Dr. Josh Silver explains the significance of the atlas to neurology and its important role to alignment. Cervical Chiropractors often ask the question “Is it your Atlas?” Atlas misalignment can affect the nerves in one of fourteen ways which includes blood flow, cerebrospinal fluid and drainage. One result is having headaches so often you’d think it is normal. Learn how an adjustment can help your brain and spinal cord function correctly.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic is resolving issues of tinnitus, headaches, multiple sclerosis, brain fog, coordination, vertigo, sinus problems, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues. Today on the podcast, we have Dr. Josh Silver, who is an Advanced Orthogonal Upper Cervical Chiropractor at the Pierce Clinic of Chiropractic in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is one of the only Upper Cervical Chiropractors with a Diploma in Neurology from the Care Institute. Dr. Silver has a brilliant mind and today on the podcast he will be breaking down the neurology behind the atlas adjustment. Please welcome, Dr. Josh Silver.
Listen To The Episode Here:
Is It Your Atlas? with Dr. Josh Silver
Josh, where are you from?
I’m from LA. I grew up in Los Angeles. My mom was a physical therapist. She was doing primitive manipulations on me when I was about five years old. She was teaching me to do them on her when I was about six years old, so I’ve been doing chiropractic a long time. I went to college to do physical therapy. That was the idea. I started doing PT as a patient for a cervical problem I had. I did a back head spring onto my head when I was about twelve and damaged my neck. Just the practice of physical therapy was so boring to me. It was just some counting to ten on different exercises. I got a random call from Dr. Sweet, a chiropractor in Petaluma, offering free screenings. I said, “I don’t know what chiropractic is but I like free so I’ll show up.”
How old are you at this point?
I’m 29 now, so I was twenty when this happened. I was in college. I showed up to the office. They gave me their elevator light bulb speech. It was like all these light bulbs went off in my head. I said, “That sounds awesome. I want to get my neck fixed.” Dad said, “You’re not becoming a chiropractor. ” The only way to get adjusted is to go to school then, so I went to chiropractic school.
What were you dealing with up until this point in your life symptom-wise?
Lots of headaches every day from the age of 12 until about 24. They’re tension headaches, three out of ten. Dad thought it was a Tylenol deficiency so he just kept giving me more Tylenol hoping it would go away. You have headaches so often that you think headaches are normal. You think that that’s just part of the human condition. Everybody has headaches all the time. You don’t really know what life was like without them. You just accept it as normal.
What was your first chiropractic experience like? Was it straight to upper cervical or did you dabble around because you were new to the field?
When I was finishing up college, I interned for a full spine doc in Sta. Rosa. She was great. She was the first graduating class out of Life West ever. She was great and she manipulated me. I had better range of motion. I had more energy. I still had headaches and it wasn’t really something I associated as a chiropractic issue. I had more range of motion and it was a neat experience . I had no idea upper cervical even existed when I got to chiropractic school. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to do ART. I wanted to do Gonstead. This upper class, in an act of defiance to her I said I’d go to upper cervical club every week for that quarter to prove to her that I tried and I learned it and this is ridiculous. You step into this club and there are all these upper cervical doctors with these stories that are just unbelievable.
I decided to go for it. Right after that, I found myself a toggle doctor, a student, and he started toggling me. It was a light switch for the headaches. That first adjustment, it just lights up the headache. Here I am seven years later not having headaches every day. I get headaches about four times a year when I go out of alignment. I need about four adjustments a year to stay in alignment.
That’s the thing that got me too because I was in a full spine chiropractic almost three or four times a week for a year and a half. I was feeling good but nothing sustainable. If I didn’t see them for about a week, everything will come back, headaches and everything. I had one upper cervical adjustment hold for three years and that was the most amazing feeling. You feel the healing going on in your body. It’s almost unexplainable. It saved my life.
I tell these patients, “Do you want to go to the dentist and have your cavity filled and have it stay filled? Or do you want to go back and have it refilled every three days for the rest of your life?”
Josh, what is a subluxation?
Subluxation by definition is a misalignment between two vertebrae that’s creating pressure on the nerve or nerve interference. It’s a classical definition of it. It’s definitely getting worked in the way we view it in the modern chiropractic world because by definition it has to have two things. It has to have misposition and a neural problem with it. Yet when we’re doing our typical full spine assessments, we’re not checking any nerve systems. We’re only looking for mechanical issues between the vertebrae. We’re addressing those mechanical issues but we have no idea whether we’re improving neural outcomes or not. That’s become the standard.
