Neuroscientists: This Is Still The Closest We Have To A ‘Miracle Drug’
Want an all-natural solution to decrease pain, improve your mood, protect your brain from age-related decline, and enhance your memory?
Sound too good to be true? It’s not, but unfortunately, even though we’d all love a miracle drug that we could take in the morning and go on with our everyday lives, it’s not as easy as popping a pill.
The closest thing we’ve got, according to the evidence? Get moving and get adjusted.
A wealth of recent research suggests that chiropractic care in combination with any aerobic exercise that gets you moving and sweating for at least 45 minutes a day has an overwhelmingly beneficial impact on your brain. In fact, significantly more beneficial than any drug or supplement. Keeping your central nervous system functioning without interference and daily exercise that you can do for 30-45 minutes at a time is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart.
When we eliminate inflammation caused by musculoskeletal problems and commit to regular workouts that raise our heart rate and get us moving and sweating for a sustained period, magical things happen to our mind and body. We start to think more clearly, feel better about ourselves, and even build buffers against age-related cognitive decline. Our lungs and heart get stronger, too.
One of the studies, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, compared the activity levels of 34,000 adults over a period of 11 years to how depressed or anxious they reported feeling during that time. What’s more, while daily 45-minute periods of aerobic exercise seemed to be the most beneficial, the results suggested that even one hour of exercise per week (even if it was as simple as a moderately-paced walk) helped shield against depression.
In a separate study, of almost three thousand patients who received chiropractic care, 76% of those patients reported a mental/emotional improvement along with positive changes in stress and life enjoyment over a period of several months following the chiropractic care.
Plenty of other research has revealed a powerful connection between mental and physical health. Some benefits — like a lift in mood — can happen immediately after an adjustment or exercise session, while others — like improved memory — might take several weeks to see improvement. A pilot study in people with severe depression, for example, found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days was “sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.”
Preventing Cognitive Decline
Other recent studies have also demonstrated that aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to protect against age-related brain decline. A study published in May found that walking for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks appeared to strengthen connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss. Another study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that sweaty, heart-pumping exercise was linked with an increase in the size of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory.
The “Miracle Drug” Effect
So what do chiropractic and regular exercise share that makes them so beneficial to our physical and mental health?
- Cortisol Reduction: Both aerobic workouts and regular chiropractic care appear to help reduce levels of the body’s natural stress hormones, namely cortisol, a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found.
- Increased Endorphins: Some will call this a ‘runner’s high’, which refers to the hit of endorphins your brain receives during exercise or after an adjustment. These chemicals interact with receptors in your brain and actually reduce how you perceive situations. Endorphins have a similar effect on the body that the drug morphine does, as they attach to the same receptor sites, energizing you and increasing feelings of positivity.
- Blood Flow: Chiropractic care and activities like running and swimming also increase overall blood flow and provide our minds fresh energy and oxygen, which influences the areas of your brain responsible for responding to stress. This decreases anxiety and depression and increases motivation, mood, and the formation of memories.
The Bottom Line
Whatever the mechanism of action, the research suggests that everyone should be getting regular chiropractic care and 45 minutes of daily aerobic exercise, which could include anything from high-intensity interval training to swimming, running, or dynamic yoga.
That’s good advice for all ages.
The Ascent Chiropractic Advantage
Don’t have a chiropractor? At Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, we specialize in a gentle, hands-on, low-force adjusting technique that allows us to treat patients of all ages and conditions. Make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic by calling 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Alghadir, A. H., Gabr, S. A., & Aly, F. A. (2015). The effects of four weeks aerobic training on saliva cortisol and testosterone in young healthy persons. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(7), 2029–2033.
Ogura T, et al. Cerebral Metabolic Changes in Men After Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Neck Pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011, November/December; 17 (6): 12-17.
Harvey SB, et al. Exercise and the Prevention of Depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 2018, January 1; 175 (1): 28-36.
ten Brinke LF, et al. Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015, 49: 248-254.
Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA1, Injeyan HS, Ruegg R. Spinal manipulative therapy reduces inflammatory cytokines but not substance P production in normal subjects. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006 Jan;29(1):14-21.