The flu, common colds, viruses, and other illnesses occur year-round with children missing school, adults missing work, and families trying not to get each other sick. Fortunately, our bodies have a system in place effective in fighting off the germs and viruses we’re constantly exposed to as we go about our daily lives. This system is called our “immune system” and it is a complex network of cells, proteins, hormones, organs, and tissues throughout the body. Chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy are more than physical pain relief treatments, and both provide an all-natural and drug-free approach to treating a wide range of health conditions, including the boosting of your immune system. A healthy immune system benefits you with:
- Improved ability to fight off viruses & bacteria.
- Ability to fully recover from illnesses.
- Ability to heal properly from wounds & injuries.
- Potentially less frequency of illness.
- Disease prevention
- Rapid recovery from future ailments.
A healthy immune system enables your body to release antibodies quickly and effectively whenever a “threat” (germ or virus) is detected. Unfortunately, especially in New York City, numerous factors can limit and compromise your immune system. The good news is that people are increasingly discovering the missing pieces of the puzzle to building a healthy immune system are chiropractic and craniosacral therapy care.
How Your Immune System Works
The body’s immune system is designed to not only prevent germs and viruses from entering your body, but also to limit their harmful effects of germs and viruses should they successfully invade. A healthy immune system will help you swiftly heal, and recover should you become infected. A healthy immune system targets parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins and more – all the harmful microscopic outside invaders that can erode your health. When your immune system is working smoothly your immune system is essentially transparent and you typically don’t even realize it’s there and keeping you in good health. However, if your immune system is compromised and not working to its fullest proper function, you’re far more vulnerable to become infected and ultimately feel fatigued, have low energy, feel down and or sick. The main functions of our immune system are
- to fight disease-causing viruses & germs (pathogens) like fungi, parasites, or bacteria, and to remove these outside invaders from the body,
- to detect and neutralize toxins and other harmful substances from the environment, &
- to fight disease-causing cellular changes in the body
What Can Weaken Your Immune System
Just like the rest of your body, your immune system needs nourishment to stay healthy. A non-toxic environment, plenty of water, a healthy diet, grounding/earthing and quality rest will help your immune system function smoothly. However, the converse is also true in that lifestyle and habits can weaken an immune system. Many factors, and a poor diet will have a negative effect on your immune system. People who live more sedentary (no exercise), get insufficient sleep, or are placed in tense or stressful work or family environments can weaken their immune system.
If you are experiencing exhaustion, fatigue, inflammation, fever, tiredness, brain fog, inability to focus, or weakness, these symptoms can be the result of a weakened immune system. For example, prolonged periods of stress can cause your muscles to tense up to where you find yourself falling into a habit of exhibiting poor posture. Tense muscles coupled with poor posture can place additional pressure and physical stress on your body, in addition to any mental or emotional stress you may be experiencing. The added pressure on your spine can adversely affect the healthy functioning of both your central nervous system and immune system. This is because the brain uses the central nervous system (housed in your head and spinal column) to send signals to the rest of the body. Disruptions to this communication can prevent the ability of the immune system to do its job effectively. Sometimes these disruptions in communication can cause the immune system to mistakenly believe the body’s own healthy cells are foreign cells. The immune system can then in an ‘autoimmune response’ attack your body’s healthy and harmless cells. The takeaway here is to be mindful of your physical posture when sitting, standing, or even sleeping can weaken your immune system.
Of course, much of this circles back to the leading culprit in weakening your immune system, stress. New Yorkers cite job stability, housing costs, and personal health as sources of stress more frequently than people living in other places. A statistic per the American Psychological Association: 87% of New Yorkers reported stress has a strong impact on personal wellness and health. Simply living in New York City can be stressful for many of us and so it’s important to understand when we’re feeling stress, the immune system’s ability to fight off outside harmful substances is reduced. More on this later.
Signs You Have a Weak Immune System
- You experience illness frequently with longer than usual recovery times. For example, it’s normal for adults to have 2 or 3 colds a year with most recovering in 7 to 10 days. If you’re constantly fighting off a cold with symptoms lingering for weeks, or perhaps experience ear / nose / throat infections, food poisoning, diarrhea, constipation, or gas frequently, these are indicators of a slowly responding immune system.
