If you or your patients have been paying attention to current events, you are no doubt aware about how dangerous this year’s flu season has been compared to previous ones.
Of course, the standard recommendation is for people to get their flu shot as early in the season as possible; take extra care with hand washing, covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and wiping down common areas with disinfecting agents; as well as taking any antiviral medications that their doctor prescribes.1
However, your patients may be looking beyond just the basics to help support their immune system through this particularly devastating flu season. Let’s first take a quick look at why it is vital to help your patients boost their immunity as much as possible for this year in particular, before moving on to how chiropractic can accomplish this.
Quick flu facts for this year
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) weekly surveillance report for Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 (the fifth week of the current flu season), this year’s most commonly identified viral subtype was A(H3).2,3 The areas of New York City, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and 43 states reported the highest incidence of flu activit.2,3 F
urthermore, flu-related hospitalizations have been on the rise during this flu season. The rate of outpatient visits for flu-like illnesses was also on the rise, at 7.7 percent, which is well above the national baseline of 2.2 percent.2,3
Sadly, the CDC also reports that deaths related to the current flu strain rose, with a total of 10 pediatric deaths having been reported.
Chiropractic care to boost immunity
There has been some interesting research showing a link between spinal manipulation and the body’s immune system. An early paper from 1993, published in the Chiropractic Journal of Australia, reviewed the literature on this link.4
It posited that the central nervous system is responsible for modulating the immune response, so it is not a difficult stretch to see that if the nervous system is not functioning at full capacity, neither will the immune response, and vice versa.
The literature review showed that chiropractic manipulation positively influenced T and B lymphocyte numbers, NK cell numbers, antibody levels, phagocytic activity and plasma beta-endorphin levels, all of which play a role in the body’s immune response.4
A later study from 2010, published in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy, took a closer look at this relationship between the central nervous system and the body’s immune response by measuring immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin M before and after spinal manipulation.5
For this study, the researchers took a group of 74 healthy subjects and were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation with cavitation, spinal manipulation without cavitation, or a control group that underwent venipuncture for blood samples, but without manipulation.
The other two groups underwent blood draws before manipulation, and then 20 minutes and two hours after treatment.5 Immunoglobulin G was significantly increased at the 20 minute mark in both groups of subjects who underwent spinal manipulation.
At two hours, immunoglobulin M was also significantly increased for both spinal manipulation groups.5 The researchers concluded that spinal manipulation, with or without cavitation, positively increased the body’s immune response.
Clearly, the take-away for you and your patients is to both follow basic public health recommendations and get regular chiropractic adjustments to improve your chances of getting through this flu season without getting sick. This is also an excellent recommendation to pass on to your friends and family.
- CDC says “Take 3” actions to fight the flu. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Accessed Feb. 12, 2018.
- Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report: 2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 5 Ending Feb. 3, 2018. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Accessed Feb. 12, 2018.
- Flu still on the rise, hospitalizations high, CDC says. Accessed Feb. 12, 2018.
- Allen JM. (1993). The effects of chiropractic on the immune system: A review of the literature. Chiropractic Journal of Australia, 23(4), 132-135.
- Teodorczyk-Injeyan JA, McGregor M, Ruegg R, Injeyan HS. (2010). Interleukin 2-regulated in vitro antibody production following a single spinal manipulative treatment in normal subjects. Chiropractic & Osteopathy, 18, 26.