THE SPINAL COLUMN
ALPHA CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER
Disease - Understanding A Cause
"Illnesses hover constantly above us, their seeds blown by the wind, but they do not set in the terrain unless the terrain is ready to receive them." --Claude Bernard
Claude Bernard was a 19th century French physiologist and contemporary of French chemist Louis Pasteur. The two famous doctors argued throughout their lives as to what really was the cause of disease, the soil or the seed. Pasteur insisted it was the seed (germ) while Bernard claimed it was the soil (the body). On Pasteur's death bed, it is said that he admitted that Bernard was right; he said, " it is the soil, not the seed."
The seed (germ factors) or the soil (the body, host factors) argument was as prevalent then as it is now again today. Today many medical authors are agreeing that, although germs are certainly a factor involved in the diseases of man, the germ alone is not the cause of disease. Dr. B. J. Palmer, the developer of chiropractic, and the son of the man who discovered chiropractic stated: "If the germ theory of disease were correct, there would be no one living to believe it." Think about it for a moment, and you will see the common sense in Dr. Palmer's statement.
Some medical doctors and most Chiropractors agree that the germ, though being part of the disease syndrome, is not the direct cause of disease. First a person must be susceptible to the germ. Germs will always be with us and our concern should be to strengthen our resistance to them.
Dr. D.D. Palmer, the discoverer of chiropractic stated, "Disease is abnormal performance of certain functions: the abnormal activity has its causes. "
Chiropractic has sought to find these causes which often are due to nerve interference along the spine caused by a spinal misalignment, called subluxation. Subluxations can impair normal nerve transmission which then causes abnormal body function, lowering the body's resistance and making the body susceptible to disease.
Chiropractic Science holds that regular chiropractic care may help prevent disease and maintains the body in a high state of health. That is why millions of people choose to receive regular chiropractic care. The cause of disease is within you, it is the lack of your body's ability to ward off disease. Increase this ability through the natural drugless method of chiropractic care.
Do You Really Want To Be Healthy?
There is an old saying, "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there." A similar statement could be made concerning health. In almost any survey taken asking people what they wanted most out of life, good health is one of the top three things on the list. The only two things that ever top it are usually happiness and good family relationships. Yet how many of us allow other less important things to keep us from attaining maximum health. Like happiness, health does not come by luck. It is true that hereditary factors are important to good health but most people can be healthy in spite of hereditary weakness. Conversely, hereditary strengths will not overcome a failure to take care of yourself.
Most people who come into a chiropractic office indicate a desire to be healthy. Unfortunately, they often do not realize that it will take some effort on their part. The average person's experience with medicine has led them to believe that they will be made healthy by what the doctor does to them or what he gives them. They can just sit back, do nothing or at most, remember to take their medication every four hours. While this approach may be "relatively effective" in the treatment of disease, it has virtually nothing to do with health. For the most part, disease treatment is a passive activity. Health maintenance or health restoration is largely an active endeavor. Therein lies the problem. Sitting back and doing nothing will not promote or maintain health. Hoping or wishing for it will not make it happen. It must be actively pursued. A choice must be made. Good, nutritious, health-promoting food is available, but then so is junk food. You must make the decision as to what kind you are going to eat and then make the extra effort to get it. Exercise is not a passive activity. You cannot get it by just watching TaeBo videos.
Chiropractic is not a passive activity either. While it is true the patient lies on the table and relaxes, it is the body that makes the adjustment. The chiropractor introduces a force to the spine and the body's muscles actively move the bone to exactly where it belongs. Further, the benefits of chiropractic care occur after the adjustment, like exercise and eating, they are far reaching and unlike treatments, they are not designed for short-term, immediate effects. It is true you may feel good after eating a good meal or after a good work out. You may also feel good right after a chiropractic adjustment, but the real benefits are the long-term ones. When the body is working better it can actively promote health and well-being and add years to life.
There is another aspect that makes chiropractic care an active approach. The patient must make the commitment to care. The chiropractor cannot give you a bottle of adjustments and say, "take one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next six weeks."
