In the eight-week study, which utilized the chiropractic technique known as the Atlas Adjustment, 50 patients with early-stage high blood pressure were divided into two equal groups. One received the Atlas treatment, and the other a faux treatment.
The Atlas-treated group experienced an average 14 millimeters of mercury greater drop in systolic blood pressure and an average 8 millimeters of mercury greater drop in diastolic blood pressure, compared with the control group. None of the patients took blood pressure medications during the study. The reductions would, for example, be like a patient with a pre-hypertension blood pressure of 130/85 improving to a healthy 116/77.
The investigation's chiropractor was Dr. Marshall Dickholtz Sr., of the Chiropractic Health Center, in Chicago, who calls the Atlas vertebra "the fuse box to the body." What could be the connection between high blood pressure and the Atlas vertebra? Some researchers, according to Bakris and Dickholtz, theorize that an injured Atlas vertebra can somehow constrict blood flow in localized skull arteries.
Bakris began the study after a physician colleague told him of a phenomenon he had observed in his practice. He had had referred some of his patients with hypertension to a chiropractor, and they had returned to him with normal blood pressure. Bakris is planning a larger clinical trial to further investigate the Atlas Adjustment.