- You’re constantly feeling stress. Stress sets in when life events exceed your abilities to cope. Stress causes your body to produce the hormone cortisol – of which high levels cause an increase in your heart rate & blood pressure and alter your immune system responses. Stress also reduces lymphocytes in the body — these are white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infections.
- You’re experiencing cold sores frequently or had shingles in childhood. Cold sores and shingles are both in the herpes family of viruses. Once contracted, a herpes virus goes into a dormant state within your body. However, stress or a weakened immune system can cause the virus to reactivate and replicate again. Frequent reactivations of this virus can be a sign your immune system should be boosted.
- Your Slow Healing Wounds. With burns, cuts or scrapes your body acts to protect & heal the wound by sending nutrient-rich blood to the injury in effort to regenerate new skin. If your wounds linger and have trouble healing – it’s very likely due to a weakened immune system.
- Lack of energy or fatigue. You may always feel tired, or tense. Waking up in the morning produces a headache or pain. Or you’re not waking up rested. These may be signs of a weak immune system.
The Central Nervous System & the Immune System
Research has proven there is active hardwired communication between the nervous system (the brain & spinal cord) and the immune system. The nervous system (communicating through your spinal cord) can both activate or prevent actions within the immune system. Thus, even when you experience a slight misalignment of the vertebrae (a spinal subluxation, common from sitting posture, repeated motions, and even poor diet, etc.) there is an interference with that path of communication that increases your chances of becoming infected by harmful outside substances. For example, your immune system may suffer from compression of nerve pathways, weakening your body’s natural mechanisms for fighting off illness. Conversely, the immune system can influence the activity of the central nervous system and modulates brain activity, including body temperature, sleep and feeding behavior. Simply put, the nervous system and the immune system engage in back-and-forth communication, or “cross-talk”. A successful immune response (proper signaling in the cross talk) is critical in maintaining the delicate balance between health and disease; an insufficient response results in infection, whereas an excessive response results in prolonged inflammation and tissue damage. I use chiropractic and craniosacral therapy techniques to bring your immune system back into a healthy balance.
Boost Your Immune System with Chiropractic Care
The central nervous system (brain & spinal cord) is responsible for our immune systems’ functioning and chiropractic care has proven effective in strengthening the immune system in both children and adults. Your immune system is thrown off from any type of dysfunction within your body and a subluxation in your spine (a spinal vertebra out of position compared to the other vertebrae) produces an adverse ripple effect on your immune system’s ability to fight off harmful substances. Unfortunately, subluxations are rarely considered when it comes to a weakened immune system, and that’s because most healthcare care providers are unfamiliar with how to detect or treat subluxations. Chiropractic adjustments have not only resolved subluxations but have also been shown to improve both blood and cerebral fluid flow to the brain. Here’s 3 ways a chiropractic adjustment will boost your immune system:
Many researchers understand stress to be the cause or contributing factor in 75-90% of diseases that successfully penetrate the immune system. Stress diverts the body’s metabolic resources towards facing the source of the stress and in doing so the immune system is directly disrupted by the endocrine response to stress. While this is taking place the immune system is also vulnerable and susceptible to infections – it otherwise would be able to fight off. Stress produces Cortisol, a hormone proven to suppress the body’s immune functioning by reducing the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight off infection). Hence reducing stress and levels of cortisol increases immune system functioning. A chiropractic adjustment will release tension in your nerves, so your glands stop producing as much adrenaline. With less adrenaline produced and flowing, you will feel more calm and ultimately less stressed.
When inflammation, an immune response, is present in the body, it’s likely disease is also present in the body. Once germs enter the body, a healthy immune system sends cells to fight the germs, which can result in inflammation at the point of attack in the body. For example, an accidental cut on the finger or skin abrasion results with the area becoming red, tender, swollen or in other words, “inflamed”. This is your immune system at work reacting to potential outside invaders (infections). However, inflammation can also develop in areas within your body not visible on the surface, but detectable through chiropractic and craniosacral techniques – which can also be used to jumpstart the immune system response. When the bones and joints are out of alignment, they cause strain on both the nervous system and the immune system, often triggering an immune response resulting in inflammation. A chiropractic adjustment resolving musculoskeletal alignment issues reduces inflammation, ‘resets’ and rejuvenates the nervous system function.