The patient must make the willful decision to come in, be regular and follow the program. The chiropractor cannot follow you around or take you by the hand.
Do you really want to be healthy? Sadly, too many people do not want to pay the price, which is time, money and effort. Happiness does not come by accident. Fame and fortune are not a matter of luck. Similarly, you cannot expect to have good health unless you do those things necessary to attain it. Every individual has to establish his or her priorities. Is watching television more important than exercising for your health? Is saving money by eating poor quality food more important to you than spending the few dollars for good food? Is doing whatever you do that interferes with regular adjustments more important than your health? Only you can answer these questions and how you decide on these and other relative questions could very well determine your health, your happiness and your life. So, do you really want to be healthy?
Yes, that's where America's health care system ranks according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Number 37! Maybe we need to spend more? Well, in that category we are #1. Per citizen, the USA spends well over 2 times more than the next country. By far, we spend the most on "health" care and in return we get the 37th ranked system. Want a second opinion? The Journal of the American Health Association (July 2000), published an article ranking the USA system 12th in a survey field of 13 countries!
Why is this? Isn't America the Great Innovator? Aren't we technology leaders? America, unquestionably leads the world in resources, education, research and technology. So why then are we in the bottom 80th percentile in health care? And why isn't there a national uproar about this shameful rank?
One of the criteria the WHO used in assessing the world's health care systems was, "does the system effectively prevent illness or just wait to treat it"? Now, America is probably the best place to be if you suffer a catastrophic injury, overwhelming disease or a genetic condition. Does this meet the practical, daily needs of America? No. Americans want fewer colds and sickness, fewer allergies, pain free backs, no headaches, etc. We want to feel better than we do. Just these maladies represent billions in treatment cost and lost productivity. Yet, does medicine address the cause of any of these conditions? Without reservation, most conditions do not arise from a Tylenol deficiency.
The American "health" care system is anything but. It is best described as a "disease care" system. When was the last time you went to your MD and said "keep me healthy"? The American medical system is designed in reaction to disease: Identify it and treat it. (As many of you know, "treat it" may not mean "cure it"). This reactive approach was decided in our country long ago and emphasized to the exclusion of every other health care consideration. Therefore, Americans were implicitly instructed to "wait until you get something, then we'll treat it". We implied this to mistakenly mean, "if I feel good, then I must be healthy".
What happened? Well, Medicine became a business, a huge business. The AMA became one of the most powerful trade organizations and the medico-pharmaceutical industry now generates over one trillion dollars per year (and still climbing at 12% per year). One in every six dollars spent in our country goes into this industry. Are you going to tell them they're wrong? We've known for decades cigarettes are intentionally addictive and cancer causing, yet there is no credible push to remove tobacco from the economy. Therefore, can a system that generates over one trillion dollars annually profiting from sickness and disease be trusted to keep people from being sick and diseased? Do you see the conflict of interest in asking the industry that greatly profits when you are sick, to keep you healthy? Would they not seek to discredit and destroy anything that might hinder the "cash cow of disease"?
Voltaire said, "It is dangerous to be right in matters in which the established authorities are wrong".
Recently, a prominent proponent of cheap, safe, renewable alternative energy said, "you can't expect Texaco, Exxon, GPU, PSE&G, etc., to research, fund and encourage the technologies they may eventually destroy their empires." Would you expect any immensely profitable industry to voluntarily cut it's own throat? How can we possibly expect the current system to change because we want health and not just disease management?
"Disease" care is huge business. "Health" care is not. It never will be as big as disease care. Isn't everything, from your car, lawn, shape, checkbook, and relationships cheaper and easier to maintain then to repair? So where do we look for health?
Dr. Clarence Gonstead said, "Medicine is the study of disease and what causes a man to die. Chiropractic is the study of life and what causes a man to live." Those of you under regular care know that and I commend you for taking active roles in your health.
Practical definition of insanity: to keep doing what has been done, yet expect different results. In other words, "if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you've got."
