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Allergies and Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care 

 March 19, 2011

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville, Virginia — This past weekend I participated in an event, the Connections Fair, at the Children’s Museum of Richmond.  It was a resource fair for children and youth with special needs.  Outstanding event.  But that isn’t why I’m writing this post.  We provided information about how chiropractic can be a help with children broadly speaking, and specifically for children with special needs, like ADHD, autism, and learning disabilities and so on.  It was great to share because it was a new idea for most people who walked by.

At our table we had a variety of pamphlets for people to take.  Well at the last minute on a whim, I decided to include a pamphlet on allergies and how chiropractic can help.  You know, it is allergy season, so I thought people might be interested.  WOW.  Where they interested?  Almost everyone took one.  I’ve often heard, “If you live in Virginia long enough, you WILL get allergies.”  No doubt I knew it was a struggle for many folks, but in this crowd it seemed everyone was affected, or their loved ones (with special needs) where sufferers of allergies.

This does not seem so odd to a chiropractor, but it may not be so intuitive to many.  Simply put, an allergy is an overreaction of one’s immune system to something.  Usually something foreign to our body.  We want our immune system to recognize “foreign invaders” to our bodies, but we don’t want it to overreact.  Especially to something that isn’t a threat and is very common in the environment.  Like pollen.  Like dander.  Like dust mites.  Like cleaners.  Like peanut oil.  And the list goes on.

So we know an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system.  Well, at the risk of over simplifying again, our immune system is very intimately tied to how well our nervous system is functioning.  Please see the quote  below from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease:

“Evidence is mounting that the immune system and the nervous system are linked in several ways. One well-known connection involves the adrenal glands. In response to stress messages from the brain, the adrenal glands release hormones into the blood. In addition to helping a person respond to emergencies by mobilizing the body’s energy reserves, these “stress hormones” can stifle the protective effects of antibodies and lymphocytes.

Another link between the immune system and the nervous system is that the hormones and other chemicals that convey messages among nerve cells also “speak” to cells of the immune system. Indeed, some immune cells are able to manufacture typical nerve cell products, and some lymphokines can transmit information to the nervous system. Moreover, the brain may send messages directly down nerve cells to the immune system. Networks of nerve fibers have been found connecting to the lymphoid organs.”

So it is reasonable to assume if one has some sort of stress on the nervous system (physical or emotional) the immune system would not work well and therefore allergies may develop or be aggravated.  The most common physical stress to the immune system would be the subluxation.  The correction of subluxations by a chiropractor would result a healthier nervous system which leads to a healthier immune system.  A healthier immune system would lead to less allergies, or less intense allergies, or in some cases–no allergies!

I also wanted to share some information from a blog post at The Atlas of Life blog.  Dr. Harshe explains allergies and subluxations well:

“Spring is a beautiful time of the year. Flowers are blossoming, trees are blooming, and leaves are turning green.

It is also a time for a certain disorder of the immune system, something we know as seasonal allergies.

But did you know that allergies are not a part of life, that it is not normal to experience itchiness, conjunctivitis, and runny noses dripping with mucous?

These symptoms are signs that your immune system is compromised, that it cannot defend itself against normally harmless substances we call allergens.

Because our immune systems can’t withstand these allergens, our IgE antibodies activate an excessive amount of mast cells (white blood cells) and basophils to respond, creating an extreme case of inflammation. Hence, the symptoms mentioned above.

So, if allergies are a disorder of the immune system, how do you fix it?

As it turns out, the immune system, like every other system in the body, is controlled by the nervous system. The nervous system is the master system in the body, controlling all functions in the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, gastrointestinal function, etc.

Interference to the nervous system will compromise any of those aforementioned systems, including the immune system. Interference comes by way of the vertebral subluxation, a spinal misalignment that results in pressure or tension on the spinal cord near the level of the brain stem. Since the brain stem is the mission control center of the nervous system, a vertebral subluxation at C1 or C2 can be very debilitating to the overall function of the body.

This allergy season, make sure your immune system is functioning properly by getting your nervous system checked. As someone who has suffered from bad seasonal allergies most of my life, I can tell you from experience how important this is for your health.”

Recommendations from Dr. Stover:

-For a book that is written at a lay level and does a great job of explaining how the immune system functions and how to keep it healthy check out Mary Ruebush, PhD in the book Why Dirt is Good.  Well done.

20 Ways to Alleviate Allergies

As I see it, there is hope for folks with allergies who do not want to take the medications.  This is good.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.


Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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  1. Very interesting & helpful to read that our allergies are basically connected to our nervous system. No doctor nor allergy specialist has much of an idea why, after a brain tumor (meningioma) was removed from the left side of my brain right behind my left eye, all of my allergies completely became dormant for two years [stopped up nose, drainage, dandruff plus dreaming]. I have suffered from allergies since I was a little girl, around 5 years old. The allergies bothered me no matter where I have lived. Well, they have all come back plus high blood pressure. Why?

  2. As a chiropractor it is easy to believe what you are saying, but harder to explain it (I’m assuming you weren’t taking steroids or unique medication during that time). In my mind I have no doubt the two events are related, but I am not savvy enough to see the direct relationship between that part of your brain, immune function and allergies. There are patients I’m aware of that get results with allergies under chiropractic care, when it seems unlikely to happen. You may want to consider letting a chiropractor check you to see if they find your spine is adversely affecting your nervous system.

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