Most people under the age of 75 have likely never heard of the Influenza epidemic of 1918. You’d think more schools would teach about it and try to use what happened as a means to promote healthy living, disease prevention, and how to avoid the flu.

The 1917 – 1918 influenza epidemic swept silently across the world bringing death and fear to homes in every land. And after 100 years, public health experts are still unable to explain why this flu outbreak was so deadly.

The whole world stood at its mercy, or lack of it.

This disease was so severe that case-fatality rates exceeded 2.5%, which is 25 times greater than most flu pandemics. This is a 2,500% difference! No one really knows for sure, but the total death toll has been estimated between 50 – 100 million.

Between 1918 – 1919, an estimated one-third of the world’s population (~500 million) were infected by what public health researchers now believe was a mixture of H1N1 and swine flu pandemics.

Recent research conducted on the bodies of frozen victims has actually discovered that the virus killed through an overreaction of the body’s immune system; somewhat like an autoimmune disorder where your body thinks your own cells are pathogens and puts your immune system in overdrive. According to one source,

“The strong immune reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups.” [1]

This is important to understand because we live in a time where autoimmunity affects more than 50 million people alone in the U.S. This suggests that immune deficiency and intolerance is setting us up for another health catastrophe. [2]

So learning how to avoid the flu or protect yourself as much as possible is something you should pay attention to.

Prevention is Key to Avoiding the Flu

You don’t have to worry about dying from the flu (or even getting the flu) if your immune system is functioning at 100%.

As many immunology experts have said before,

Cancer, first and foremost, is a problem with the immune system. You cannot have cancer if you have an intact immune system.

And so it goes with all other diseases, including the flu.

How to avoid getting the flu – The key to keep sicknesses like influenza at bay is to follow these steps that have been shown to enhance your immunity:

1. Maintain a healthy nutrition plan that consists of a variety of plants and healthy meats.

There are several micronutrients that are essential for immune health. Many Americans don’t get enough of these nutrients through their diets. But even if you are getting enough, taking additional amounts of them when people around you are sick, or if you’re already sick, can be a big help. This is why I suggest a good whole food multivitamin.

2. Wash Your Hands!

Seems obvious, but there's plenty of people (and kiddos) who don't do this. Maybe you already know this, but studies have shown that frequent hand-washing is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves during cold & flu season. So wash your hands every time you arrive at a destination while out and about, and first thing when you get home.

3. Minimize the stressors in your life.

Of all of the recommendations I could offer, most people will have the hardest time with this one. In our crazy, hectic world, minimizing stress is something we just can't get a hold on; but it’s absolutely necessary when battling a viral infection that's consuming a lot of your energy.

Of course it’s not always easy to take time for yourself to unwind, especially if you have young children (I know this firsthand!), but even a few short rest periods (ME TIME) throughout the day can make a big difference when it comes to supporting your immune system.

4. Stay Physically Active,  But Don't Overexercise

Look, if you're not exercising or physically working your body in any way that raises your heart rate – You Need to Start. There's no way around it, exercise and physical fitness are intimately tied to the genetics and neurobiology of our body.

But if you are exercising, make sure you're also no over training as this can lead to immune suppression. This goes for any long distance runners, cyclists and high intensity interval performers.

5. And, of course, regularly visit your chiropractor!

Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to improve immune function and even aid in the treatment of the flu. This understanding goes way back to the Flu Pandemic of 1918…

Get Regular Chiropractic Adjustments

One of the most interesting facts about the Influenza epidemic of 1918 is that research shows that chiropractors were one of the primary instruments to help stop the plague!

Multiple literature reviews have supported this notion that chiropractic adjustments can boost various aspects of the immune function in a unique way. [67]

Specifically, chiropractic has been clinically shown to:

  • Promote the production of white blood cells, which are the mainstay of the immune system. [89]
  • Consistently reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. [10]
  • Induce and enhance production of the immunoregulatory cytokine IL-2 and the production of immunoglobulins. [1112]
  • Increase CD4 counts in HIV/AIDS patients. [13]

Chiropractors were originally licensed as doctors because of their ability to treat infection, NOT take away headaches or back problems. [14]

Contrary to popular folklore, chiropractors primarily treated infectious diseases like polio up until the 1950s!

The Texas Chiropractic Association highlights this point in their historical account of the Chiropractic – Spanish Flu connection: [14]

“Chiropractors got fantastic results from influenza patients while those under medical care died like flies all around.”

“Statistics reflect a most amazing, almost miraculous state of affairs. The medical profession was practically helpless with the flu victims but chiropractors seemed able to do no wrong.”


  • In Davenport, Iowa, 50 medical doctors treated 4,953 cases, with 274 deaths. In the same city, 150 chiropractors including students and faculty of the Palmer School of Chiropractic, treated 1,635 cases with only one death.
  • In the state of Iowa, medical doctors treated 93,590 patients, with 6,116 deaths – a loss of one patient out of every 15. In the same state, excluding Davenport, 4,735 patients were treated by chiropractors with a loss of only 6 cases – a loss of one patient out of every 789.
  • National figures show that 1,142 chiropractors treated 46,394 patients for influenza during 1918, with a loss of 54 patients – one out of every 886.
  • Reports show that in New York City, during the influenza epidemic of 1918, out of every 10,000 cases medically treated, 950 died; and in every 10,000 pneumonia cases medically treated 6,400 died. These figures are exact, for in that city these are reportable diseases.

The same epidemic reports show that chiropractors 3,490 cases of influenza with only 7 deaths.

But the best part of this is, in Oklahoma there is a clear record showing that chiropractors were called in 233 cases where medical doctors had cared for the patients, and finally gave them up as lost. The chiropractors saved all these lost cases but 25.

This information is absolutely profound and is a strong argument for the benefits of chiropractic care that go way beyond simply treating neck and back pain.

In the words of Dan Murphy, DC, “Chiropractors are doing something to influence the efficiency of the immune system.” [15]

So as the cold and flu season approaches, I strongly recommend that you regularly visit your chiropractor and to develop and stick to a good natural health regimen.