THE SPINAL COLUMN
ALPHA CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER
This past year has, for many of us, been full of fear, trepidation and loss. We have, as a culture, come face to face with our own mortality and recognized, perhaps for the first time, the unknowingness of one's final act. At the same time, we have seen a greater emergence of the human spirit in this country than ever before in my lifetime. So, my family and I wish you and your family a healthy, safe, happy and the most prosperous and fulfilling of new years. I hope you enjoy the following passage.
The New Year is here. This is the time of year people choose to reflect and renew. Many decide to break old, unhealthy habits. Others resolve to take better care of themselves, improve their diets, lose some weight, begin an exercise program, and try to improve their health. Others try to do things to help their community. But did you know that 65% of people make the same new years resolutions each year? Isn't that sad?
Our chiropractic philosophy has answers to many of the questions that plague society. One of these questions is that of responsibility. The philosophy teaches that there are no accidents in nature, everything happens for a reason, and behind it is a cause. When it comes to illness, society seems to lose sight of the cause-effect principle. Disease is seen to be a matter of bad luck or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet there is as much a cause of any disease as anything else and invariably the cause can be traced back to decisions made by the patient. B.J. Palmer, the Developer of Chiropractic, once said "when man violates man's laws we send him to jail and point the finger of scorn at him. When he violates nature's laws we send him to the hospital and give him flowers. Odd isn't it?"
Sickness comes about by violation of one or more of the laws of nature. It may be diet, hygiene, rest, exercise, or the law dealing with the maintenance of the integrity of the nervous system, which is what we in chiropractic call the Law of Life. Disease always comes about by a violation of a law.
One sociological game that is played today that does not hold up under the scrutiny of chiropractic philosophy is to absolve people of responsibility for bad decisions, especially if they were ignorant at the time that they made them. Yet that thinking is contrary to reason. If I fail to see a six-foot hole in my path, I am not exonerated from the penalty of violating (or attempting to violate) the law of gravity. Ignorance does not even slightly soften the blow. As my father used to always say "you should have been looking where you were going."
We live in what is called by many the Information Age. There are more books about any subject you could possibly ever want to learn. Then there's the Internet with its massive amounts of information. But while this may be called the Information Age, it is unfortunately not the Knowledge or Wisdom Age. Too many people do not make use of all the information available to them.
Sickness occurs from violation of the laws of nature. Because a person is ignorant of those laws does not negate the responsibility. People must know that they have violated Nature's laws and that is why they are sick. This places the responsibility of learning about health upon you. If you do not learn, it is your fault, your responsibility, and you will suffer the consequences. As unpleasant as it might be to tell you that, as chiropractor I must. To allow you to go your merry way, thinking that ignorance of the laws of nature is bliss, is unfair.
Even doctors sometimes lose sight of the patient's responsibility. That fact was evident in an advertisement that came through the mail recently. The ad was for some sort of obesity management system. The opening line of the accompanying letter said "The time has come for us to take responsibility for our patients who are fat." That is probably one of the most ridiculous statements I ever read. Fortunately, it was written by a medical doctor and not a chiropractor, but it underscores the prevalent thinking. Heavens, the patients cannot be responsible for their obesity! As if I shoved Twinkies down their throat, or forced them not to exercise. Obesity has a cause, thousands of decisions an individual makes during his or her lifetime. Cancer has a cause, heart disease has a cause, diabetes has a cause. All disease has a cause. Granted some genetic disorders are beyond our ability to control as we would like, but they also have a cause. Until people realize that it is their decisions that got them to that point and their decisions that must make a change, they will never improve. That goes for sickness, and just about every other problem.
This thinking which we call the "Above-Down-Inside-Out" viewpoint changes our ideas about hundreds of social issues. It doesn't really matter if alcoholism is a disease or not. Even if we classify it as a disease, the patient is just as responsible for having it and making the decision to drink. If someone develops a disease he is responsible. Even if he says, "I did not know that my lifestyle choices would cause this," he still did the things that lead to the disease, and ignorance is no excuse. But what is sad is to see people, willfully, allowing their resistance to get low.
Choosing to not get enough rest, to not eat a proper diet, to stress their bodies and to not get adjustments to maintain the integrity of their nervous system. They take drugs they know nothing about, allow people to inject their children with known poisons because either they do not know about it or refuse to question outdated, unproven, and downright stupid "health" care methods.
