Chiropractic adjustments work to harmonize the body's natural systems by realigning the spinal bones and removing pressure and congestion within the nervous system. This process decreases the physiological stress response and restores optimal function and healing to the body. Along with many other health issues, chiropractic care has shown to consistently achieve remarkable results in helping to stabilize blood pressure.
The nervous system is what allows our internal physiology to adapt to the stresses and demands of the external environment. The skull and spine surround and protect the nervous system and bear the consistent stress of gravity every day. When the external stressors become too great there is compromise in the spinal structure and resulting interference in the nervous system. This interference is termed subluxation. Subluxation causes the nervous system to move out of balance and towards sympathetic (fight or flight) dominance. This process increases stress hormone secretion, inflammatory processes, and blood vessel tone. For many individuals this results in higher blood pressure. Chiropractic adjustments remove subluxation and restore harmony to the nervous system allowing the body to stabilize and heal appropriately.
In 1988, a double blind study of 75 patients was performed to fully analyze the reports that chiropractic care could help stabilize blood pressure in patients. Within this study, one group of patients with elevated blood pressure received adjustments to the thoracic spine area. Another group received placebos (movements that seemed to be adjustments but were not), and a 3rd group received no treatment. The result was that the adjusted group experienced decreases in both systolic & diastolic blood pressure while no change was noted in either the control or placebo group.
A special chiropractic adjustment to the upper cervical region can significantly lower high blood pressure, a placebo-controlled study performed at the University of Chicago suggests. "This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination," study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. "And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems," adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center.
8 weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent a sham chiropractic adjustment. "When the statistician brought me the data, I actually didn't believe it. It was way too good to be true," Bakris says. "The statistician said, 'I don't even believe it.' But we checked for everything, and there it was."
Compared to the sham-treated patients, those who got the real procedure saw an average of 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average of 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number). This was a greater effect than 2 powerful blood pressure medications given in combination.
In another double blind study, Dr. Yates examined the effects of upper thoracic chiropractic adjustments on blood pressure in 21 subjects with elevated blood pressure. Subjects in the active group (those getting adjusted) showed statistically significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Placebo and control groups demonstrated no such changes and did not differ significantly from each other. Results support that adjustment of thoracic region significantly reduces blood pressure of patients with elevated blood pressure.
McKnight ME, DeBoer KF. Preliminary study of blood pressure changes in normotensive subjects undergoing chiropractic care. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1988 Aug;11(4):261-6.
G Bakris, M Dickholtz Sr, P M Meyer, G Kravitz, E Avery, M Miller, J Brown, C Woodfield, B Bell. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. Journal of Human Hypertension. March 2, 2007.
Yates RG, Lamping DL, Abram NL, Wright C "Effects of Chiropractic Treatment on Blood Pressure and Anxiety: A Randomized, Controlled Trial" J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1988; 11(6): 484-488.
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