You have to understand that the brain is connected to everything in the body and if a subluxated segment, a fixated segment isn’t moving, then by definition there will be a neural consequence to it but it could potentially be nominal. It could be extremely no big deal. When we’re looking at the upper cervical spine on the other hand based off of the unique anatomy and the physiology and the proximity to the brain, the consequences of the atlas subluxation compared to an L4 subluxation, there’s no comparison between the two. That’s why I really choose upper cervical as the way to go. I fear that the atlas subluxation is probably the most menacing to humankind when compared to the others, if not, responsible for a lot of the others occurring in the first place.
What is the significance about the atlas? Obviously, there’s so much neurology up there, but in your opinion, why is the atlas so important? Why is it so important that it’s in alignment? What happens when it goes out of alignment?
Number one, the atlas is the throne to the skull. The brain, the head, all of it rest upon the atlas. Our brain is our entire world to us. Our entire sensory system, our motor system, everything is designed to protect the head and the skull because you’re living in your brain. Everything we experience happens through our eyes right in the cortex. You hurt your foot, it’s not your foot that experiences pain. Feet can’t think. They can only perceive damage. Everything happens in the brain. We’re talking about the throne to the brain. When you look at these motion segments, there are no discs nor are there facet joints compared to the other 22 vertebrae, so there’s not much interlocking these vertebrae in position. They’re not going to get fixated like the rest of the spine is going to get where they’re stuck in place and they have a lot of joints holding them together. These have less joints so they’re going to slip out of position.
Not to mention it’s those two ounce, the atlas and axis, are supporting your head which is technically like a bowling ball, ten to thirteen pounds and they weigh a couple of ounces.
If not, one ounce holding twelve pounds, is what I say. I like going to museums. You look at the Natural History Museum, you see all these skeletons. If you look around, all species have a unique upper cervical joint complex compared to the other vertebra. You see this in dinosaurs how far back it goes. This area is more vulnerable because it lacks the stability of the vertebra. Based off of the fact that you’ve got nerve tissue, brain stem tissues, cerebellar tissue, less than an inch north of it, it puts it in a good position for a lot of bad consequences to happen. What’s so amazing is that the consequences are going to be variable in every single person because you have, according to our system in Advanced Orthogonal, there are millions of different patterns in misalignments.
You need to understand that the nerves going through the atlas are microscopic and there are millions upon millions of nerves going through it. Based on the type of subluxation and the type of pathology it makes and the types of nerves that it affects, everybody is going to have a unique symptomatic presentation regardless. You can’t completely base your care plans off symptoms. It’s not just what upper cervical doctors know, it’s not just what chiropractors know, but what the medical community is starting to catch on to because there’s so much mismatch between symptoms and diagnosis.
We’re finding out so much about the brain. Scientifically, it’s being proven now. You have a couple of lectures out that are fascinating about tinnitus or ear ringing being cured in people, headaches, GI issues, brain fog. We can break down some of these things. If somebody has ear ringing, how is that atlas affecting that and can that cure it and make it go away?
Number one, atlas treatment is neither a treatment nor a cure for any disease. Atlas chiropractic is only a treatment for atlas misalignments. When the misalignment goes, a lot of the symptoms that could be caused by it are expected to improve too. If a patient comes in with tinnitus, you need to say yes, there are mechanisms for the atlas to be causing it or there could be a busted eardrum or there could be age-related. If they’re 90 years old and they have very whittled ossicles then they’re not going to expect improvement on that. If they are twenty-something who can’t hear and there’s no explanation why and they’ve been checked by an ENT, then potentially it’s an atlas issue. Right now, us, upper cervical doctors, are the only people in the field addressing it. I did the Carrick Program, the Functional Neurology for Postgraduate Chiropractors. I’m working on the traumatic brain injury concussion course right now. It definitely taught me a lot more about the nerve system.
I think you might be the only link, I could be wrong, between functional neurology and upper cervical. Are you pretty much the only guy doing both?
As far as I know, there are a couple of other guys that have done a few courses here and there. I actually got the diplomat. I’ve been teaching upper cervical for the Advanced Orthogonal Institute for the last couple of years, all the neuro behind it.
We need somebody like that. That’s great.
You can break down the consequences of the atlas misalignment into either structural or neurological. There will be neurological consequences under the structural components. Structurally, it can cause different effects on the brain stem, it can affect blood flow, it can affect drainage, it can affect cerebrospinal fluid, it can cause frank distraction or compression onto the nerves. There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming out on functional MRIs that we’re able to really see these; the same thing with the cone beam scans.
That is amazing, the technology coming out.
Beautiful being able to see ossification in these transverse ligaments finally.
Are you using the CBCT?
We’re trying to head in that direction. There’s no analysis protocol for orthogonal yet, so I have to invent it.
