This is a very controversial topic and probably next to immunization produces the most debate amongst practitioners not only of chiropractic but of many of the other codes that base their premise and belief on the natural ability of the body to heal itself.
The argument for these Natural Therapists is mainly this: if the body has the ability to heal a cut or recover from an operation, if it has the ability to repair itself after extreme trauma or after illness then why cannot the immune system be enhanced to protect the body if given the right conditions or treatment?
I know many practitioners from several health codes that live by this doctrine and I know a similar number that will not be drawn into this very sensitive topic.
So, what of chiropractic treatment and the belief that by treating the nervous system we will improve the immune system?
Well here lays the problem.
There are 2 types of research: Scientific Research and Anecdotal Clinic Evidence-Based Research.
The 2 could not be further apart.
The first deals with controlled studies and study groups that focus on testing specific theories with the end product being to either prove or disprove that which is being tested. It is a very much controlled environment that follows a stringent process: a process that can be repeated and duplicated repeatedly.
Anecdotal Clinical Evidence-Based Research has not such stringent parameters. It is based on observations in a clinical setting. It is open to subjective interpretation and can be tainted by many uncontrollable factors. It does not have the scientific ability to be reproduced but instead when repeated can produce wildly variable outcomes.
So which train of thought do we follow? Our Chiropractic Association recently sent me an email that stated that a review of current and past literature on whether chiropractic improves immune function showed that there was no correlation between the 2.
I have been a chiropractor for over 35 years and in this time, I have seen remarkable changes in people’s health through chiropractic treatment that is way beyond positive muscular-skeletal outcomes. Can I explain this? No. Can I reproduce this in a predictable scientific manner? No.
However, to ignore it as a coincidence I believe would be foolhardy.
So, what do I say to patients that ask me the question: Can chiropractic treatment help to improve the immune system?
I say optimal health is not only driven by one element. It is about bringing together a combination of factors that together allow the body to function in its optimal state.
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