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New research has shown that acupuncture prevents and reverses the dangerous cellular accumulations of fatty materials in people suffering from high cholesterol, in turn preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
By needling a specific acupuncture point located on the lower leg, the measure can prevent and reverse the formation of foam cells. This type of cell forms at the sites of fatty streaks and is the beginning of atherosclerosis in blood vessels.
Atherosclerosis is a potentially serious medical condition where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances known as plaques or atheroma. These plaques cause the arteries to harden and narrow, which can be dangerous as it restricts blood flow, which in turn can damage organs and stop them functioning properly. If a plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot, which can block the blood supply to the heart potentially triggering a heart attack or it can block the blood supply to the brain, potentially causing a stroke – both of which can leave devastating effects.
Based on this research, the scientists behind the study note that acupuncture could ‘play an essential role in hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and the triglycerides – the cells behind high cholesterol) and stop it developing into a further level’.
Acupunture or electroacupuncture received at acupuncture point ST40 (fenglong – located halfway between the top of the ankle and the bottom of the knee) has been shown to effectively prevent and reverse the formation of these high-cholesterol-inducing cells, and stimulation of the same acupuncture point, was shown to decrease the cholesterol content of the cells by converting the stored cholesterol into cholesterol esters (which pass the cholesterol onto the liver to be processed and expelled from the body).
The ST40 acupuncture point is also credited with the function of benefitting the chest, according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture system – another piece of evidence that is consistent with the new research findings in that ST40 ability to decrease cholesterol levels in order to prevent heart disease.