You’ve got your work cut out for you then.
It’s a big project but we’re working on it and that’s the future. What I’m more concerned about and I think I’ll specialize a little bit more on is the feedforward pathways. What you need to think about is that you’ve got a river and you have things downstream from the river that are feeding off that water supply. If somebody builds a dam, things downstream from that river are going to whittle. That’s exactly how the nerve system works. The brain is receptor base. It feeds off of information given to it from our sensory organs: from our eyes, ears, nose. Proprioception is so incredibly important in the brain sensory integration and building this world around us. The atlas has more sensory receptors around it than any of the other vertebrae. We’ve proven that scientifically. We know that to be true. The question is whatever is downstream of that is going to be affected in the misalignment through dysafferentation, through wrong output. That’s basically everything down the river as a consequence.
That’s dysafferentation, everything going down the river, out to the tissues, the nerves and the cells and all that, right?
Yes. What we need to think about is the vestibular system of the brain, the brain’s balancing coordination system which is controlling how our eyes move, controls how the muscles and our spine move to keep us upright and in balance. It is taking information from what we see. It’s taking information from what our inner ears are depicting with their semicircular canals. What’s not highlighted enough is how much proprioceptive input it’s getting from the atlas, from the cervical spine. We know again in science that there’s proprioception but nobody really knows what to do with it because we don’t know if this muscle fibers or this nerve or this one. It’s such a general category.
That vestibular nucleus, is that more up towards the atlas right there in the brain stem?
Vestibular nucleus is in the pons, which is right in the middle of the brain stem. Underneath the pons, you’ll have the medulla and that, some argue and say, it goes through the atlas, some say it’s right above the atlas. Right above the pons, you have the mesencephalon and behind all of it you have the cerebellum. The atlas is in very, very close proximity to all of these. The vestibular nucleus is going to build this perception for us of what’s going on in the world. Where are we in the world? How are we moving? How far we are away from things? Where’s upright compared to side lying in respect to gravity? It’s going to be building this picture off of the combined input of those three: off of our ears, our eyes and our neck. When the neck is dysfunctioning, when we have an atlas that slipped to the side and these muscles are being stretched and these are being shortened, and these joints being compressed and these joints are being opened, you’re going to have more information firing out off of one side that stretch and you’re going to have less information firing out of the short-end side. You’re going to end up getting this mismatch of information into the vestibular nuclei. I know I was supposed to keep it simple. I’m doing the best I can.
That can cause the dizziness and not knowing where you are in space and the vertigo and everything?
Exactly. I’ve seen a lot of vertigo now that I’ve been in the field for three years. Vertigo is one of two things. It’s either crystals in the ear or it’s cervical spine problems. Almost every single patient that I’ve seen with vertigo has already been through the Epley’s maneuver for the crystals in their ear. Sometimes it’s very, very effective but if that’s not the diagnosis, they have no idea how to treat this. I’ve seen vertigos improve in one correction multiple times now. What’s so interesting about this vestibular nucleus is once it gets confused from this mismatch of information, it can’t control how we move the eyes as effectively. When our eyes slip off a target, we end up seeing the world flash in front of us and that’s where you feel that moment of dizziness. That’s the moment when you have that retinal slip happen. That’s very important.
What’s also important is the vestibular nucleus controls the muscles all the way down our spine for balance. Where if I tilt my head right, everything’s going to tighten to keep me from falling over. My neck just influenced every muscle in my spine. When this vestibular nucleus starts cranking incorrectly because it’s having wrong information being fed to it, its output becomes aberrant. We’re saying garbage in, garbage out, to make a long story short. If it doesn’t know what’s really happening, it can’t make the right decisions and it starts firing muscles along the spine in balance where they’ll feel a tightness or contracture right here in the thoracic and they’ll feel another one down here on the left lumbar. We’ll look at them and examine and have their shoulder up here and their head tilt like this, and they’ll say, “How come my shoulder hurts?” You say, “Have you ever looked in the mirror before? You got two inches up on that shoulder.”
Essentially, that atlas, the first bone, has become locked and the body can’t correct itself so it starts to compensate below the atlas and starts shifting your body to make everything more comfortable, right?
Not even because the brain is trying to compensate to know where it’s located in space. It has to be stable in level. It is willing to give us lower cervical pain in order to protect itself so that we know where we are in the world. The body makes sacrifices where it needs to to preserve life, to keep us alive. We’ll see that atlas, through this mechanism, could cause that contraction and be giving somebody right hip pain but the hip looks great on MRI, it looks negative, there’s no discs. That you’ve been to chiropractors, chiropractors have adjusted the hip and it’s giving them temporary relief because they’re treating the compensation, they’re not treating the cause of that elevated pelvis. Then we come in and we do what sounds like if you do magic, a little sound wave into the top of their neck, and they come back the next visit usually sore as heck, and visit number three they’re usually feeling quite a bit better.
