Chiropractic Adjustments affect the stress response by changing brain function

Stress kills. Doctors and health professionals agree that chronic stress attacks the body and systematically destroys an otherwise healthy organism. Research published in 2008 showed that up to ninety percent of all primary care doctor visits dealt with stress-related complaints. Millions of people receive medical advice that links stress relief to pharmaceutical drug use. Safe, long-term health care demands that attention be turned to the proper reduction and management of stress using science and research that point to a healthy alternative.

Scientific Study Regarding Stress

The most harmful effect of stress first occurs in the brain. Strategies and solutions to minimize and cope with the effects of stress must therefore begin with the brain. Scientists conducted a 2017 study on the brain utilizing a 3 million PET (Positive Emission Tomography) scan. A PET scan provides an imaging test that allows doctors to check for diseases and adverse function in the body. The scan injects a special dye with radioactive tracers into a vein in the arm. Organs and tissue absorb the tracers and allow the PET scanner to evaluate function while measuring an array of data ranging from blood flow to oxygen use and much more. Doctors primarily use PET scans to test for cancer and to evaluate the function of the heart, brain, and nervous system.

Key Concepts:

There are literally millions of patients who have had overall health improvements under chiropractic care - you are probably one of them! There is no debate that these health improvements occur, the only debate is by what neurophysiological mechanism. Recent research has shown a direct connection between the neural signals sent from segmental motion of the spine (proprioception) and parts of the autonomic nervous system that promote health and prevent illness. Further, this same body of research shows a direct connection between the tissue inflammation/damage/stress signals (nociception) sent from areas of the spine with reduced or lost segmental motion and parts of the autonomic nervous system associated with stress and illness. Chiropractic adjustments restore segmental motion and restore healthy nerve signal (proprioception) input. Chiropractic adjustments also break up scar tissue, promote tissue healing, resolve inflammation, and reduce or eliminate tissue inflammation/damage/stress signals (nociception).

What the Test Revealed

The 2017 study evaluated the effects of a Chiropractic adjustment using the PET scan technology on 21 different subjects. The PET scan determined that brain function increased and stress levels decreased in every single subject. Measurements also recorded the occurrence of multiple changes in brain activity. Movement, posture, emotions, learning, and memory centers of the brain all improved after the Chiropractic adjustment. Brain processing experienced a reduction in fight or flight activity and led to relaxation in the brain and reduced tension in muscles. Measurements also showed a decreased level of stress induced chemicals in the saliva.


The PET scan concluded that Chiropractic adjustments reduce stress by changing the brain. Regular Chiropractic care amplifies the body’s natural defense against chronic stress and disease. The 2017 study adds another page into an ever growing compilation of evidence-based research proving the positive impact made by regular Chiropractic adjustments on hormones, emotions, cognition, and memory. Chronic stress begins in children and manifests in disease and sickness at all ages. Stress continues to be the single largest reason for doctor-related visits in today’s culture. Chiropractic plays a vital role in helping men and women of all ages overcome the effects of stress without dangerous drugs and chemicals.

Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine – January 2017

“Glucose Metabolic Changes in the Brain and Muscles of Patients with Nonspecific Neck Pain Treated by Spinal Manipulation Therapy: A [18F]FDG PET Study.”

Inami, T. Ogura, S. Watanuki, M.M. Masud, K. Shibuya, M. Miyake, R. Matsuda, K. Hiraoka, M. Itoh, A.W. Fuhr, K. Yanai, M. Tashiro


Ogura T, et al. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 17(6). 2011

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