Chiropractic care can improve body mechanics and relieve pain, but can it boost immunity?
If you want to find out, you’ve come to the right place.
Although chiropractic care isn’t proven to strengthen immunity, some research suggests that it can help.
Let’s take a closer look at chiropractic and immune response…
What Is the Immune System?
The immune system is a network of organs and cells that protect the body from harmful invaders.
Bone marrow, for example, produces white blood cells.
When the body senses harmful viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens, white bloods are sent to defend.
However, due to chronic inflammation, stress and genetics, not everyone’s immune system works properly.
Here’s how to tell if you have a weak immune system:
Do You Have a Weak Immune System?
A weak immune system can leave you vulnerable to illness and disease.
Common signs of a weak immune system include:
High blood sugar
If this sounds like you, it may be time for an immune system upgrade.
The question is, can chiropractic care help?
Chiropractic Care and the Immune System
The truth is, there’s no evidence to suggest that chiropractic care can directly impact immunity.
However, some studies show that it can help in less direct ways.
For starters, stress and inflammation are strongly linked to poor immune function.
Fortunately, chiropractic care can reduce both.
Later on in this article, we’ll explore these studies in more detail.
More importantly, early research shows that spinal manipulations can affect immune cells.
At least four studies have examined the effects of spinal manipulation on the immune system.
For example, one study in the Journal of Physiological and Manipulative Therapeutics found that spinal adjustments can elevate immune cells in the blood. (1)
A separate study in the journal Chiropractic and Osteopathy arrived at similar conclusions.
They noticed that white blood cell activity increased just 20 minutes after chiropractic adjustment. (2)
Does this mean that chiropractic care will help you fight COVID and other viruses?
No, not necessarily, but it can be part of an overall health plan.
Next, let’s investigate how chiropractic care can support immunity by reducing inflammation…
Inflammation and the Immune System
Inflammation is part of the immune system’s natural response to injury and infection.
As white blood cells are released, redness, swelling and pain rush to the affected area.
For example, this is what happens when you get a mosquito bite or twist an ankle.
In short doses, inflammation is helpful.
It removes pathogens and supports the healing process.
However, when inflammation is chronic the immune system can suffer.
Over time, chronic inflammation weakens the immune response and increases the risk of infection.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
These symptoms can be mild to severe and last up to several months or years.
You can manage chronic inflammation with:
Anti-inflammatory supplements, like fish oil and turmeric
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and aspirin
Corticosteroids, a type of steroid hormone
However, NSAIDs are linked to an increased risk of stomach ulcers and kidney disease. (3)
Similarly, long-term corticosteroid use can cause vision problems, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
However, early research shows that chiropractic care may offer another solution to chronic inflammation…
Inflammation, Chiropractic and Immune Response
If your joints are out of alignment, it can increase friction and inflammation.
Luckily, the main purpose of chiropractic care is to restore joint alignment.
At the same time, this relieves pressure on the nerves and returns body mechanics to normal.
Plus, research shows that chiropractic may reduce the production of cytokines: inflammatory proteins that regulate the immune system.
In one 2010 study, researchers studied the effects of chiropractic treatment on inflammation in patients with chronic lower back pain. (4)
The participants received 9 chiropractic adjustments over a 2-week period.
Ultimately, researchers found that chiropractic care can reduce inflammation.
Next, we’ll take a look at how chiropractic care can support immunity by reducing stress…
Stress and the Immune System
Stress activates the “fight-or-flight” response.
The heart races, blood pressure rises, and the breath quickens.
In short bursts, this helps you survive.
For example, if someone attacks you, the stress response helps you fight back or run away.
But chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances and chronic inflammation.
Ultimately, this makes you more vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold.
Plus, the more stressed you are, the longer it can take to recover when you’re sick.
Chronic stress also leads to high blood sugar and increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
You might also experience:
At the same time, chronic stress can cause digestive issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
To reduce stress, you can exercise, get quality sleep, and exercise regularly.
And according to recent research, you might also want to give chiropractic a try…
Stress, Chiropractic and Immune Response
Chiropractic care takes a total mind-body approach to stress relief.
Chronic stress can store tension in the body, leading to aches and pains that make stress worse.
Chiropractic therapy aims to restore balance to the mind and body.
For example, one study found that chiropractic sessions can reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. (5)
Plus, chiropractic adjustment triggers hormones that reduce stress-related pain and boost positive feelings.
With that said, chiropractic care is not a substitution for other proven mental health treatments.
However, it can be a part of a broader health plan.
But chiropractic care has one last trick up its sleeve…
Sleep and the Immune System
Sleep is incredibly important for a strong immune system.
Poor sleep, on the other hand, can cause side effects like:
High stress hormones
High blood sugar
High blood pressure
Fortunately, studies show that a good night’s sleep can protect against heart disease. (6)
Plus, sleep helps the bone marrow produce white blood cells and remove toxins.
In another study, researchers found that sleep strengthens a type of white blood cells called “T cells.” (7)
T cells are immune cells that attack infections like the flu, herpes and HIV.
During sleep, it’s easier for T cells to do their job.
This is because stress hormones are lower while you catch some ZZZs. .
Luckily, chiropractic care may be able to help you sleep more soundly…
Sleep, Chiropractic and Immune Response
Insomnia can be a symptom of stress.
At the same time, it’s harder to sleep when your joints are in pain.
Fortunately, chiropractic can help on all fronts.
For example, a recent medical review found that spinal manipulation may improve sleep patterns in patients. (8)
However, the evidence is still early and more research is needed.
Pain reduction, though, is one of chiropractic cares’ strengths.
Ultimately, the less pain you’re in the better you’ll sleep.
In the past, not all physicians supported chiropractic.
However, in early 2017, the American College of Physicians officially endorsed chiropractic as a treatment for lower back pain. (9)
In fact, they even recommend it as a first-line treatment before medication.
The bottom line is, chiropractic is worth a try.
Although chiropractic still isn’t considered an official “immune booster,” it may support immunity indirectly.
By improving sleep and reducing pain, inflammation, and stress, chiropractic can be part of an effective health plan.
If you have any more questions about chiropractic and immune response, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.