Thinking is not an automatic process. You can choose to think or let your mind stagnate, or you can actively turn against intelligence, evade knowledge, and subvert reason. You can bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and hope everything will be OK. Your life is given to you; your health is something you must actively pursue. To be healthy you must act correctly, but before you act correctly you must know the nature and purpose of your actions. To remain healthy you must think for yourself. If you choose not to you will court disaster.
There is a practical application, because chiropractic philosophy is practical. You must learn that your health is your responsibility, not anyone else's. People have been taught incorrectly by medicine all these years that their health is the doctor's responsibility. But they are still responsible if they believed him. Anybody who would let an M.D. (or anyone) have responsibility for his or her health is foolish. Is the M.D. going to get sick for them if his care is inadequate? Will he be willing to have the side effects of the drugs he prescribed for them? Is he ready to drop dead in their place because of a heart problem he never diagnosed? Obviously giving anyone the responsibility for your health when you must suffer the consequences is foolish. You must understand this in no uncertain terms.
Every person must make hundreds of decisions every day concerning their health. These decisions include any drugs you take, any poisons you choose to inject into your children, the food you eat, choosing to smoke, choosing not to get adjusted as needed, etc. Living in the Information Age, you can have access to all this information if you choose to, so that you can make the right decisions. If you make the wrong ones, whether knowingly or out of ignorance doesn't make a bit of difference in the end. You must know what is right concerning every aspect of your health and then choose to make the right decisions.
As a chiropractor, I must teach this concept to you. That, and correcting your vertebral subluxations, is where my responsibility as chiropractor begins and ends. If you want to learn more or want loved ones to learn more about health, know that I am here for you. If I do not have the answers, I would probably be able to direct you to where to find them.
Now for those of you that have been under care for a while and continue to get your spines checked and adjusted as needed I want to thank you for providing me with examples of people who live life to their fullest in every way possible. I can point to you as examples to show others how your health problems have gone away or gotten better; how you are able to think better; how you are emotionally better in all your relationships; how you've done better at work, in sports, and in school; how you are sick less frequently and for shorter periods of time; how your energy levels have increased; and thousands of other life enhancing benefits that come from having a more optimally functioning nervous system. Your ability to see the simple logic behind chiropractic and more importantly to act accordingly are all truly my inspirations. Keep up the good work and share your successes with others.
What is Objective Straight Chiropractic?
You're not like my other chiropractor. Are all chiropractors like you? My other chiropractor used to...
What I am is an Objective Straight Chiropractor. The term "Objective Straight Chiropractic" first appeared in the book Refined By Fire, The Evolution of Straight Chiropractic in 1994, which was written by one of my chiropractic mentors, Joe Strauss. It is used to describe a group within the chiropractic community that represents a very narrow, single objective to the practice of chiropractic. The practice is purpose or objective driven hence, the term objective. Straight chiropractic refers to chiropractic that is "unmixed" with anything else like, physiotherapy, nutrition, etc. While every approach to the practice of chiropractic has an objective, very few define themselves by that objective! Although the term Objective Straight Chiropractic (OSC) is relatively new, this approach to chiropractic began formally in the mid-seventies with the creation of the Federation of Straight Chiropractors & Organizations (FSCO, 1976) and the change in name by Sherman College of Chiropractic to Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic. There are certain aspects of OSC that make it unique even among chiropractic.
The Fundamentals of Objective Straight Chiropractic include:
1. Innate Intelligence. Many groups, sects, health fields and even non-straight chiropractors accept the concept of an inborn wisdom, which runs and heals the body. But acknowledging it and making it a fundamental tenant of the philosophy and practice are entirely different. The practice of straight chiropractic is based upon recognizing that the innate intelligence of the body does it all and we do nothing in comparison. We merely remove an obstacle to its expression. We do not replace it, usurp it, help it, add to it, improve upon it or in any way change it or its expression. We only try to remove one major interference to its perfect expression within the human organism. We recognize that to do anything else presupposes a knowledge equal to or better than the body's inborn intelligence. This is the reason why we do not do or recommend any specific physiotherapy, nutrition, exercise, etc. Everyone is unique and in most cases, determining the needs of rest, nutrition, exercise, etc. are best done by each individual person. Recognition of an innate intelligence in practice necessitates an ADIO world and viewpoint, a recognition that life is a vitalistic phenomenon and that there exists a Power greater than and apart from us that runs this universe.
