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Osteopathic And Naturopathic Approaches To Influenza: Part 2

Osteopathic And Naturopathic Approaches To Influenza: Part 2

This post builds on information that you will find on my other post “Chaitow’s Chat”, that – in Part 1 of this post – gives background information on osteopathic treatment of infected patients, during the great Flu Pandemic of 1918.

In this post I will outline some of the evidence that manual approaches (described in the various studies as “OMT”, which equates to osteopathic manipulative treatment) is potentially helpful in immune enhancement; and I will also provide information about protection from flu, or any other infection, via simple naturopathic and nutritional methods.

Elderly hospitalized pneumonia patients: Noll et al (1999, 2000) showed that when osteopathic manual methods were used on elderly hospitalized patients with pneumonia (for example the spleen pump method as illustrated above), the result included reduced time in  hospital, from a mean of 8.6 days, without osteopathic care(OMT), to 6.6 day with osteopathic care . The patients receiving receiving OMT, also required significantly less in the way of intravenous antibiotics.In order to have an appreciation that manipulation and mobilisation might encourage greater resistance to infection, and/or might assist in recovey from it (and other serious conditions), a few research studies are listed below.

Manual methods and pancreatitis: In 1998 Radjieski et alwere able to demonstrate that when OMT (10 to 20 minutes daily of a standardized protocol involving myofascial release, soft tissue and strain-counterstrain techniques) was combined with their regular hospital treatment, patients with pancreatitis had their length of hospital stay  cut by aproximately half – a mean reduction, 3.5 days compared with control subjects who did not receive OMT.

Post-operative pain: Nicholas & Oleski (2002) reported that, following major surgery: “Patients who receive morphine preoperatively and OMT postoperatively, tend to have less postoperative pain and require less intravenously administered morphine. In addition, OMT and relief of pain lead to decreased postoperative morbidity and mortality and increased patient satisfaction. Also, soft tissue manipulative techniques and thoracic pump techniques help to promote early ambulation and body movement.” The manual methods they used included a combination of approached that improve lymphatic flow, and general circulatory efficiency – including  rib mobilisation, thoracic inlet release, relaxation of the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms.

Post-coronary bypass surgery : In 2005 O-Yurvati et al (2005) discussed the beneefits of (OMT) following a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). OMT was performed while subjects were completely anesthetized.
Results suggested improved peripheral circulation and increased mixed venous oxygen saturation after OMT. These increases were accompanied by an improvement in cardiac index

Which proves what?

If these results are coupled with the reported benefits when osteopathic care was offered during the 1918 flu pandemic (see my May 3rd blog, on Chaitow’s Chat), it suggests that – in addition to standard medical care – such approaches offer general health benefits, including enhanced immune function – and this should be considered by health care providers and patients alike.

What about massage?

We should not neglect to mention in this context, the proven value of massage.

For example Massage and recurrent respiratory tract infection:

  • Massage was employed to treat and prevent recurrent respiratory tract infection in children.
  • Susceptible and healthy children of the same age were used as controls.
  • The therapeutic effect of the treatment group was shown to be significantly better (p < 0.01) than that of the controls
  • All of the immunological indices being approximately normal when the patients were re-examined 3 and 6 months after the massage intervention.
  • Massage was shown to be helpful in enhancing immune function, both preventing and treating the condition (Zhu et al 1998).

There’s much more about massage and other physical medicine methods (including hydrotherapy) in the book I edited and co-authored on Naturopathic Physical Medicine(2007)

Other protective methods

Vitamin D

Much of the information summarized in this section is taken from a paper by Cannell et al (2007) titled “On the epidemiology of Influenza“.

  • Hope-Simpson & Golubev (1987) have suggested that a ‘seasonal stimulus’ that is, “inextricably bound to solar radiation, substantially controlled the seasonality of influenza”, and that this involves (among other biological effects) impairment in levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] [Hypponen & Power 2007].
  • The evidence that vitamin D has profound effects on innate immunity is rapidly growing [Adams 2008]
  • Hypponen & Power (2007) have shown that Hypovitaminosis D in British adults at age 45  following a nationwide cohort study of dietary and lifestyle predictors.
  • Aloia & Li-Ng (2007) presented evidence of a dramatic vitamin D preventative effect from a randomized controlled trial in which 104 post-menopausal African American women who were given vitamin D were three times less likely to report cold and flu symptoms than 104 placebo controls. A low dose of800 IU/day reduced reported incidence, and  abolished the seasonality of reported colds and flu. A higher dose (2000 IU/day) virtually eradicated all reports of colds or flu.
  • Recent discoveries about vitamin D’s mechanism of action in combating infections led Science News to suggest that vitamin D is the “antibiotic vitamin” due primarily to its robust effects on innate immunity.(Raloff 2006)

Naturopathic hydrotherapy and immunity from colds

This extract is taken from my other blog’s December 18 2008, posting:

“Ernst (1990a) showed that the regular (daily) use of a cold shower had a progressively beneficial effect on immune system efficiency (although in personal communication he denies that this was what the evidence suggests).
Medical students were divided into two groups [I imagine the scene as …”we need volunteers for this study…you, you and you!”)

  • For 6 months one group took a graduated cold shower (i.e. ending a hot shower with a brief cold shower application, increasing the length of the cold application to tolerance for up to 2 minutes).
  • The other group took a warm or hot shower.
  • After 6 months those taking the cold shower were found to be having half the number of colds compared with those having warm showers.
  • The cold shower group’s colds lasted for approximately half as long as those having warm showers, and were accompanied by far less mucus production (measured by weighing the used paper handkerchiefs of cold sufferers – now there’s teutonic efficiency for you!).
  • Cold showers were avoided during, and for 1 week after, experiencing a cold.

The various protective benefits did not become apparent until almost 3 months of regular cold showering
Just for balance Ernst et al (1990b) also recommend saunas for cold prevention (remember to finish with a cold plunge though!)”

Whether the flu pandemic emerges or not, it should be clear that we can defend ourselves, as well as adopting positive approaches to recovery…….



  • Adams J  Hewison M 2008 Unexpected actions of vitamin D: new perspectives on the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity. Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab 4:80-90
  • Aloia J Li-Ng M 2007 Re: epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect  135(7):1095-1096.
  • Ernst E 1990a Hydrotherapy. Physiotherapy76(4):207–210
  • Ernst E 1990b [Hardening against the common cold–is it possible?] (in German). Fortschr. Med. 108 (31): 586–8. PMID 2258128.
  • Cannell J  et al 2008 On the epidemiology of influenza Virology Journal 5:29
  • Hope-Simpson R  Golubev D  1987 A new concept of the epidemic process of influenza A virus. Epidemiol Infect   99:5-54
  • Hypponen E, Power C 2007 Hypovitaminosis D in British adults at age 45 y: nationwide cohort study of dietary and lifestyle predictors. Am J Clin Nutr 85:860-868
  • Raloff J 2006The Antibiotic Vitamin  Science News 2006, 170:312-317
  • Zhu S, Wang N, Wang D et al 1998 A clinical investigation on massage for prevention and
    treatment of recurrent respiratory tract infection in children. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 18(4):285–291

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