THE SPINAL COLUMN
ALPHA CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER

NOVEMBER 2002



How to Observe Thanksgiving


Count your blessings instead of your crosses; Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes; Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears; Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean; Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth; Count on God instead of yourself.
~~Author Unknown.~~

 

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:18


It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To show forth Thy loving kindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night. Psalm 92: 1,2


A Reflection on Things That I am Thankful For:

 

My great family that loves and supports me in all that I do; Living in the greatest free nation in the history of mankind; That I was chosen to be part of a profession dedicated to changing the quality of lives of all who enter our doors; That I am healthy and live in a chiropractic world free of drugs or nerve interference; The gift of life and the power of a chiropractic adjustment; That I am able to get up each morning and go to bed each night knowing that today I saved lives; For those who came before me in this profession stood up for what they believed in so that I may practice today with certainty and power; All the seminars, speakers, teachers, and mentors who constantly strive to motivate and empower me to take chiropractic to the next level; For each chiropractor, assistant, and chiropractic student that are all helping take part in changing the world; For patients that have consistently proven our chiropractic principles over and over again, not just by getting well, but also by choosing to live their lives to the fullest potential; For those patients that have taken up the torch and tell their chiropractic story to others; For God for making all this possible.


Bringing Truth Into The World

All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

 


Do you know that it takes two to bring any truth into the world -- one to say it and one to hear it.


Like anything else, truth must be conceived, incubated, and given birth. Then it must be nourished, developed, and finally accepted upon its merits.


On first thought, one would think that truth should have no struggle at all, that the world would readily accept it, and that it should at once serve for the good of all.


This is not true, however. People seem to accept error quite as readily as they accept truth. Perhaps this is because error is often sugarcoated, while truth is generally plain and unvarnished. Perhaps, also, it is because truth sometimes hurts when its laws are not obeyed.


On the other hand, truth is stable. It is always dependable and can be relied upon with certainty so long as one obeys its injunctions. Error may seem to be the easy road. It may appear to be smooth and even, but if followed, it will lead you to pitfalls, blind alleys, and ultimate defeat. Only when truth is established and followed can you hope to win lasting success.


In our little newsletter, we bring you truth about health. Here again it takes only two to give truth an inning -- one to tell it and one to read it. If you receive this truth, you are fortunate indeed because you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free from sickness and disease.


Within your body are planted all the elements of health -- the organs and glands that have to do with normal function, and a nervous system to direct and control all function in what is known as a state of health.


Chiropractors hold that the spine is the key to the nervous system, and therefore, to the health of the body. This is true because all nerve trunks make exit from the spinal cord through openings between the vertebrae. Therefore, the spine must be in normal alignment or there will be interference with the normal flow of nerve energy and health will be impaired.


Chiropractors contend that numerous stresses in life displace vertebrae (subluxation) and cause an interference to proper bodily function. We are the only people trained to locate, analyze, and introduce the force necessary for your body to correct them. Once the interference is removed, the body functions closer to optimal levels, allowing you to be all the good that you can be.


The Pushers

"Well, now if I were the president of this land
You know, I'd declare total war on The Pusher man
I'd cut him if he stands, and I'd shoot him
if he'd run
Yes I'd kill him with my Bible and my razor
and my gun."


-From the song "The Pusher,"
lyrics and music by Hoyt Axton


A recent article released by the Associated Press examined the soaring use of prescription drugs among children. The article was based in part on a study conducted by Medco Health Solutions, a Franklin, New Jersey based "pharmacy benefits manager."


The study's findings included:


-"Spending on prescription drugs rose 16.4% to $142 billion last year" (This does not include spending on over-the-counter drugs.);


-"Spending on prescription drugs for those under 19 grew 28 percent last year".


-"Spending on prescription drugs to treat heartburn and other gastrointestinal disorders (in children) surged 660% over five years".


-"About 7 percent of children have asthma and 25 percent have allergies, approximately double the incidence 25 years ago".


-"Spending on antibiotics among children increased 42 percent".


-"Spending on drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder increased another 122 percent over the past four years."


Given these findings, and at the risk of preaching to the choir, I just have to ask some obvious questions:


1. If drugs are the solution for asthma and allergies, why has the incidence of these conditions doubled since MDs started using drugs to treat them?


2. Why has antibiotic use increased 42 percent during a time when MDs are supposed to be discouraging their misuse?


3. What is wrong with the public's concept of good nutrition that causes a 660 percent increase in heartburn and gastrointestinal drugs given to children over just five years? Are these drugs prescribed to counteract some of the milder adverse effects of drugs designed for adults that our children are taking?


4. Patients are now seeing advertisements for drugs, asking for the advertised drugs and getting prescriptions for the advertised drugs. At what point does the interaction with the medical doctor become irrelevant for those who believe that a drug is the solution to their health problem?


5. If drugs are really the solution, why do U.S. consumers need more of them every year? Are we addicted?


Back when I was in high school, we were always warned to stay away from the "pushers." These were the people who sold drugs just off the school grounds. They preyed on people who had various social and physical needs who could be convinced that the right drug could help them.


Today, we have corporate "pushers."


The scenario is essentially the same. They convince people that a pill can relieve their pain or change their lives. The corporate pushers aren't concerned about health. They just want you "feeling better."


