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Why Chiropractic Care Reduces Blood Pressure

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Why Chiropractic Care Reduces Blood Pressure

The Chiro.Org Blog

Several news stories reported on a study performed at the University of Leeds in England, and published in the August 1, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience [1], that showed links between neck muscles and the brain and that this link plays a crucial role in controlling blood pressure.

One report by UPI on August 2, 2007 starts off by stating:

A University of Leeds chance discovery in a British laboratory shows why a chiropractic adjustment for a pain in the neck may do wonders for blood pressure.

This article quotes study leader Professor Jim Deuchars, who notes that his finding found pathways between the neck and the brain and shows how the neck muscles could play an important role in controlling blood pressure, and why chiropractic care works so well with blood pressure.

He states, “By identifying the pathways we can see why these treatments might work and it could also explain why some people suffering whiplash injuries may experience a change in their blood pressure.”

As he mentions in the article, Professor Deuchars notes that the Leeds study further corroborates the work done at the Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the March 2, 2007 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension. In that previous study 25 people in the study group receiving the chiropractic adjustments all showed a significant reduction in blood pressure compared with groups in the study that did not get chiropractic adjustments.

You may also enjoy this WebMD review titled
Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

and another ABC News article, titled:
Could a Neck Adjustment Lower Your Blood Pressure?.

Here’s additional commentary from:
a video from ABC News.

These are just a few of the articles from the:
Chiropractic and Blood Pressure Page

Please NOTE that the announcer’s statement that “very few chiropractors are trained in this technique is NOT accurate.

Dr. Dickholtz practices only one of the numerous specific “upper cervical” (UC) techniques (called NUCCA), but in fact there is no proof that any one of the UC techniques is superior to any other. It is probable that more than 50% of DCs in this country are trained in at least one Upper Cervical Specific technique, and could get results similar to those reported in the chiropractic literature over the last 50 years.

The Research Department at Palmer College of Chiropractic is currently managing the first clinical trial that will compare 3 different upper cervical techniques. This is fortunate because Palmer is one of the few chiropractic colleges to teach a variety of UC techniques within it’s curricula.

The Abstract: [1]

The Neurochemically Diverse Intermedius Nucleus of the Medulla as a Source of Excitatory and Inhibitory Synaptic Input to the Nucleus Tractus Solitarii
J Neurosci 2007 (Aug 1); 27 (31): 8324-8333 ~ FULL TEXT

Activation of neck muscle spindle afferents via neck flexion can initiate an increase in heart rate, muscle sympathetic nerve activity, and arterial blood pressure (Kuwagata et al., 1991; Shortt and Ray, 1997). This reflex sympatho-excitation has been attributed to the activation of the otolith organs in the vestibular system (Yates and Miller, 1994); however, it is likely that there is another component to the reflex because it is still evident where the vestibular system is inactive, such as in brain-dead patients (Kuwagata et al., 1991).

This component has been suggested to arise from the dorsal neck musculature, with stimulation of nerves arising from these muscles causing a reflex increase in splanchnic, hypoglossal, and abdominal nerve activity (Bolton et al., 1998). Furthermore, the stimulus intensities used were consistent with those that would activate muscle spindle and Golgi tendon organ afferents.

Because this cervico-sympathetic reflex appears to originate from muscle spindles in the dorsal neck musculature, it is very likely that the suboccipital muscle group is involved in the reflex because these muscles have an extremely high muscle spindle content (Richmond and Abrahams, 1975; Kulkarni et al., 2001). Additional evidence for the involvement of the suboccipital muscle group in the cervico-sympathetic reflex comes from changes in blood pressure associated with chiropractic manipulations of the C1 vertebrae (McKnight and DeBoer, 1988; Knutson, 2001), which would result in altering the length of fibers in the suboccipital muscle group.

