Chiropractic’s Answer to Swine Flu: Get Adjusted!

Chiropractors are already capitalizing on people’s swine flu fears. This webpage  reproduces the text of a Swine Flu Handout chiropractors are giving their patients. It boils down to 6 recommendations:

  1. Build your immune system by getting adjusted.
  2. Limit the amount of sugar in your diet because sugar depresses the immune system.
  3. Avoid alcohol and white flour products.
  4. Drink more water
  5. Wash your hands frequently.
  6. Disinfect your rooms by spraying them with a solution of essential oils (4 drops to one cup of water).

Hey! One out of six isn’t bad. Handwashing is a good idea. The rest of this advice is useless balderdash and possibly even counterproductive.

They tell us “Studies show that being adjusted twice a week can increase your immune system function by up to 400%.” No they don’t. I couldn’t find even one such study. I did find a reference to “preliminary research” – apparently not published – that allegedly showed that patients who had received long term chiropractic care had 200% greater immune competence than patients who had not received chiropractic care and 400% greater than those who had cancer. This is uninterpretable because we are not told how the data were collected nor how “immune competence” was measured. Besides which, the damage from flu is due to the immune response, and in the 1918 epidemic it was the young, healthy people who were more likely to die. It’s conceivable that decreasing immune competence might be more protective.

There is NO credible evidence that chiropractic adjustments decrease the risk of catching ANYTHING. Ditto sugar, white flour and alcohol (unless perhaps indirectly due to secondary effects of overindulgence). Drinking more water? Were they perhaps thinking of homeopathy? And spraying dilute essential oils is probably as effective as having a witch doctor wave a bone and chant.

Instead of helping the public reduce their risk of infection, they are trying to boost their business and spread misinformation – swinish behavior indeed!

This article was originally published in Swift, the online newsletter of the James Randi Educational Foundation.








Dr. Hall is a contributing editor to both Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer. She is a weekly contributor to the Science-Based Medicine Blog and is one of its editors. She has also contributed to Quackwatch and to a number of other respected journals and publications. She is the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon and co-author of the textbook, Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.

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