Can a chiropractic adjustment really lower your blood pressure? A double-blind Chicago study found the answer to be yes when the Atlas vertebrae (a vertebrae located in the upper neck) was misaligned. The significant reductions in blood pressure observed were similar to those produced by taking two blood-pressure reducing medicines simultaneously.
Participants were accepted who had both high blood pressure and a misaligned Atlas vertebrae (C-1). The spinal assessments were performed by a NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association) doctor who specializes specifically in aligning just one vertebrae: the C-1. Half of those participants were given precise spinal alignments based on the assessments of this chiropractor. The other half were given sham treatments which were indistinguishable to the participants from the real treatments. Follow-up lasted for eight weeks with the reduction in blood pressure continuing into that eight week. There was no significant change in the heart rate of the participants.
The Atlas or C-1 vertebrae is one that can be displaced without pain and so often goes undetected and untreated. What’s more, this particular vertebrae is also more vulnerable to displacement than others in that it relies upon soft tissues, like muscles and ligaments, to maintain alignment. Larger studies are being planned with some of the questions being posed by the study’s author including how misalignment of the C-1 affects hypertension, if there is a cause and effect relationship between the two, and whether misalignment is a risk factor for developing high blood pressure.