Rate Variability. This interests me quite a bit since, I’m planning to look at HRV in PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) patients comparing manual acupuncture with 2Hz electrical stimulation. What they found was an overall increase in HRV with high frequency electroacupuncture (120Hz), but no change in the low frequency electroacupuncture (2Hz) group. This goes against the findings that Stener-Vitorin found in her PCOS patients and various other studies, here. But the study was done in healthy volunteers, and the point selection may not have been optimal to stimulate vagal activity, but it’s nice to have some more data points in the acupuncture/HRV realm. (For more information about my practice please click here.)

J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2011 Jun;4(2):107-15.
Comparison of Electroacupuncture Frequency-related Effects on Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Lee JH, Kim KH, Hong JW, Lee WC, Koo S.

Division of Meridian and Structural Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Korea.

This study aimed to compare the effects of high frequency electroacupuncture (EA) and low-frequency EA on the autonomic nervous system by using a heart rate variability measuring device in normal individuals. Fourteen participants were recruited and each participated in the high-frequency and low-frequency sessions (crossover design). The order of sessions was randomized and the interval between the two sessions was over 2 weeks. Participants received needle insertion with 120-Hz stimulation during the high-frequency session (high-frequency EA group), and with 2-Hz stimulation during the low-frequency session (low-frequency EA group). Acupuncture needles were directly inserted perpendicularly to LI 4 and LI 11 acupoints followed by delivery of electric pulses to these points for 15 minutes. Heart rate variability was measured 5 minutes before and after EA stimulation by a heart rate variability measuring system. We found a significant increase in the standard deviation of the normal-to-normal interval in the high-frequency EA group, with no change in the low-frequency EA group. Both the high-frequency and low-frequency EA groups showed no significant differences in other parameters including high-frequency power, low-frequency power, and the ratio of low-frequency power to high-frequency power. Based on these findings, we concluded that high-frequency EA stimulation is more effective than low-frequency EA stimulation in increasing autonomic nervous activity and there is no difference between the two EA frequencies in enhancing sympathovagal balance.