Upper cervical chiropractic, known as NUCCA, can lower high blood pressure. At first, this seems like one of those “cure all” statements used as “fluff” advertising. That is not the case here. NUCCA has gained some important merit and has proven itself according to the “gold standard” testing from the AMA (American Medical Association).
What is blood pressure?
As the heart pumps blood out to the body, pressure is exerted outward on the artery walls. This pressure is measured with two numbers. The large number is systolic and the lower number is diastolic. Systolic around 120 is normal, over 140 is high. Diastolic, around 80 is normal and over 90 is high.
High blood pressure is painless and therefore often referred to as the “silent killer”. It can affect the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs leading to an increase risk for strokes, heart attack, kidney failure, and ultimately death.
Why is blood pressure important?
The leading cause of death in the US is heart disease and about 1/3 of all American’s have hypertension. For this reason, high blood pressure is a great concern among physicians. Medical treatment consists of diuretics, ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, etc. These drugs have been clinically proven to force blood pressure down, but they don’t address the cause of why it is high in the first place. And, with all these medications, heart disease is STILL the leading cause of death. This is true even though the US consumes more drugs than any other country in the world; a lot more.
So, who dies of a heart attack? Usually those people on blood pressure medications. And no, they didn’t just forget to take them that day. The reason for this is that true health comes from within, not from a pill.
What can be done?
Non-medical treatment for hypertension includes a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are high in potassium, which negates sodium and can help lower blood pressure. Drinking plenty of water is also important. Here in St. George, you should be drinking about 3 liters in the summer months. Smoking is also bad. Every cigarette will increase your blood pressure about 10 mm/Hg.
Good things to help improve your cardiovascular function are exercise, massage, yoga and NUCCA. A consistent exercise routine can be very helpful in improving the strength and function of your heart and help keep blood pressure in a healthy place.
What is NUCCA?
NUCCA is an acronym that stands for National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association. In 2007, it rocked the medical world with a study in The New England Journal Of Human Hypertension. This study shows how important the upper cervical part of the spine and the brain stem are with regards to blood pressure.
In this study, 50 people with hypertension were divided into 2 groups. One group got a real correction to Atlas (no twisting, cracking or popping, just a precise correction), and the other received a sham correction. Both groups then had their blood pressure tracked for 8 weeks. The control group saw no improvements but the group that received the true Atlas correction saw a dramatic improvement with their blood pressure decreasing an average of 14 points and staying there. That is equivalent to two medications taken simultaneously but with no adverse effects.
How does it work?
Blood pressure is measured in the Carotid artery as a sample of the pressure going to the brain. The Common Carotid bifurcates, or splits, into the internal and external branches on the way to the brain and head. In the middle of this bifurcation, there is a bundle of nerves containing baroreceptors from the Glossopharyngeal nerve. The glossopharyngeal nerve synapses in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius (NTS) located in the medulla of the brainstem. The NTS has an influence over the sympathetic and parasympathetic (vagal) neurons in the medulla and pons through the hypothalamus.
If there is a misalignment of Atlas (C1), it can cause a slight ischemia on the NTS. This in essence makes the brain think that the blood pressure is low, and responds accordingly. Anything done to help with the hypertension that does not address Atlas is just a Band-Aid.
Most people have a misalignment of Atlas and just don’t know it. The consequences of a misalignment can vary and are not just limited to hypertension. But, someone with hypertension should definitely be checked for a simple misalignment, thus avoiding years of needless medications and hypertension-associated morbidity. Being checked is simple and painless.
Dr. Brent Noorda
NUCCA chiropractic physician
Balanced Spinal Care ~ 435-688-2292.