The system begins to balance almost right away. You do a leg check fifteen, twenty minutes later and that hip has come down, the hips are balanced, the leg length looks clear. That’s insane how fast the message go back and forth and clears out the system.
The brain is so incredibly plastic in its design to adapt to change in its environment very, very rapidly. I don’t want us to keep thinking this old mechanical issue that head is off-center so the body is going to try and contract to balance and keep it upright. The body isn’t going to try and balance the head. The brain is going to try and balance the head. The only way it can do that is to imbalance the body. That’s very important. If we start really looking where else does this vestibular nucleus fire, we know the vestibular nucleus is disease at this point, and again, anything downstream of that, now to a lesser effect but still affected, could be affected by a vestibular nucleus.
We are walking water balloons. We’re just big bags of blood moving through space. If I’m going to tilt my body, blood is going to drain towards the ground. I don’t want to lose that blood supply on the left side of my brain or I lose consciousness. Our body has very intelligently designed the vestibular system and the autonomic system to go hand in hand. The vestibular system is balanced to the autonomic system so that when my vestibular system knows I’m tilting this way, it knows and tells the autonomic system to shunt blood to the left side of my brain so I don’t pass out. When we start having this autonomic concomitance from a vestibular issue that’s so fundamentally caused by an atlas misalignment issue, we start opening our bodies up more to dysautonomias or problems with the autonomic system just as in firing. Have you ever seen any cases of POTS in practice?
Refresh my memory of POTS.
POTS is like where they go from the sitting to standing position and they just start getting real dizzy, real light-headed.
I’ve had people that can’t even lie down on their side because the whole room starts to spin. We take the head piece and we adjust them in the chair and they do much better. I’ve seen people where they can’t even lay on their sides because their whole world starts to spin. You put that back into alignment and it stops. It’s insane.
That’s definitely a vestibular issue you’re seeing right there. What’s happening is when they’re upright, gravity is compressing the head on the neck and it’s giving them some baseline. The second they lay on their side, there are no crystals in the ear that have shifted to give them that spinning. It’s that they’ve disengaged those spinal joints. They’re not getting that information that feed forth from them and that’s when their symptoms start kicking up.
Patients are always looking for a timeline. How long is this going to take? It’s obviously different for everybody based on their traumas and their body and their healing. You can have that atlas clear for a couple of months and they still feel the same and then around the four-month mark, it goes away. How do you neurologically explain that? Technically the atlas is in alignment, technically they have the nerve flow, but obviously they’ve had some trauma. What is that when it’s finally clicking when the vertigo is gone? For some people it goes away right away, others take four or five months. What do you think that is?
Number one, you could just be dealing with a non-related issue that goes through spontaneous remission. We always need to think clinically. Number two, a lot of textbooks state that full nerve regeneration takes 120 days. You can’t rehab the sheath of a nerve any faster than that. If they have the right supplementation, the right diet or a bad one, that could prolong or delay the effects of that. That’s one issue.
We also look at what’s considered physiologic weakness, inverse ablative weakness. Are the nerves broken and just hurting and they need time to go through that healing? Or are the nerves dead? That can be a possibility too. If the nerves are dead, no matter how many adjustments, you can’t raise the dead. I think that on people that tend to rehab quicker, you’re dealing more with those feedforward mechanisms. The brain is incredibly plastic and malleable and it will change quickly when its input gets changed. On some of those slower-healing patients, you need to understand that maybe there was more of a mechanical issue. Maybe there was a true dentate ligament pulling on the side of that nerve, that nerve was stretched out and its sheath broke down and that nerve needed a little bit of time to mechanically repair itself. That’s more the difference I see.
To be honest, I see most patients steadily improving for about the first one to four to five months. I tend to see patients plateau at around that point. Usually they’re as good as they’re going to get around month four to six. Some upper cervical doctors say they’ll continue to improve, they’ll continue to heal; it’s not what I found. We can take them from an eight to a three and keep them at a three, and they’ll be very thankful for that.
I definitely see that in patients. I remember with my own situation, around the four-month mark I was feeling really good and around the eight-month mark I was feeling even better. Honestly, it took about a year and a half for all my symptoms to dissipate. I agree, you definitely see those patients plateau but some of those people just do need that extra four or five months and they do come around.
We need to face this reality that so many people walk into our office have been misaligned for 40 years, 50 years, and we need time. I say if I have a time machine, I could speed up my care plans. That would be the best thing ever. Healing does take time.
