Rita Levi-Montalcini’s Discovery of NGF Opens New Perspectives in the Study of Self-Healing and Natural Therapies

On May 31st, a significant seminar titled “Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012): 10 Years Since Her Passing” will take place at the MAGI headquarters in San Felice del Benaco, Italy (https://magisnat.com/). Our institution is privileged to host several distinguished individuals who collaborated with the Nobel laureate. Having had the fortunate opportunity to work closely with Professor Levi-Montalcini for a decade, particularly in activities related to the Africa Foundation, organizing this event fills me with great joy. In addition to her groundbreaking discovery of NGF and its foundational role in the study of self-healing, Levi-Montalcini also identified amidic fatty acids, with PEA being the most well-known among them. These acids form the basis for the study of natural pain modulation.

The Importance of NGF in Self-Healing:

NGF, or Nerve Growth Factor, is a protein molecule produced and secreted by neurons in the brain. It is a neurotrophic factor that promotes the survival and proper functioning of neurons. The discovery of NGF has revealed its crucial role in self-healing, as it stimulates tissue growth and regeneration, both at the muscular and neural levels.

Chiropractic and the Enhancement of NGF Release:

Spinal manipulation is one of the therapies employed in chiropractic practice, involving the stretching of spinal muscles. This muscular stimulation leads to increased production of a splicing product known as mechano-growth factor (MGF), derived from the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) gene. MGF promotes muscle growth and repair, as well as neuronal growth and repair. Through this stimulation, chiropractic care enhances the release of NGF, expediting the processes of self-healing.

Mechanical Stimulation and NGF Release:

Studies conducted on rats have demonstrated that non-painful mechanical stimulation of the skin induces the release of NGF. This substance, produced and secreted by neurons in the cerebral cortex, plays a fundamental role in neuronal survival and functioning. The release of NGF through mechanical stimulation of the skin can promote the repair of brachial plexus injuries and slow down skeletal muscle atrophy.

The Effect of Spinal Manipulation on the Nervous System Response:

Spinal manipulation is a specific therapeutic approach widely used in chiropractic practice. In particular, thoracic spinal manipulation can elicit various responses involving the sympathetic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. These responses can influence overall health and contribute to the promotion of self-healing processes.

The Role of Massage Therapy in Brain Development:

Several studies have demonstrated the clinical effects NGF and its ability to promote self-healing in various clinical contexts.

For example, in our freely accessible online article, we extensively discussed this topic: “Maltese PE, Michelini S, Baronio M, Bertelli M. Molecular foundations of chiropractic therapy. Acta Biomed. 2019 Sep 30;90(10-S):93-102. doi: 10.23750/abm.v90i10-S.8768. PMID: 31577263; PMCID: PMC7233649 (link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7233649/)”. We have also

published these two additional scientific articles to expand the study of the biological foundations in chiropractic.: “Sullivan SG, Paolacci S, Kiani AK, Bertelli M. Chiropractic care for hypertension: Review of the literature and study of biological and genetic bases. Acta Biomed. 2020 Nov 9;91(13-S):e2020017. doi: 10.23750/abm.v91i13-S.10524. PMID: 33170172; PMCID: PMC8023135 ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023135/)” and  “Kiani AK, Maltese PE, Dautaj A, Paolacci S, Kurti D, Picotti PM, Bertelli M. Neurobiological basis of chiropractic manipulative treatment of the spine in the care of major depression. Acta Biomed. 2020 Nov 9;91(13-S):e2020006. doi: 10.23750/abm.v91i13-S.10536. PMID: 33170171; PMCID: PMC8023121 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023121/)”.


Rita Levi Levi-Montalcini’s discovery of NGF has opened new perspectives in the study of self-healing and natural therapies. NGF plays a key role in promoting neuronal and tissue growth and regeneration, thereby facilitating the self-healing processes of the human body. Spinal manipulation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and mechanical stimulation are therapeutic approaches that can increase NGF release and promote healing. Furthermore, understanding the genetic polymorphisms in neurotrophic factors such as NGF, BDNF, and NGFR can contribute to personalizing chiropractic therapies and optimizing outcomes. These discoveries provide a scientific foundation for the use of natural therapies in treating various health conditions and optimizing the self-healing process of the human body.

In conclusion, Rita Levi Levi-Montalcini’s discovery of NGF has opened new horizons in the study of self-healing and natural therapies. NGF plays a pivotal role in promoting neuronal and tissue regeneration, thus facilitating the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, and mechanical stimulation are therapeutic modalities that can enhance NGF release and foster the healing process. Moreover, understanding the genetic variations in neurotrophic factors holds promise for tailoring chiropractic interventions and optimizing results. These groundbreaking findings provide a scientific basis for incorporating natural therapies in the treatment of diverse health conditions and maximizing the self-healing potential of the human body.

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