Dr. Julie Mayer Hunt Awarded Upper Cervical Researcher of the Year Award

By International Chiropractors Association

Research Study Recently Published Evaluated Changes in SIgA after Upper Cervical Adjustment

June 16, 2022 (Falls Church, VA)  This past weekend, Julie Mayer Hunt, DC, FCCJP, DICCP of Mayer Chiropractic in Clearwater, Florida was named the Upper Cervical Researcher of the Year at the FORUM – the ICA Council on Upper Cervical Care Annual Conference held at the Hilton Marietta, Georgia Conference Center.  Dr. Mayer Hunt was honored for her long history of leadership in advancing basic and clinical research in the field of upper cervical chiropractic. Her latest published study is entitled, “Secretory Immunoglobulin A and Upper Cervical Chiropractic: A Preliminary Prospective, Multicenter, Observational Study”[i]  This study breaks new ground in expanding our understanding of the effect of the upper cervical adjusting techniques on the immune response.  

On learning of Dr. Mayer Hunt’s award, Dr. Selina Sigafoose Jackson, ICA Board President stated, “Dr. Mayer Hunt is such a gift to our profession AND to the ICA. Having such a mind on our board and in our profession allows for the opportunity to advance our profession in ways that we always knew could happen but now IS happening. Thank you, Dr. Mayer Hunt for your dedication and discipline to the rigors of science and documentation that is proving what we all know, Chiropractic Works!”

Study Objective:  The objective of the study was to observe changes in secretory IgA (SIgA) after providing an adjustment to the craniocervical junction, using an upper cervical adjusting technique. Five different techniques were used: Atlas Orthogonal, Blair, Knee Chest, NUCCA, and Orthospinology, and all adjusting doctors had extensive experience in their technique and have achieved either a Diplomate or Fellow status in the ICA’s Chiropractic Craniocervical Junction Procedures program. SIgA was measured in saliva samples. Participants were recruited from five chiropractic practices between January and June 2019.

Why was SIgA Measured?  Measuring SIgA was selected because it is a key component of the innate immune system, which provides a nonspecific, first-line defense against numerous pathogens. SIgA is the most abundant immunoglobulin in the human body and plays an important role in protecting mucosal surfaces in the intestines, respiratory tract, and urogenital tract from microorganisms. As microorganisms typically enter the body via these mucosal surfaces, the role of SIgA in protecting them is crucial in preventing illness.

Samples were gathered at three intervals from each patient to measure the SIgA before the patient’s first adjustment, 30 minutes after the adjustment, and again after two weeks. This study found an immediate increase in SIgA after an adjustment to the craniocervical junction. Two weeks after the adjustment, samples indicated that the SIgA returned to baseline.

Additional to the SIgA measurement, the SF-12v2 health survey was also collected before the first adjustment and after two weeks[ii].  This survey is a commonly used measure of health-related quality of life (HRQOL).  Significant improvements were observed in both the physical and mental components of the SF-12v2 health score at the two-week time point. 

This study is among the first to investigate SIgA samples longitudinally in human subjects and may be the first to evaluate SIgA after the upper cervical adjustment. The results of this study have powerful implications for chiropractic. As SIgA is thought to be a marker for the status of not only the mucosal immune system but also systemic immunity, the observed increase in SIgA may indicate activation of the systemic immune system.

A First Step – More Research Needed:  These findings suggest that a systemic immune response is activated within 30 minutes after an upper cervical adjustment in healthy individuals. While future research is needed to explore the mechanism behind this finding, this study serves as a preliminary study for further research into the relationship between immune function and adjustments to the upper neck.

In discussing the study, Dr. Mayer Hunt stated, “This project answers several of our questions, while raising new questions that can be explored in future studies.  These include inquiry into the lifestyle variables influencing outcomes in patients, a greater understanding of why mental health scores improved, and the role of sleep and rest in immune function related outcomes.”

ICA Executive Director, Beth Clay stated, “This study is an example of the powerful outcomes that come from research collaboration among our ICA doctors and the value of multi-site practice-based research. This important study was designed and conducted well before the WHO declaration of a global pandemic.  We caution that no specific claims can or should be inferred or made outright at this time.  This study is a building block that should lead to future studies that replicate and expand upon the information gleaned by this team of experts. While having no direct role in the design or conducting of the study, the ICA is pleased the goals of the  ICA’s Chiropractic Craniocervical Junction Procedures program – increased networking and research participation are coming to fruition.  We also thank the Sherman College of Chiropractic’s Institutional Review Board and all the authors of this important paper.  This study is published ‘Open Access” in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine and is available to be read in its entirety at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2021.10.003

[i] Schalow, P. R., Kimball, K. A., Schurger, F. T., Sooley, G. R., Bales, S. P., Rochester, R. P., Brooks, R. T., & Hunt, J. M. (2021). Secretory Immunoglobulin A and Upper Cervical Chiropractic: A Preliminary Prospective, Multicenter, Observational Study. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 20(3), 121–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2021.10.003

[ii] The Short Form Health Survey version 2 (SF-12v2) is a commonly used measure of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is SF-12v2 is easy to use, reliable, and valid.  Al Omari O, Alkhawaldeh A, ALBashtawy M, Qaddumi J, Holm MB, AlOmari D. A Review of the Short Form Health Survey-Version 2. J Nurs Meas. 2019 Apr 1;27(1):77-86. doi: 10.1891/1061-3749.27.1.77. PMID: 31068492.

Thank you to all of the authors of this important paper!

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