We’ve also been taking care of stomach and gastrointestinal tract issues. You touched on it earlier. People with some stomach issues and gastric issues, how does the upper cervical adjustment clear that up?
We know that the vestibular nucleus is tied in with our autonomic system, and the vestibular nucleus is literally next towards vagus motor neuron 10. Many people with these types of dizziness issues, what’s the first thing they say when they get dizzy? They got upset stomach. We’ve got a system that’s, let’s say, excited a little bit too much and it’s going to have a little bit of spillover into the neighboring things it has. If it starts spilling over into that dorsal motor nucleus at 10, the one that controls our gut, our heart, everything, that’s going to actually become a little extra activated just by the proximity of it too.
We do know that connection exists. However, we know there’s another unique connection called the nucleus intermedius. It’s another brain stem nucleus but this one’s in the medulla, it’s a little bit lower. What the nucleus intermedius does is that it’s a direct relay from those upper cervical muscle spindles into the nucleus intermedius and that feeds straight into that vagus nerve again. We’ve measured that this pathway is about changing the output of the heart in relationship to head and neck movements. That’s what the medical literature says about this.
Do these two tracts contribute to when somebody gets a concussion, they get really nauseous and they even vomit?
Yes, absolutely. That’s a mechanism there. If you throw your head back, you’re going to have to speed up your heart rate a little bit to try and push the extra blood up, a little bit different leverage. The same thing if your head’s upside down, you need to spend less energy pushing blood in that direction, especially since the brain doesn’t have a vein system with the valves. We have connections now of the atlas to the heart, the atlas to the stomach, the atlas to blood flow in general. We’re starting to reflect some of these in the blood pressure study.
I was just about to bring that up. The blood pressure and the upper cervical research has come out. What is that saying?
It was unbelievable research. With a control group of 25 and a sample group of 25 under the NUCCA technique, they say an average of seventeen over eleven point drop, systolic over diastolic, which is more effective than two blood pressure medications at once. This is a non-pharmaceutical correction where one adjustment gave them eight weeks of these results. Who knows how long those results would have gone on for?
Josh, what’s your opinion on people on blood pressure medication that get that upper cervical adjustment? That medication, because it’s trying to drop the blood pressure, is that messing things up even more?
Yeah, there are consequences for every single type of medication. They could be asymptomatic, it’s so consequential or not. Is the atlas a treatment for blood pressure? No, that’s a law suit waiting to happen. But I did have one patient this year. I adjusted his atlas. His blood pressure dropped fifteen points. The guy did some research on beet root powder and started taking that. He dropped fifteen more points. He got off two medications and his erectile dysfunction, which was being caused by the medications cleared up, so I said I can add that to the repertoire of things we treat now at the clinic.
No joke, this guy was losing his marriage over this issue. He’s looked at the lifestyle behind the symptoms.
You really see an entire family’s lives changed through upper cervical care because you save one person’s life in the family and they recommend. You’ve got the whole family in the office. It’s an amazing thing to see.
I want to talk a little bit about trigeminal neuralgia because it’s something that I’m definitely getting passionate into. It’s supposed to be the most painful condition in the world. These people are having lightning bolt-like symptoms across the face, and it’s ten out of ten drop-you-to-your-knees pain. We had this one sweet, sweet woman. Two years of Lyrica gave her no relief. I adjusted her twice ever to this day and she hasn’t had a single attack. She was going from eight to ten attacks a day.
This is electrifying pain all over the body. It’s unexplainable.
It’s mainly to the face. There really are not many treatments available within medicine, except for Lyrica, which is largely infective. What’s very important about the atlas is that there is one nucleus called the trigeminocervical nucleus. We’ll call it cranial nerve 5. It lives within the pons of the brain stem but it reaches all the way down through the medulla and into the top of the cervical cord, the cord that goes through C1, C2, C3. It pretty much ends around C3. This nucleus is going to be responsible for controlling head pain, face pain. It’s going to be responsible for motion of the jaw, the TMJ. It is receiving input from our brain, from what we cortically want to do with our jaw. It’s receiving input from the sensory branches of itself along the face.
What we’re finding, some of the top neurological researchers, is that this cord reaches all the way down to the cervical cord and it’s getting afference, it’s getting messages from the atlas, from C2, from C3. All of these are sending information into this nucleus. Many of the times in their joined dysfunction, those are going to be nociceptions. It’s going to be pain signal that’s coming in. The C1, C2, C3 don’t have any skin of their own. Like C5, we’ll feel the skin is related to C5, and C6 is this, but the upper cervical joints never earned a dermatome. They’re basically sharing that skin with cranial nerve 5, which is the head, neck and face.
