Neurologically-Based Chiropractic Care and Your Immune System
Every minute of every day you are presented with decisions. What will you wear today? What do you want in your coffee? Take the phone call or no? Wake up or snooze the alarm? Choices are everywhere. If you really think about it, your life is the product of your decisions.
You have the ability to choose your health outcomes. You don’t have to leave anything up to chance. Why is this important? Millions of people around the world are panicking and stressing about their health right now: “Will I get it?” “What if I get it?” “What will I do”. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could change that? You can take control of your own health, so you don’t have to be among them. We aren’t panicking or fearful about these situations. You see there are choices we make every day to make sure we stay healthy, like:
Do you drink the recommended amount of water every day? Or do you drink sugary coffees, sodas, and energy drinks?
Do you eat quality fruits, vegetables and proteins for every meal? Or do you eat processed, carb(sugar) heavy foods, candies and snacks?
Are you getting daily exercise? Or do you always have an excuse for not being able to get up and move for 20 minutes every day?
Are you spending time outside in the fresh air and sunlight to activate vitamin D processes in your body? Or are you spending all day stuck inside?
Do you perform daily de-stressing, meditation, or breathing practices? Or do you live a high stress lifestyle?
Are you getting the recommended amount of sleep every night? Or are you staying up late watching TV or using your phone?
Do you go to your annual check-ups? Or do you skip them?
Do you have your nervous system checked to maximize the full potential of your body? Or do you leave it to chance and hope that it's working at 100%?
Everyone of these is a daily or hourly decision that has a direct affect on your health. If I fell into the “Or” category, I might be stressed right now. However, because our family makes the decisions to eat well, drink plenty of water, get our spine and nervous systems checked, and do the things to proactively help ourselves be healthy, we give ourselves confidence in our bodies’ natural abilities to function and heal as it was designed to (with no need to panic). Our patients see that in themselves, and you can too!
Patients who come in with colds, sore throats, sinus congestion and stomach viruses often report that their recovery seems to be accelerated by the chiropractic adjustment. Many of them are getting sick less frequently than before or noticing when their co-workers all catch the cold and flu, they are not. Their chronic and frequent infections begin disappearing too. That has been the experience in our office and scientific developments and research now lend support to the idea that the Chiropractic correction of the subluxation can aid the immune responses of the body by reducing nerve interference. Listed below is some of the research in this area. Knowledge is power. Take charge of your health? Or leave it to chance?
Enhanced phagocytic cell respiratory burst induced by spinal manipulation: potential role of substance P. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1991 Sep;14(7):399-408.
This study was designed to measure the effect that a Chiropractic adjustment has on the immune system. They measured cell counts of immune cells in the blood before and after the adjustments and measured them against a control group. The immune response from subjects who received the adjustment was significantly higher after than before treatment, and significantly higher than the response from the sham subjects.
*Patients who come in with colds, sore throats, sinus congestion and stomach viruses often report that their recovery seems to be accelerated by the chiropractic adjustment. Recent scientific developments now lend support to the idea that Chiropractic correction of the subluxation can aid the immune responses of the body by reducing nerve interference.
The effects of chiropractic on the immune system: a review of the literature. Allen JM, Chiropractic Journal of Australia, 1993; 23:132-135
This is a summary of recent research implying a connection between chiropractic adjustments and immunocompetence. The literature suggests that the nervous system plays a role in the modulation of the immune response and that chiropractic adjustments influence T and B lymphocyte numbers, natural killer cell numbers, antibody levels, phagocytic activity and plasma endorphin levels. The few studies attempting to measure the effects of chiropractic or manipulative treatment on the immune response are reviewed.
The anatomical and physiological connections between the immune system and the nervous system suggests that the nervous system plays a role in the modulation of the immune response.
Relationships between the brain and the immune system. J Soc Biol. 2003;197(2):81-8.
The concept that the brain can modulate activity in the immune system stems from the theory of stress. Recent advances in the study of the inter-relationships between the central nervous system and the immune system have demonstrated a vast network of communication pathways between the two systems. Lymphoid organs are innervated by branches of the autonomic nervous system. Accessory immune cells and lymphocytes have membrane receptors for most neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. These receptors are functional, and their activation leads to changes in immune functions, including cell proliferation, chimiotactisme and specific immune responses. Brain lesions and stressors can induce a number of changes in the functioning of the immune system. All these changes are not necessarily mediated by the neuroendocrine system. They can also be dependent on autonomic nerve function.
