What Does Science Say About Chiropractic and Immune System Function?

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What Does Science Say About Chiropractic and Immune System

What does the research say about Chiropractic care and Immune System function? 

Can getting adjusted help boost your immune system?

Ronald Pero, Ph.D., a medical researcher and professor at New York University conducted an important study about chiropractic care and the immune system. In this study, Dr. Pero measured the immune system function of people under chiropractic care and compared it to the measurements from the general population.

In the three year study, the patients under chiropractic care had 200% more immune system competence than people not under chiropractic care. He also noted that the same group of chiropractic patients had an astounding 400% greater immune system competence than people who had underlying medical conditions such as cancer. The boost in immune system function in the chiropractic group did not diminish with age.

"When applied in a clinical framework, I have never seen a group other than this chiropractic group to experience a 200% increase over the normal patients. This is why it is so dramatically important. We have never seen such a positive improvement in a group" said Dr. Pero.

There is some compelling evidence that shows getting adjusted can help your immune system function more efficiently. Let’s discuss how chiropractic affects the nervous system which in turn directly affects the immune system. We will talk about the immune system and how it works. We will also review some research that backs up how getting adjusted benefits your immune system function.

How Can Chiropractic Boost Your Immune System Function?

To answer this question we first have to understand what the immune system is, and how it works. Then we can answer how Chiropractic effects on the nervous system can stimulate your body’s natural response to infectious diseases such as bacteria or viruses. In other words, your nervous system helps find the pathogen and your immune system fights it. 

How Does The Immune System Work?

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ immune system research and overview this is the function of the immune system-

“The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection…The immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of “danger” cues called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). 

Cells may be unhealthy because of infection or because of cellular damage caused by non-infectious agents like sunburn or cancer. Infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria release another set of signals recognized by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs)… When the immune system first recognizes these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when there is sufficient need, problems arise, like infection. On the other hand, when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once the danger passes, different problems arise, such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease. The immune system is complex and pervasive…All immune cells come from precursors in the bone marrow and develop into mature cells through a series of changes that can occur in different parts of the body.”

This is a very elaborate way of saying your immune system is intelligent and always learning better ways to protect you from germs.

Did You Know That There Are Two Distinct Immune Systems?

That’s right you don’t have just one immune system, you have two immune systems. One is called Innate Immunity, and the other is called Adaptive Immunity. To discuss how Chiropractic affects your immune system you have to understand the difference between these two systems.

What is Innate Immunity?

Innate immunity is our first line of defense against microbes in our immune system. It takes a nonspecific approach to find and fight bacteria or viruses. This system won’t be sensitized to pathogens through external methods such as vaccinations. This system responds quickly and broadly. Since it can’t recognize specific strains of bacteria or viruses, it is not stimulated by a specific antigen. Innate Immunity is essential to defend your body or you can develop chronic infections.

What Is Adaptive Immunity?

Adaptive Immunity is a subset of the immune system, and you will often hear it called acquired or specific immunity. When this system is exposed to a pathogen, it develops specific and specialized responses. The specificity helps you respond quickly if your body detects the same pathogen again. This is called immunological memory. 

This system can have problems distinguishing between unknown harmful or unknown harmless molecules in your body. The best example of this issue is seasonal allergies.

How Do We Measure Immune System Functions In Research?

Researchers look at specific cellular markers that are known as immune system response markers. Those markers are:

  • T-lymphocytes (T-cells)
  • Chemokines
  • Neuropeptides
  • Substance P
  • Cytokine interleukin 2 (IL-2)

You don’t have to know exactly what they do, but you do need to know that these are the markers that you will see in studies dealing with immune system function.

What Is The Scientific Evidence of Chiropractic and Immune System Function?

  1. Neuroimmunomodulation and a Possible Correlation with Musculoskeletal System Function– This study shows that the nervous system helps regulate the immune response. If there is interference to the nervous system due to subluxations (spinal fixations), this interference will cause the immune system not to react as effectively as it should. 
  2. Changes in biochemical markers following spinal manipulation-a systematic review and meta-analysis.– This is a review of the research available to see if spinal manipulation (adjustments) can help boost immune system function markers. Like we talked about above, researchers look at certain markers to see how the immune system is functioning. This meta-analysis showed that adjustments increased Substance P, neurotensin, oxytocin and interleukin levels. All of these help you boost your immune response.
  3. Elevated Production of Nociceptive CC Chemokines and sE-Selectin in Patients With Low Back Pain and the Effects of Spinal Manipulation: A Nonrandomized Clinical Trial-This research study showed that spinal manipulative therapy (adjustment) reduced the markers for inflammation. Inflammatory markers have a direct effect on the immune system response. The question we don’t know is if that reduction in the markers after an adjustment stimulates the immune response. 
  4. The Effects Induced by Spinal Manipulative Therapy on the Immune and Endocrine Systems– This is another review of the available research about how spinal manipulative therapy (adjustment) can help boost immune and endocrine systems. After analyzing 13 relevant articles, the conclusion was that adjustments seem to trigger the activation of the immune and endocrine systems, but more research is needed to find out why.
  5. The immediate effects of cervical spine manipulation on pain and biochemical markers in females with acute non-specific mechanical neck pain: a randomized clinical trial– This clinical trial showed that after a cervical adjustment there was a significant increase in three markers of oxytocin, neurotensin, and orexin in the blood. This shows that adjustments have a direct effect on the immune and endocrine systems.
  6. Enhancement of in vitro interleukin-2 production in normal subjects following a single spinal manipulative treatment– This research study showed that chiropractic adjustments had a statistically significant effect on the production of IL-2, which is a major immune system regulator.
  7. Spinal manipulative therapy reduces inflammatory cytokines but not substance P production in normal subjects.– This study suggests that spinal manipulative therapy (adjustment) can reduce inflammatory cytokines, which affect the immune system function.


How Did Chiropractic Help With The 1918 Influenza Epidemic?

Dr. Wayne Rhodes collected data from the last major flu epidemic in 1918. Dr. Rhodes stated, “The 1917 -1918 influenza epidemic swept silently across the world bringing death and fear to homes in every land. Disease and pestilence, especially the epidemics, are little understood even now and many of the factors that spread them are still mysterious shadows, but in 1917-1918 almost nothing was known about prevention, protection, treatment or cure of influenza. The whole world stood at its mercy, or lack of it.” 

He continues, “Chiropractors got fantastic results from influenza patients…” 

Here are the statistics from the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed millions worldwide:


As you can see Chiropractic care is an essential part of your overall health care and immune function. Research backs this up. 

Chiropractic care enhances your natural innate immunity and emphasizes the body’s ability to heal itself without external intervention. You can see how the spine and nervous system have an intimate relationship with your immune system and its ability to find and fight pathogens in your body. 

Chiropractic is in a unique position to help you handle stress during stressful times in life, as well as help your last line of defense- your IMMUNE SYSTEM.

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