Interesting Facts To Keep Life in Perspective
If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following.
There would be:
-57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, 8 Africans
-52 would be female, 48 would be male
-70 would be non-white, 30 would be white
-70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian
-6 would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the USA
-80 would live in substandard housing
-70 would be unable to read
-50 would suffer from malnutrition
-1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth
-1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
and only 1 would own a computer
When one considers our world from such a small compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. The following is also something to ponder...
-Someone once said: What goes around comes around. Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. Sing like nobody's listening. Live like it's Heaven on Earth.
-Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.
-To handle yourself, use your head;To handle others, use your heart.
-Anger is only one letter short of danger.
-Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.
-He who loses money, loses much; He, who loses a friend, loses much more; He, who loses faith, loses all.
-Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, But beautiful old people are works of art.
-Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
-Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift.
Normal vs. Average
*Part of the ADIO life and world view point series
An understanding of the chiropractic position and explanation of the two terms "normal" and "average" is one of the most important aspects of the chiropractic philosophy. If every health care provider had a clear understanding of what "normal" and "average" mean, the great majority of injuries and deaths caused by other forms of "health" care would dramatically decrease. According to Webster's Dictionary, "average" is "a single value that summarizes or represents the general significance of a set of unequal values. It is obtained by dividing the sum total of a set of figures by the number of figures." "Normal," on the other hand, means "occurring naturally" or "not deviating from a norm, rule or principle: regular."
Unfortunately, all too often these terms become interchanged. In the health field there are established figures for normal body weight, normal blood pressure, normal temperature, etc. What we are really talking about is "average." At best, this figure is reached by dividing the sum total of a set of figures. At worst it is an arbitrary figure pulled out of nowhere by a scientist who thinks he knows what normal is or should be. The statistician or a 10 year old can easily establish "Average" with a simple calculator. It is not all that difficult to ascertain. "Normal," on the other hand, is far more difficult to know. It is determined by the innate intelligence of the body. It is unique to the individual and it may vary from moment to moment in the same individual depending upon the body's adaptive response to certain conditions, either external or internal.
The clearest example of this confusion lies in an area most of us are familiar with - body weight. "Being overweight" seems to be a problem that concerns a great segment of the public today. Vast sums of money are expended advertising diet soft drinks, appetite depressants, panty hose, and generally anything that will make you look, feel, or actually become thinner. Today the thin look is in vogue. The styles are designed for thin women. This has not always been the case. The Mona Lisa is a portrait of a woman considered beautiful in her day. Yet if she were around today she would be considered overweight.
To try to determine the "average" weight for a class of twenty students, we would simply add their total weight and divide by twenty. This would give us the average weight of a student in that class. More than likely, that figure would not represent the actual weight of more than one or two students. Would that mean that the other eighteen were abnormal? No, it merely means that they are not of the average weight. In fact, if we were to attempt to conform the other eighteen to that exact weight, we would probably detrimentally affect the health of most of them. Science has recognized this problem to some degree, especially with regard to weight, in trying to establish a "norm" (average). Consequently, they have added other factors. Instead of having a set figure (i.e., 142 lbs), a range had to be established (135 lbs.-149lbs.). Other variables such as small, medium, and large frame also had to be established, and then the definitions of these frame sizes. If we add enough variables, as we must, the entire concept of determining a "normal" range (average) becomes worthless. Weight, like all the other so-called "norms" within the human body is established by the innate intelligence resident within. It is the height of ego to believe that we can know all the time or any of the time what the innate intelligence is doing in adapting the organism.
Essentially, normal is - the manifestation of the innate intelligence of the body constantly adapting the organism. If we, with our finite educated minds, knew enough about our bodies to determine what is normal for us we would have no need of an innate intelligence. To educatedly assume we know what is normal for ourselves is presumptuous. We are only making an educated guess. To try to determine what is normal for another individual's body is at best, presumptuous, and at worst, fatal, as evidenced by the millions of injuries and the hundreds of thousands of death caused by medical care each year. We know far too little about the human body to suppose that at any moment we know what is normal. We may guess correctly from time to time, but it is only a guess and even then we cannot know we are right. The entire field of diagnostic medicine is based upon the physician determining what is normal for the body and then determining that an individual has deviated from that norm. Quite frankly, no one knows exactly what is normal. Only the innate intelligence of the body is able to claim that ability.
