We often have practice members ask if they are able to come of their blood pressure medication as a result of chiropractic care. I explain that Chiropractors have little to no pharmacological training and chiropractic deals with the natural function of the body not the synthetic additions to it. However, when the body is functioning at its optimal level we often have individuals report a reduction in blood pressure and then consult their MD about eliminating prescription medications that are no longer necessary. How is this possible? Lets dive in deeper.
What is High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). High blood pressure (HBP) means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension.
According to webMD:
March 16, 2007 — A special chiropractic adjustment can significantly lower, a placebo-controlled study 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 Chicagocenter.
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 a sham chiropractic adjustment. Because patients can’t feel the technique, they were unable to tell which group they were in.
X-rays showed that the procedure realigned the Atlas vertebra — the doughnut-like bone at the very top of the spine — with the spine in the treated patients, but not in the sham-treated patients.
Compared to the sham-treated patients, those who got the real procedure saw an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).
What Does that Mean?
As the study above states, the correct position of the atlas vertebrae (the top bone in your neck) can play a major role in blood pressure. The bone itself is not a contributor to the function of the heart but rather the structures underneath it. At the top of the neck lies the brain stem and one of the most important nerves in the human body, the vagus nerve. Both of these structures are a part of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is your bodies “rest” and “digest”. It slows down many processes in the body and allows it to rest and slow down. This is crucial for long term health of the heart and just about every other organ in the body.
When there is a misalignment of the top bone in your neck, even as little as a half of a millimeter it can turn off your bodies ability to completely slow down and rest. When we are not in the rest mode we are in stress mode and activates our other part of the nervous system the sympathetic nervous system.
Imagine this. Your body is just like a brand new car. That car has a gas pedal and a brake. We know that if we use the gas pedal to much without changing the oil and filling the gas tank up that car will either run out of gas or breakdown. The sympathetic nervous system is that gas pedal and the parasympathetic nervous system is the brake. When we have a misalignment of the top vertebrae unknowingly we are placing a weight on that gas pedal. Without the ability to slow down or re-fuel, we start to see signs of overheating such as high blood pressure.
The answer is easy… Just remove the weight of the gas pedal!
The issue is most people do not realize they are running with the gas pedal stuck on until we have increased pain or dysfunction. A gentle adjustment to the top bone in the neck can help restore balance to the nervous system and prevent the burn out. If you or a loved one has signs or symptoms of a burnout, ask yourself this question. Am I stuck on the gas pedal? If the answer is yes than a chiropractor may be the perfect person to help restore that balance.