This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM: Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER)
October 24, 2002 Des Moines, Iowa— Patients afflicted with asthma may benefit from spinal manipulation in terms of symptoms, immunological capacity, and endocrine effects, an audience was told on October 5 at the 9th International Conference on Spinal Manipulation in Toronto. The investigative team, headed by Ray Hayek, Ph.D., has been conducting a trial at 16 treatment centers in Australia involving 420 patients with an average age of 46 in an effort to find out what effects spinal manipulation has on symptoms, depression and anxiety, general health status, and the levels of immunity as reflected by the concentrations of both an immunoglobulin (IgA) and an immunosuppressant (cortisol). This investigation draws from several references in the scientific literature which suggest that different forms of manual therapy (including massage) improve the symptomatology and lower cortisol levels in asthma patients.
Dr. Hayek reported that only the patient group which underwent spinal manipulation (by any of four commonly used manipulative treatment protocols) displayed significant improvement in asthma symptoms and depression and anxiety scores. Simply experiencing structured interviews at the treatment centers or being monitored at home did not yield these improvements. In addition, patients actually undergoing spinal manipulation displayed dramatic increases of IgA and decreases of cortisol through the posttreatment period, suggesting that there were physiological consequences to their manipulative treatments reflecting increased immunological capacities which would be expected to ward off subsequent asthmatic attacks.
These biochemical changes not only suggest that the effects of spinal manipulation are more far-reaching than commonly believed, but that they may be more long-term as well. The gain in immunological capacity achieved with the simultaneous loss of the immunosuppressant cortisol and the increase of the immunoglobulin IgA following spinal manipulation would be expected to reduce the incidence and severity of pathogenic invasion of the airways. There would be less of a risk under these circumstances of compounding the symptoms of asthma.
The immunosuppressing mechanism of glucocorticoids is believed to occur by their reducing the permeability of capillaries, decreasing the migration of white blood cells in inflamed areas, suppressing the release of interleukins, and inhibiting the production of proteolytic enzymes by stabilizing the lysosomal membranes which release them.
This followed contacts that the Director of Research at FCER was able to make with the Australian research community in 1995, taking into consideration the expertise of the investigative team as well as the fact that Australia's 2 million asthma sufferers have given the Island Continent the dubious distinction of being the asthma capital of the world. It has been carried out with the support of research grants exceeding a quarter of a million dollars from both the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER) and the National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company (NCMIC). This research, which may be highly influential on the future of the chiropractic profession, is still in need of funding. To contribute to this important project, please call FCER at 800-637-6244, or donate via the Foundation's secure website at: https://www.fcer.org:448/html/asthma_donate.asp
This research represents one of approximately 50 projects administered by FCER since 1990 in the effort to document both the theory and practice of chiropractic to increase its effective integration into healthcare systems worldwide. The conference at which these results were presented is an international forum which FCER has sponsored at different locations worldwide for the past 14 years.