Chiropractic and Immunity

The monumental, billion dollar job of doctors, parents, insurance and pharmaceutical companies during the winter months is to keep us going to work and our children in school; medicating the runny nose and irritating cough, reducing the fever… We must keep going and going. Everyone wants the “stuffy head, congestion, fever, so you can rest medicine”. The focus of allopathic or “Western” medicine is to FIX the problem… immediately; at any cost.

As a holistic, “alternative” doctor I look at this scene from a completely different prospective. Our bodies are AMAZING and have been created with the innate ability to heal ourselves. Did you know that in every second of every day our immune systems are fighting off deadly viruses and bacteria; even cancer cells, very successfully. We’re rarely even aware of them. The only time we express the symptoms of “sickness” is when our bodies are not able to perform naturally; when we do not listen to it’s cry for rest and care; when we become run down due to imbalances of many sorts.

Studies show that pathogen (virus, bacteria, etc…) numbers are at their highest when we are NOT expressing symptoms. In optimal conditions, our immune cells are effectively battling the unwanted intruders. The symptoms such as the runny nose and cough which we call “sickness” are actually our body’s innate defenses kicking up a notch and doing a major “housecleaning”… a GOOD thing that will ultimately make us stronger; not to be suppressed. Let’s look at the old idea of reducing the fever of an uncomfortable child. In years past, “Dr. Mom” was advised to administer any one of a number of over-the-counter medications to suppress a fever higher than the “norma”l 98.5 degrees. The pediatritian was called if that fever reached 101. Now, most pediatritians agree to “watch and wait” on a fever up to 104 degrees. A fever is an effective response of the body to raise its temperature above the living and breeding conditions of the pathogen; thereby killing it quickly.

So now the question to ask is not, “How do we suppress the symptoms?” but “How do we support our immune system so it can continue working in perfection?”. To answer that, let’s look first at the basic anatomy of the immune system. Any biology text book will list the organs of the immune system as:

  • The bone marrow- where all the cells of the immune system are initially derived.
  • The thymus glad- where T cells are matured before being released into the blood stream.
  • The spleen- the immunologic filter of the blood which houses most all types of immune cells and also destroys old red blood cells.
  • The Lymph system and nodes- Filters bodily fluids containing immune waste products; also contains most types of immune cells.

Together, these organs produce immune cells which engulf and destroy potentially harmful invaders and then “cleans house” to remove these toxins from our bodies. What an amazing, incredibly intricate process! The brain and nervous system orchestrates the entire thing. The main portion of the brain which coordinates every single vital function of your body such as respiration, cardiac rhythm, muscular coordination and immunity is the brainstem. Misalignments of the upper cervical spine (neck) and lower cranium; as well as the sacrum (in the pelvis), cause pressure and tractioning of the spine and brain stem. This interferes with these vital life functions. Research on HIV positive individuals has shown that upper cervical adjustments have a profound effect on their physiology; increasing levels of CD4 cells (a crucial “helper” cell which coordinates immune function) by a dramatic 48% over a six month duration. (Selano, J.; Hightower, B.; Pfleger, B.; Collins, K.; Grostic, J.: Chiro Res J 1994; 3 (1): 32–39). Misalignments of the spine cause interruptions in this complex communication network. Removing this interference, through gentle Chiropractic adjustments, also creates ease within the body and an optimal environment for healing.

Addressing the root cause of our winter ailments by boosting the immune system rather than merely suppressing the symptoms is the common sense, holistic approach of Chiropractic. I have found my patients to have great success with my simple approach… that our amazing body has the power to sustain itself in perfection and to heal itself once interference is removed and balance is restored. Of course, there’s a whole lot of science behind that… but the foundation is very simple.