Anxiety in men (but not women) has been linked to development of hypertension.10 Several research groups have also shown a relationship between job strain and high blood pressure in men.11, 12, 13 Some researchers have tied blood pressure specifically to suppressed aggression.14
Although some kind of relationship between stress and high blood pressure appears to exist, the effects of treatment for stress remain controversial. An analysis of 26 trials reported that reductions in blood pressure caused by biofeedback or meditation were no greater than those seen with placebo.15 Though some stress management interventions have not been helpful in reducing blood pressure,16, 17 those trials that have reported promising effects have used combinations of yoga, biofeedback, and/or meditation.18, 19, 20 Some doctors continue to recommend a variety of stress-reducing measures, sometimes tailoring them to the needs and preferences of the person seeking help.
Preliminary laboratory studies in animals21 and humans22, 23, 24 suggest that acupuncture may help regulate blood pressure. Most,25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 but not all,31 preliminary trials also suggest that acupuncture may be an effective way to lower blood pressure. Whether blood pressure goes back up after acupuncture is discontinued remains an unsettled question.
Auricular (ear) acupressure has been reported to be an effective treatment for hypertension,32, 33, 34 though in one case the improvement was not significantly better than use of traditional herbal medicines.35
Spinal manipulation may lower blood pressure (at least temporarily) in healthy people, according to most preliminary36, 37, 38 and controlled39 trials. However, some research suggests the effect is no better than the blood pressure-lowering effect of sham (“fake”) manipulation.40 In hypertensive people, temporary decreases in blood pressure have also been reported after spinal manipulation.41, 42, 43 However, most,44, 45, 46 but not all,47 trials suggest that manipulation produces only short-term decreases in blood pressure in hypertensive people.