MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

In March, 2020, the International Chiropractors Association (ICA), a US based chiropractic organization, posted a report claiming that chiropractic adjustments can boost immune function with the implication that it might be helpful in preventing COVID-19. In their report, the ICA stated that: “Although there are no clinical trials to substantiate a direct causal relationship between the chiropractic adjustment and increased protection from the COVID-19 virus, there is a growing body of evidence that there is a relationship between the nervous system and the immune system” and “The observation that those who use chiropractic regularly and do not become ill with cold, flu, or other community shared illnesses is frequent within the profession and should not be ignored”.

Such misleading information is obviously unethical, irresponsible and dangerous. It prompted some chiropractors to do the research and find out what evidence exists that chiropractic might affect the immune system. They have now published their findings in a paper; here is its abstract:

Background

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) posted reports claiming that chiropractic care can impact the immune system. These claims clash with recommendations from the World Health Organization and World Federation of Chiropractic. We discuss the scientific validity of the claims made in these ICA reports.

Main body

We reviewed the two reports posted by the ICA on their website on March 20 and March 28, 2020. We explored the method used to develop the claim that chiropractic adjustments impact the immune system and discuss the scientific merit of that claim. We provide a response to the ICA reports and explain why this claim lacks scientific credibility and is dangerous to the public. More than 150 researchers from 11 countries reviewed and endorsed our response.

Conclusion

In their reports, the ICA provided no valid clinical scientific evidence that chiropractic care can impact the immune system. We call on regulatory authorities and professional leaders to take robust political and regulatory action against those claiming that chiropractic adjustments have a clinical impact on the immune system.

It is not often that I praise the actions of chiropractors, I know. But today, I unreservedly applaud the above-quoted paper.

WELL DONE, AND THANK YOU.

(And while we are on the subject, may I encourage the authors to carry on their good work and do similar assessments of the rest of the hundreds of false claims made by so many of their colleagues day-in, day-out?)

 

28 Responses to Against the pseudoscientific claim that chiropractic care boosts immunity

  • If they were the least bit concerned about evidence of efficacy for anything, they wouldn’t be chiros. I am surprised you woukd give chiros credit for anything, other than being delusional, pseudo-scientific, arrogant, and a wealth theft mechanism.

  • true
    we have made similar announcments in the past and passed on this publication to all of our members as of yesterday. If there are those who stick to these preposterous claims it is the NOH duty to deal with them.

  • WFC first report stated…

    “There is no credible scientific evidence that chiropractic spinal adjustment/manipulation confers or boosts immunity. Chiropractors should refrain from any communication that suggests spinal adjustment/manipulation may protect patients from contracting COVID-19 or will enhance their recovery. Doing otherwise is potentially dangerous to public health.”

    Not to be confused with “chiropractic care” which may include additional approaches such as exercise and dietary modification.

    • yes, oc course, according to this logic the care of ANY quack will be effective.

      • The main issue is…which agent had the effect (assuming there is one)? Some (ICA) want to credit spinal manipulation based mainly on “philosophical” reasoning and transfer findings from basic science research into clinical justification.

        The WFC original statement was…no credible scientific evidence is currently available to back this claim. Stop.

        Of course, good research would tease this out.

        • there also is no good evidence that chiropractic care boosts the immune system.

          • I dont know what it means to “boost the immune system”

            If you want to put it into scientific terms that would help.

            Also, one needs to define “chiropractic care”.

          • neither do I really, in particular the latter – but you brought it into the discussion, so you define chiro care!

          • Actually, you brought it up by linking to reports which mentioned chiropractic care.

            But you don’t know what it is. Strange since you have spent so much time over the years on the topic.

          • your comments have become too stupid for me to bother. cheerio

          • So you title a blog with “chiropractic care” but you apparently won’t (can’t?) define it.

            OK.

  • DC wrote: “Not to be confused with ‘chiropractic care’ which may include additional approaches such as exercise and dietary modification.”

    @ DC

    Those approaches might be used in some cases, but ‘chiropractic care’ is such a vague term that it leaves most chiropractic customers in danger of being ensnared by quackery.

    For example, here’s the British Chiropractic Association’s definition of ‘chiropractic care’:
    https://chiropractic-uk.co.uk/what-is-chiropractic-care/
    Note that it fails to make clear that UK chiropractors enjoy an undefined and unlimited scope of practice. In other words, ‘chiropractic care’ seems to be whatever individual UK chiropractors want it to be. This view is well-supported by surveys which continue to show (or imply) that many chiropractors are offering dubious expertise* to their customers once they’re through the doors of their clinics.

    Couple the above with regulation being decidedly inept (nb. the UK General Chiropractic council is reactive rather than proactive) and it’s easy to see how chiropractic customers are left at substantial risk of receiving false information about immunisation, chiropractic ‘subluxations’, and harms (both physical and financial) – all under the banner of ‘care’ from a figure of authority holding the non-medical title of ‘Dr’.

    *Ref Sackett’s evidence based medicine components for decision making: 1) the best external evidence, 2) individual practitioner’s clinical expertise, and 3) patient’s preference.

    • Thanks. So according to that webpage, chiropractic care is not synonymous with spinal manipulation, which was the focus of the WFC rapid review.

      • @C (not a doctor of anything),
        The Prof is right in his view of your comments, ‘your comments have become too stupid for me to bother’, and the only person here not to see it is you. Research Circular Argument and all other Logical Fallacies before you betray your chiro traits again.

        • Same old Frank. It was a simple request to define chiropractic care. This was in the title of his blog. Ernst doesn’t seem to know what chiropractic care is. That seems strange since he has spent many years writing on the topic. But, his ignorance on what it is, helps explain why he seems to be so confused in many of his writings.

          • no, you seem not to know what it is;
            I simply took the term from the original publication.

          • “neither do I really, in particular the latter – but you brought it into the discussion, so you define chiro care!”

            You admitted you don’t know.

          • I did, and so did you.
            I don’t need to know but you do.
            you are a chiro
            I just used the term of the original paper.

          • I didn’t admit any such thing re chiropractic care. I wrote i dont know what it means to “boost” the immune system.

            And the original WFC rapid review didn’t mention “chiropractic care” once. The second reponse by the WFC stated the ICA provided no evidence for chiropractic care, which is accurate. That doesnt mean it doesnt exist. But to determine that one needs a definition of chiropractic care. Since you titled as such you should provide the definition.

            The whole context is spinal manipulation, not chiropractic care, which usually incorporates a multimodal approach.

            Your blog title doesn’t represent the topic that was being exchanged between the WFC and ICA.

          • true! I concluded from your statement “one needs to define “chiropractic care” that you did not know

          • I did not know how you were defining it. Once that was determined a discussion could ensue.

            But since you dont know…

  • “your comments have become too stupid for me to bother. cheerio”
    Classic Edzard, uncomfotable questions……exit stage left 😀

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