Allergies and asthma are some of the most common health problems in America. Nearly 40 million people, about 25 % of the population, suffer from either asthma or atopic disease.
Asthma is a very serious disease that can be life threatening in some cases. Attacks are caused by irritants such as allergens or over-exertion that cause the bronchioles, the smallest air passage ways in the lungs, to spasm and become congested with mucus. This causes a decrease in the size and patency of the airways causing difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and coughing.
Many traditional allopathic treatments for asthma and allergies exist: allergy shots, inhalers, oral medications, and corticosteroids. Even with these advances in treatment options, sickness and death from these diseases appears to be rising. According to “The New England Journal of Medicine” in February 1992, the increase d morbidity and mortality may be due, in part, to side effects of some of the medications.
In a recent study, children with asthma showed an overall improvement in lung capacity after only 15 chiropractic adjustments. Further findings that correlate abnormal spinal mechanics with asthma have been published by famed osteopathic researcher Alan Stoddard. Stoddard stated that many diseases are due to mechanical lesions, or vertebral subluxations, of the spine. There is no question that an intimate relationship exists between the spinal column, the nervous system, and the respiratory system.
The connection between the spine, nervous system, and respiratory system can be affected in several ways. Vertebral subluxations in the neck can result in associated spasm of the musculature in the neck. When the muscles in the neck become tight, the normal flow of the lymphatic system which helps our immune system to function normally can be interrupted. Because of this stasis in the lymph system, the immune system can become overloaded. Chiropractic adjustments in many cases will produce immediate relaxation of the neck muscles and allow normal lymph drainage to re-occur. Adjustments improve respiratory function by restoring normal nerve function to the muscles, which in turn may result in symptomatic improvement in bronchitis, asthma, and allergies.
Another way that the relationship between body systems can be affected is by improving spine and chest cavity biomechanics. Researchers in several studies have shown that spinal adjustments improve respiratory function and improve chest mobility better than conventional bronchodilators, expectorants, and corticosteroids. Various symptoms of abnormal respiratory function may improve clinically with chiropractic adjustments.
The final, and possibly the most important, way that the respiratory system can be affected with adjustments is through influence of the nervous system. The primary muscle used during breathing is the diaphragm, which separates the chest and abdominal cavities. This muscle is powered by the phrenic nerve which is composed of nerves that exit from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th vertebrae in the neck. If the nerve supply to this muscle is interfered with, as may be the case with a subluxation in the neck, the diaphragm may not function optimally and breathing may be impaired. Accessory muscles of breathing, the sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, scalenes, and pectorals, all operate to assist the diaphragm while breathing, and like the diaphragm, all need to have a healthy nerve supply to function properly. Subluxations can interfere with the normal nerve supply to these muscles leading to muscle imbalances and a weaker respiratory system. Restoring proper nerve function through correction of vertebral misalignments not only improves muscle tone, but also aids in overall body function as well.
The chiropractic approach to health care is natural; it addresses the important role of the nervous system in the healing process. Results can be dramatic: a 1989 Danish study of 115 families with children under the age of 7 who suffered from asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy, showed that parents of 93% of the children who were assigned to receive chiropractic treatments reported improvement in their child’s asthma condition. Many childhood and adult illnesses manifest due to abnormal body function caused by subluxations. Chiropractic care can resolve these misalignments and allow the body to function at its very best!