Your best defense against infections, including Covid-19 and the regular flu, is your immune system. When it’s under attack from all sides, an extra boost can make all the difference. You probably already know that you should be eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting at least seven hours of sleep to keep your immunity up, but did you know that chiropractic care can also improve your immune system? It’s true! Several studies have shown that spinal adjustment can increase immunity and benefit health/wellness. Here’s how:
What is the Immune System?
Think of your immune system as an army that defends you from sickness. Your immune system is based on a complex system made up of tissues, organs, proteins, and white blood cells. It is responsible for fighting off invaders like viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It also plays a role in your body’s inflammatory response, triggering it to help heal wounds or fight disease. A weak or malfunctioning immune system can lead to frequent infections, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and greater susceptibility to cancer.
What is the Connection with Chiropractic Care?
Your spinal cord is made up of nerves. It is surrounded by a special fluid that nourishes and signals the brain to what is happening to the body. The spinal cord connects your brain to the rest of your body and plays a role in every vital function, including your immune system. The spinal cord runs through a tunnel-like opening in the vertebrae of your spine. If your vertebrae are not properly aligned, this can impact the functioning of your body, through dysfunction of the nervous system. This has the domino effect of also compromising your immune system.
In 2000 a comprehensive review of scientific literature confirmed that the nervous system and the immune system must communicate with one another during illness in order to maintain homeostasis. This communication happens via the sympathetic nervous system and hormone output from the pituitary gland. Researchers have found that dysfunction in the interaction between the nervous system and the immune system may be to blame for diseases like MS and depression. The connection between these two systems has been the subject of study for over thirty years. During that time, several studies have confirmed that chiropractic care has a positive effect on neurological processes and immunity.
One of the first studies to explore the link between chiropractic care and immunity was conducted in 1989 at New York University. The study compared the immune systems of people under chiropractic care with healthy people who were not under chiropractic care and with people who had been diagnosed with cancer or some other terminal illness. Throughout the three year study, researchers found that the people who had been under chiropractic care for five years demonstrated a 200% greater immune response than healthy members of the general public who were not under chiropractic care. Their immunity was 400% greater than the immunity of the individuals in the group who had cancer or another disease.
If you haven’t been seeing your chiropractor for five years yet, don’t worry. The 200% increase seen in the New York study takes time to achieve, but immune benefits can be seen after just a few adjustments.
In 1991 another study found that immune cells called neutrophils and monocytes, which consume and destroy pathogens, show increased respiratory activity in response to illness or infection. The study demonstrated that this activity was enhanced by chiropractic care. In other words, spinal adjustment increased the energy these cells had to do their job of ridding the body of germs. This study was based on a shorter-term of exposure to chiropractic care than the 1989 study. Many chiropractic patients notice that they are less susceptible to colds after seeing their chiropractor regularly for a few months.
What Other Kinds of Immune Problems Can Spinal Adjustment Treat?
Allergies are one of the most common problems with immunity that people face. If you find yourself snuffling even when you don’t have a cold, allergies could be to blame. Allergies happen when the immune system misidentifies pollen and other substances like pet dander as being harmful. It then treats them as if they were germs and causes mucous production and other unpleasant symptoms in an attempt to rid your body of the perceived threat. A 2010 study found that spinal adjustment can increase immune producing antibodies in the bloodstream. These antibodies minimize allergy symptoms. Regular chiropractic care can help to end the misery of allergies and reduce your need for allergy pills.
Over 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases. These diseases occur when the immune system begins attacking tissues in the patient’s own body. Medical solutions for these illnesses are limited, and often include medications that cause dangerous side effects. Regular spinal adjustment has been shown to reduce symptoms and improve function in patients with autoimmune diseases such as asthma, lupus, and fibromyalgia. In a study of women with lupus, spinal adjustment enabled many of them to cut back on their dosage of corticosteroids. Along with diet, chiropractic care can be one of the most effective natural treatments for autoimmune conditions.
The Bottom Line
If you are worried that your immune system may not be up to par, make an appointment with your chiropractor. After asking you about your health conditions and your goals, he or she will be able to prescribe a treatment regimen for you. Everyone is different. Each individual will have a unique response to chiropractic care. You may begin seeing results after only a few visits, but long term chiropractic care will lead to the most benefit and will be necessary if you are trying to treat a chronic condition.