Donald K. Liebell, DC, BCAO
477 Viking Drive Suite 170
Virginia Beach VA 23452
8:30AM - 6:30PM M,W,F
(By Appointment Tu, Sat)
The Liebell Clinic: Chronic Pain & Wellness Solutions
Natural & holistic, whole-person, wellness-based Healthcare - Drug-Free & Non-Surgical Pain Relief
Check Out America's
Statistics on High Blood Pressure
Reported by the
Centers for Disease Control
Medical Studies Reveals 3 Amazing Holistic
Treatments That Naturally Reduce
Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients
By Dr. Donald Liebell
While medical research efforts for methods to lower blood pressure are dominated by the quest for pharmaceuticals, there have been studies revealing effective drug-free and holistic methods. The fields of acupuncture and chiropractic have produced several peer-reviewed published academic research findings that support the usage of their methods as part of an integrated health care model.
A research study conducted at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) has revealed that acupuncture can reduce high blood pressure, which could lower patients’ risk of heart disease and stroke (two of the leading causes of death for Americans). The study was the first of its kind that provided scientific confirmation that ancient Chinese healing art can be effective in reducing mild to moderate hypertension.
The paper details how a standardized acupuncture protocol involving low-intensity electrical stimulation through the needles (electro-acupuncture), enabled reduced blood pressure, lasting up to an astonishing 6 weeks for the patients. The researchers concluded that regular implementation of this electro-acupuncture protocol could help people manage hypertension. In the study, 70 percent of the patients experienced a significant drop in blood pressure.
This is not however, the first study to evaluate the effects of acupuncture on hypertension. Acupuncture’s benefits have been long-known to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as physician acupuncturists throughout the world. Various published medical studies have revealed positive effects on people who were already taking high blood pressure drugs. A 2013 study, for example, demonstrated that acupuncture further reduced blood pressure, suggesting that it should be widely used in conjunction with conventional medications (Acupuncture and Electrotherapeutics Research. 2013;38(1-2):1-15. The effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using antihypertensive drugs. Cevik C, Işeri S).
The big difference with the recent UCI study was that it investigated the effect of acupuncture on blood pressure with people who had mild to moderate hypertension, who were NOT taking prescription medication for it. The results were achieved slowly, in most cases, by the fourth week of treatment.
East Meets West Breakthrough
With the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach to acupuncture, there is no standardized protocol. Such an Eastern medicine treatment approach is different from patient to patient. This makes it very difficult to study. The UCI researchers used a Western scientific approach. A standardized set of acupuncture points and needling protocol was implemented. It was also a double-blind study, meaning that two different groups of patients received treatment, but only one received the proper treatment. The control group received a different standardized acupuncture protocol. With this approach, neither group was aware which was getting the potentially effective treatment. Additionally, the doctors involved evaluated various physiological effects, including nerve and brain pathways, hormones, and cardiovascular function, which provided scientific explanations of the treatment’s mechanism of action.
Treatment consists of 30-minute electroacupuncture sessions performed just once per week for 8 weeks. Acupuncture needles are inserted on two points on each leg, near the knee, as well as two spots on each arm, near the wrist. Wires from the electroacupuncture instrument are attached by clip to the needles to provide mild stimulation. Those who have had it done will assure you that it is not a painful procedure. Receiving acupuncture needles is nothing like getting a shot or giving blood.
If you do have high blood pressure, consult with your medical doctor. If you are currently taking high blood pressure medicine, continue to follow your doctor's recommendations. It is however, safe to have acupuncture done in addition to medication. At no time does the Liebell clinic suggest any patient discontinue medication. This is a complementary health service.
Perhaps every medical doctor should read the research paper from the University of California-Irvine (UCI) study. With a Western medicine style study revealing that acupuncture can reduce high blood pressure, there is every reason for both doctors and patients to consider the treatment.
ABC News, "Good Morning America" Reports Stunning New Blood Pressure Research:
Medical Study Reveals Amazing NECK Treatment That Reduces Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients
Dr. Timothy Johnson is one of the nation's most respected health information correspondents. He provides on-air commentary on medical news for ABC's "Good Morning America," World News Tonight," "Nightline," and "20/20." In this news segment, Dr. Johnson revealed the latest breakthrough in the treatment of high blood pressure: a specialized treatment to the upper neck (upper cervical spine). A placebo-controlled study published in the March 2nd, 2008 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension revealed a significant lowering of blood pressure through specialized upper neck chiropractic treatments.
The results of the research study conducted at the
Department of Preventative Medicine, Rush University
Hypertension Center in Chicago were astonishing. The
author of this study is Dr. George Bakiris, M.D., the
director of the Hypertension Center, University of Chicago
Medical Center. According to Dr. Bakiris, “This procedure
has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications
given in combination…and it seems to be adverse-event free.