What we’re having is convergence. We’re having different messages from the brain coming down, but different messages from the neck coming in. These pain signals from the neck are firing off right here. This is telling the brain that there’s head and face pain, but the brain is having trouble distinguishing where that’s coming from. It could be coming from the jaw, it could be coming from the eyes, it could be coming from the neck. Whatever it is, the brain is just going to give you this sensation of pain. These people will have this pain coming along, they’ll go to the dentist, there’ll be no TMJ issues. Some of these people will have all their teeth pulled because they think it’s a teeth issue and the pain is still there once all their teeth are removed.
Finally, they come to us. Usually we’re about doctor number eight or nine in these cases. I’m very forward with them. I say, “I don’t know if what I’m going to do is going to help you and I can’t promise that, but we’ve seen success in this condition before.” You treat the atlas and if you do a good job, that should change very rapidly. My three years here, I’ve had six patients and five of them I had great success with. There was just one I couldn’t help. Maybe there was a hook off of the zygomatic arch. You’ve seen that as a cause of trigeminal before.
I wouldn’t say you didn’t help her. You definitely helped her body function a lot better.
We know that but she was in a lot of pain. I think this is great because Mary, the patient, who did have a success, she’s angry that she didn’t learn about this years ago when it started. She had become a big advocate.
While we’re on this trigeminocervical nucleus, let’s tie in what else are the facts. I said head and face pain is one of the pairs. If it’s getting aberrant information from the atlas misalignment, it could be causing headaches. Cervicogenic headaches, headaches coming out of the neck, very well documented in literature, we’re finding that in many concussion cases where we think it’s a brain injury that’s giving them headaches, we treat the neck and the headache goes away. We find out that was a neck headache, not a brain headache. It was just misdiagnosed. Same thing in concussions that applies to dizziness, same thing in a concussion that applies to brain fog, same thing in a concussion that applies to a lot of the symptoms that mirror for the head and the neck, they could come from my door.
Let’s be honest, if you’re going to hit your head hard enough to bruise your brain, is it feasible that you’ll damage the neck? It’s not just feasible, it’s a definitive. I love treating headaches. Migraines are pretty similar mechanism. Sometimes it’s actual frame compression of an artery and that would give them a migraine. Sometimes there’s a pulsation on the cord from turbulent flow because of the misalignment parameters that could cause migraines. We’d have a pretty great track record with headaches at the clinic. The last part is if that trigeminal nucleus is responsible for moving the jaw and it has aberrant output because it’s got garbage in, garbage out, it could get people TMJ issues. A lot of people suffer.
A lot of people suffer with TMJ. It can be directly correlated with atlas misalignment.
We see a lot of TMJ cases here. I get about 60% results just from atlas adjusting alone on TMJ. Some people, there could be a more serious pathology or it could be a slip disc, it could be a torn ligament, it could be a punch in the face. What we’ve got to think is that in the absence of trauma, when somebody never got punched in the face, their jaw just slowly started hurting on their own or their hip just slowly started hurting on its own. In those cases, that is a degenerative atlas condition that’s slowly explaining in the absence of trauma.
I love getting kids in the office too because they heal up real quick. You see a lot of kids coming in with the ear infections and chronic sinus issues, and they clear up really fast. That obviously ties in with a couple of the tracts you were talking about before, right?
Yeah. The TMJ and the Eustachian tube of the ear work quite in tandem with each other because one opens when the other closes and one closes when the other opens. The trigeminal nucleus is also controlling with those Eustachian tubes. I love ear infections. They tend to be a pretty easy home run in the office because very often atlas problems creates trigeminal problems which creates problems with the nerve that goes to the tensor veli palatini, the nerve that controls with that Eustachian tube, and that thing will just stay locked on them when it shouldn’t be.
On adults, the Eustachian tubes tend to come down about a ten to fifteen-degree slope. In children, those Eustachian tubes are perfectly flat. They’re not going to have gravity on their side helping draining it like an adult may. That fluid is just going to sit there. If that tube is closed because of the aberrant neurological signal, it sets them up for ear infections. This is the same mechanism that we just said with tinnitus. Potentially, it’s part of the mechanism behind Harvey Lillard, the original chiropractic patient who had his hearing restored to.
Josh, we’re getting some good results with seizures in the office too, clearing up when the person’s in alignment. What’s the pathway going on there?
