Body Responses to Chiropractic

I recently stumbled on a systematic review, which is important for Chiropractors to read and be able to explain to their patients. It is titled, “Visceral responses to spinal manipulation,” and was published in 2012 in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. Systematic reviews are studies in peer-reviewed literature, where the author reviews all the current literature on a specific subject, and analyzes them for the validity of the results. These studies are considered very respectable.

Visceral responses refers to response from the internal organs of the body, where in the Medical field, Chiropractic supposedly cannot benefit. Generally Chiropractic is used for musculoskeletal problems such as headaches, back pain, etc. However, a good amount of research is out there, supporting what Chiropractic can help inside the body.

Here are the results:

18 studies were analyzed for cardiovascular effects

  • Spinal manipulation can lower heart rate, systolic blood pressure from 6.8 up to 17 mmHG and a lower effect of around 6.2 for diastolic blood pressure. 17 mmHg is a very high number, in which a combination of 3 different statin drugs cannot achieve!
  • Cervical and thoracic adjustments (with some but very little evidence for lumbar) can definitely modulate autonomic nervous control to the heart via heart rate, contractility and blood flow through peripheral blood vessels.

3 studies were analyzed for respiratory effects and found:

  • Cervical manipulation can increase the amount of air in which can be exhaled after maximum inhalation (Forced Vital Capacity FVC) and the amount of air which can be exhaled in 1 second (Forced expiratory volume FEV-1). These both are very critical in regards to patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders.

A small study showed an increase in tone of the stomach post upper-cervical adjustment.

One study showed increased blood endorphin levels post cervical adjustment. Beta-endorphins are the opioid agonists, which make you feel good, like after you exercise, reach orgasm or eat something that tastes good.

Also, another study showed increase substance P in a thoracic manipulation, which has an analgesic effect (decreased pain).

Thoracic adjustments have also shown to increase the immune system, by increasing the formation of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) and the secretion of the immunoglobulins IGG and IGM.

Reading papers like this get me very excited about Chiropractic, because even though I know Chiropractic works, there needs to be solid evidence behind what we do. Although Chiropractic research is lacking, there is still plenty of it out there and there will continue to be more. I hope to contribute to Chiropractic research and I hope my colleagues will as well.

Staying up on current research is so very crucial to Chiropractors, because it is a way to understand and to be able to explain how Chiropractic works to patients. Also, it is crucial when explaining to other Medical professionals, because many of them are still naïve to what Chiropractic can do for patients.


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