Deviation from the norm (average) may occur for at least three reasons. First, it may be perfectly necessary for a particular person. To attempt to lose weight and conform to a pre-determined norm (average) may do great physical harm to the body. The second reason for a deviation from the norm (average) is the direct response of the innate intelligence of the body to a certain situation or circumstance. We know that animals in nature put on weight during late summer to carry them through the winter months. Expectant mothers put on weight during their pregnancy, which is perfectly normal and even desirable. Who can say for what other reasons the body may choose to naturally and normally add weight? That is the whole point from a chiropractic perspective. If we know of reasons why the body adds weight normally, how can we be sure they are the only reasons? When we know so little about the function of the human body, it is quite presumptuous to believe we know all the normal reasons for a change in any deviation from the average. The third reason for a deviation from the norm (average) is that the body, in fact, is sick. Something is not functioning correctly. A disease may be present. However, two of the three reasons for deviation from the norm (average) are normal, and interfering with them may be harmful. Every time a doctor makes a determination that a function, sign, or symptom is abnormal and takes measures to change physiology to affect that sign or symptom, he is doing harm, that is, if the sign or symptom is merely a manifestation of adaptive activity by the innate intelligence of the body. We chiropractors do not get involved with trying to determine normal physiology for the body. That is the role of the wisdom within which is so much more knowledgeable than we are.
In discussing the idea of normal and average, the question always arises "why do we put on excess weight?" If the body is intelligent and we understand that excess body weight is not healthy, why does the innate intelligence of the body make fat cells? Innate intelligence is never supposed to do anything to harm the tissues in which it resides. The key part of the question of course is "excess." What exactly is excess? First, the body does store food in the form of fat. Everyone has fat cells within his or her body; that is normal. Innate intelligence is "saving for a rainy day." You may know that you are going to eat again tomorrow but your innate intelligence does not. It literally does not know where its next meal is coming from. Consequently, it stores everything it can. So a certain amount of fat is normal for the body. It may not be a "fashionable" amount, but it is within the desires of the innate intelligence of the body. The second reason for supposed excess weight is that "normal" for some individuals may be considered "fat." Again, we must disassociate ourselves from previous concepts of "normal."
However, with all these factors taken into consideration, we still are faced with the fact that obesity is not healthy. It presents a stress upon the circulatory system and could be a contributing factor to an early death. It behooves us to eat sensibly. You cannot know with your educated mind whether your body is in a normal state or not. If an individual is in a state of DIS-EASE (disharmony, disintegration) he or she, of course, needs chiropractic care to have the cause of the DIS-EASE corrected. However, like anyone else manifesting symptoms, medical intervention may be needed to alleviate those symptoms while the body is returning to a state of health. Limitations of time and matter are always a consideration to which the patient must address himself. The chiropractor has enough challenge addressing himself to the cause of the patient's DIS-EASE and, in actuality, has no idea what normal is for that patient.
One of the biggest misuses of normal weight determination is done at the pediatrician's office during "well-baby" visits. Every month, a nurse weighs the child, and then you are given a percentile as to where your child fits in comparison to some chart they have in the office. Parents sigh with relief when they are told that their child is developing "normally". Or they become overly worried when they are told that their child is gaining too much or too little weight. If your child isn't near the 50th percentile, the doctor now has the opportunity to step in and "treat" your child. What most parents and doctors do not know is that those charts are inaccurate and invalid for many reasons.
