How the influenza pandemic of 1917-1918 saved the chiropractic profession.
At the beginning of 1917, chiropractic was on the verge of extinction as a profession. Not one chiropractor on the planet was licensed by any state or federal authority to practice chiropractic as chiropractic was not recognized by regulatory authorities as a profession to be licensed. All over the country, doctors of chiropractic were being arrested for practicing medicine without a license. Imagine how difficult it must have been to try to build a practice after being on the front page of the local newspaper being led away in handcuffs.
Then came the influenza pandemic, which killed more people than any illness before or since, more than all wars. Conventional medicine was virtually useless against it. People started to notice that those under chiropractic care, getting adjusted, were not dying at nearly the average rate, in fact hardly any seemed to be dying at all. Soon chiropractors were seeing patients for 12 hours per day in their offices and then going to make house calls to those too ill to come into their offices. By the end of the pandemic most state legislators throughout the nation knew of someone who seemed to have had their life saved by a chiropractor. Chiropractic was licensed in most states within a few years and for decades, the most common reason for a visit to a chiropractor was immune related: to help get over infections, to help have fewer infections or to lesson allergies.
Yet chiropractic is not a treatment for any of these conditions. The purpose of chiropractic is to remove interference to the nervous system allowing the body to heal itself. All systems, organs and cells of the body are completely dependent on messages from the brain, by way of the spinal cord to tell them, don’t just lie there dead, do something, to regulate them and to coordinate them. When the spine is out of alignment or subluxated, it can interfere with the communication of nerves passing through the spinal column. Mirror Image adjustments, exercises and traction can help restore proper alignment, allowing for better communication between the brain and different body parts and systems, including the immune system. The purpose of an adjustment is to help the body move towards proper alignment and free the nervous system to work better, allowing the body to heal itself, not to directly cure the body of any symptoms or conditions.
The most dramatic story I read of about the flu pandemic and chiropractic was of a priest under regular chiropractic care and the orphanage he ran. He was fine, but, as he told his chiropractor over the phone, “Doc, you’ve gotta do something. The kids are dropping like flies.” His chiropractor called all his colleagues in the local chiropractic society. They all went to the orphanage and adjusted all the children. The priest said, “… it was as if someone had flipped off a light switch. The kids just stopped dying.”
I remember a few years back when avian flu was rampant, my assistant called to cancel her son’s appointment because he had caught the flu from the boy next door. I told her to get him right in, explained the above to them and adjusted him. She said he started feeling better that day, was tempted to send him to school the next day but thought he might still be a carrier, so kept him home another day or two. The boy he caught it from was out of school for ten days.
I encourage all to have spinal checkups regularly and during this flu season, also get your vitamin D levels checked (optimal levels for those of European descent is 50-70Ng/ml, for those of Hispanic and Asian descent 40-60, for those of African descent 32-48). I intend to continue keeping my immune system strong with regular chiropractic care, exercise, a positive attitude and a high fruit and vegetable, high fat and low carbohydrate diet along with vitamin D.
-Samuel Cooper, DC