A special chiropractic technique may have an effect on lowering blood pressure.
What is NUCCA?
NUCCA is a type of chiropractic methodology that is based on the works of Dr. Ralph Gregory and Dr. John Grostic. This “Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic” is based on the Grostic Technique. Dr. Gregory is the founder of the NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association) organization. The protocol of NUCCA first involves finding out if there is an Atlas subluxation complex, or ASC, in the patient. The upper cervical spine is 3-D x-rayed, and then there is the adjustment and follow-up x-rays. Practitioners of NUCCA feel that a misalignment in the C1 area leads to “over-excitation of an area of the brainstem that controls tone of postural musculature”. Additionally, these stressors contribute to “postural imbalances and unequal leg lengths”. It takes 8 phases to resolve the misalignment. The adjustment is called the “triceps pull”. Posture is checked after each adjustment, and the adjustments are hands-on and are performed while the patient is lying on their side.1 The NUCCA organization feels that the neck affects the brain stem function and the nervous system. They hold conferences and educational seminars, perform research, and maintain a database of practitioners.2
Upper cervical chiropractic treatment, “performed by a mechanical chiropractic adjusting device” was noted to decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and these findings were published in 1988.3 More recently, it was found that the Atlas Adjustment lowered blood pressure with the effectiveness of “two blood pressure medications given in combination”, according to Dr. George Bakris. The drop in blood pressure as a result of the realignment of the Atlas vertebra was “an average of 14 mm Hg greater drop” (systolic) and “an average 8 mm Hg greater drop” (diastolic), compared to “sham-treated patients”.4 Patients in the study were unaware of whether or not they were in the sham group or the treatment group because the “delicacy of the procedure” left the patients unable to know if the Atlas adjustment was being made. NUCCA chiropractic adjustments are gentle. In fact, misalignment of the C-1 (Atlas) may “occur without pain”, often leaving it “undetected and untreated”. According to the study, blood pressure reduction in the treated patients “continued into the eighth week”. The authors of the study noted that the mechanism behind the improvement is “unknown”, but a larger trial is being planned. The results of this latest study were published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.5
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