Seizures are a different story. Sometimes it humbles me when I don’t have all the answers, but I’m working on it though. Seizures are an aberrant electrical storm usually in the temporal lobes. They don’t really know why the brain is randomly firing off. I think probably that everything is a little bit closer to thresholds. Everything is just a little too excited in the brain. When one thing gets excited wrong, it triggers too many other things that reach excitation. We have just too many things in the brain trying to happen at once. We have flexors and extensors contracting. We get these jerky motions. Seizures, we know again, can be created by so many different pathologies in medicine, but we are seeing incredible results with them in upper cervical care.
There’s this one severely autistic child and a doctor long, long time before me at the Pierce Clinic came for one atlas adjustment. That adjustment has now held for thirteen years and she hasn’t had a single seizure since that first adjustment. I think that when we start changing some of the blood coming into the brain, some of the blood coming out of the brain, and we start actually really washing and nourishing the brain, giving it the right oxygen and removing the toxic metabolic byproducts that our brain naturally makes during the day, then everything starts to come lower in threshold to more of a normal state. That may be the mechanism in that. I may be wrong. It’s part of the beauty of what we do. Sometimes we get results that we can’t explain, but that’s the beauty of holistic medicine.
The MS patients.
MS falls more into the degenerative category or the structural category. We talked a lot about how those nerves feeds the things downstream. What we’re finding with hard MRI evidence these days is that the atlas has these two wings off that are called the transverse process. The brain is draining itself mainly through the internal jugular vein. The internal jugular is the main brain vein drain, it’s what they call it. The jugular foramen, the holes in the bottom of the skull where that vein exits is just in front of the atlas transverse process. The atlas should only be flexing and extending underneath the skull. When somebody gets struck in a rotary fashion where the head spins, the atlas can misalign to rotate under the skull, put pressure on that jugular vein, and then close down part of the drainage out of the brain. If the brain can’t drain itself effectively, it’s going to start to increase pressure within the brain. That’s just the truth of it. It’s going to excrete pressure.
Part of the problem is that the brain is making its own fluid called cerebrospinal fluid deep within the center of the brain in these chambers called ventricles, and that has to flow through the middle of the brain on its way out. When this increased pressure in the skull and that fluid can’t escape and go the way it normally would, it’s going to leak out of its chambers and it’s going to leak into the brain tissue surrounding it. When we take an MRI, it’s going to look white, more as white as water. We’re going to see these big white patches of water on the brain and there are going to be several of them.
Multiple sclerosis is not a “this is what’s causing this” definition. There are a lot of lesions on the brain. There are a lot of scar-y patches. We don’t even know what the scars are but there is quite a few of them and they’re tying that into chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency. I think we have the answer for that. I think we actually are the only people who know what is causing that. There’s some really incredible work that Dr. Scott Rosa is doing. I don’t know if you’re familiar, but he is doing immediate pre and post MRIs on the brains of some of these MS patients. You’ll see these white spots disappear instantly post-MRI.
After an upper cervical adjustment, he’s taken post-MRI and they’re draining?
They’re draining. You’ll see somebody go from eight lesions down to two lesions within an hour. Incredible quality of life change. I’ve seen my fair share of MS and it’s actually one of my favorite conditions to treat now.
You probably see a couple of them even getting out of wheelchairs and all that.
I have one guy with a cane and we did his adjustment. Our adjustments are so gentle, we were doing advanced orthogonal. Most people don’t perceive I did anything. He gets up off the table like this is a joke but he realizes that he’s holding his cane that he used to get in there, and he walked to post X-ray carrying the cane. I never saw him with it again. Really beautiful. The way I look at it is there’s such a problem with getting an accurate diagnosis, especially as a chiropractor. We don’t have the imaging availability. We don’t have the labs at our request. There are usually financial concerns with the patient.
To get a real true diagnosis where the only acceptable treatment is a medication which we legally can’t prescribe anyway, it’s a dying breed. I’m creating what I call the holistic chakra. You take a chakra and you shoot it, spreads out, you can’t miss. That means that whatever the patient comes in with, I’m going to create a treatment plan that’s so diversified that no matter what they have, they’re going to see improvement. Generally, right now it’s upper cervical chiropractic and curcumin. Those are the two main things I’m using. Curcumin, are you familiar? It’s known to have some qualities.
Powerful antioxidants, right?
Not just powerful antioxidants, but powerful brain protection in MS, in Parkinson’s and quite a few neurological conditions. It’s because it really speeds up nerve regeneration, which is the whole goal behind upper cervical anyway.
How does that work with the supplementation in your patients?
The way I do it at the clinic is I usually don’t give them the supplement until third visit. Usually first visit is the workout. Second visit is the adjustment post X-rays. Third visit is for follow-up. I don’t give them the supplement until that follow-up because I want them to feel their body changing and have a sense of what the adjustment’s doing for them versus what the supplement is doing. The supplement is not there to fix them, the adjustment’s there to help fix them. It’s meant to support my adjustment and make their body recover a little bit quicker.
