Tag Archives: cervical spine

Unmasking the “Miracle” of the Chiropractic Adjustment

Quite frequently, you will hear someone speak of traditional chiropractic care as a must.  More specifically, certain individuals can attest to experiencing amelioration of seemingly unrelated issues after receiving an adjustment.  At the very least, those who partake in routine spinal adjustments describe an overall feeling of wellness when sticking to a maintenance program and being adjusted regularly.

But why is this? How does causing a specific cavitation (the “pop” or “crack”) within a spinal joint lead to far reaching systemic benefits?  We know and have discussed some of beneficial consequences an adjustment can have on a neuromusculoskeletal level (https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/04/30/what-is-an-adjustment/), but how about some concrete research and evidence of the actual chemical consequences somewhat responsible for these unexplained occurrences of healing and well being?

Well, the studies are out there, and it is truly fascinating and empowering stuff if you are interested in the all natural route to enhancing your quality and quantity of life.  The follow chemicals (neuropeptides) are just two of the many that have been shown to be effected by a chiropractic adjustment; with levels being measured pre and post adjustment.

Neurotensin is a chemical in our bodies that is shown to be reduced in unmediated schizophrenics.  In fact many antipsychotic drugs (oft chalk full of unfavorable side efffects) are designed to elevate neurotensin levels.  This elevation in neurotensin, as seen  in the blood after a chiropractic adjustment of the cervical (neck) or thoracic (upper torso) spine, acts as a psychostimulant.

Decreased levels of neurotensin has also been linked to:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Gastrointestinal function
  • Cardiac function
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Eating disorders
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer of the:
    • Colon
    • Lungs
    • Ovaries
    • Pancreas
    • Prostate
    • Bones
    • Brain

Oxytocin is another neuropeptide that increases after a chiropractic adjustment, specifically of the cervical spine, and plays a crucial role as an endorphin (endogenously produced opioid), which adds further explanation to the pain killing effects experienced through an adjustment.

Most are familiar with the role of oxytocin in promoting lactation and uterine contractions, as a synthetic form is often administered to a mother to help facilitate the birthing process.  With a spinal manipulation of the cervical spine prompting a natural boost in oxytocin levels, could we soon see those forward thinking and open minded mothers to be receiving a cervical adjustment immediately prior to, our even during the birthing process?

In addition to pain modulation and the birthing process, oxytocin is also know to play an integral role in:

  • Memory
  • Bonding
  • Behavior (sexual, social, eating, etc.)
  • Learning
  • Anxiety
  • Sugar metabolism

These correlations are by no means being implicated as the primary drivers or causative factors of each of the conditions and traits mentioned.  However, an undeniable link between the blood levels of chemicals like neurotensin and oxytocin and these issues does indeed exist, and many times it is the chemical manipulation of this link that pharmaceutical companies target.  However, as we know and have stated, these drugs are rarely free of side effects.

We know there is a direct link to a chiropractic adjustment and an increase in these neuropeptides which can help explain why the benefit reaches such a larger scale than simply addressing neck pain or headache.  When it comes to certain, powerful neuropeptides, you are intentionally altering your chemical physiology in a beneficial way.

Sounds like an intelligent addition to the natural, holistic approach to piecing together the wellness puzzle, and living the truly good life.

Advertisements

Breathe Right

I’d like to hit you with a tip this week that is often overlooked as a culprit behind multiple issues when it comes to your health and wellbeing.  The seemingly subconscious act of proper breathing.  On the surface this appears like such a simple act that we all take for granted.  But as we all know, we must breathe to live.  Period.

WHY WE BREATHE

Let’s first breakdown what actually transpires when we breathe.  When you inhale you are delivering oxygen to an interface between your lungs and blood vessels.  Here, freshly inhaled oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide, which you then expel during exhalation.  Your beating heart provides the force to deliver the carbon dioxide to this interface bounded to hemoglobin molecules in your blood.

When the exchange is made, oxygen is then delivered to all of your tissues bound to that same hemoglobin molecule. Oxygen is a vital fuel for your cells to function properly.  One of the waste products of this metabolic process is carbon dioxide, which is then taken by the blood back to the lungs for the cycle to continually repeat itself.

Sounds simple enough.  But what if I told you that you’re probably not breathing correctly and this could be contributing to a myriad of issues including that discomfort in your neck.

HOW WE BREATHE

Most people do not realize this, but breathing is actually a brain directed function carried out by muscles, the chief one being the diaphragm.  This is a muscle that separates your abdomen from your chest cavity.  Breathing in is actually a function of this muscle descending, enlarging your chest cavity and creating a negative pressure that sucks oxygen rich air into your lungs.  Once this has transpired, the diaphragm then ascends, reversing that negative pressure and pushing the now carbon dioxide laden air out of your lungs.

If you observe someone breathing you will more than likely notice that the shoulders and chest rise and fall.  This is actually the incorrect way of breathing and signifies the use of what are called accessory muscles of respiration.   These muscles are connected throughout your cervical spine (neck), ribs, clavicle (collar bone) and sternum.

By breathing incorrectly you are putting these muscles to work all day, every day.  Couple that with the fact that these muscles are already being overworked by that anterior posture from being hunched over at our computers, and these muscles become quite fatigued.  When this occurs you become more susceptible to injury due to the fatigued muscles (that would normally stabilize your neck during strenuous movements) failing.

There also begins to be an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.  Most of us have felt this before when riding a bike and our thighs start to burn.  This is the same concept, expect in these over contracted neck muscles that tend to lead to tender and uncomfortable trigger points.

PROPER BREATHING

So what can you do?  You can start by practicing breathing correctly.  Correct breathing is actually from your belly, not your chest.  When you inhale, your belly (or that six pack) should expand outward.  When you breathe out your abdomen should then sink back in.  This seems counterintuitive, but the motion should be mostly all in the abdomen, and minimally in the shoulders and chest.

Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.  Note the motions that take place while breathing in and out.  If you notice that it is off, make a conscious effort to correct it.  This exercise can be done at any time during the day, even when at your desk or sitting at a light in the car.  Doing this should begin to offer some relief to those aforementioned accessory muscles.  Couple this with some postural exercises and you should be able to decrease that neck discomfort tenfold.

Proper posture and breathing mechanics also allows a deeper breath and thus more oxygen.  As stated above, oxygen is vital for almost all functions in the body.  Any deficit in its concentration or delivery can lead to all sorts of problems including headaches and lack of concentration.  It, along with glucose and activation are the absolute necessities required for survival and proper function of your nervous system.  That’s your brain, spinal cord, and nerves wired throughout your body we are talking about here.  Make sure you’re giving it the fuel it needs to perform as intended.

Another interesting effect that you can take advantage of by utilizing this belly breathing technique comes by way of parasympathetic nervous system stimulation.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, there are two opposite nervous systems that should balance each other out in order to maintain optimal function.  The sympathetic system which is your fight or flight response, and your parasympathetic which is basically for rest and digest.

Being that the parasympathetic system is in charge of digestion, it has a vast number of connections to the organs involved in the digestive process, particularly the intestines located in your abdomen.  When you breathe with your belly you are causing stimulation to the abdomen, which we just said is heavily parasympatheticaly innervated.  This connection leads to subsequent stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you de-stress and relax.

This is the reason a proper breathing technique is one of the main components of successful meditation.  Increased delivery of oxygen to your brain allowing you to elevate your mind.  Stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system facilitating calmness.

If you practice this method of breathing you have the potential to not only begin to mechanically relieve some of that nagging neck pain, but it will also help you to remain calm and relaxed.   Who would’ve thought such a seemingly simple task could carry such potentially positive ramifications?