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May 2016 Health Newsletter

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» Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure
» Natural Treatments for Back Pain Show Promising Results
» Sitting and Diabetes Linked by Inactivity
» CDC Warns Against Opioid Use

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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Natural Treatments for Back Pain Show Promising Results

It's easy in this modern age to jump right to drugs or surgery for stubborn back pain, but there are many other options to consider before going under the knife. Scientists from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle tested two mind-body therapy techniques for the reduction of low back pain and found positive results. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy have both been shown to be helpful when patients don't respond to other therapies. In the study, 342 adults were split into three groups to either cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, or no therapy at all. For the two groups in therapy, more than half saw meaningful improvement to their pain. Though many may brush off these alternative treatments, an open-minded doctor could find that these methods may have some benefit for patients for whom nothing else works. Safe, natural care for back and spinal pain from natural therapies, including those provided by doctors of chiropractic, can be a new treatment option for many. These alternative natural therapies are not only effective, they have the benefit of virtually no side effects or recovery time, unlike standard treatments.

Source: JAMA, online March 22, 2016.
Copyright: LLC 2016

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Sitting and Diabetes Linked by Inactivity

Danish scientists recently found that time spent sitting is linked to developing type 2 diabetes, but generally only among people who are inactive or obese. Those who sit for more than 10 hours a day saw a 35 percent heightened risk of diabetes, but those who had a healthy weight and exercised saw that risk minimized, even with prolonged sitting. The risk of developing diabetes was completely eliminated when people moderately or vigorously exercised for at least 150 minutes per week. During the study period, those who sat for more than 10 hours a day were also more likely to be generally physically inactive, drink alcohol, smoke, and be overweight. So if you can't avoid sitting at work, there is evidence that getting a few hours of moderate exercise per week outside the office along with a healthy weight can protect you from developing type 2 diabetes. But there is still much to gain by breaking up your sitting time with short periods of movement. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it's important to move your body often. Take breaks, walk around the office, and get exercise when you can. Reducing your level of sitting and adding more activity is a smart way to stay healthy for life.

Source: British Journal of Sports Medicine, online February 23, 2016.
Copyright: LLC 2016

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CDC Warns Against Opioid Use

Pain medications can often come with a long list of possible side effects ranging from manageable to severe. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent have focused in on the overuse of opioids for chronic pain. It's a serious matter, as at least 40 people in the U.S. die each day from an overdose of these strong drugs. The number of people on these drugs has quadrupled since 1999, fueling a crisis in side effects and misuse. In a new set of guidelines, the CDC is urging non-opioid therapy for the management of chronic pain along with the lowest possible effective dose when it can't be avoided. The side effects for these powerful drugs can include physical dependence, increased sensitivity to pain, confusion, depression, and many others. The American Chiropractic Association is encouraging patients to look at chiropractic therapy as a safer, alternative tool to opioids used to treat back, spinal and other soft tissue related pains. With virtually no side effects, alternative therapies can reduce or even eliminate the need for strong drugs.

Source:, online March 18, 2016.
Copyright: LLC 2016

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