Aug, 2015

Sleep Apnea and Chiropractic

By: | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments: 0

Serving people for over 21 years has it’s advantages. A longer view of trends in health gives perspective.

And if we’ve ever needed perspective in health care, it is now.

I was listening to a Ph. D. Neurophysiologist speak at a health conference in Montreal Canada and he said that current estimates put over 51% of the US population on some type of prescription medication. 1 That’s over 160 million people in the US alone!

We definitely need perspective.

But more importantly, we need to slow this whole thing down and get some sustainable, sane, safe health practices in place: Pointing our ship in a smarter, more effective direction.

Continually throwing out more medication or, in the case of Sleep Apnea, hooking people up to a CPAP machine for the rest of their lives is not the answer.

With sleep apnea, just as with all health issues, we need to look deeper if we really want to get to the root of the problem.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Mayo Clinic online has this to say about sleep apnea.

“Obstructive” sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat, and the tongue.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can’t get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway.

People with obstructive sleep apnea may not even be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, some people with this type of sleep apnea think they sleep well all night.

“Central” sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles.

You may awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep. Like with obstructive sleep apnea, snoring and daytime sleepiness can occur.

The most common cause of central sleep apnea is heart failure and, less commonly, a stroke. People with central sleep apnea may be more likely to remember awakening than are people with obstructive sleep apnea.

A very different perspective on Sleep Apnea.

If sleep apnea is caused by being overweight or a bad heart, why then do I have patients who swear their sleep apnea went away once they started getting their spine and nervous system looked after properly?

If it’s from soft tissue closing your throat or from a stroke or heart failure, what does the spine and nerve system have to do with it?

A lot.

Follow the research.

In 2009, an Australian researcher by the name of Elizabeth Blackburn was studying the damaging effects of stress hormones (catecholamines) on our DNA. She found that stress accelerated aging, among other things. 2 3 4

They found that anything that caused stress really messed up our body and brain.

You might say, “I already knew that. . . . and she won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for it? What’s with that?”

There was a bit more to her research than that: what she proved was that long term exposure to stress hormone destroys us right down to our DNA. And the root of the problem starts in our brain.

Two years later Japanese researchers found that abnormal spinal position in the neck caused an increase in brain activity in the stress centres of the brain. This produces an increase in the body’s production of stress hormones by both the brain and the adrenal glands.

The researchers performed PET scans both before and after a chiropractic neck adjustments in order to track brain activity. The scans showed altered brain activity in the areas responsible for stress reactions and pain processing.

After the chiropractic adjustments the brain activity in the stress enters of the brain decreased and the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) went down. 5

It’s long been suggested that post surgical patients who have undergone general anaesthetic suffer with memory loss. Some interesting research in France points the finger at stress hormones damaging brain cells; and while the “anaesthetics” numb the pain, they can’t stop stress hormones (this is also supported by research out of Scandinavia, England, and Switzerland). 6

And finally research from Alf Brieg in the 1930’s bring’s it all home: he discovered that abnormal posture will put a tensile stretch on the spinal cord and consequently decreasing nerve flow (also known as nerve conduction velocity). 7

So where does all this research lead us?

I believe the secret to sleep apnea and snoring improving with today’s chiropractic care is the focus on restoring proper spinal position (normal and flexible curve in the neck from the side view of an x-ray, and straight up and down on the front view of an x-ray).

When you look at all the research, the evidence is clear that when the spine is out of proper position, the spinal cord suffers and when that happens it is effecting your brain.

It stimulates the stress centres of the brain, leading to “tension” through you’re entire system.

If you add some extra pounds, combined with sleeping on your back with a neck in bad posture: snoring and sleep apnea ensue.

This same research leads to some interesting conclusions around “Central Sleep Apnea” as well.

If your neurology is compromised from the inside — the deepest parts of the brain that are responsible for respiration are also going to be effected.

It makes perfect sense that these same “neurological pathways” that contribute to obstructive sleep apnea could also be contributing to central sleep apnea.

This is why I believe people I’ve worked with over the years have reported that their snoring, sleep apnea, and stress levels have improved (often dramatically).

Look after the main thing — the master system.

When we look after the master system (the nerve system) then the power that God put in our body, to heal and to co-ordinate itself, is able to do it’s job.

I believe that this is a much better solution than a CPAP machine. We are actually getting to the root of the problem AND resorting healing to the deepest parts of the brain that will contribute to long lasting and sustainable health!

That’s the greatest advantage with today’s chiropractic, it deals with the underlying structure and cause, not just symptoms.

And that’s what most of my clients are looking for.

They are tired of health strategies that are just scratching the surface: they want true, authentic, inside out healing.

This is exactly what corrective chiropractic care offers and it’s exciting stuff!

So, if you are tired of hooking up to a machine every night, we can help.

Just leave a comment below or contact us at our office (250-870-9136) and we’ll try our best to connect you with a chiropractor in your area that does corrective work.

Just a few minutes spent investigating the status of your nerve system could totally transform your future, so what are you waiting for? 


  1. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-therapeutic.htm
  2. Szostak JW, Blackburn EH. Cloning yeast telomeres on linear plasmid vectors. Cell 1982; 29:245-255.

  3. Greider CW, Blackburn EH. Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase activity in Tetrahymena extracts. Cell 1985; 43:405-13.
  4. Greider CW, Blackburn EH. A telomeric sequence in the RNA of Tetrahymena telomerase required for telomere repeat synthesis. Nature 1989; 337:331-7.
  5. Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral Metabolic Changes in Men After Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Neck Pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011, November/December; 17 (6): 12-17.
  6. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2358493/How-general-anaesthetic-harm-memory-life-Research-finds-quarters-older-patients-develop-memory-loss-surgery.html
  7. Adverse mechanical tension in the central nervous system, by Alf Brieg, Almquist & Wiksell, Stockholm, 1978, 264 pp



Leave a Reply