Chiropractic and the Immune System

Why regular chiropractic adjustments are one of the most effective methods of boosting the immune response.


With recent concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus, we at Total Health Chiropractic want to make it absolutely clear why we strongly advise that you maintain your nervous system at the highest level of health possible.

Today scientific researchers are well aware of the critical link between the nervous system and the immune system. We show below various studies that confirm this. This also explains why most chiropractic patients who embrace a “chiropractic lifestyle” report fewer upper respiratory conditions, and many miss the flu season completely.

Some Background

An important regulator of the human Immune System is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which developed in humans thousands of years ago in ‘caveman’ times when the world was a very different place. In times of stress (e.g. tiger jumps out of the bushes) the body, as a survival instinct, quickly does what it needs to do to increase the chances of survival. It moves blood away from some vital organs, including digestive organs and immune organs, and shunts it to the heart, arms and legs (fight or flight). This served our species well in days gone by. The problem is that nowadays many of us are stressed all the time and these stress reactions have become chronic. We are literally living our lives with down-regulated digestive systems and down-regulated immune systems! It’s easy to see how susceptible many of us are to disease.


These studies (detailed in-depth at the end) show that receiving chiropractic care is one of the most effective methods of boosting the immune response:

1. The nervous system has a direct effect on the immune system due to the nerve supply to the important immune system organs. A sympathetic response (with stress) will down-regulate the immune system making the body more susceptible to disease. *1

2. Chiropractic care has a positive effect on the immune system and general health compared to those in the general population and those with cancer and other serious diseases. Study *2 shows that individuals that had been under chiropractic care for five years or more were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than people who had not had chiropractic care; and 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer and other serious diseases.

3. The immune response does improve following a chiropractic adjustment. Specifically, this study demonstrated that cells that act like ‘Pac-Man’ eating and destroying bad cells are enhanced through chiropractic care. *3

4. Over a six-month period, researches found that a group of HIV positive patients that started chiropractic care had an increase of 48% in CD4 cells (an important immune system component). The control group (no chiropractic care) showed a 7.96% decrease in CD4 cell counts over the same period. *4

5. The immune system can be affected by the nervous system through the connections with the endocrine and the autonomic nervous system *5

Summary

  1. Many of us have weakened immune systems due to stress and spinal/postural dysfunctions which is very dangerous in terms of epidemics.

  1. Vital steps to protect you and your families’ should include strengthening their immune system with healthy choices including nutrition, exercise, sleep and reducing stress.

  1. Regular chiropractic adjustments are one of the most effective methods of boosting the immune response.

The Studies

*1 In 1974, physiologist Dr. Korr proposed that “spinal lesions” (areas of dysfunction) are associated

with exaggerated sympathetic (a division of the ANS) activity.

Korr IM: “Andrew Taylor Still memorial lecture: Research and Practice – a century later.” J Am Osteopathy Assoc 1974 73:362.

“Growing evidence suggests that immune function is regulated in part by the sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nerve endings densely innervate lymphoid tissue such as the spleen, lymph nodes and the thymus, and lymphoid cells have beta 2 adregenergic receptors.”

Murray DR, Irwin M, Reardon CA, et al. “Sympathetic and immune interactions during dynamic exercise. Mediation via a beta 2 – adrenergic-dependent mechanism.” Circulation 1992 86(1): 203

*2 One of the most important studies showing the positive effect chiropractic care can have on the immune system and general health was performed by Ronald Pero, Ph.D., head of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute and professor of medicine at New York University. Dr. Pero measured the immune systems of people under chiropractic care as compared to those in the general population and those with cancer and other serious diseases. In his initial three-year study of 107 individuals who had been under chiropractic care for five years or more, the chiropractic patients were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic care, and 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer and other serious diseases. The immune system superiority of those under chiropractic care did not diminish with age. Dr. Pero stated:

“When applied in a clinical framework, I have never seen a group other than this chiropractic group to experience a 200% increase over normal patients. This is why it is so dramatically important. We have never seen such a positive improvement in a group.”

Pero R. “Medical Researcher Excited By CBSRF Project Results.” The Chiropractic Journal, August 1989; 32.

*3 The chiropractic immunology connection was strengthened in 1991 when Patricia Brennan, Ph.D. and other researchers conducted a study that found improved immune response following chiropractic treatment. Specifically, the study demonstrated the phagocytic respiratory burst of polymorphnuclear neutrophils (PMN) and monocytes were enhanced in adults that had been adjusted by chiropractors. In other words, the cells that act like “Pac-Man” eating and destroying bad cells are enhanced through chiropractic care.

Brennan P, Graham M, Triano J, Hondras M. “Enhanced phagocytic cell respiratory bursts induced by spinal manipulation: Potential Role of Substance P.” J Manip Physiolog Ther 1991; (14)7:399-400.

4) Another important study was performed at the Sid E. Williams Research Center of Life Chiropractic University. The researchers took a group of HIV positive patients and adjusted them over a six-month period. What they found was that the patients that were adjusted had an increase of forty-eight percent (48%) in the CD4 cells (an important immune system component ). These measurements were taken at the patients’ independent medical center, where they were under medical supervision for the condition. The control group (the patients that were not adjusted) did not demonstrate this dramatic increase in immune function, but actually experienced a 7.96% decrease in CD4 cell counts over the same period.

“When we read the results of that study we were shocked that we hadn’t heard about it earlier, that it didn’t make the headline news, nor was on the front page of every newspaper. Those are very impressive results with important implications!”

Selano JL, Hightower BC, Pfleger B, Feeley-Collins K, Grostic JD. “The Effects of Specific Upper Cervical Adjustments on the CD4 Counts of HIV Positive Patients.” The Chiro Research Journal; 3(1); 1994.

5) A paper published in 1987 found a connection between the nervous system and the immune system through endocrine channels (hormones). Dr. Felton and his team of researchers reported that a hormone is present in sympathetic nerve fibers that innervate lymphoid organs and act on the spleen. The authors proposed that this hormone in lymphoid organs plays a significant role in the regulation of the immune system. They stated:

“Stressful conditions lead to altered measures of immune function, and altered susceptibility to a variety of diseases. Many stimuli, which primarily act on the central nervous system, can profoundly alter immune responses. The two routes available to the central nervous system are neuroendocrine channels and autonomic nerve channels. “

Thus the Immune System can be affected by the nervous system through the connections with the endocrine and the autonomic nervous system.

Felton DL, Felton SY, Belonged DL, et al. “Noradrenergic sympathetic neural interactions with the immune system: structure and function.” Immunol Rev. 1987 Dec;100:225-60

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