C. Longhurst is a professor in the Department of Medicine,
the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and the
Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University
of California, Irvine. After completing his B.S. in
Zoology at the University of California, Davis, Longhurst
obtained his M.D. from the UC Davis School of Medicine
in 1973 and his Ph.D. in Cardiovascular-Pulmonary physiology
- also at UC Davis - in 1974.
studies interactions between the nervous and cardiovascular
systems in a number of different conditions, including
in patients with decreased blood flow to the heart,
during exercise and during acupuncture. Longhurst focuses
on the mechanisms by which sensory nerves become activated
under these circumstances. He also studies neural and
hormonal mechanisms that underlie acupuncture's influence
on the cardiovascular system.
has more than 130 peer-reviewed publications to his
credit, and currently serves on the editorial board
of the professional journal Circulation. In the
past, he has served on the boards of the journals Sports
& Medicine and Journal of Applied Physiology,
and has acted as associate editor for the journal Medicine
and Science in Sports and Exercise.
links to John Longhurst's home page and other related infomation
please see our resources
am wondering if there are any studies on the affect
of acupuncture on glaucoma. I must decide whether to
risk the loss of my remaining vision to relieve the
glaucoma. Since I live alone, this is a major decision
for me. I would appreciate any information about the
possibility of acupuncture lowering the pressure and
if you would know how to contact a reputable doctor.
Thank you for any information you might give me.
As you are aware, glaucoma is a condition associated
with increased pressure in the eye, which can, if left
untreated, result in loss of vision. This is a very
serious disease, which should always be referred to
an ophthalmologist. At least two acupoints, UB.67 (Zhiyin)
and GB.37 (Guangmin), referring to the urinary and gallbladder
meridians, respectively, have been used to treat eye
diseases. I am unaware of any studies specifically related
to treatment of glaucoma and would refer you to Dr.
Edward Wong in the department of ophthalmology at the
University of California, Irvine, for further information.
studying the effect of acupuncture on blood pressure,
do you think that acupuncture could have an effect on
heart rhythm, especially atrial fibrillation?
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating
arrhythmias in experimental animal studies. Generally,
acupuncture would be expected to be effective in treating
those types of arrhythmias associated with an increase
in neural stimulation (i.e., sympathetic nervous system
over-activity) of the heart. I am not aware of any studies
that have focused on the influence of acupuncture on
atrial fibrillation, although theoretically acupuncture
might be able to limit the frequency of occurrence of
this arrhythmia. Since there are no case studies, I
would recommend standard treatment as recommended by
Dr. Longhurst, you did a good job explaining your side
of alternative medicine the other night. I am currently
being denied insurance coverage for my acupuncture treatments,
and am appealing the decision. I was wondering if you
could give me any advice or any good articles to help
my case. I am currently a police officer, and do not
want my physical ailments to get in the way of my job.
I am a fair person, yet pain can transform people if
it gets too bad. Thank you for being open minded with
acupuncture, I am living proof that it does work.
Since you mention pain, I assume this is the reason
acupuncture has been used. It is unfortunate that many
insurance companies do not provide coverage for acupuncture
treatments, especially when pain is one of the areas
for which there is strong evidence for efficacy. There
are a number of plans that do cover acupuncture, at
least for a limited period of time. I refer you to an
article by David Mayer, Annual Review of Medicine, volume
51, pages 49-63, 2000, which provides an excellent description
of the literature on the evidence showing that acupuncture
can be used to successfully treat pain. Although acupuncture
is not successful in treating all kinds of pain, it
sounds as if it was successful in your case.
Dr. Longhurst, I saw your segment on Scientific American
Frontiers last night and am very excited about the results
of acupuncture on blood pressure. I am 66 years old
have high blood pressure that is treated with Plendil
10mg, Astra. Lately, I have been taking aspirin as well
for joint pain. My stomach is all 'knotted up' and I
feel very fatigued. I don't know if these are side effects
of the aspirin and Plendil or not. Could acupuncture
work to lower my blood pressure to the point I would
not need to use Plendil?
in rural northwest Iowa, there is a chiropractor who
practices acupuncture. Is this someone I could speak
with? I'm not sure my physician knows any more about
acupuncture than I do. How often would I need to take
treatments and how would I know if the acupuncture or
the medication is working the best to reduce my blood
pressure? Most of all, how does one determine the qualifications
of an acupuncturist? Thank you for your time, and your
efforts with Scientific American Frontiers.
Acupuncture theoretically may be able to lower
your pressure to the extent that it might be possible
to reduce the dose of your antihypertensive drug(s).
However, the studies are still ongoing on the influence
of acupuncture in hypertension. I suggest that you contact
Dr. Randall M. Zusman at the Massachusetts General Hospital
to get more information.
Iowa Board of Medical Examiners, located in Des Moines,
IA apparently licenses acupuncturists. Their phone number
is 515 281-6489. Treatments generally are given two
or three times per week for conditions associated with
pain. Little information is available on the treatment
schedule for hypertension. However, Dr. Zusman, noted
above could tell you about his treatment schedule. .
the placebo effect is so common and so powerful, shouldn't
there be more research into this effect itself? How
much research has their been in the relation between
belief and health? Perhaps something like hypnosis (or
some other way of manipulating belief) would be able
to distill this effect and make it useful and productive
in a therapeutic setting.
A Your suggestions are good ones. Perhaps you are
suggesting that hypnosis could be used as a surrogate
for acupuncture, to enhance the placebo effect. This
is an interesting thought that could be pursued by individuals
with expertise in hypnosis. More research needs to be
done on the placebo effect, although there are some
good studies available on its frequency and some of
the mechanisms that underlie its action. Hypnosis is
not needed in the 70% of patients who respond favorably
to acupuncture. With respect to the placebo response
occurring in 30-40% of patients, I don't believe that
hypnosis would provide an advantage since the patients
in this category also report improvement.
back to top