THE FLU January 2011


Well as they say, "it's flu season." The flu seems to be a topic that get's talked about a lot during this time of the year, including in our office. What's interesting is that I rarely ever hear one of our practice members complain about getting it. And they like to tell me about how a lot of people around them get the flu and they don't. Of course, I love hearing these stories.

Is chiropractic really effective regarding the flu? To help answer that question I want to tell you about the Influenza Epidemic of 1918. The epidemic lasted from June 1917 to December 1920, with it being at the height of infectiousness during the year of 1918. It spread to all parts of the world including the arctic and the Pacific islands. At that time, the world's population was 1.8 billion people. Over 50 million people, which was 3% of the world's population, died, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters of all time. Some 500 million, or 1/3 of the world's population, was infected.

During this incredibly devastating time, chiropractic was instrumental in alleviating the severity of this condition. Even though the statistics are amazing, they are a matter of state and local public health records.

During the 1918 influenza epidemic, in Davenport, Iowa, medical doctors treated 4,953 influenza cases with 274 deaths, or 1 death out of every 18 treated. At the same time, 150 chiropractors, student chiropractors and faculty of Palmer School of Chiropractic treated 1,635 cases with only 1 death. The state of Iowa reported that medical doctors treated 93,590 influenza patients with 6,116 deaths or 1 out 15. The rest of the state, except for Davenport, reported 4,735 patients treated by chiropractic care with a loss of 6 which is 1 out of 789 during the epidemic.

Reports show that in New York City, during the influenza epidemic of 1918, out of every 10,000 cases medically treated, 950 died, and, in every 10,000 pneumonia cases medically treated, 6,400 died. These figures are exact, for in that city these are reportable diseases. In the same epidemic, under drugless methods, only 25 patients died of influenza out of every 10,000 cases; and only 100 patients died of pneumonia out of every 10,000 cases. 

In Oklahoma, records show that chiropractors treated 3,490 cases of influenza with only 7 deaths. But here's the best part; in Oklahoma there is a clear record showing that chiropractors were called in, in 233 cases where medical doctors had cared for the patients, and finally gave them up as lost. The chiropractors saved all these lost cases but 25.

National figures from that time show that 1,142 chiropractors treated 46,394 patients with influenza with 54 deaths. That's 1 death for every 886 people treated.

Because of these results, individual states began the process of formally licensing chiropractors.

How does the medical field feel about the flu shot? An article in a recent issue of the AMA News points out an embarrassing problem facing the medical industry. Its own members - medical doctors and medical health care workers - are failing to get vaccinated, even though they urge the public to do so. The problem is getting so severe that some medical organizations are suggesting the vaccines be a mandatory condition of employment.

The April 1, 2010 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that as of mid January, only 37.1% of health professionals had gotten their influenza A (H1N1) vaccine and only two-thirds thought the shot was safe. Only 61.9% had received their seasonal (as opposed to H1N1) vaccine.

So why is chiropractic so effective? To start with, it's important to know that science has proven that during times of epidemics, virtually everyone is exposed to the virus, not just the people who become ill. This means that in the case of the 1918 epidemic, only 1 out of every 3 people became sick. What about the other 2?

This of coarse is a difficult issue to discuss, because we've been taught that disease is caused by being exposed to pathogenic organisms. Exposure equals disease.

What is the difference? In very simple terms, here's the answer. The difference between one person getting sick and another not getting sick is that the first person's body is not working correctly and the second person's body is working correctly.

Everyone is exposed to pathogenic organisms. But more people do not succumb to the disease than do. The part of your body that is responsible for detecting and eliminating these organisms is the immune system. If the immune system is working correctly, you don't get sick. If it's not working correctly you do.

So what causes you immune system to work correctly? By now you may be guessing it's your brain and nervous system and you'd be right. The function of the nervous system is to control all other aspects of your body. As long as the signals going to and from your brain are not garbled, all of your body's organs, glands, muscles and joints will work correctly. Remember the "snowy" picture TVs would have if they were out of tune? That was called "static". Imagine your immune system receiving "static" from your brain.

The job of the chiropractor is to make sure there is no interference or static between your brain and the rest of your body.

Research has shown the value of chiropractic in relation to the nervous system. One of the most important studies performed demonstrating this was by Dr. Ronald Pero, Ph.D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York's Preventive Medicine Institute and professor of medicine at New York University. It showed the positive effect that chiropractic care can have on the immune system and general health.

Dr. Pero measured the immune systems of people under chiropractic care as compared to those in the general population and those with cancer and other serious diseases. His initial three-year study was of 107 individuals who had been under chiropractic care for five years or more. The chiropractic patients were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than those people who had not received chiropractic care, and they had 400% greater immune competence than those people with cancer and other serious diseases. The immune system superiority of those under chiropractic care did not appear to diminish with age. Dr. Pero stated:

"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."

Another study from Patricia Brennan, Ph.D., leading a team of researchers, conducted a study that found improved immune response in her test subjects following chiropractic treatment. The study specifically demonstrated the "phagocytic respiratory burst of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) and monocytes were enhanced in adults that had been adjusted by chiropractors." Yes, I know that's a mouthful. Basically, it means the immune systems white blood cells work better after chiropractic care.

Life Chiropractic University produced an incredible study from the Sid Williams Research Center in 1994. The researchers took a group of HIV positive patients and adjusted them over a six-month period. What they found was that the "patients that were adjusted had a forty-eight percent (48%) increase in the number of CD4 cells (an important immune system component)." These measurements were taken at the patients' independent medical center, where they were under medical supervision for the condition. The control group (the patients that were not adjusted) did not demonstrate this dramatic increase in immune function, but actually experienced a 7.96% decrease in CD4 cell counts over the same period.

Receiving chiropractic care is not a guarantee that you won't get the flu, but past experience has certainly demonstrated the value of chiropractic in keeping people well.

Please…if you have any questions, or would like any information on any health topic, it would be my pleasure to help you! Talk with you next month………

Dr. Greg


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