Chiropractic and Mental Health: The impact on your psychological and emotional state
According to Mind UK, "1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems of some kinds each year in England, and 1 in 6 reports experiencing a common mental health problem like anxiety and depression in any given week." (1)
More often than not, the main emphasis of chiropractic is based on the physical effects that a misalignment can cause on the body and very rarely is the focus on the psychological and emotional effects that having a fully functioning spine and nervous system can have. Today, there is a big push for raising awareness of mental health problems and finding safe, effective, and sustainable solutions to help resolve these issues. When BJ Palmer, the developer of chiropractic, was asked "What is to be done in insanity?", he stated, "If an atlas is subluxated it makes abnormal functions of the brain. Go back to the cause. Adjust that and return that brain to its normal capability." (2)
A little History..
In 1922, the Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanatorium later known as Forest Park was established and became the first Chiropractic facility in the world to deal with the management of mental disorders. According to staff who worked in the clinic, "patients come to Davenport raving maniacs and in a short time are restored to health and happiness, perfectly normal, ready to take up life's duties where they were interfered with when they became mentally deranged." From the opening of the clinic in 1922 until 1927, Forest Park handled over 1,000 patients. By 1929, the chiropractors were claiming 76% success results with the insane and almost 100% recoveries in epilepsy! (3) A second facility Clear view opened in 1926 and stayed active until 1961. Every patient was scanned using a thermographic instrument known as a neurocalometer to indicate the function of the nervous system and if there was nerve interference present. (4)
The 1970s saw a renewed interest in chiropractic care and mental health issues. In 1973, a chiropractor Dr. Herman Schwarts published "Mental health and Chiropractic: A Multidisciplinary Approach". Dr. Schwartz published a report of 350 patients afflicted with "nervous or mental disorder" and the results showed a significant improvement in patients under chiropractic care. (5)
More recent research from Genthner et al used the Beck Depression Inventory on 15 patients with a history of depression. Statistical analysis demonstrated a significant improvement in depression scores. (6)
Expression of our Nervous system
We express our lives through our nervous system, through our brain and spinal cord. If a misalignment is putting pressure on our nervous system, it is going to impact our ability to express life and result in physical as well as psychological and emotional symptoms.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common symptom of anxiety and stress and studies have shown that the correction of a misalignment in the upper cervical spine can reduce blood pressure back within normal limits. Research from Bakris on a population of 50 people with hypertension showed that after a specific chiropractic adjustment made to the upper cervical spine, blood pressure decreased significantly (7). This significant decrease was equal to taking two blood-pressure drugs at once, without the significant side effects that can occur with these medications.
It is crucial to be as thorough and specific in the analysis of one's spine, to correctly remove the cause of the interference within our system to allow the body to heal as it was designed to.
A Healthy lifestyle..
Alongside the chiropractic effects on mental health and blood pressure, adopting a healthy lifestyle will also help to tackle depression, anxiety and will lower blood pressure, and keep them at bay for longer.
The core common healthy habits that will tackle these 3 conditions include:
Getting better sleep
Practicing mindfulness and using breathing techniques
*Making healthy choices about your diet can make you feel emotionally stronger. You're doing something positive for yourself, which lifts your self-esteem. A good diet helps your brain and body work efficiently, too. Aim to have a balanced diet that includes all the main food groups.
*Eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable
*High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily (eat a low-fat, balanced diet – including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables;)and maintaining a healthy weight, and drinking alcohol in moderation.
*Cut your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day, which is about a teaspoonful, and drink less caffeine – found in coffee, tea and cola
*Even moderate exercise releases chemicals in your brain that lift your mood. It can help you sleep better, have more energy and keep your heart healthy. Choose an exercise that you enjoy. If it helps, do it with a friend or listen to music. Adults should aim for 150 minutes a week.
*Activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax
High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by taking regular exercise and not smoking
Getting better sleep
Around 7 to 8 hours is the average amount of sleep an adult needs for their body and mind to fully rest. Writing a "to do" list for the next day before bed can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions.
Find out how to get to sleep if you're struggling to sleep to help with your symptoms of anxiety - a number of individual factors can contribute to this so an individual approach to managing this is required
Many studies have shown people who have trouble sleeping are more likely to have high blood pressure. Sleeping less than five hours a night, insomnia and interrupted sleep all appear to raise blood pressure. This effect seems to be stronger in women than in men, and during middle-age
Practicing mindfulness and breathing techniques
If you have feelings of anxiety along with your stress, breathing techniques can help.
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges
Use calming breathing exercises to help with anxiety symptoms
Feeling stressed for a long time can affect your mood and how well you sleep, and sometimes people take on unhealthy ways of coping, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or eating too much. These can lead to health problems in the future including raised blood pressure, clogged up arteries, heart disease and stroke.
Yoga, mindfulness and meditation exercises can lower your stress levels
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of the doctors here https://www.topchiropractic.co.uk at Top Chiropractic. If you are interested in more health and lifestyle advice and coaching, then get in touch with our Health Coach, Gupinder Syan via email (email@example.com).
Palmer BJ: "The Science of Chiropractic." Volume 2. The Palmer School of Chiropractic. Davenport, IA. 1920. P. 41.
Quigley WH: "Clear View Sanitarium Part 5." Dynamic Chiropractic. April 11, 1990. Vol. 8, No. 8.
Schwartz, HS, "Preliminary analysis 350 mental patients' records treated by chiropractors," Journal of National Chiropractic Association (Nov. 1949), pp. 1215.
Genthner GC, Friedman HL, Studley CF: "Improvement in depression following reduction of upper cervical vertebral subluxation using orthospinology technique." Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. November 7, 2005.
Bakris G, Dickholtz M Sr, Meyer PM, Kravitz G, Avery E, Miller M, Brown J, Woodfield C, Bell B. Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study. J Hum Hypertens. 2007 May;21(5):347-52.
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Bloodpressureuk.org. 2022. Blood Pressure UK. [online] Available at: <https://www.bloodpressureuk.org/your-blood-pressure/how-to-lower-your-blood-pressure/healthy-living/stress-and-your-blood-pressure/> [Accessed 21 June 2022].