Chiropractic Adjustments May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. New research shows that chiropractic, a non-invasive manual procedure, may be effective in reducing blood pressure.
A recent study in the Journal of Human Hypertension reveals that chiropractic adjustments may lower blood pressure. The experiment was conducted with 50 participants, all with stage 1 hypertension, who were not currently taking medication. The group was made up of 70 percent men and 30 percent women. Half the subjects underwent chiropractic care, and received adjustments designed to correct vertebral subluxations, or misalignments of the spine that are believed to cause insult to the nervous system. The group was adjusted as indicated by chiropractic protocols over a period of 8 weeks. A control group received a “sham” procedure.
Vertebral subluxations are areas in the spine where movement is restricted or bones (vertebrae) are misaligned. This common condition is triggered by physical, chemical and emotional factors. Vertebral subluxations are corrected utilizing gentle and safe manual maneuvers.
In the study, those undergoing chiropractic care for vertebral subluxations enjoyed significant drops in both systolic blood pressure (first, or upper number) as well as diastolic blood pressure (second, or lower number).
At the end of the eight week study, systolic BP decreased by an average of 17 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for those receiving chiropractic care, compared with 3 mm Hg for those who received the sham procedure. Diastolic BP dropped an average of 10 mm Hg among chiropractic patients, compared with 2 mm Hg in control group. No adverse effects were detected among the study participants.
The authors speculate that subluxation of the upper cervical spine causes abnormal tension of the brain stem, reducing blood flow and causing dysfunction of the cardiovascular neural control mechanisms.
The study’s authors concluded: “Restoration of atlas alignment is associated with marked and sustained reductions in BP similar to the use of two-drug combination therapy”. This suggest that chiropractic care may prove to be an effective alternative to standard medication for hypertension (J Hum Hypertens 25:2007;Epub).
Past studies investigating the effects of chiropractic on hypertension achieved similar results, although with smaller patient groups. One of these divided 30 participants with upper cervical (neck) subluxation into two groups. One received adjustments, the other rested and did not receive adjustments. BP was compared before and after for both groups. The adjustment group experienced a significant change in BP; the rest group did not change significantly (J Manip Physiol Ther 2001;24:101-9).
Another study found that 6 out of 8 patients studied experienced significant drops in BP following chiropractic adjustments (J of Chiro Res and Invest 1992;8).
A study of 75 students at Palmer College of Chiropractic who were found by chiropractic examination to have upper cervical subluxation found that blood pressure 5 minutes after an adjustment was significantly lower than prior to the adjustment (J Manip Physiol Ther 1988;11:261-6).
A review study suggested that the chiropractor is particularly suited to effectively manage patients with high blood pressure, stating that hypertension :may be regarded as a prime condition warranting specialized care that included proper education during the formative years, modification of dietary habits in conjunction with daily exercise regiments, and regular spinal maintenance, all of which are covered by modern chiropractic clinical practice.” (J Manip Physiol Ther 1986;9:27-32)