The communication pathways that link the brain to the immune system are normally activated by signals from the immune system, and they serve to regulate immune responses. These signals originate from accessory immune cells such as monocytes and macrophages and they are represented mainly by proinflammatory cytokines. Proinflammatory cytokines produced at the periphery act on the brain via two major pathways: (1) a humoral pathway allowing pathogen specific molecular patterns to act on Toll-like receptors in those brain areas that are devoid of a functional blood-brain barrier, the so-called circumventricular areas; (2) a neural pathway, represented by the afferent nerves that innervate the bodily site of infection and injury. In both cases, peripherally produced cytokines induce the expression of brain cytokines that are produced by resident macrophages and microglial cells. These locally produced cytokines diffuse throughout the brain parenchyma to act on target brain areas so as to organise the central components of the host response to infection (fever, neuroendocrine activation, and sickness behavior).
Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels. Nature. June 1 2015 doi:10.1038/nature14432
One of the characteristics of the central nervous system is the lack of a classical lymphatic drainage system. Although it is now accepted that the central nervous system undergoes constant immune surveillance that takes place within the meningeal compartment, the mechanisms governing the entrance and exit of immune cells from the central nervous system remain poorly understood. In searching for T-cell gateways into and out of the meninges, we discovered functional lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses. These structures express all of the molecular hallmarks of lymphatic endothelial cells, are able to carry both fluid and immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid, and are connected to the deep cervical lymph nodes. The unique location of these vessels may have impeded their discovery to date, thereby contributing to the long-held concept of the absence of lymphatic vasculature in the central nervous system.
The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.
Noradrenergic sympathetic neural interactions with the immune system: Structure and function. Rev 100:225-260, 1987
This is one of a growing number of papers by researchers in the field of psychoneuroimmunology exploring the relationship between the nervous system and the immune system. Potential mechanisms of actions are discussed.
A comparative study of the health status of children raised under the health care models of chiropractic and allopathic medicine. Journal of Chiropractic Research Summer 1989
Children under chiropractic had less use of medications, including antibiotics.
An overview of neuroimmunomodulation and a possible correlation with musculoskeletal system function. Fidelibus J. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 12:4, 1989
Receptors for neuromodulators and neurohormones have been identified on human T-lymphocytes. It is believed that the immune system can communicate with the nervous system using neuromodulators and neurohormones secreted by lymphocytes.
Chronic hyperemesis in two siblings with AIDS. Fallon, J Int’l Chiropractic Association Review Summer 2002
Two male siblings ages 4 and 6 with “HIV infections” and “full-blown AIDS.”
Both boys suffered from severe hyperemesis (vomiting) associated with the hyperactive gag reflex and were on a liquid diet: The six-year-old by mouth and the 4-year-old by gastric tube. The 6-year old had a viral load of 1,200 and was on a regime of antiviral drugs. His 4-year-old brother, with a viral load of 1,000,000 was on a cocktail of HIV medications (after the monotherapy failed)
The 4-year-old had a history of chronic ear infections and the 6-year-old had severe learning disabilities. Both boys needed a walker or bilateral canes. The older boy had uncontrollable dribbling.
Spinal examination of the 4-year-old revealed subluxations at occiput/atlas, C1, C4, T4, T12. Spinal examination of the 6-year-old revealed subluxations at C1, T1, T8, and AS of the right ileum.
Adjustments of the subluxated segments were begun; each boy was seen 2X a week for 3 weeks.
Within 3 weeks of initial care the older boy could walk better, he was able to use only one cane instead of two, he ate solid food for the first time since birth, his chronic drooling stopped, as did his gagging and vomiting. However, if he went longer than 30 days without an adjustment his gag reflex returned as well as the uncontrolled vomiting.
The younger boy was able to stop the gastric feeding and take liquid orally, his vomiting reduced and his chronic ear infections ceased. In a few months he was able to eat solid foods. His viral load dropped from 1,000,000 to 5! As long as he was adjusted 1-2 per month, his vomiting did not return.
Chiropractic treatment and antibody levels. Alcorn, S. Journal of the Australian Chiropractic Association. 1977.
The paper reported increased levels of immunoglobulins in the blood serum of three patients under chiropractic care. A fourth patient did not respond to care.
The author speculates the vertebral subluxation complex (VSC) acts as a stressor, which causes increased secretion of cortical from the adrenal cortex. If cortisol levels exceed optimum levels, immunoglobulin secretion would be inhibited
Enhanced phagocytic cell respiratory burst induced by spinal manipulation: potential role of substance P. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Vol 14 No 7 Sept 1991 p 399-408.
An interesting property of phagocytic cells (polymorphonuclear neutrophils or PMNs and monocytes in this study) is put to use in this study, that is, they emit light during phagocytosis (called “Respiratory Burst”).
Using 67 male and 32 female volunteers, blood was taken 15 minutes before and after subjects had a sham manipulation, a thoracic spine manipulation or a soft tissue manipulation.
More light was emitted from monocytes and PMNs after spinal manipulation than from the sham or soft tissue work. Substance P (SP) is a neurotransmitter released from the dorsal root ganglion and its plasma level was elevated after the manipulation. SP appears to be able to prime phagocytes for enhanced respiratory burst.
