So far we’ve discussed how altering your diet, getting better sleep, decreasing stress, and supplements all help to support your immune system AKA your body’s bug battling brigade. Tips #1–3 were about removing outside stressors from the immune system and Tip #4 was about assisting the immune system.
BUT, this last tip, is about how you can directly influence the function of your immune system! Let me tell ya, we saved the best for last!
Did you know that our body’s immune system is connected to our spine? Let me explain, our spine and skull house our nervous system. This system is the first to develop after conception because it controls EVERYTHING in our bodies. The nervous system is made primarily of the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves that branch off into our body. The spinal cord is how the brain talks with the rest of the body. The brain sends information down and out the spinal cord, while the body sends information into and up the spinal cord.
When we have lots of receptors in our body that help the brain and body to communicate. Such as, mechanoreceptors that tell us touch and movement, proprioceptors that help our brain know where our body is in space, and nociceptors that tell us when something hurts. These receptors help to pass the information along and more than one receptors might be activated as information is passed along.
Now, back to how the immune system is connected to the spine. Within the spinal cord, we have branches of nerves that control our immune system. When certain receptors are activated by information, they also activate the nerve branches that go to the immune system, because the live in the same layer within the spinal cord. It’s like when your roommate is cooking a delicious meal and the smell wafts through the whole house, making everyone hungry. So when a mechanoreceptor is activated by movement or touch, the immune system branch gets turned on too!
The downside. When misalignments (subluxations) occur within your spine, that means efficiency of the information sent to your brain or your body is affected. This alters the potential of your immune system function.
The upside! Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to directly affect mechanoreceptors. Which means getting adjusted will activate mechanoreceptors and as the information is passed along, the immune system nerve branches will be activated as well! In fact, during 1918 the Flu Pandemic, there were so many people falling ill that medical doctors could not see them all. Chiropractors began to see the overflow from the medical community and those people who received manipulative management (chiropractic adjustments) had 1/40 of the death rate, as compared to those receiving allopathic or drug treatment.
Additionally, chiropractic adjustments have been shown to down-regulate inflammatory responses. This can help decrease our pain response, essentially decreasing our feelings of pain.
How to enhance and support your immune system:
Early signs of a stressed immune system:
Scratchy / sore throat
Body aches / Headache
Coughing / Sneezing
If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, get in to your chiropractor today!
Ari Cohn, DC. Chiropractic and the Neuroimmune Connection. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ September 30, 2008. Pages 1–5
Jiang H, Moreau M, Raso J, Russell G, Bagnall K. Identification of the location, extent, and pathway of sensory neurologic feedback after mechanical stimulation of a lateral spinal ligament in chickens. Spine. 1997 Jan 1;22(1):17–25.
Julita A. Teodorczyk-Injeyan, PhD, H. Stephen Injeyan, PhD, DC, Richard Ruegg, PhD, DC. Spinal Manipulative Therapy Reduces Inflammatory Cytokines but Not Substance P Production in Normal Subjects. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. January 2006Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 14–21
Kevin J. Tracey. Reflex control of immunity. Nat Rev Immunol. 2009 Jun; 9(6): 418–428. http://www.direct-ms.org/sites/default/files/Inflammatory%20reflex.pdf