Osteopathic techniques are used for many symptoms, most of which support conditions related to the musculoskeletal system — that is, spine, back, upper and lower limb conditions — by research-based evidence. However, spinal manipulation can have other beneficial effects when applied to certain parts of the spine which are also confirmed by studies. One such additional benefit involves the immune system. So, will Osteopathic adaptations support conditions like the common cold? Let’s just have a look!
To this question the quick answer is, “Probably!” Studies report that controlling our immune responses (the capacity of our body to resist pathogens, allergens and the like) relies on an intimate relationship between our nervous system and our immune system.
The steps that occur to accomplish this include complex interactions between different chemicals including neurotransmitters (chemicals in the nervous system), cytokines (these aid “recruit” immune cells to infection sites), and others. Researchers observed the development of a main chemical immune system (a cytokine called “interleukin-2”) while examining cell cultures taken from healthy people who received a single Osteopathic adjustment to the upper thoracic spine. This study used 74 stable age-matched participants assigned to one of three groups: upper thoracic (group 1), sham (fake) manipulation (group 2) or only venapuncture (group 3 – control group).
Each participant’s blood samples were taken before (the initial base line), 20 minutes after treatment, and 2 hours after treatment. Blood samples from the subjects representing the three classes were put in separate cultures infected with an infection, and examined for differences in the development of antibodies (immune response).
They found that protective antibodies (IgG and IgM) were only developed by the manipulative group. This therefore supports the hypothesis that upper thoracic spinal stimulation will activate the immune system through the nervous system and lead to an increase in antibody development that helps us to better fight off those nasty bugs such as rhinoviruses that lead to common cold. Hopefully ongoing research will tell us more about how all of this works, but the current science is looking very good! Note that there are at least 99 recognised different types of rhinoviruses, each individually special, making it nearly impossible to “heal” the common cold because one or more rhinoviruses that strike us at one time.
Here are some other ways recorded for strengthening the immune system:
Probiotics: supplementing with “good” bacteria that live Naturally in our GI tract (intestines) with two types of bacteria: 1. Lactobacillus acidophilus et 2. Bifidum bifidum (BB). LA usually resides in the lower GI (large intestine) and upper GI (small intestine) and BB. Studies show that these friendly bacteria enhance the capacity of the immune cells that cover the GI Tract to protect the body against pathogens, (“bad”) bacteria, and allergens.
Exercise: Moderate exercise increases the activity of the immune system, but intense exercise can have the opposite effect. “Post-exercise immune function dysfunction” is most pronounced when the exercise is constant, extended (> 1.5 h), of moderate to high intensity (55-75 percent VO2 Max), and in particular when done without eating.
Other vitamins and nutrients: Carotenoids, Co-Q10, Echinacea, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc are included in the partial list.
Reduce stress: A lot of evidence exists that stress decreases our immune functions.*
Adapted article credit: https://drthomasogiblog.com/1148/chiropractic-and-the-common-cold/