Chiropractic Reduces High Blood Pressure

Meet Marshall Dickholz Sr., DC.  He is 87 years old and has been practicing chiropractic for over 50 years.  Why do we care?  Because Dr. Dickholz was the chiropractor chosen to adjust patients in a placebo-controlled high blood pressure study in Chicago in 2007.

Dr. Dickholz performed upper neck adjustments on a group of 25 patients with high blood pressure once a week for eight weeks.

Another group of 25 patients with high blood pressure received a sham adjustment, meaning no adjustment was given.

“This procedure (the chiropractic adjustment) has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination,” study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. “And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems,” adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center.

Eight weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent a sham chiropractic adjustment.

Compared to the sham-treated patients, those who got the real procedure saw an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).

None of the patients took blood pressure medicine during the eight-week study.

“When the statistician brought me the data, I actually didn’t believe it. It was way too good to be true,” Bakris says. “The statistician said, ‘I don’t even believe it.’ But we checked for everything, and there it was.”

Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, of the Chiropractic Health Center, in Chicago, is the 84-year-old chiropractor who performed all the procedures in the study. He calls the Atlas vertebra “the fuse box to the body.”

Bakris began the study after a fellow medical doctor told him that something strange was happening in his family practice. The doctor had been sending some of his patients to a chiropractor. Some of these patients had high blood pressure.

Yet after seeing the chiropractor, the patients’ blood pressure had normalized — and a few of them were able to stop taking their blood pressure medications.

“If people have high blood pressure, even in the absence of neck pain, there is a tremendous possibility they need an Atlas adjustment,” Dickholz says.

Dr. Shoemaker says: The importance of this research is at least twofold.  First, obviously it shows that high blood pressure can be normalized without drugs.   Second and perhaps most important, by showing that upper neck adjustments can normalize blood pressure. This research delivers a paradigm shift in the understanding of high blood pressure.  Most high blood pressure is “idiopathic,”  which means that the cause for the elevation is not known.  It is perhaps because the patient is in need of an upper cervical adjustment and the MD doesn’t know how to check for such health problems.

The reason upper neck adjustments normalize blood pressure is because a misalignment in this area of the spine creates pressure on the nerves and blood vessels to the brain-stem.  The brain-stem governs blood pressure, pulse rate and breathing.

Thanks Doc


  1. Intereasting about blood pressure reduction. When I see you, and you adjust my cervical spine, do you reach the atlas?

    • I evaluate and adjust the atlas on every visit. Thank you for asking.

    • I evaluate and adjust the atlas on every visit. Thank you for asking. Dr. Rodney Shoemaker

      Dorea Shoemaker

      “Rather than discover who you are, discover who you want to be.”

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