Chiropractic and the Immune System

No one likes to be sick, not even a little bit. With the turn of the season and colder weather just around the corner, with school starting and our kiddos intermingling with their friends in class, thoughts turn to ways to keep our immunity strong to avoid any unwanted illnesses. I have seen many posters over the years that warn of “Flu Season”. The flu is NOT one of our four seasons. It may be more prevalent during a certain time of the year because of environmental factors that add up to weaken our own immune system.

microbesHave you heard of the Germ Theory? It states that many diseases are caused by the presence and actions of specific micro-organisms within the body. So if you are exposed to a germ, you will get a disease. I argue that this is only partially true. The reason we get sick or succumb to a particular disease is more accurately related to how well your immune system is functioning. Have a strong immune system and your chance of getting sick is much less, even if you are exposed to the “germ”.  Think about it.  How many times have you been to a class, party, family dinner or even airplane ride where others have been sick and yet later only a few may catch the cold? If the germ theory were absolute then everyone would have gotten sick, instead of only a few with a weaker immune function.  In fact we are exposed to germs all day, every day. We do not express symptoms because our body can handle and eliminate the bad germs efficiently.

Let me illustrate this by showing you a study that was published in the journal Lancet in 2014. In the study they looked at  1,828 people who had not received the flu shot that year. Of those people, 5% ended up seeking medical treatment from a doctor or hospital. 21% of the participants did get symptoms and there used over the counter or at home remedies. The remaining 74% reported no flu symptoms that year. But here is the kicker, they all had lab-confirmed expose to the virus. That means that while 100% of the participants were exposed to the flu, only 26% ended up with symptoms and 74% never even know they were fighting it because their immune system was working normally. germs

So now I have just showed we are all doomed right? Everyone will likely be exposed to something over the next few months. How do we keep ourselves in the percentage that never becomes symptomatic? We keep our body in a well adjusted state. “When the sympathetic nervous system increases, the activity of the immune system decreases with a resultant increase susceptibility to infection”  Bruce Rabin. Stress, sympathetic dominance, poor diet, lack of movement, poor sleep can all weaken our immunity.  Let’s look at some things that can boost it.

In the year 1918 the largest pandemic of the flu ever recorded swept the world. Gina Kolata, a writer for the New York Times, recorded that in 6 months the flu killed 100 million people. At that time in Davenport Iowa where the first chiropractic school was located, they looked at the data of how people were being treated for the flu. They found that out of 4,953 cases being treated by the medical doctors there were 274 deaths. Out of 1,635 cases being treated by the chiropractors there was 1 death. Those being treated with chiropractic care, mostly neck adjustments at the time, had about 1/40th the death rate as the medical community.  I am not saying that medical doctors where bad. I am simply illustrating historical data showing how important the relationship of the nervous system and the immune system is.  The Journal of Spine in 1997 published an article showing that when you mechanically affect a spinal ligament (like in an adjustment), the nervous system influences the immune system.  In march 2011 the Journal of osteopathic medicine showed that adjustments increase IgA by 139% (this is your immune boosting antibody immunoglobulin). So the adjustment will boost your immune system.

So what can we do to boost our immune system? Here are a few recommendations.

  1. Get adjusted and keep yourself subluxation free. Don’t wait until you are sick to get the benefit.
  2. Reduce your stress. (cortisol lowers immunity) Deep breathing exercises throughout the day.
  3. Get enough sleep. Your body does most of its healing at night
  4. Heal your gut and use Probiotics. Up to 80% of your immune system is in your gut.
  5. Get enough vitamin D. Now we are heading into fall and winter, we are not able to get the vit D needed from the sun because of the earth’s tilt. Adults around 5,000 IU and kids 1-2,000 IU per day.
  6. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks like soda and only drink juice in moderation.
  7. Stay active and get exercise on a regular basis. Studies show active people suffer with less colds.
  8. Eat clean. A good diet rich with fruits and vegetables will have the nutrients and phyto-nutrients that you body needs to stay healthy. Garlic especially has shown to have anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. Berries are high in anti-oxidants that your body loves.
  9. Be Happy. Laughter is the best medicine. Have a positive outlook and enjoy life
  10. Use vitamins and herbs. There are many that help. Vit C, elderberry, Omega 3’s, zinc, echinacea, colloidal silver, essential oils….. there are many that you can use. Be sure to read the labels

 

The more support we can give our bodies to do what it is designed to do, the better health and function we can enjoy on a daily basis.