2. Vertebral Subluxation. In recent years the acknowledgment of the subluxation and its importance has been emphasized. The objective straight chiropractor has one purpose to his practice. He corrects vertebral subluxations because they interfere with the full expression of life by reducing the ability of the innate intelligence of the body to coordinate function through the nerve system. Objective straight chiropractors correct subluxations not because they cause disease or are associated with any medical condition but simply because the body works better without them. Objective straight chiropractors do not claim that vertebral subluxation is the cause for any or all diseases but simply an impediment to the ongoing life process and that alone justifies their correction. The straight chiropractic correction of vertebral subluxation always has attached to it our unique objective, allowing the innate intelligence of the body to be more fully expressed over the nerve system - nothing more, nothing less.
3. Non-Diagnostic. If chiropractic is correcting vertebral subluxations to allow the innate intelligence of the body to be expressed more fully, then the presence or absence of disease is NOT an issue. If disease, its treatment or its cause, does not enter into the straight chiropractic objective then diagnosis is NOT an issue. You do not need to have a disease or symptoms to benefit from chiropractic care. In fact, waiting until you develop symptoms before you get checked for subluxations is foolish.
4. Non-duplicative. Straight chiropractic is NOT an alternative to or substitute for medical care or any therapeutic procedure. The chiropractic objective is unique. Not only does it not duplicate other services but there is no one else who performs the straight chiropractic service. There is no substitute/alternative for chiropractic care.
The above four principles are the basis for the practice of objective straight chiropractic. Hopefully this will help to clear any misconceptions as to what it is that I do and why.
Let's Look At Health Differently
While all the health-raising measures (exercise, proper nutrition, rest, positive mental attitude) are important, there is a measure that stands apart because it is the basis for determining the effectiveness of all the others -- chiropractic.
Chiropractic is probably the most misunderstood profession in the history of the health field in spite of its over 100-year history and the number of people who utilize the services of a chiropractor. It is, however, a very simple philosophy. It is part of the larger ADIO world and life view, which we have been examining. Sadly, the majority of the people who come under chiropractic care do so not from an ADIO perspective but from an outside-in below-up viewpoint. They are really seeking outside-in care and have assumed that chiropractic is part of that mode of care. It may seem to some that it really does not matter how you view chiropractic as long as you are benefiting from chiropractic care. While it is true that some benefit occurs, if you are not fitting chiropractic into your ADIO viewpoint, its benefit will be limited.
Some Use Chiropractic to Treat Conditions
One purpose of these newsletters is to encourage you toward a correct perspective regarding your health, whether it involves chiropractic, medicine, diet, exercise or anything else, so that you may receive maximum benefit. I believe having that right perspective does matter. It is like the difference between using a television as a plant stand or tapping into 181 channels of potential entertainment. It may make a beautiful plant stand. But hook up the cable and/or satellite, plug it in, turn it on, and the television will become much more valuable to you. (Of course that is based upon the assumption that anything on television is of value.) Too many people use chiropractic as a plant stand and not enough are "plugged" into its real value. Some people use chiropractic to get rid of the symptoms of a medical condition.
They go to a chiropractor for headaches, backaches, sinus trouble, allergies, or other conditions they believe (or have been told) can be helped by chiropractic care. Most times they get well and sometimes they do not. But either way they have missed the true benefit of chiropractic care and they have not seen the ADIO philosophy within it. They have, in fact, used chiropractic as an outside-in approach to the treatment of their disease or condition. They have not understood the simple philosophy of chiropractic and hence have missed its far-reaching benefits and applications.
Perhaps it should be noted at this point that not only can chiropractic be used by the patient in an outside-in manner but it can be practiced by the chiropractor in that manner. This may occur for economic reasons. The medical approach to treating disease has always been the most lucrative in the healing arts. It may occur because the chiropractor himself has never understood the ADIO philosophy of chiropractic or it may occur because the chiropractor has decided he wants to be part of the mainstream of health care delivery and not go against accepted thought. These newsletters will present chiropractic from the ADIO viewpoint. While there may be times when we will be critical of the outside-in approach to health care and use examples of medicine, their intent, we want to reiterate, is not to tell you what to do and what not to do but to give you information and allow you to make a decision for yourself.