I’m glad you brought that up because you have some patients that come in and they’re doing everything. They come see you and you put them back into alignment and they’re feeling much better, but they don’t know what to attribute it to because they come in there like, “I think it was this. I don’t think it’s what you’re doing.” You just smile and you’re like, “Okay.”
My recent trigeminal patient, she’s like, ” I feel better but I don’t know if it’s you or the carbamazepines I’m taking.” I was like, “How long has this condition been going on?” “Two years.” “How long have you been taking carbamazepines?” “Two years.” “When did you start having relief?” “Three days after the adjustment.” That’s a no-brainer. This is week one of her starting to wean herself off medication, and that’s so exciting.
Josh, you took all the seminars and everything. I don’t know much about it, I know they’re doing amazing things, but are you implementing any of the exercises if you’re getting a patient that’s stagnant? Do you implement some of the neurological exercises?
Yeah. I don’t do enough of it. That’s my fault. I took the program while I was in school and had a lot of time to practice so I was learning. I got the diplomat and I’ve accumulated a wealth of upper cervical information. As far as functional medicine treatments, they’re more rare. What we know is that the eyes, the ears, and the atlas play a role in that vestibular system. We’re the best people on the world for fixing the atlas. Sometimes the eyes could be generating part of that problem. Sometimes the inner ears could be generating part of that problem. Some part of the middle of the brain could be generating that problem. What I’m trying to do is invent or create a very common protocol for upper cervical doctors to do potentially different eye exercises or spins in the chair vestibular exercises that will help their brain balance itself better, help their head balance itself better, so that they can actually hold better. That’s my goal with this.
I’m born for that. Whenever that comes around, I want to know about it.
Think about it. If their eyes are wavering and their head is trying to move to keep their eyes on target, could that interfere with our adjustment? You bet. Could giving them a fixation exercise where they’re focusing on a target and exercising that could strengthen that system so it can actually neurologically, ocularly, hold their hand more stably? Yeah, they should hold better. It’s a work in progress. I really don’t do much of that. I really do mostly upper cervical chiropractic and a little bit of supplements, a little bit of therapy, something we offer at the Pierce Clinic. That’s 99% of it.
Josh, where are you located? Where can people find you on the internet and everything?
I live in St. Petersburg, Florida. I work at the Pierce Clinic of Chiropractic. It’s been there for 52 years. We’re the headquarters for the Advanced Orthogonal Technique. I’m a teacher on the board. You can find me at PierceClinicStPete.com, a good place to find me for patients. I do love referrals. I have a YouTube channel called UCSilver. We’re now at over 30,000 views on the channel so we’re starting to grow, but it’s a content for chiropractors, that’s what I like to call it. I’ve got a good wealth of videos there that most chiropractors, upper cervical or not, could appreciate.
What would you like to leave the people with for this episode that are considering an upper cervical adjustment or just have all these health issues going on that they’re curious?
There are fourteen different mechanisms behind the atlas misalignment. It can affect nerves in one of fourteen different ways. We talked about three of them on this talk. When a patient comes in, I don’t whether they have one of them, six of them, all of them. It doesn’t matter, but because of that, it could be affecting and causing all their symptoms. It could be causing some of them. What we know is because of those mechanisms, no matter what, when people are misaligned, symptoms or not, they’re going to lose their humanistic expression. They’re going to lose out a little bit. Whether you’re hurting or not, being in alignment is good for you, just like eating right is, just like going to a gym is, just like positive thinking is. It’s essential for us to have our head on straight to actually make sure that our brain and our spinal cord are working correctly. I believe that optimal brain function is enlightenment. I believe that you want to have the best quality life, you have the healthiest brain.
The world will be a different place if everyone’s atlas is in adjustment. That’s my goal there: Get everybody’s atlas in alignment and see what happens.
For chiropractors, please consider doing a more careful job adjusting the upper cervical spine because if done wrong, you can actually create consequences, in my opinion, as far as upper cervical patients are going to be concerned. You’ve got nothing to lose and only things to gain. The worse thing that happens is that your specific symptom doesn’t improve, but posturally we expect you to improve, neurologically we expect you to improve. We know that your brain is going to be healthier in alignment whether or not that symptom goes away. Maintaining that alignment, which really isn’t a challenging thing to do with a good upper cervical doc, is going to give you a better quality of life. It’s going to help keep you from getting sick. If you can stay healthy and stay out of hospitals, you save your money, that’s my retirement plan right there.
Josh, thank you so much for coming on. That was amazing. I learned a lot. I’d love to have you back on sometime soon.
I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
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