It has been well understood that chiropractic spinal manipulations have an effect on body functioning including neurological function. The question has been how exactly does this happen. There are studies that have found response in nerve tissue to spinal manipulations but few that look at what happens at the cellular level. A recent study found that chiropractic care may have an effect on brain function through changing the metabolism of glucose in various regions of the brain.
This paper, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2011, studied 12 men who underwent spinal manipulative therapy by a chiropractor by monitoring changes in cerebral glucose metabolism measured by [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography. From what I could find, this type of diagnostic testing is well defined as a means to measure glucose function in the brain. The authors found increased glucose metabolism in the inferior prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulated cortex, and middle temporal gyrus, and decreased glucose metabolism was found in the cerebellar vermis and visual association cortex, in the treatment condition in the adjusted participants. The authors note that the participants noted decreased pain, lower stress level, and a higher quality of life along with a measured reduction of cervical muscle tone and salivary amylase. Salivary amylase is an enzyme that helps break down starch into sugar. The authors conclude; ” The results of this study suggest that chiropractic spinal manipulation affects regional cerebral glucose metabolism related to sympathetic relaxation and pain reduction.”
This paper is important because it helps to confirm what many chiropractors have been saying and observing about chiropractic care since 1895. Chiropractic care does more than just alleviate mechanical back pain, there is an affect on human neurophysiology which results in improving human health and function. This is not an easy subject to understand because human physiology, and especially neurophysiology is very complex. If you remember anything about this post remember this; there is solid scientific evidence that chiropractic care can have an affect on our health beyond pain relief.