Whenever people phone up to tell me that they are rescheduling their appointment because they are sick, I am stuck in a conundrum. On the one hand I know that they are worried about 'spreading germs' to other people or they simply don’t feel up to leaving the house, on the other hand I know the importance of a well-functioning nervous system on them getting better faster.
Getting adjusted is the first thing I do when I feel unwell or sick, here is why.
The Immune System is a system of cells, tissues and organs thats main aim is to build immunity against the outside world. It consists of the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and white blood cells. Whenever it encounters a virus, bacteria or other pathogen, white bloods cells are released. The white blood cells will not only envelop it and destroy the pathogen, but will also allow the body to upgrade itself to be able to fight off any other similar pathogens. The Immune System is vital for our survival, a decreased function (think HIV) or increased function (Autoimmune Diseases like Diabetes Type I or Rheumatoid Arthritis) is very detrimental to us.
2. Neuro - immunology
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and nerves and is the intelligent part of our body that allows us to adapt and respond appropriately to our environment. It fluctuates between a state of rest (the parasympathetic nervous system) and stress (the sympathetic nervous system), or sits somewhere in the middle, throughout the day. A lot of people get ‘stuck’ in a state of stress for various reasons. This means that the body is constantly focused on short term survival and will prioritise functions like increased heart rate, blood pressure and wound healing.
This means that the immune system is not activated and the right white blood cells or the appropriate amount of white bloods cells are not released. Creating long-term immunity is not a priority and falls to the way-side. We become more susceptible to invading pathogens and our bodies responds slower to them, which means that we might experience and even higher level of immune response that might involve inflammation, mucous production and a fever (otherwise known as 'being sick').
3. Enter the Chiropractor
Chiropractors focus on keeping the nervous system is tip-top shape. One of the reasons people are stuck in the sympathetic or stress modes of their nervous systems is because of 'spinal lesions' we call vertebral subluxations. Physiologists have proposed that vertebral subluxations are associated with exaggerated sympathetic activity and that by correcting these lesions we can restore the body back towards the more normal and healthy resting tone.
When this happens, voila, appropriate immune responses result! One study, from the National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois, found that disease-fighting white blood cell counts were higher just 15 minutes after a chiropractic adjustment was applied to the upper back. Another study investigated the immune response in HIV-positive patients under chiropractic care. After six months, the group receiving chiropractic adjustments showed a 48 percent increase in white blood cell (CD4) counts. Conversely, the group that did not receive chiropractic adjustments experienced a 7.96 percent decrease.
Making sure the connection between your brain and your immune systems is at its best is one of the first steps to a healthier immune system, no cell will function the way it should if it is not getting the right messages.
In my next article I will discuss some other life style and dietary changes you can do to boost your immunity.
Korr IM: “Andrew Taylor Still memorial lecture: research and practice — a century later.” J Am Osteopath Assoc 1974 73:362.
Brennan PC, Triano JJ, McGregor M, et al: “Enhanced neutrophil respiratory burst as a biological marker for manipulation forces: duration of the effect and association with substance P and tumor necrosis factor.” JMPT 1992 15(2):83.
Selano JL, Hightower BC, Pfleger B, et al: “The effects of specific upper cervical adjustments on the CD4 counts of HIV positive patients.” Chiropractic Research Journal 1994 3(1):32