The medical community in its entirety agrees that the absolute best defense against the flu is a strong immune system. Unfortunately, achieving a healthy immune system doesn’t happen overnight, and there surely aren’t any magic pills you can pop to ensure your body can detect and keep pathogens such as those causing the flu at bay. Because the immune system is exactly that – a system, rather than a single entity – it requires balance and harmony among all its components. And achieving that is usually the trickiest part.
More experts now claim that a healthy immune system is achieved as a result of having a fully functioning nervous system and body. A new field of research, known as psychoneuroimmunology, has been looking at ways in which the immune system and the brain are interacting to influence health. And the biological links discovered are many:
- Stresses deplete immune resources, in particular levels of B and T cells, cause natural killer cells to become less responsive, and decrease the production of lgA antibodies in the saliva
- Stress hormones reduce lymphocytes in both strength and number
- Immune system cells (macrophages, T cells) carry receptors for certain neuropeptides and some even manufacture typical neuropeptides
- Additionally, the brain may directly influence the immune system by sending messages down cell nerves
Your nervous system, and with it, the immune system, falls from balance whenever you don’t: exercise regularly, manage exterior and interior stressors, get enough sleep, have a healthy, balanced diet, and reduce the intake of alcohol and tobacco. Fortunately, there’s one comprehensive approach that can help you with all of these, and that approach is called chiropractic care.
Chiropractic Care, the Natural Immune System Booster
Reducing Spinal Pressure. Perhaps the most well-known function of chiropractic is that it corrects spinal abnormalities referred to as vertebral subluxations that place pressure on spinal nerves and result in nervous system interferences. By definition, a subluxation is “a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.” Car accidents, improper lifting, chemical imbalances, emotional stress, and prolonged sitting can result in the spinal bones losing their normal position and range of motion, and this is what chiropractic can help with.
The main duty of a chiropractor is to identify, reduce, and help prevent vertebral subluxations by using targeted and specialized chiropractic manipulation as the primary form of treatment. By carefully applying direct pressure on the affected area of the spine by hand or special equipment, the chiropractor is able to reduce and eliminate vertebral subluxations, thereby restoring the function and motion to the spine.
Restoring lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is your body’s drainage system, a complicated network of vessels, nodes, and ducts that move the fluid free of viruses and bacteria to and fro the cells and tissues. The lymphatic system also distributes immune cells to every organ and tissue in the body, essentially fulfilling the role of an additional circulatory system.
Unlike the blood, however, lymph doesn’t benefit from a pump to move it all around the body, and toxic waste can start building up when blockages form in certain areas. Inactivity, unhealthy diet, hormonal imbalances, emotional stress, environmental pollutants, and the natural aging process can lead to the congestion of lymph, in turn weakening the immune system and promoting weight gain and premature aging.
A non-invasive chiropractic adjustment can restore lymphatic flow if congestion has been a result of muscle tension, injury, or other musculoskeletal condition. Through targeted and careful movements, the chiropractor will bring the neck and spine back into proper alignment, relieving the pressure on the congested lymph ducts and allowing them to flow freely and keep colds, flu, and other diseases at bay.
Relieving Stress. With jobs becoming more complex and the businesses arena significantly more competitive, the demands on people’s time and attention increase. Some are confident that the constant assaults of external and internal stressors on their senses motivates them, boosts their memory, and helps them be more creative, while others are simply overwhelmed by it. Many studies of people who have been experiencing chronic stress have found evidence of negative health effects, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, infertility, damage to the immune system, and increased risk of heart disease.
Chronic stress also has more immediate effects, including muscle tension and nerve irritation, both of which may create uneven pressures on bony structures and misalignments in the spine. The specialized adjustments of a chiropractor can help release muscle tension, reduce spinal irritation, and improve blood flow. As a result, the body is allowed to exit the constant fight-or-flight response generated by stress and return to a balanced, relaxed state.
The benefits of chiropractic care don’t stop here. A certified and experienced chiropractor can act as a health care practitioner and be able to help you stop dangerous habits such as smoking, recommend healthy dietary changes, and custom design an exercise plan to strengthen your muscles and reduce the risk of disease. So the next time you’re thinking how to best prepare for the flu season, consider visiting your local chiropractic office for a complete boost of your immune system.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.