First off, these charts are usually provided by a formula company. Now as many of you may know, formula-fed babies gain weight at a more rapid rate than breast-fed babies because formula has a much higher fat and protein content than breast milk. The doctor may now step in and tell you that your child is too thin and may need to be switched to formula instead of breast milk. And in most cases they recommend the formula that provided the chart. Breast milk is by far the best thing a baby can be ingesting and switching to formula would not help optimize their health potential. Nobody has created a weight chart for breast-fed babies.
Another factor that makes these charts meaningless is that they are based on the progress of Caucasian children only. Other races exhibit different growth patterns when viewed as a group. Yet, another problem with these charts is that they do not take into consideration any genetic factors. For example a child with parents over six feet tall will usually grow faster than a child with parents shorter than five feet, six inches.
Medicine establishes national averages. An average is necessary to the practice of medicine because medicine's objective is to conform everyone to a predetermined set of standards, which have been formulated by educated minds. Who or what are these standards based on? What variables may make them meaningless? Who decided to use theses standards? How accurate are they? Do they really mean anything? Am I really normal or abnormal if I do or do not fit into these "normal" values? These are just a few questions you should be asking whenever presented with any type of medical value in regards to health.
Chiropractic rejects the establishment of a national standard that tries to conform the individual. Chiropractors recognize the individuality of the human organism and the ability of the body, when functioning properly, to normalize itself on a day-to-day basis, if there is no interference caused by a subluxation.
Now that prescription drugs can be advertised on television, and in magazines and newspapers, we hear a good deal about the side effects of these drugs. It is sometimes a little scary when the announcer rattles off all the reactions that people may have from a drug. In most cases the side effects are much more serious than the problem you are taking the drug for. What I find funny and sad is that sometimes the side effects cause the exact same symptom as the condition you are taking the drug for.
What exactly is a side effect? It is really an effect or the result of a cause. So there really are no "side" effects, only effects. However, the word has come to mean an effect other than the intended effect. It has further come to mean a negative effect rather than another good effect in addition to the intended one.
In thinking about this in relation to chiropractic one can see how dissimilar the objective of medicine and the objective of chiropractic are. The objective of a medical procedure is a specific physical effect (e.g., lowering blood pressure, reducing pain). The objective of the chiropractor is also a physical effect but it involves nonphysical aspects of the human organism. The inborn wisdom, what chiropractors call the innate intelligence of the body uses the physical nerve system to control and coordinate all functions. The objective or the intended effect of the chiropractor is to enable this innate intelligence to be expressed more fully. He or she does this by correcting the physical vertebral subluxation, the misaligned vertebra that interferes with nerve function. This is the sole intended purpose of the chiropractic adjustment and of the chiropractor. So from a chiropractic perspective there is only one effect, the body works better. Sometimes when the body works better it is not even noticeable. Sometimes that improved function is noticeable but either way it is important to have your spine checked and to have subluxations corrected when present. Whether you notice the effects of brushing your teeth regularly, eating wholesome food, exercising regularly or even changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles, you know all of these are important things to do.
What about the side effects of lifetime chiropractic care? Well first, there are no negative side effects to chiropractic care. An adjustment by definition means to make right so that can only have positive results. What then are the positive results or positive side effects of chiropractic care? First, it should be noted that the potential for possible effects is so great. When the body is working better it has a fantastic ability to heal itself and increase its potential. Consequently, there is enormous variety in the possible effects that may occur. Some people have their back problems go away, others may be relieved of headaches or any one of the thousand other medical conditions. Others still may perform better at work or play or have more energy in general. What is really important to know is that these side effects of chiropractic care are different for every person. Basically, that is what a side effect is, a result that may or may not occur in different people. It depends upon the individual's body. Perhaps the "warning" for chiropractic care should go something like this:
No matter what your reason for undertaking chiropractic care, please be advised that by increasing your body's ability to work at its maximum potential, some people experience the following side-effects:
Greater ability to perform their job
Feeling more relaxed
Alleviation of medical problems
Increased performance in sports and activities
Plus many other wonderful benefits
While the above do not occur in everyone, should you experience any of the above, consider it a bonus to your chiropractic care.