September Newsletter: Does Acupuncture Increase Circulation?

Happy woman receives acupuncture.

Does Acupuncture Increase Circulation?

Sluggish blood circulation could be one of the reasons you feel tired or sick. Fortunately, acupuncture treatments may offer the ideal way to jumpstart circulation and improve your health.

What's the Problem with Poor Circulation?

Blood flow plays an important role in your health. Blood circulates through your body through a system of blood vessels, providing oxygen and nutrients needed for good health. As blood circulates, it also removes waste products that could make you feel sick or fatigued. If you don't understand why you seem to catch more colds than normal or feel unusually tired, poor circulation cold be to blame.

Symptoms of poor circulation may include:

  • Digestive System Problems
  • Frequent Illnesses
  • Problems with Memory or Concentration
  • Numbness, Tingling, or Swelling in Hands or Feet
  • Swelling in the Ankles or Feet
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Cold Hands or Feet
  • Lack of Energy or Fatigue
  • Joint Pain
  • Slow Healing Wounds

What Causes Poor Circulation?

Poor circulation can occur for many reasons. Cholesterol build-up could narrow the amount of blood that can travel through your blood vessels, or high blood pressure could stiffen your vessels.

Other conditions or issues that may affect blood flow include:

  • Blood Clots
  • Diabetes
  • Poor Diet
  • Raynaud's Phenomenon
  • Varicose Veins
  • Peripheral Artery Disease
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or Drinking
  • Stress
  • Lack of Exercise

How Acupuncture Can Improve Blood Flow

During acupuncture treatments, your acupuncturist places hair-thin needles in precise locations in your skin. Treatments reverse imbalances that can occur if your Qi becomes blocked.

Inserting acupuncture needles restores the free flow of Qi and increases the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and expands the blood vessels, which improves circulation, lowers blood pressure naturally, and makes it easier to eliminate waste products.

In a study published in Evidence-Based and Complementary Alternative Medicine, researchers reported that blood flow in the radial and brachial arteries in the arm improved after needle stimulation of the LR3 acupuncture point.

The LR3 point is on the top of the foot, which may seem like a strange place to put needles if you want to boost blood flow in the arm. Since Qi flows through the body in a series of meridians, or pathways, your acupuncturist may place needles at any place along the appropriate meridian.

Researchers who applied acupuncture needles at the ST36 acupuncture point below the kneecap reported that the speed of the peripheral blood flow increased after the needles were applied. They believe that the change in blood flow velocity could be due to increased cardiac (heart) output. Their work appeared in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.

Is Stress the Reason You Feel Sluggish? Acupuncture Reduces Stress and Boosts Your Circulation

Acupuncture also offers an effective antidote for stress. When you're stressed, you've probably noticed that your head hurts and your muscles feel tense. Unfortunately, tension also affects your blood vessels.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, narrows the blood vessels to improve blood flow to the muscles. Increased blood flow to the muscles makes it easier to react quickly if you face a dangerous situation. Blood vessels return to normal fairly quickly after the stressful episode. However, they may remain narrowed if you're constantly stressed, which could affect circulation.

Acupuncture treatments relieve stress by lowering your cortisol level and calming the stress response center in your brain, which helps your blood vessels relax. Treatments also spur the release of serotonin and endorphins. These hormones help you feel calm, in addition to decreasing pain and improving sleep.

Struggling with blood circulation issues? Visiting the acupuncturist could reduce or relieve your symptoms. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.


NCBI: Evidence-Based and Complementary Alternative Medicine: Evaluation of the Effects of Acupuncture on Blood Flow in Humans with Ultrasound Color Doppler Imaging, 6/21/2012

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies: Hemodynamic Changes Caused by Acupuncture in Healthy Volunteers: A Prospective, Single-Arm Exploratory Clinical Study, 5/22/2017

Mayo Clinic: Stress and High Blood Pressure: What’s the Connection?, 12/10/2022

Health CMI: Acupuncture Improves Circulation, 3/20/15

Medical News Today: What to Know About Poor Circulation, 1/3/2023


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