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Chiropractic Care and Your Immune System
Dr. Sara O’Flaherty, DC
There’s a common side effect of chiropractic care that you may be interested in. Those patients undergoing regular care, get SICK LESS OFTEN!
As a chiropractor, I love to hear that my patients feel better after treatment. This usually means that they have less back or neck pain, less headache frequency or better posture. But I hear it time and time again in the cold and flu season – “Since my family has been coming in for their regular chiro visits, we seem to hardly get sick anymore!”
I bet you’re thinking, well how does this work? Well let’s delve into anatomy and physiology (just a bit) to figure this one out.
The nervous system and immune system are hardwired and work together to create optimal responses for the body to adapt to the environment and heal appropriately. Nerve system irritation due to spinal restrictions are stressful to the body and cause abnormal changes that lead to a poorly coordinated immune response – thus the connection between the nervous system and immune system. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost the coordinated responses of the nervous system and immune system.
The nervous system is an incredibly complicated system of the human body – it controls and coordinates everything from our heart rate, digestion, muscle strength and our immune response. The autonomic nervous system is the portion that is hardwired into the immune system organs such as the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. These organs produce the body’s immune response.
According to researchers, restrictions in movement of the joints, lead to suboptimal nerve signals and messages and these stressful conditions lead to altered measures of immune function & increased susceptibility to a variety of diseases.
Chiropractors analyze the spine for areas of joint restrictions and give corrective adjustments to reduce the stress on the nervous system.
A 1992 research group found that when a thoracic adjustment was applied to a restricted joint area, the white blood cell (neutrophil) count collected rose significantly.
Robert Pero, Phd (chief of cancer prevention research at New York's Preventive Medicine Institute and professor in Environmental Health at New York University) and his team measured 107 individuals who had received long-term Chiropractic care. The chiropractic patients were shown to have a 200% greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic care, and a 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer or serious diseases. Interestingly, Pero found no decline with the various age groups in the study, indicating that the elderly would benefit just as much from chiropractic as the younger generations.
Pero concluded, 'Chiropractic may optimize whatever genetic abilities you have so that you can fully resist serious disease...I have never seen a group other than this show a 200% increase over normal patients.'
There appear to be numerous modes of communication between the nervous system and the immune system. It also appears, not only in theory but in practice, that chiropractic adjustments may have a beneficial effect on the functioning of both the nervous and the immune system.
This is great news for those of you who already seek chiropractic care! And for those who do not currently see a chiropractor, it is perhaps time to consider chiropractic as part of their health and wellness plan!
Kent, Christopher. Models of Vertebral Subluxation: A Review. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. August 1996, Vol 1:1. Pg 4-5
Sternberg EM, Chrousos GP, Wilder RL, Gold PW. The stress response and the regulation of inflammatory disease. Ann Intern Med 1992; 117 (10):854
Brennan PC, Triano JJ, McGregor M, et al. Enhanced neutrophil respiratory burst as a biological marker for manipulation forces: duration of the effect and association with substance P and tumor necrosis factor. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1992; 15(2):83
Fidelibus JC J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1989; 12 (4) Aug: 289-292