Hadas Tawil and Yori Gidron
Research in the past 30 years has shown the importance of the vagal nerve in predicting reduced risk and possibly having therapeutic effects on fatal chronic diseases including ischemic heart disease, cancer progression and stroke, as well as in mental diseases and chronic pain. Thus, it is crucial to develop ways to activate the vagus. Vagal nerve activity is indexed by heart-rate variability (HRV), fluctuations in the intervals between normal heartbeats. Current ways to activate the vagus include medication, electric stimulation or paced breathing with biofeedback, each method with advantages and limitations. This study tested for the natural stimulation effects of a unique 3D chiropractic surface on HRV, distress and discomfort, by comparing it with two control conditions using regular matrasses.
We recruited n = 36 participants (mean age 51.6 years; 52.8% women) who were randomly assigned to rest during 10 minutes either in the supine position on a usual matrass (control 1, SUM), to rest in the prone position on a usual matrass (control 2, PUM), or to rest in the prone position on a unique 3D chiropractic surface (experimental group, PEXP). We measured HRV, blood-pressure, heart-rate (HR), distress and discomfort, before, immediately after the 10min rest and 5min later.
For participants in control 1 (SUM), SDNN and PNN50 increased significantly from 1 st to 3 rd measure only. For participants in control 2 (PUM), no HRV index changed significantly. In contrast, for participants in the experimental condition, SDNN, RMSSD and PNN50 all increased significantly from 1 st to 2 nd measure and SDNN also increased significantly from 1 st to 3 rd measure. Increases in PNN50 were larger in the PEXP group than in both controls combined. Concerning stress and discomfort, stress levels decreased significantly only in the control 2 condition.
This is the first study showing that a unique 3D chiropractic surface naturally increased significantly multiple HRV time domain parameters, more than two control conditions using regular matrasses. These results need to be now tested on clinical samples with other conditions in which vagal nerve activity plays a protective role, such as diabetes, hypertension, pains or heart disease. If effective, such a unique surface may be a novel treatment for such chronic health conditions.