Chiropractic & the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Updated: May 15


The 1918 Spanish flu infected 500 million people around the world and killed anywhere from 50 million to 100 million people, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. Chiropractic is a profession that was really made by the 1918 flu. The book “The Great Influenza: the deadliest plague in history” by John Barry, documented that when people who had the flu were dying and received chiropractic, their chances of survival increased dramatically. If they were already under chiropractic care, they tended to not come down with the flu.

This did not go unnoticed by public health authorities and the result was licensure for the chiropractic profession. In the year 1918, the largest epidemic of all recorded history on planet earth occurred and it was called simply the flu.

The 1918 flu pandemic according to Gina Kolata a writer for the New York Times in her 1999 book called called “Flu”. She documents how the 1918 flu killed 100 million people around the world in six months. This was more deaths than from all of the wars of all recorded history combined. All the wars of all recorded history did it over many years. The flu did this is in just six months.



What’s interesting is that chiropractic history in 1918 chiropractic was brand-new. It was a baby. It was just starting. The first chiropractor adjusted the first patient in the year 1895. Chiropractic was just barely 20 years old when the flu came to town. What independent health care observers noted was that those who chose manipulative management had only one 40th the death rate as compared to those who chose allopathic or drug-based management. The result was chiropractors became licensed.

It is so interesting to note from a historical perspective that chiropractors were licensed because of their ability to treat people with an infection, the flu. While today we mostly look at chiropractors as someone who treats sore backs and sore necks etc. Back in our history, practically nobody went to chiropractors with aches and pains. They primarily went to chiropractors with infectious diseases. Reminding you that this was in the pre-antibiotic and the pre-vaccination era of healthcare.

The results when people had things like the flu which doesn't respond to antibiotics which they didn’t have at that time any way they found that something happened to their immune system. Their immune system worked better when they were adjusted as compared to when they did not get adjusted to the point where they had only one 40th of the death rate. In fact, this continued, chiropractors continued to treat primarily infectious diseases during the first half-century of our existence. When you go up into the 50s and there are still old chiropractors out there that were practicing in the 50’s they'll tell you that their primary emphasis during that era of history was treating polio. They said that for them to treat someone an iron lung with polio and to take him out was just another day's work. Well now, most chiropractors have never seen polio including myself. I've never seen anybody with polio.

And what they find is that consequently, it's only been since vaccinations and antibiotics that chiropractors have more emphasized on musculoskeletal aches and pains. Yet they’ve known throughout the first half of our existence including with the flu pandemic of 1918 that chiropractors are doing something to influence the efficiency of the immune system. It wasn't until 1997, the spine journal called – Spine – Number 1 January 1997 this article comes out. This article does the most incredible thing. It actually shows using genetic tracing that if you mechanically affect a single spinal ligament, like what a chiropractor would do when he did a very specific adjustment. That it sends information into the spinal cord that goes up and then influences your brain.

In fact, you can see it in the abstract. It identified the sympathetic ganglion it fired right to the sympathetic nervous system, every time they did a mechanical distortion. So, when we talk about mechanical misalignment and the immune system these articles put together something that is quite relevant.

The first thing they put together, once again looking at this article, is how important spinal mechanics really are to the system. They send lots of good information into the spinal cord and consequently if you're not functionally sound you don't work right in a gravity environment.

This is something to consider in this hysteria. Text by Dr. Jesse Jutkowitz