Some Use ADIO Principles to Treat Disease
The above-down inside-out and outside-in below-up viewpoints are totally different in their approach and their results. Health restoration is above-down inside-out, disease treatment is outside-in below-up. Unfortunately, many approaches to health restoration are also used as approaches to disease treatment. The practitioner may be using the OIBU approach by intent, but in doing so, is setting into motion certain ADIO principles. Rest is important to maintain health. Rest is also used to treat diseases from the common cold to cancer. The doctor tells the patient to go home and stay in bed for 48 hours. His intention is to treat the disease. However, in going to bed, the patient sets in motion certain health-restoring principles. Bacteria and viruses do not die when a person is placed in the horizontal position. Rest does not affect them. But rest restores life and vitality to the individual and that helps in getting them well.
Proper eating is necessary to maintain health. Special diets are also used in treating diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and gall bladder disease. Good eating is above-down inside-out; nutritional therapy is outside-in. Exercise is a part of health maintenance. It is also used for rehabilitation of heart disease and stroke victims. The most valuable aspect of chiropractic is as a health-maintaining and health-restoring measure. As such, like rest, exercise and proper nutrition, it is valuable to every member of the human race. That is a principle people must understand. Chiropractic care is for everyone. Used as a disease treatment however, it has very limited application and minimum benefits. As an analogy, nutrition therapy does not help some heart patients. On the other hand, good eating habits benefit everyone because everyone can be healthier if they eat better. In some, improvement may not be noticed but it is there. It is sad to think that there are millions of people using chiropractic as a treatment for diseases like headaches, allergies, sinus trouble and back pains when its application to health is so much more beneficial. It is like using a pair of Stradivarius violins as bookends! They may look beautiful on the shelf and keep the books upright, but what a waste!
Chiropractic is based upon the simple principle that the body naturally strives toward health. This striving is an expression of the innate intelligence of the body. The nervous system is the primary system that the body uses in this striving. If one of the bones of the spine becomes misaligned (subluxated), the nervous system is interfered with and this striving toward health and harmonious function is lessened. Simply put, the body, whatever its state of health or level of health, is better off with a good nerve supply. The body can work in the presence of vertebral subluxation but it cannot work as well, the health level will be reduced. Most important, the contributions made by diet, exercise, and rest are lessened, while the factors that negatively affect health do more damage. Subluxations occur all the time in every person at all ages. They can first occur at the moment of birth and unless corrected, they rob the body of its ability to be healthy. The chiropractic objective is the correction of vertebral subluxation in all members of the human race. Young, old, apparently sick, or apparently healthy, everyone can benefit from chiropractic care. Often, when subluxations are corrected in sick people, their diseases seem to disappear. This has caused people to believe that chiropractic is an effective treatment for those diseases. I present chiropractic as something other than a treatment for disease.
Chiropractic care is part of the health picture, like diet, exercise and rest, but it occupies a special place. Eating good food is not a substitute for exercise or getting the proper rest. Exercise is not an alternative to hygiene or a good mental attitude. Each one is part of the health picture. Chiropractic is unique among the others. It is the glue that holds them all together or, in following our bucket analogy, the funnel that blends them together and deposits them into the body as this entity called "health."
Diet is important. The body cannot live on donuts and coffee. It needs good food to make healthy tissue. But it also must have the ability to use that food, to make it into walking, talking flesh and blood. You could put the most nutritious meal ever made into the mouth and stomach of a corpse and it will not become living tissue. It needs life to make it usable and of benefit to the body.
If life is lacking in the living body due to vertebral subluxation the food, as good as it might be, will be of less or little value
Exercise is an integral part of health. However, exercising muscles fibers that are deprived of a good nerve supply due to subluxation is not as beneficial. A physical therapist may exercise the muscles of someone who is paralyzed, however, the therapist's efforts do not help those muscle fibers that have no nerve supply. The exercise will only benefit the muscles where the damage to the nervous system has not occurred. The hope is that they will be able to make up for the muscles deprived of a good nerve supply. Sometimes it helps, often it does not. You can exercise muscles all you want but if they are not receiving a full supply of life through the nervous system, there is less or little benefit.
Rest is important to the repair of tissues and the body in general. But unless the body is working properly, the rest will be of minimal value. Subluxation robs the body of the benefits of rest. Everyone has had the experience of getting their usual night's sleep but not waking up refreshed and rested. The hours asleep did not produce the desired results. The chemical changes that must take place within the body while sleeping will not occur if the glands and organs producing those chemicals do not have a good nerve supply.
