For thousands of years, chiropractic has served as an all-natural, holistic method of healing subluxations in the body, relieving pain, and promoting wellness. We've discussed the benefits of chiropractic for those suffering headaches, those with poor posture, even those battling allergies.
Now, we're here to share with you another little-known benefit of chiropractic: reducing blood pressure.
The Atlas Adjustment Study
In 2007, the director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Hypertension Center George Bakris, MD, conducted a placebo-controlled study to determine if a specialized chiropractic adjustment could lower high blood pressure. Eight weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent placebo treatment. An average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure, and 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure, to be exact.
According to Bakris, the procedure had the effect of not just one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination. All of this, from just one adjustment. What vertebra could be so crucial, that adjusting it could have such a dramatic effect? The Atlas vertebra.
What is the Atlas Vertebra?
The Atlas vertebra gets its name from the Greek titan Atlas, who held up the world in Greek mythology. The role of the Atlas is to support the head, and Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, of the Chiropractic Health Center in Chicago refers to the Atlas vertebra as "the fuse box of the body." Dickholtz is the chiropractor who performed all the procedures in the Chicago study.
The Atlas vertebra is medically known as the C-1 vertebra, or the first vertebra in the cervical spine. It is a doughnut-shaped bone located at the very top of the spine, where the centers for crucial bodily function like muscle control are located. If the base of the brain gets pinched and the Atlas slips even a half of a millimeter out of line, it can disrupt these delicate functions.
In the 2007 study, 25 patients received no blood pressure medication for eight weeks, and instead received adjustments to their C-1 vertebra. X-rays showed that the procedure realigned the vertebra with the spine. Blood tests showed that their blood pressure was drastically reduced in response.
Have More Doctors Tested This?
Recently a study involving 290 adults took place to examine if vertebrae adjustments could truthfully reduce blood pressure. Participants were assigned to three group divided into the following categories: active, placebo, and control. The active group received instrument assisted spinal adjustments to the upper region of the spine. The placebo group received the same procedure, except the instrument did not apply any pressure to the spine. The control group received no treatment.
As with Bakris' Chicago study, baseline measurements of blood pressure experienced a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after receiving spinal adjustments. The amount of reduction averaged around 7 percent. These changes were only recorded in the active group who received treatment, while the placebo and control groups showed no signs of reduction in blood pressure.
Following the data collection of this experiment, researchers concluded that chiropractic is indeed good for heart health and the balancing of biological systems such as the vascular and nervous network.
Experiencing Benefits Firsthand
Medication for high blood pressure treatment is an expense many are forced to pay, but may not be able to afford month after month. With minor adjustments to the vertebrae of the spine, chiropractic care can safely and efficiently aid in decreasing blood pressure, helping to decrease dependence on medications.