From the discussion: “Thus the data provided evidence that the spinal manipulation elicits viscerosomatic responses; specifically, our study shows that manipulation affects cells involved in inflammatory and immune responses, at least over the short term.”
Enhanced neutrophil respiratory burst as a biological marker for manipulation forces: duration of effect and association with substance P and tumor necrosis factor. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Vol. 15 no. 2 Feb. 1992. P. 83-89
This paper builds upon the one above. Using blood collected from 27 males and 19 females after a manipulation of the thoracic spine, the plasma levels of substance P (SP) and respiratory burst response of PMLNs was found to be higher 15 minutes after manipulation than from blood collected 15 minutes before or 30 and 45 minutes after manipulations. In addition to priming PMNs for enhanced respiratory burst (RB), SP also stimulates production of mononuclear cells tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Mononuclear cells are also primed for enhanced endotoxin-stimulated TNF production after manipulation.
From the discussion:
The data presented confirm and extend our previous reports that a high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust to the thoracic spine primes PMN for an enhanced respiratory burst in response to a particulate challenge. Spinal manipulation also primes mononuclear cells for enhanced endotoxin stimulated TNF production...this has not been previously reported...Thus these data further support the notion that spinal manipulation elicitis viscerosomatic responses…”
The effect of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy on salivary cortisol levels.. Journal of Australasian Chiropractic and Osteopathy, July 1998; 7(2), pp. 86-92
This is the study of six males and three females who had their baseline cortisol levels established and then received two-weeks of care (4 adjustments) followed by a two-week post adjustment period.
Immunologic correlates of reduced spinal mobility: preliminary observations in a dog model. Brennan PC, Kokjohn K, Triano JJ et. al. IN: Proceeding of the 1991 International Conference on Spinal Manipulation, FCER; 118-121.
The posterior facet joints of four beagles were surgically fused at L1/L2 and L2/L3 by injecting a sealant. T11/T12 and T12/T13 joints were fused on two of the beagles. Four beagles were used as controls.
The respiratory burst (RB) of the polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) were depressed in the dogs who underwent the surgical fusion in contrast to the 4 dogs who had a sham surgical fusion. The results of this study suggest that spinal joint fixation results in immunosuppression.
The effects of specific upper cervical adjustments on the CD4 counts of HIV positive patients. Selano JL, Hightower BC, Pfleger B, et. al. Chiropractic Research Journal. 1994; 3(1): 32-39.
This was a study to determine if chiropractic care could help individuals diagnosed with HIV.
Five patients were adjusted and five were controls. After 6 months, in the control group (not under chiropractic care), the CD4 levels declined by 7.96% while the group receiving chiropractic adjustments experienced a 48% increase in CD4 cell counts. This indicates that correction of upper cervical subluxation could improve immunocompetence.
While samples are small in individual studies, the collective amount of research is beginning to form a larger picture of this connection.
Chiropractic and HIV infection. Martin, C. Journal of the American Chiropractic Association. 1995; 3212:41-44.
Recent research and case history analysis suggest that vertebral manipulation may have wide-ranging effects. From improvement in symptoms like peripheral neuropathy to stimulation of the immune system, chiropractic appears to encourage individual well-being.
The reduction of stress, education of the patient towards an immunopositive lifestyle and the removal of nervous system interference are the central benefits which chiropractic offers.
Priming of neutrophils for enhanced respiratory burst by manipulation of the thoracic spine. Brennan P. and Hondras M Proceedings of the 1989 International Conference on Spinal Manipulation. Pub: FCER: Arlington, VA.pp. 160-163.
Manipulation of the thoracic spine appeared to increase the sensitivity of the white blood cells as indicated by respiratory burst.
This is the case of a 31 year-old female with spina bifida at T11-L2 who presented with multiple symptoms that include muscle spasms, poor bladder control, recurrent bladder infection, swollen cervical lymph nodes, and possible immunosuppression.
Chiropractic adjustments consisted of Logan Basic and other minimal force techniques. After 5 years of chiropractic care, her bladder has been infection-free for a period of more than a year; bladder control has improved and leg spasms have decreased in frequency and severity. Menstrual cramping also has reduced.
Based on the case history of recurrent infection, the author hypothesized that one effect of the vertebral subluxation complex was immunosuppression, which was relieved by chiropractic adjustments.
The nervous system controls and coordinates the functions of all other systems in the body. Removing the interference caused by spinal subluxation changes the function of the body. A precise and accurate adjustment changes the nervous system; it changes the muscle function; it changes biochemical abnormalities; it changes cellular function. So, a spine and nervous system free of any interference allows the body to reach optimal function and health (and your immune system is a big part of that). There is no better time to make sure that your body is at its highest capacity to handle everything that life throws at us.