Chiropractic contributes its unique salutogenic health care approach to the emergent COVID-19 crisis
Amy Haas and Dave Russell
In the face of the current global concerns, it is important to work together as a community to support all possibilities for the optimal health and wellbeing of humanity. Chiropractic care is a unique salutogenic approach to health care that has been shown to improve overall well-being and to enhance physiological function and adaptability. Chiropractic therefore offers a valuable and important contribution in supporting the well-being of our international community at this trying time.
The primary objective of chiropractic care is to optimize health and well-being through the enhancement of nervous system function by reducing nerve interference caused by vertebral subluxations.1-4 Chiropractic care has been shown to enhance and/or restore nervous system functional integrity including sensorimotor integration, cortical processing, and physiological adaptability.5-10
Chiropractic care is salutogenic in nature, intended to support the body’s intrinsic processes rather than to “treat” any specific symptom or pathology. To be clear, chiropractic is not a treatment for any infectious disease.
In light of that, it is of note that a small-but-promising body of evidence suggests that chiropractic care may influence and support immune system function.11-17 Though this evidence is preliminary, these data are of interest to consider in light of the intricate connection between the immune system and the nervous system, a field of quickly emerging research.12,18-21
The nervous system plays a crucial role in alerting and guiding immune system cells to where an infection is located in an essential and coordinated response to danger.12,18 Steinman18 states “There are three types of interactions between the CNS and the immune system: in the first, the CNS acts reciprocally with the immune system; in the second, the CNS drives immunity; and in the third, the immune system regulates the CNS”. The synergy and coordination between the nervous system and the immune system, and of these two systems with the endocrine system and the microbiome22-29, suggest that the chiropractic adjustment may have broad-reaching effects on salutogenesis and adaptability via modulation of these coordinated subsystems.
Although the exact nature of the effect(s) of chiropractic care may have on immune system function specifically has certainly not yet been fully described, the beneficial and sustained effects that chiropractic care have on the function of the autonomic nervous system (responsible for organ and gland function) is established and the utility of chiropractic care for promotion of healthy adaptability, resilience, and salutogenesis is clear. Chiropractic care can therefore provide a valuable salutogenic resource for people whose well-being is tested by these stressful times 30-37
While chiropractic care plays an important role in supporting numerous aspects of general wellbeing,5-11,38-40 it does not, in any way, replace good hygiene and other healthy lifestyle practices or medical intervention for pathology or disease including COVID-19. Additionally, because chiropractors are portal of entry professionals, in the face of the current global pandemic all chiropractors should become very familiar with their local government and WHO guidelines for appropriate hygiene and facilities sanitation procedures as well as the management/referral of people infected with, or potentially infected with COVID-19. These public health regulations are of the highest priority and should be followed for the safety and protection of the rest of the community seen in one’s practice.
Chiropractors have played an important role in the healthcare community. They offer a unique and valuable service not only to their practice community but to other health care providers at the “front lines” as well. Throughout their 125 years of serving humanity, chiropractors stand with fellow healthcare practitioners to do their part to enhance the health and well-being of the global community as it faces this pandemic challenge.
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