The part of the brain that is responsible for mental attitude is greatly affected by the chemistry of the body. This is apparent by the simple fact that drugs, both legal and illicit, are taken to alter the mood of an individual. If the nervous system is not functioning properly, the organs and glands that manufacture chemicals to balance the body's chemistry will not function properly. You may be short tempered or feeling stressed because of improper body chemistry. Research done by Candace Pert, PhD has shown that the neuropeptides (chemicals that control our emotions and sense of well-being) are greatly affected by abnormal changes in our spine (subluxation). Then there was the research done by Jay Holder, D.C. that showed that chiropractic adjustments helped normalize the body chemistry allowing 100% of the people in the active care group of a drug rehab program to complete their program. This unheard of success also had some surprising results in that the test subjects that also suffered from depression and anxiety got results in 4 weeks of chiropractic care what would normally take 6 months to a year with the best drugs out there. All this with none of the side effects of those psychoactive drugs.
All the components of health are necessary, and none is a substitute for another, but chiropractic care is necessary to receive the maximum benefits of all of them.
If there is one final principle with regard to health raising factors that needs to be understood and applied, it is the principle of consistency. Almost anything done with a measure of success in every aspect of life is done on a consistent basis. The more consistency in your life, the more successful you will become. There is a difference between "consistency" and "habit." Developing an habitual program in any area of health, that is, not being flexible, is denying the dynamics of the human body and its needs, and is actually a hindrance to health. We need to be consistent, without being habitual. We need to consistently eat well-balanced meals but not the same foods at every meal day-in and day-out. We need to have a consistent exercise program but one that varies according to our daily needs. Getting into a rut is not healthful; it deprives the individual of being adaptable in their mental attitude. Being consistent, on the other hand, is a quality to be desired and worked toward. It is interesting to note that while medicine goes through fads and changes constantly, chiropractic principles have remained the same for over 100 years. That is a testament to the truth and logic behind this profession.
A vertebral subluxation is the physical representation of a cause of a lack of health in the human body, at least the cause that the chiropractor addresses. Notice we do not say it is a cause of a disease but a cause of a lack of health and a lack of health is a primary cause of disease, as we have already discussed. So while this cause of a lack of health is not the cause of any particular disease, it is a cause of every disease. Very simply, in every disease known to man a single common denominator is a body that is not working properly. A subluxation is a misalignment of one of the bones (vertebrae) of the spine, which interferes with the function of the nervous system. The purpose of these bones is to house and protect the vital and delicate nerves that supply the lifegiving energy to every part of the body. Due to this close proximity and the nature of bone and nerve, when the vertebrae misalign or subluxate, they become the greatest insult to the very nerves they are supposed to protect. When an interference occurs, the body begins to work at less than its fullest potential. A body functioning at less than its fullest potential has lost, among other things, some of its health. What makes chiropractic unique is the recognition of and attention to the vertebral subluxation. The subluxation is the focus of a chiropractic practice because it interferes with the full expression of the innate intelligence of the body. Whether some people believe it is a cause of back pain, scoliosis, any disease or all diseases is not relevant to the chiropractic health maintenance practice. It is an interference to the full expression of life within the body and other than the chiropractor, there is no one who makes a practice of intentionally correcting subluxations. The surgeon may inadvertently do it while performing spinal surgery. The orthopedist may unknowingly correct one when applying traction to the patient's spine. The family physician may enable the body to correct one by telling the patient to go home, drink fluids and get plenty of rest. You may even fall down a flight of stairs and correct some subluxations (although you'll probably cause more). But the chiropractor is the only one purposefully doing it every day and on every patient with the minimal amount of force.
Are subluxations so bad? The subluxation has been likened to a rubber band around the tip of your finger. It doesn't really hurt. It may not be causing a problem, except that it is cutting off the circulation to the end of your finger. Can you live with that? Sure, just not as well. Just being the tip of your finger, it probably will not drastically affect your daily performance. However, eventually problems within the fingertip would occur. Lack of blood could cause cell damage. It could lead to gangrene, which, if ignored, could lead to blood poisoning, which could cause death. Here's the question. When do you want to remove the rubber band from your finger? When you are at the point of death? When they surgically remove the gangrenous finger? When it becomes numb? How about right away... as soon as you realize that it is not good for your body to be walking around with a rubber band wrapped tightly around your finger? That's when you want to have a vertebral subluxation corrected... right away. We do not know how much damage it is doing to the body. But we can conclude that since the body was not meant to be subluxated, it is doing damage and it is not good to allow your body to be walking around with a damaged nervous system. Therefore, get checked and adjusted as necessary so you can be subluxation-free as long as possible.