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November 2015 Health Newsletter

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» Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure
» Get Some Sleep: How Bad Sleeping Habits Are Hurting Your Health
» The Power of Pets: How Furry Friends Can Lower a Child's Risk for Asthma
» Why California is Considering Red Meat as a True Cancer Risk

Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

March 16, 2007 -- A special chiropractic adjustment can significantly lower high blood pressure, 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 Chicago hypertension center.

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).

None of the patients took blood pressure medicine during the eight-week study.

"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."

Bakris and colleagues report their findings in the advance online issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension.

Atlas Adjustment and Hypertension

The procedure calls for adjustment of the C-1 vertebra. It's called the Atlas vertebra because it holds up the head, just as the titan Atlas holds up the world in Greek mythology.

Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, of the Chiropractic Health Center, in Chicago, is the 84-year-old chiropractor who performed all the procedures in the study. He calls the Atlas vertebra "the fuse box to the body."

"At the base of the brain are two centers that control all the muscles of the body. If you pinch the base of the brain -- if the Atlas gets locked in a position as little as a half a millimeter out of line -- it doesn't cause any pain but it upsets these centers," Dickholtz tells WebMD.

The subtle adjustment is practiced by the very small subgroup of chiropractors certified in National Upper Cervical Chiropractic (NUCCA) techniques. The procedure employs precise measurements to determine a patient's Atlas vertebra alignment. If realignment is deemed necessary, the chiropractor uses his or her hands to gently manipulate the vertebra.

"We are not doctors. We are spinal engineers," Dickholtz says. "We use mathematics, geometry, and physics to learn how to slide everything back into place."

What does this have to do with high blood pressure pressure?

Bakris notes that some researchers have suggested that injury to the Atlas vertebra can affect blood flow in the arteries at the base of the skull. Dickholtz thinks the misaligned Atlas triggers release of signals that make the arteries contract. Whether the procedure actually fixes such injuries is unknown, Bakris says.

Bakris began the study after a fellow doctor told him that something strange was happening in his family practice. The doctor had been sending some of his patients to a chiropractor. Some of these patients had high blood pressure. 

Yet after seeing the chiropractor, the patients' blood pressure had normalized -- and a few of them were able to stop taking their blood pressure medications.

So Bakris, then at Rush University, designed the pilot study with 50 patients. He's now organizing a much bigger clinical trial.

"Is it going to be for everybody with high blood pressure? No," Bakris says. "We clearly need to identify those who can benefit. It is pretty clear that some kind of head or neck trauma early in life is related to this. This is really a work in progress. It is certainly in the early stages of research."

Dickholtz has been teaching, practicing, and studying the NUCCA technique for 50 years. He says high blood pressure is far from the only thing an Atlas misalignment causes.

"On the other hand, if people have high blood pressure, there is a tremendous possibility they need an Atlas adjustment," he says.



Author: Health News by Daniel J. DeNoon
Source: Rush University Hypertension Center Chicago IL
Copyright: Journal Of Human Hypertension 3

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Get Some Sleep: How Bad Sleeping Habits Are Hurting Your Health

Life gets in the way, so the importance of getting a full 8 hours of sleep can often fall by the wayside. While it may not feel as important in the short-term, a lack of sleep can have major consequences in the long run. In fact, studies show that consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night can help trigger a serious condition called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the term given to a set of 5 specific health conditions.

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood sugar
  • Extra mid-section fat
  • Excess fat in the blood

These conditions are all proven triggers for such serious health problems as heart disease and diabetes. A lack of sleep has been shown to increase high blood pressure by over 55% and increase the chances of high blood sugar by 30% in adults. A Korean medical study observed roughly 2,600 participants for two years and also discovered that people who had received less than 6 hours of sleep in those two years were at a greater risk for developing metabolic syndrome by more than 40%. To help combat the long-term consequences of bad sleep habits, doctors recommend that patients analyze their daily routine and see if they're scheduling sleep out of their lives.

Source: Sleep, online September 25, 2015.
Copyright: LLC 2015

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The Power of Pets: How Furry Friends Can Lower a Child's Risk for Asthma
While new parents often consider giving their dog to grandma, studies suggest that raising children with pets may actually have a positive effect on their health after all. In fact, one Swedish study found that children living with farm animals were nearly 52% less at risk of developing Asthma. This result came from a 10-year long study that observed roughly 276,000 children aged 3 years and up. Of this group, over 22,000 included children who were raised with dogs any time during their first year. Out of the entire group studied, only 11,500 children developed asthma in their lives, and researchers found that children who were raised with farm animals or dogs since birth were half as likely to develop asthma in their life.  One of the study's researchers from Sweden's Uppsala University suggested that living with pets and farm animals can potentially increase a child's immune system. Allergy researchers from the University of Washington also suggest that not only do pets get kids out into the fresh air, but certain animals may also have been exposed to a bacterium that protects them against getting Asthma.

Source: JAMA Pediatrics, online November 2, 2015.
Copyright: LLC 2015

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Why California is Considering Red Meat as a True Cancer Risk
There have been numerous studies linking red meat to cancer, but one report by the World Health Organization may have persuaded California to change its mind about meat. California has been a leader in discussions about GMO food labeling and humane agricultural practices. One of California's most important consumer-based policies is Proposition 65. Signed into law in 1986, this measure requires California to retain a database of all substances that are known to be triggers for cancer. Companies that use these substances are then required to disclose that information to consumers on their product labels. Since the WHO report categorizes processed meat as a carcinogen, not unlike tobacco, it puts the meat industry in a very precarious position in the state.  While some believe California may lead toward putting red meat, particularly processed meat, on the cancer risk alert list, the meat industry remains confident that they have enough leverage to not adhere to California's policy. In 2009, a California court reaffirmed that meat factories are not subject to state inspection if they're already inspected by the federal government. Thus, the meat industry may get to escape California's risk list after all. However, processed meats may still be in a position for cancer risk labeling since it's not a fresh meat.

Source: Reuters, online October 28, 2015.
Copyright: LLC 2015

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