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Spinal misalignments can lead to inflammation and infection in an animal’s body. Regular chiropractic care naturally helps prevent illness.

Did you know your dog or cat’s nervous system controls his immune system? This means a properly functioning nervous system should be the first priority when it comes to strengthening his immunity, since it’s the nervous system that controls all the animal’s bodily functions.

The nervous system works by sending and receiving nerve messages or impulses to all parts of the body. The nervous system is protected by the spine, which consists of a variable number of moveable vertebrae (depending on the species). When the spine is in its proper position, it protects the nerve pathways.

The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease. A properly functioning immune system is one of the keys to a healthy, happy animal that will resist infections, allergies, and chronic illnesses.

Immune-mediated inflammatory diseases

An immune-mediated inflammatory disease (IMID) is any of a group of conditions or diseases that lack a definitive cause, but which are characterized by common pathways leading to inflammation, and may result from, or be triggered by, a dysregulation of the normal immune response.

IMIDs include inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, and many other conditions in dogs and cats. Recurrent or chronic infections only occur when the immune system is weakened. Animals with diagnosed conditions such as leptosporosis, Lyme disease, and parasites, are ones that are sure to have a weak immune system.

Infection causes damage to the immune system, which further weakens resistance. In either case, enhancing the immune system can provide the answer to breaking the cycle. According to Andrew Weil, MD, “The cornerstone of good health is a properly functioning immune system.”

The nervous system/immune system connection

The nervous system plays an important role in both the control and activity of the immune response. Dr. Robert Ader, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, School of Medicine, performed key experiments to prove the brain/nervous system/immune system connection.

The central nervous system is linked to both the bone marrow and thymus, where immune system cells are produced and developed; and to the spleen and lymph nodes, where those cells are stored. Researchers found that inducing an immune response causes nerve cells in parts of the brain to become more active, and brain cell activity peaks at precisely the same time that levels of antibodies are at their highest. The brain monitors immunological changes closely.

“Whenever the immune system deals successfully with an infection, it emerges from the experience stronger and better able to confront similar threats in the future,” writes Dr. Weil in his book, Spontaneous Healing. “Our animals’ immune systems develop in combat. If, at the first sign of infection, we always jump in with antibiotics, the immune system is not given a chance to grow stronger.”

Spinal misalignments weaken immunity

When vertebrae become misaligned, interference to nerve impulses occurs — which reduces the overall functioning of the nervous system and of the particular organ to which that part of the spine is assigned. These spinal misalignments are known as “vertebral subluxations”.

The effects of vertebral subluxations have been well documented by leading scientists and researchers from all over the world.

“Subluxation is very real,” stated Chang Ha Suh, PhD, of the University of Colorado. “We have documented it to the extent that no one can dispute its existence. Vertebral subluxations change the entire health of the body by causing structural dysfunction of the spine and nerve interference. The weight of a dime on a spinal nerve will reduce nerve transmission by as much as 60%.”

And as early as 1981, an article in Science reported: “Nerve dysfunction is stressful to the visceral nerve and other body tissues and the lowered tissue resistance modifies the immune response and lessens the overall capability of the immune system.”

Why chiropractic can help

An experienced animal chiropractor will determine the presence of subluxations via motion palpation and by finding abnormal movement between adjacent vertebrae in your animal’s spine. As these subluxations become more severe, you may begin to notice an alteration in how your dog or cat moves and reacts to his surroundings.

In an article published in the German medical journal Manuelle Medizine, Dr. Gotfried Gutmann, a leading researcher in the field of manipulation medicine, reported on spinal nerve interference and immune disorders. He stated that blocked nerve impulses in the cervical region can cause many clinical features, from central motor impairment to lowered resistance to infection. Chiropractic examinations are of “decisive importance” in the diagnosis of this blocked neurological flow. Chiropractic can often bring about successful results because it aims at the cause of the problem.

The science of chiropractic is founded on the premise that a proper nerve supply is essential in controlling and regulating bodily function. By releasing stress on the nervous system, chiropractic permits the immune system to function more effectively.

  • Studies done in Australia that measured the effects of chiropractic treatment on the immune system have shown that chiropractic may influence T and B lymphocytes, NK (Natural Killer) cell numbers, antibody levels, phagocytic activity, and plasma bet-endorphin levels.
  • A recent study by Dr. Ron Pero, a leading cancer and genetic research specialist, found that chiropractic patients of all ages had a 200% greater “immune competence” than people who had never received chiropractic care, and a 400% greater immune competence than people with serious diseases.
  • Recent research by Patricia Brennan, PhD, suggests that spinal adjustments may have a direct effect on certain aspects of immune function. Her group showed that when the thoracic spine (middle of back) was adjusted, the ability of white blood cells to release reactive oxygen species (superoxide radical and hydrogen peroxide as they come into contact with different bacteria or fungi) was enhanced.

Routine chiropractic examination and adjustment of your dog or cat should be as important a part of his wellness program as a good diet, regular exercise and dental care.