season is just around the corner. What is “flu season”? It’s the cooler half of
the year when certain conditions and circumstances come together, accelerating the prevalence of the flu virus. Before getting to flu prevention and treatment through chiropractic, though, let’s look at some reasons why the flu becomes prevalent in the fall.
First, people are indoors more often during the winter, and they are in close contact more often, which promotes transmission of the flu from person to person. This tends to coincide with the beginning of school when children return to moving around in close quarters, creating a “crèche environment” for the virus. Second, with cold temperatures comes drier air, which may dehydrate mucus, preventing the body from effectively expelling virus particles. Third, in colder temperatures the virus may linger longer on exposed surfaces such as doorknobs, shopping cart handles, etc. Fourth, Vitamin D production from Ultraviolet-B in the skin changes with the seasons and affects the immune system.
Now, with all these unavoidably influential factors you would think Kevlar is required in entering the new
season. However, with a little prevention and simple chiropractic treatment your best defense is a good offense. Spinal adjustments can have a positive effect on immune function according to a growing number of researchers who are exploring the common denominators in disease processes, and the role of the nervous, immune, and hormonal systems in development of immune-related illnesses.
Chiropractic treatment corrects spinal abnormalities called vertebral subluxations that result in interference of the nervous system. Since the nervous system controls all functions of the body, including the immune system, chiropractic care can have a positive effect on immune function. With a properly functioning nervous system the shopping cart handle is not such a threat, nor is the crowded gym, movie theater or elevator.
“Contemporary research is beginning to shed light on the neurobiological mechanisms which may explain the outstanding clinical results chiropractors have experienced when managing patients with viral and infectious diseases,” stated Dr. Christopher Kent, Co- Founder of Chiropractic Leadership Alliance.
Dr. Kent explains: “A comprehensive review of the research literature reveals the current understanding that the brain and immune system are the two major adaptive systems in the body. During an immune response, the brain and the immune system 'talk to each other' and this process is essential for maintaining homeostasis or balance in the body."
In early chiropractic studies, doctors have asserted that viruses and microbes don't threaten us all equally and that a healthy immune system easily repels most invaders. The immune system protects us from the flu, as
well as any other infectious disease, and strives to get us well again when we do fall ill. Our immune system, like every other system in the body, is coordinated and controlled by the nervous system.
Chiropractors are also aware of the importance of positive healthy lifestyle practices (rest, drinking ample quantities of water, exercise, proper diet, use of multivitamins and minerals, and stress reduction approaches) that can also positively influence the nervous system and immune response. Chiropractors customarily advise their patients as to the benefits of these other modalities in optimizing overall health.
The chiropractic-immunology connection was reinforced in 1991 when Patricia Brennan, Ph.D. and other researchers conducted a study that found improved immune response following chiropractic treatment. Specifically, the study demonstrated that in blood tests performed before and after a chiropractic
manipulation, a “phagocytic respiratory burst of polymorphnuclear neutrophils (white blood cells) and monocytes were enhanced in adults that had been adjusted by chiropractors.” In other words, the cells that act like "Pac Man" by eating and destroying bad cells are enhanced through chiropractic care.
So, yes, it’s wise to follow the common recommendations regarding hand washing, reducing stress, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. However, to put your best foot forward in entering flu season I recommend a chiropractic evaluation to restore your nervous system to optimal performance. Think of it as “chiropractic Kevlar”!
 Brennan P, Graham M, Triano J, Hondras M. "Enhanced phagocytic cell respiratory bursts induced by spinal manipulation: Potential Role of Substance P." J Manip Physiolog Ther 1991; (14)7:399-400.