We often think of getting our spine adjusted when visiting a chiropractor, however, the benefits of chiropractic care go far beyond just that. One of the surprising benefits includes boosting your immune system.
I find that people are quite surprised when they first learn that chiropractic care can boost the immune system but there is alot of research to support this.
Why is our immune system important?
Our immune system is the body’s defence against infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. The immune system scans the body to look for foreign tissue or dead/ damaged cells, to break down. This is crucial to prevent infection, diseases, and to recover from injuries and medical procedures such as surgeries.
There are three different types of immunity called innate (natural) -, adaptive (acquired) -, and passive immunity. Our innate immunity is the first line of defence to keep pathogens out and consists of our skin and mucous membranes in our nose, throat, and gut. The adaptive immunity will kick into gear if, for some reason, the pathogen passes the first line of defence. Our bodies then store antibodies, after we were exposed to a specific pathogen, and will use it to fight the pathogen if it re-appears in the future. Lastly, passive immunity refers to when a baby receives antibodies from his/ her mother through breast milk or the placenta.
What happens when it doesn’t work?
Unfortunately, when this system fails to protect our body against pathogens, it can lead to frequent infections, inflammation, blood disorders, digestive issues, and other detrimental medical conditions.
Some causes include:
Hypersensitivity: the immune system overreacts to a certain pathogen.
Autoimmunity: the immune system gets confused and starts attacking itself.
Immunodeficiencies: when the immune system doesn’t function properly.
Now that we understand the important role of the immune system, let's look at how your chiropractor can help you.
The impact of chiropractic care on the immune system
To understand the ‘how’, I think it’s important to first understand what chiropractors do exactly.
What do Chiropractors do?
Well, we focus on re-aligning your body through hands-on spinal adjustments and other soft tissue treatments. This improves muscle tension, joint mobility, circulation, and in turn, allows the body to heal itself.
Now, you’re probably thinking; ‘How the on earth does this influence my immune system?’. Allow me to explain.
How does it strengthen the immune system?
In short, chiropractic care influences the nervous system, which then also influences the immune system.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘everything is connected’. It’s because it really is! The nervous system and the immune system share receptors, messenger molecules, and are closely located to each other.
The nervous system regulates all actions by sending messages and signals throughout your body and therefore also targets the immune system. Subluxations in the spine can cause compression of neural structures, which negatively impact the functioning of the nervous system. By improving the alignment through spinal adjustments, chiropractors relieve these compressions and improve your nervous system’s ability to communicate with the rest of your body.
Our immune systems also benefit indirectly, as the two systems are so closely located and interlinked to one another.
Various studies discovered that individuals who received chiropractic care had much stronger immune systems compared to those who didn’t. Experts say that data reported individuals with flu receiving chiropractic care had a 0.25% death rate compared to a 5% death rate among those who didn’t, during the flu epidemic in 1917 and 1918. Another study showed a higher white blood cell count just 20 minutes after chiropractic care. White blood cells are essential disease-fighting cells in immune system functioning.
Chiropractic care also improves circulation and calms the nervous system. Which in turn, also relieves stress, and anxiety while improving sleep quality, to support the immune system functioning even more.
It’s important to understand that chiropractic care is not a curative approach, but rather guides the body to function optimally. Chiropractors improve the functioning of your nervous system by removing compression and improving alignment through spinal adjustments. This assists the nervous system to communicate better with the rest of the body, including the immune system.
In other words, when your nervous system functions better, your immune system will do the same!
Yours in health,