As the flu season is winding down (hopefully), allergy season is right around the corner. More than 50 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies affecting approximately 30% of adults and 40% of children. Allergies are also the 6th leading cause of chronic illness and one of the most overlooked diseases that has been on the rise for five decades that costs the country roughly $18 billion annually.
I love to ask our practice members this question, “What causes allergies?” 99.9% of the time they will respond with something along the lines of pollen or cat dander. This is the same answer I would’ve given when I was growing up suffering with pollen allergies which required one allergy shot in each arm every…single…week. It was terrible. Here is a thought worth pondering. If ten people strolled through a field covered in pollen and cat dander, how many would show symptoms? Statistics show that only three people would suffer itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and mucous-filled sinuses.
So, it is safe to say that things such as pollen and cat dander are triggers for allergies, however, they are not the cause. If they were the cause, then all ten people walking through that field would’ve suffered an allergic reaction. The real cause of allergies is an unregulated response of the immune system to a harmless trigger such as pollen or cat dander.
The immune system receives orders and instructions directly from the central nervous system. The central nervous system coordinates the immune system’s ability to adapt to stressors such as pollen and cat dander. The spine holds an intimate relationship with the nervous system and improving the function and structure of the spine has been proven to improve the function of the nervous system and thereby also improving immune function. A 2004 study of 1,028 patients with allergies (atopic dermatitis and bronchial asthma) found that 98% had similar vertebral misalignments in their spine. One group received spinal adjustments whereas the other group did not. 88% of those with dermatitis showed improvement in skin itching and over 71% showed improvement in overall skin condition. The group who did not received spinal adjustments showed 0% improvement.
Another landmark study in 2010 showed that those who receive regular spinal adjustments experienced higher levels of immune-producing antibodies in their blood than those who are not under chiropractic care.
Practice members with allergies hold a special place in my heart because of my experience with allergies. As I previously mentioned, I used to have terrible allergic reactions to pollen in the spring and fall. I would take Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, and allergy shots with very little relief. When I got under chiropractic care I didn’t even tell my chiropractor I had allergies because I didn’t think chiropractic had anything to do with my allergies! After several months of chiropractic care, I realized I was half way through allergy season and had not taken a single anti-histamine medication or allergy shot. For over four years now I have not had to take those medications or needed an allergy shot to control my allergies. I credit that to my chiropractor who improved the structure and function of my spine, nervous system, and immune system.