Chiropractic Care and Immune System

Adjustments and your Immune System
Enhanced Phagocytic Cell respiratory Burst Induced by Spinal Manipulation. JMPT 1991:14:399-408.

This study was designed to measure the effect that a Chiropractic adjustment has on the immune system. Blood was taken from each of the patients 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the adjustment. These results were compared to patient’s blood test who received a sham (pretend) adjustment. 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 remark 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.

This is one of the most exciting areas of chiropractic. More and more research is pointing to an immune system enhancement effect of the spinal adjustment.

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 effect of chiropractic or manipulative treatment on the immune response are reviewed.

The anatomical and physiological connections between the immune system and the nervous system suggest that the nervous system plays a role in the modulation of the immune response.

Noradrenergic sympathetic neural interactions with the immune system: structure and function. Felton, D.L., Felton, S.Y., Bellinger, D.L., et al. Immunol 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 action are discussed.

A comparative study of the health status of children raised under the health care models of chiropractic and allopathic medicine. Van Breda, Wendy M. and Juan M. 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 a 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, T9 and Tl2. 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 initially seen 2 times a week for three weeks.

Within three 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 food orally, his vomiting reduced and his chronic ear infections ceased. In a few months he was able to eat solid food. His viral load dropped from 1,000,000 to 5! As long as he was adjusted 1-2 times per month, his vomiting did not return.

Chiropractic treatment and antibody levels. Alcorn, S. Journal of the Australian Chiropractic Association. 1977.

This 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. Brennan PC, Kokjohn DC, Killinger CL et al. 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 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.”