How Can Chiropractic Help Your Immune System Fight the Flu?

I’ve been writing more, lately, about how chiropractic care can enhance the function of your immune system. At first, this may sound bizarre. I mean, how does your back affect your immune system and its ability to fight off the flu or other colds? As you’ll see, there’s a whole lot more to the story.

influenza virusIn fact, even colleagues of mine have never heard of the utilization of chiropractic care during the great flu epidemic of 1918 – sometimes called the Spanish Flu. This was a scary time in our history when many people of all ages and backgrounds died from the flu and/or complications around the world. An estimated 20 million worldwide and 500,000 in the U.S.

It also happened to be a time when chiropractic, at only about 23 years old, was constantly under attack from the established medical field as quackery and all the rest. It put the profession in a tough place and it wasn’t clear what would come of it.

The Spanish Flu of 1918 helped change all that for chiropractic.

You see, what happened was that there was a stark difference in death rates among people being seen by medical doctors versus chiropractors. Here were the stats from Iowa…

  • Medical doctors lost 1 out of every 15 patients with influenza
  • Chiropractors lost 1 out of every 910
  • Nationally, chiropractors lost 1 out of 866

chiropractic-adjustment-bjChiropractors in nearby states began going door-to-door adjusting people who needed help. Word quickly spread and soon we were being called ‘flu doctors’. Imagine that!

Now, to be fair, it wasn’t well understood how to medically treat this condition with any real results (obviously from the death rates), but there was something going on with those people having their spines adjusted. What was it?

We now know how to better explain what was happening. It was in 1975 that Dr. Robert Ader coined the term psychoneuroimmunology to describe the process whereby our thoughts affect our health. The main tenet of this being stress and its relationship to the immune system.

It’s now well understood that the nerve and immune systems are intimately connected at their most basic cellular level. There are also hormonal and chemical messages and signals that keep these systems in communication with one another.

The chiropractic adjustment was never a treatment for influenza!

The adjustment was meant to restore proper function and integrity to the nervous system by way of its relationship with the spine. The spine and nervous system are connected via connective tissues and ligaments. The spine also has many smaller postural muscles that are under the control of signals from branches of the autonomic nervous system that regulate the way our body responds to stress.

So, by way of having more flexibility and ease in the spine and spinal tissues, the nerve system is allowed to function at its most effective and optimal way. This relationship influences the way that our body can adapt to the environment and our immune systems can fight disease.

Chiropractic not only helps people have stronger immune systems, but can also help people with fibromyalgia, headaches, IBS, and a variety of other complaints. For more information regarding how chiropractic care can help you, contact us today! Naturally, we look forward to helping you!


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