There is a lot of concern over the Coronavirus (COVID-19), especially among patients ages 60+. We have had some questions about Chiropractic in the face of a viral illness, and a small number have cancelled appointments because of this concern.
So I’d like to share some history with you…
The interesting story of
Chiropractic and the 1917-1918 flu epidemic
Shared from The Official History of Chiropractic in Texas by Walter R Rhodes, D.C.
All excerpts by Dan Murphy, D.C.; arranged & edited by Presten Witherspoon, D.C.
The 1917-18 influenza epidemic swept silently across the world bringing death and fear to homes in every land. At the time, almost nothing was known about prevention, protection, treatment or cure of influenza. The whole world stood at its mercy – or lack of it.
Statistics from that time reflect a most amazing, seemingly miraculous state of affairs.
The medical profession was practically helpless with the flu victims; those under medical care died like flies all around. But during that flu epidemic, chiropractors got fantastic results from influenza patients and seemed able to do no wrong.
In the state of Iowa, patients under medical care died at a rate of 1/15 (one death per 15 patients). In the same state, patients under chiropractic care died at a rate of 1/789.
In the state of Oklahoma, chiropractors were called in 233 cases where medical doctors had cared for the patients, and finally gave them up as lost. The chiropractors saved all but 25 of these lost cases.
The national numbers are also staggering. National figures indicate 1,142 chiropractors treated 46,394 patients with influenza during 1918, with a loss of 54 patients. 1 out of every 886 chiropractic patients died.
There are many other examples of Chiropractors handling cases during the 1917-18 flu epidemic, with astonishing results. The publicity and reputation of such effectiveness in handling flu cases also brought new patients and much acclaim from people who knew nothing of chiropractic before 1918.
How does this apply to today? In 1917-18, the world was presented with a strain of flu virus that had never been widespread before, and it was killing millions of people.
Today, we are presented with a unique virus that has never been widespread before. While it is not killing people nearly as badly as the 1917-18 flu, it certainly presents a significantly elevated risk of complication in people over 60 (especially over 70), and in people who are immune suppressed or have additional health problems (such as diabetes and heart disease).
The positive results of Chiropractic during the 1917-18 flu epidemic – using nothing but adjusting techniques – stands out. Adjustments clearly helped patients resist and recover during a time of definite upheaval, illness and death.
Keeping your body well-adjusted is a simple step you can take during this time of uncertainty to ensure your body is functioning at peak efficiency. Remember, your nervous system controls everything in the body, and now is a critical time to have everything working as well as possible.
UPDATE 3/19/2020: The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners and World Federation of Chiropractic have mandated we do not claim Chiropractic can help the body’s immune system. After reading my original post, I did not really find anything that made outright claims as such. However, I originally refrained from posting lots of statistics from the 1917-1918 Spanish Flu, which were published in that history of Chiropractic in Texas by Dr. Rhodes. Now, I will simply post the statistics from his researched book here, and let my readers draw their own conclusions.
MDs 4,953 cases, 274 deaths (1/18.1 ratio)
Chiropractors 1,635 cases, 1 death (1/1635 ratio)
Iowa (full state):
MDs 93,590 cases, 6,116 deaths (1/15.3 ratio)
Chiropractors 4,735 cases, 6 deaths (1/789.2 ratio)
New York City:
Flu – 950 deaths per 10,000 cases; Pneumonia – 6,400 deaths per 10,000
Flu – 25 deaths per 10,000 cases; Pneumonia – 100 deaths per 10,000
Chiropractors 3,490 cases, 7 deaths
Cases given up by MDs and transferred to Chiropractors: 233; deaths: 25
If you are ill, do not eschew medical intervention. It has come far since 1917-1918. But also, make sure you stimulate your nervous system, which is connected to every other system.