The projection from the InM to the NTS identified in this study therefore places it in an ideal position to mediate cardiorespiratory changes to neck muscle afferent stimulation, because the NTS is a major integratory area for autonomic control circuits (Potts, 2002). Future studies are therefore required to examine the role of these neck afferents in cardiorespiratory regulation.

About the Author:

I was introduced to Chiro.Org in early 1996, where my friend Joe Garolis helped me learn HTML, the "mark-up language" for websites. We have been fortunate that journals like JMPT have given us permission to reproduce some early important articles in Full-Text format. Maintaining the Org website has been, and remains, my favorite hobby.


  1. Mark Szlazak, DC July 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I heard that some “technique politics” were holding up release of the Palmer study. Apparently one technique didn’t like the fact that BP changes occurred with SMT to the thoracic region as well.

  2. Birmingham Chiropractor July 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Mark where did you read about the release of the Palmer Study being held up?
    Thanks for any info!

  3. Mark Szlazak, DC July 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I’m not sure I want to disclose the source except that it was a Palmer employee.

  4. Frank M. Painter, D.C. July 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Our schools are dependent on income from alumni, some of whom generate income from teaching techniques, so yes, it is a political mine field when your research *might* step on toes. However, the funding for this trial came thru the Fed, so they’ll have to publish, or lose credibility AND future funding. You may have heard some employee scuttlebutt, but I seriously doubt that will stop publication of their findings.

  5. nene July 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Private mail to Dr. Painter-

    I have been following your exchanges at:

    It appears you are familiar with BW and his obsessively huge internet presence that is extremely sophisicated in it’s ‘linking’ —-> to artificially elevate his(and his choir’s) internet search rankings.

    I just felt compelled to thank-you for your time and efforts there. You will never get BW to budge(even a tiny bit) on his dogma. But hopefully others, will come to recognize his dogma for what it is, and realize they are being victimized by his dogmatic propaganda.

    Just a few of my thoughts:

    1- Notice how all his references are to blogs/op-ed sites? –> SBM, Quackwatch, Chirobase, Chirotalk, SRAM, Chirowatch, Ernst, etc.?

    2- ***None of his sources are peer-reviewed, indexed, sources!*** (BTW- SRAM attempted, several times(at least 4x)- to get indexed, and was denied indexing every time….I can supply info on this)

    3- IMO- BW is incapable of critical/original thought/opinion —> He just parrots selected op/ed sites.

    Frank- Thank-you for engaging on behalf of chiropractic, and thank-you for an excellent site of chiropractic information/documentation

    • Frank M. Painter, D.C. July 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Thanks Nene,

      It’s pretty evident that this person is looking to follow in the tracks of his forefather. I don’t have the attention span to review all the anti-quack garbage he quotes to determine IF any of it is credible (peer-reviewed) but hopefully this weekend I’ll take another whack at it…and yes, my response is more aimed to balance the conversation, rather than hoping he will budge on his biases.

  6. Mark Szlazak, DC July 23, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Dr. Painter, I appreciate that you are having exchanges at JREF. Those people are a group of very biased and close minded people. They are extremists on the materialist/atheist end of the philosophical spectrum. They uphold orthodoxy even when wrong. They function like propaganda and disinformation groups so expect lies, distortion, denials, dismissals and selective/biased reporting from them.

    Don’t expect them to change their minds but I’m glad people go on those forums to counter their views.

    One very common tactic used by them is selective reporting of data and distortions (spin) of data to it’s least charitable interpretation (i.e, straw man argument).

    Here is a website that dissects some of the debunking tactics used by these groups.

    These groups are part of the “culture wars” between science and religion that have been going on for centuries in the West. The result has been the general public’s disinterest or distrust of both science and religion which in someways is a good thing and other ways not.

    • Frank M. Painter, D.C. July 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Dr. Mark

      I have no allusions about the anti-quack movement. However, several participants on that thread appeared to be open-minded, and it’s only reasonable to provide them with a fact-based alternative POV.

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