We saw no side effects and no problems.”
The procedure involves delicate re-alignment of the first
bone of the neck—the Atlas Vertebra. It seems more like a
feat of sophisticated engineering, rather than medicine.
There are very few doctors in the world who are licensed,
trained and board certified in this amazing discipline, a
specialty within the chiropractic profession. The atlas
vertebra, the 2-ounce bone that holds up your head, can
get stuck out of position less than half a millimeter.
Although you can’t feel it, the effects can be far-reaching.
Researchers suggest that injury to the atlas affects artery
and nerve function near the base of the brain.
This is particularly significant because the atlas is easily
injured from physical trauma including auto accidents, falls,
sports, head injuries, etc. Another research study on the effect
of Atlas procedures was published in the Journal of Whiplash
and Related Disorders. It revealed that the same type of precision
upper neck re-alignment produced amazing results with chronic
pain due to neck trauma.
The research studies recently published in medical journals
and reported by Dr. Johnson, merely confirm what we upper
cervical chiropractic specialists have been certain of for some time—
that tiny misalignments of the upper neck can be the cause of high
blood pressure and many painful conditions; and that proper
treatment can correct the cause. Larger medical studies on blood
pressure and the Atlas Vertebra are being organized, as well as
studies on headaches. It is quite possible that this news may be
relevant to people who have had head or neck trauma earlier in life.
I must make the disclaimer that we are by no means telling the
public that misalignment of the atlas vertebra is the lone cause of
high blood pressure. Nor are we suggesting that people with high
blood pressure should stop current medical treatment to pursue
Atlas Vertebra treatment. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can
have many causes. Atlas vertebra misalignment may be a factor in
many cases. It is critical for physicians of every discipline and
specialty to consider every possible cause. In my practice I treat
structural misalignment of the spine.
Atlas misalignment is often NOT accompanied by pain.
But It is not (at this point in time) considered within the scope of
chiropractic practice to treat a hypertension patient unless they have
an accompanying painful condition related to the spine. High blood
pressure patients will be considered as possible candidates for treatment
only if they also have a conditions related to the spine, joints, muscles
and nerves as well. One must have misalignment of the Atlas Vertebra,
which can be correlated with such conditions as pain in the: neck, back,
shoulder, hip, knee, foot, headaches, Fibromyalgia, whiplash injuries, etc.
Such misalignment as indicated by the medical study, can only be
determined by one of the rare Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.) who have
received additional post-doctorate certification and training in Upper
Cervical Chiropractic procedures.
There are several upper cervical procedures that are used worldwide: Atlas Orthogol (AO), NUCCA, Blair, Knee-Chest (also known as Kale Technique), Toggle-recoil. All of these upper cervical chiropractic techniques are based on the same scientific principles. Each technique requires a sophisticated mathematical x-ray analysis to create the blueprint for specific adjustment of the atlas vertebra. There are subtle differences between each method, but all are highly effective. I am certified in two upper cervical procedures: Atlas Orthogonal and Kale. The Atlas Orthogonal procedure is done with a sound vibration instrument. The Kale method is done by hand. The letters BCAO that appear after my name, stand for Board Certified Atlas Orthogonist.
New Study Reveals MORE Evidence that
Chiropractic Spinal Treatment Can Lower Blood Pressure
In June of 2015, a fascinating study was published that revealed reduction in blood pressure, pulse rate, and changes in hypertension classification, as a result of chiropractic treatment to the thoracic spine (upper back). This was a study that included placebo and control groups. No significant changes were observed for patients in these groups versus those receiving the proper treatment.
The research paper is entitled: A Somatovisceral Reflex of Lowered Blood Pressure and Pulse Rate After Spinal Manipulative Therapy in the Thoracic Region (Roffers, Menke, and Morris). It was published in the Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, an international medical journal. This paper is available through my office upon request
A Numbers Game
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. Systolic blood pressure is the first number. This is the pressure of your blood vessels when your heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the second number. This is a measurement of the pressure in your blood vessels while your heart rests in between beats. The CDC reports that approximately 1 out of every 3 American adults has prehypertension. This means higher than normal blood pressure, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with hypertension. It is considered to be prehypertension if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89. Hypertension is 140/90 or higher.
(Source: Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V, Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the US: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 133. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2013.)
In 2013, the medical journal, Hypertension published a paper suggesting that people suffering hypertension consider complementary approaches for treatment (Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension. 2013;61:1360-1383. Brook RD, Appel LJ, Rubentire M, et al.). While not likely known to the general public, such a proclamation is well-founded, considering that the estimated direct and indirect cost of hypertension in 2008 was $69.9 billion
The Silent Killer
Many people have no idea that they have high blood pressure because there is usually no warning signs or symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, high blood pressure was the primary or contributing cause of death in 2013 for over 360,000 Americans. Considering the annual estimated costs involved with treatment of high blood pressure, and the shocking death statistics, alternative means of management are critically needed.