Increase Blood Flow
Healthy immune system functioning relies on white blood cells to combat infections. The normal and healthy routes of blood circulating in your body are restricted by poor posture and numerous other ailments that befall people daily. In some cases, spinal subluxations are responsible for reduced blood flow. Chiropractic adjustments can treat subluxations and alleviate the discomfort that they cause, both directly and through their reduced circulatory system function. If your spine has subluxations, there’s a good chance your immune system isn’t getting the circulation it demands. Also, chiropractic adjustments stimulate the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body and by bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs, it ensures optimal function.
What to Expect at the Chiropractor
Many first-time visitors to a chiropractor are surprised to learn about the benefits of this manual therapy approach for boosting their immune system. Popular culture has many people expecting to hear the popping or cracking or popping sounds during their chiropractic adjustment. The truth is, when a chiropractor performs an adjustment of the spine or a joint, there may or may not be a sound at all. That crack or pop sound you may be expecting doesn’t come from your bones, it’s the sound of fluids released from joints when it’s returned or moved back into place. It’s just another of your body mechanisms for readjusting and removing toxins, germs, and gasses from the body.
It’s common for people to experience some brief, mild cold-like symptoms after receiving a chiropractic adjustment. This is a positive indication of the body flushing out toxins that chiropractic treatments stirred up. Chiropractic adjustments “kick start” the body’s immune system to begin the healing process. This can take the form of coughing, a runny nose, or sweating as these toxins exit the body. Responses like these become more common after your first couple of chiropractic adjustments as your body becomes accustomed to this new treatment.
Boost Your Immune System with Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on technique of applying gentle touch to release tension in the central nervous system. Craniosacral therapy is effective in boosting your immune systems because it can granularly map inflammation in the body and target tissues associated with the immune system with precision. Using craniosacral therapy the practitioner can identify any inflamed tissues, aspects of the immune system involved in that inflammation, all by palpating the immune system’s movement in response to the craniosacral rhythm.
Craniosacral rhythm: Produced within the ventricles of the brain is cerebrospinal fluid – and it surrounds, nourishes, and bathes the brain and spinal cord staying contained by thin membrane layers making up the dura matter membrane system. It’s the cerebrospinal fluids’ production and absorption that makes the membrane system continuously expand and contract or in other words, create a ‘palpable pulse’ in a regular rhythmic motion. This rhythmic motion is the craniosacral rhythm, it’s as measurable and essential as our heart rate. The quality of this rhythmic motion, its strength, and balance indicates the overall health of the central nervous system associated with the specific tissue being probed.
Generally speaking, if Cerebrospinal fluid of a particular tissue associated with the immune system is moving smoothly and well in the craniosacral rhythm, that indicates the tissue is functioning well. If the tissue is not moving well in the craniosacral rhythm, that signals a problem to further probe. Fortunately, applying craniosacral therapy not only detects these restrictions but also corrects them. By applying the touch of a finger, every so lightly it’s to evaluate the craniosacral system (ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid) of your immune system pulsing around the brain and spinal cord. Soft-touch techniques are then used to release restrictions in any tissues and joints influencing the craniosacral system.
By reducing any tension and dislodging any restrictions along these continuous immune system related membranes, nervous system tissue impairments are corrected, and healthy hormone function is restored. This is the result you can expect when the pathway is cleared for movement of essential fluids through your body. These fluids are helpful in the removal of wastes, deliver nutrients and antibodies, and carry minerals, hormones, and essential salts needed for daily bodily function. By normalizing the brain and spinal cord’s cerebrospinal fluid environment your body’s ability to self-correct is restored. Craniosacral therapy rejuvenates your immune system’s proper functioning including communication with the nervous system. For a deep dive on how craniosacral therapy resolves the leading culprit in weakening your immune system, “stress”, visit our page on Stress Treatment by clicking here.