Even down to the scale of your individual molecules, your body is regulated by twisting, stretching, and compression forces.
Your body is brilliant in how it tunes its chemistry to adapt to different situations. For instance,
- As soon as food hits your mouth, your stomach begins to churn out more acid and digestive enzymes in anticipation of the food that’s coming its way.
- And when you’re running, the capillaries in your legs know to dilate in order to allow more blood to feed your muscles.
These are only two teeny examples. In fact, every physiological process: every pulse of your heart, every filtering of your blood as it passes through the kidney, every hair follicle that stands on end in excitement, and indeed every thought in your brain, is subject to multiple levels of regulation, modification, control, and coordination.
We’re familiar with two of the systems that influence internal chemistry.
- The endocrine system adjusts the level of activity of many physiological processes.
- A second big source of regulation is your brain and nervous system.
Chiropractic care is known to work through these channels in creating its healthful effects.
But there’s a third major influence on chemical activity: biomechanical forces.
The regulatory molecules of your body, largely proteins, have specific shapes that dictate their function. Change the shape, and you change the chemistry. So the stretching, twisting, compressing, and stiffening forces that tissues experience have a potent regulatory effect.
That’s where connective tissue treatments come in. Techniques such as NeuroTactile ® Therapy, Craniosacral therapy, and chiropractic spinal adjustments have a direct effect on the cells of your fascia, and alter their internal chemistry.
Writing in Nature Reviews Immunology in August 2022, Huixun Du and other authors elaborated in great detail the ways that immune function is dependent on the biomechanical properties of the tissues (including, largely, the skin) in which immune cells reside. Here are a few quotes from their article. I’ve added emphasis:
- Many innate immune cells are adherent and contact-dependent, making them exquisitely sensitive to mechanical stimuli such as changes in extra cellular matrix stiffness.
- Mechanosensing of substrate [background substance] rigidity by macrophages [one of the primary attack cells of the immune system] has been shown to influence phagocytosis [how the cells engulf invaders], the mode of migration, cellular reactive oxygen species [free radicals] production, healing ability, cell morphology [shape] and secretion of both anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines [activator molecules].
- Adaptive immune cells [T and B lymphocytes] also respond to mechanical cues. Substrate stiffness has been shown to regulate T cell spreading, migration, gene expression, cytokine [activator molecule] secretion, proliferation, and cytotoxic function [killing invading cells].
Over the years I’ve seen first hand how potent the health effects of chiropractic care can be, though I never take it for granted. I always feel better after I’ve had my chiropractic treatment. I know my whole system is working better too. And I know that my patients receive a similar boost in their health, oftentimes in surprising ways. I feel grateful that I’ve been called to this profession that allows me, every day, to have a direct impact on individuals’ health.