Is 1,000 deaths per day a good result for tens of billions of dollars spent on healthcare?
In the early 1990s, I was asked by the Sheriff of Chesapeake, Virginia to serve on the local board of directors for the American Heart Association. I attended meetings for a short time, but quickly came to the conclusion that my participation was not time well spent. I saw that none of my suggestions would be considered. The agenda of the organization was not progressive. No consideration was given toward holistic and natural medicine approaches. I did not consider it particularly useful merely to raise funds for blood pressure screenings, and telling people to “eat right and exercise.” Promoting the use of high blood pressure medication as the primary approach was not consistent with my healthcare values. Recommending “lifestyle changes” is nice, but unfortunately many of such recommendations are today, still woefully unspecific, or based on antiquated and disproven medical information, such as pointing the finger at total dietary fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt. Quitting smoking is appropriately recommended.
A “New” Approach?
It is clear that with such obscene amounts of money spent annually on treatment of hypertension, guidance and treatment from those expert in natural approaches is desperately needed. Both chiropractors and acupuncturists have been worldwide leaders in the holistic health field, and have long recommended preventative and corrective health measures intended to support the body to heal itself naturally.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest healthcare methods known, but it is still new to most Americans. Even though chiropractic was developed in America (1895), it is still poorly understood by the public, and drastically underutilized. Now that positive effects of these natural treatments have been documented and proven through some published medical research studies, perhaps more people will seek out practitioners, who implement them.
The Liebell clinic is proud to provide the same chiropractic treatment method provided to patients in the studies published in the mainstream medical journals.
The same is the case for the acupuncture treatment provided to the patents in the University of California-Irvine
Perhaps every medical doctor should read the research papers focusing on chiropractic and acupuncture. With Western medicine style studies revealing that chiropractic and acupuncture are supportive measures for people suffering high blood pressure, there is every reason for both doctors and patients to consider the treatment. Consistent with my holistic health care philosophy, I consider all aspects of health, fitness, diet, and lifestyle. Diet and exercise are subject matters for which I am passionate and knowledgeable. Evidence suggests that this is highly relevant to hypertension. If you are interested in the possibility of specialized upper cervical treatment (Atlas Vertebra adjustments) helping to lower your blood pressure, I can certainly evaluate your case. I will however, expect your medical doctor to work with me, and be in charge of monitoring that aspect of your case.
This results of these studies are especially important because according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of the 70 million Americans who suffer high blood pressure do NOT have it under control. The CDC also states on their website that high blood pressure is underreported. They suspect that about 1 out of every 5 adults are unaware of even having high blood pressure, and thus do not report it.
It is clear that with such obscene amounts of money spent annually on treatment of hypertension, guidance and treatment from those expert in natural approaches is desperately needed. Acupuncture is one of the oldest healthcare methods known, but it is still new to most Americans. Now that its effects have been proven through a published university medical research study, perhaps more people will seek out practitioners, who implement the protocol.
An important note to all prospective patients, as well as medical physicians:
None of the chiropractic or acupuncture services described in this article are offered as a replacement for a medical doctor’s evaluation and treatment, nor are they represented as a direct treatment for a medical condition. These are solely holistic wellness and prevention (complementary medicine) health services.
If you do have high blood pressure, consult with your medical doctor. If you are currently taking high blood pressure medicine, continue to follow your doctor's recommendations.
It is however, safe to have both chiropractic and acupuncture done in addition to medication. At no time does the Liebell clinic suggest any patient discontinue medication.
All patients that I accept for treatment (as appropriate to my scope of practice) are advised to report to their primary medical physician for blood pressure monitoring and all non-chiropractic issues. I will not, and do not at any time, make any recommendations regarding blood pressure medication (nor any other medications). That is solely the domain of your M.D.
I treat misalignment of the upper neck, which recent research implicates as a cause of hypertension. I do not claim to treat high blood pressure. The research studies confirm the knowledge of the potential for specialized neck treatment to address one potential factor of elevated blood pressure.
I am licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine in both chiropractic and acupuncture. The new acupuncture study fortifies our knowledge that the ancient treatment can help too. In the light of these groundbreaking medical studies, I look forward to working with patients and local medical doctors to help people get healthier, and to further research by compiling case studies.
If you do not live in the Virginia Beach area, and you are looking for a doctor who specializes in the chiropractic procedures, please go to: www.upcspine.com, which is a patient advocate, non-profit organization site, where you will find an international doctor directory.
-Dr. Donald Liebell
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The Liebell Clinic: 477 Viking Drive Virginia Beach, VA 23452 (757) 631-9799 www.LiebellClinic.com