No wonder we have a decades-old drug problem among young people - they learned by their parents' example. If a pill could solve their parents' problems, surely it could solve their problems.


Parents need to think twice before trying to address their children's health needs with a bottle of pills. Someone has to let them know that true health doesn't come from a pill.


Please, for the sake of the millions of children already regularly using prescription drugs, talk to their parents about chiropractic. Let them learn about the benefits of having a spine free from the damaging effects of subluxations. Share with them your successes in health and in life since you have been under care. Let's take away the need for the pushers.


Think Sick, Be Sick - The Nocebo Effect

 

Chances are you have heard of the placebo effect. The effectiveness of the placebo (sugar pill) has been studied at numerous universities and has shown impressive results. Ironically it is the most effective medical procedure out there.


The word placebo comes from the Latin verb "placere", that means "to please." Think you are going to be healthy, and experience better health. Believe that your operation will be a success, and it is a success. Simply put, it could be summed up as the power of positive thinking. A mind-body connection so to speak.


While the placebo is meant to please, the word nocebo, is Latin for "I will harm." A recent article in the Washington Post referred to the Nocebo Effect as the "Placebo's Evil Twin." Less people are familiar with the nocebo phenomenon.


According to the Post article, it was ten years ago that researchers came across a striking finding. They found, "Women who believed that they were prone to heart disease were nearly four times as likely to die as women with similar risk factors who didn't hold such fatalistic views." It was pointed out that the increased risk of death had nothing to do with age, weight, blood pressure, etc. They found instead, "it tracked closely with belief. Think sick, be sick."


Researchers have suggested that some people become convinced that something is going to go wrong, and indeed something does go wrong. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Robert Hahn, PhD, an epidemiologist at the CDC and an authority on the nocebo phenomenon, explains the concept this way: "The nocebo hypothesis proposes that expectations of sickness and the affective states associated with such expectations cause sickness in the expectant."


The nocebo doesn't represent a new idea -- just one that hasn't caught on widely among clinicians and scientists. More than four decades after researchers coined the term, only a few medical journal articles mention it. Outside the medical community, being "scared to death" or "worried sick" are expressions that have long been part of the popular lexicon, noted epidemiologist Robert Hahn from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.


Is such language just an exaggeration? Not to those who accept, for example, the idea of voodoo death -- a hex so powerful that the victim of the curse dies of fright. While many in the scientific community may regard voodoo with skepticism, the idea that gut reactions may have biological consequences can't be simply dismissed.


"Surgeons are wary of people who are convinced that they will die," said Herbert Benson, a Harvard professor and the president Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston. "There are examples of studies done on people undergoing surgery who almost want to die to re-contact a loved one. Close to 100 percent of people under those circumstances die."


But the nocebo effect can lead to more subtle outcomes as well. Changing ethical standards have made it difficult to even repeat some of the classic nocebo experiments. In one century-old effort, conducted long before anyone thought up the word nocebo, doctors set an allergy sufferer wheezing by showing an artificial rose, proving that at least some aspect of the allergic response is stimulated by visual cues.


In a study from the early 1980s, 34 college students were told an electric current would be passed through their heads, and the researchers warned that the experience could cause a headache. Though not a single volt of current was used, more than two-thirds of the students reported headaches.


Resistance to in-depth study of the nocebo effect rests on more than ethical reservations, said the CDC's Hahn. Belief, he said, does not have a strong place in the anatomy-centered world of modern medicine.


"The fact is that phenomena that essentially come down to what people believe are conceptually difficult in our medical system," Hahn said. "Health is thought to be a biological phenomenon. More psychosomatic elements are hard to deal with."


Science is wearing away at the wall between mind and body. With the aid of high-tech imaging devices, neurologists are getting better at taking pictures of the brain in action. In one blinded study last year, researchers found that patients with Parkinson's disease given a placebo released a brain chemical called dopamine, just as the brain exposed to an active drug would do.


That flood of brain chemicals, it appears, has everything to do with what the mind expects. In most cases, like the Parkinson's study, the outcome is positive -- the placebo effect in action. But for some patients -- depressed, wary of medication or worried about drug side effects -- getting a prescription filled is an angst-ridden experience. And such patients appear even more likely to exhibit those side effects.


Barsky has even sketched out a profile of the kind of patient likely to experience the nocebo effect -- worse side effects and poorer outcomes -- on a given drug. When Barsky sees a patient with a history of vague, difficult-to-diagnose complaints who is sure that whatever therapy is prescribed will do little to battle the problem, he says, those low expectations are inevitably met. The treatments usually fail.


"Whether you trust your doctor or not probably makes a huge difference in whether you report side effects, but there's almost no data on that," Barsky said. He hopes to include information about a person's psychology in an upcoming placebo-controlled clinical trial to see if patients with a particular outlook on life fare better or worse than other subjects.


It has been my experience that for the most part people in this country have no clue about their bodies and what to do to not only to heal and maintain them, but to have them work at their optimal levels. Because of this lack of knowledge, when something goes wrong, fear and panic sets in. They rush to the doctor and place all the responsibility in his hands. I think one of the biggest crimes with our current health care system is that it disempowers people from knowing enough about themselves to make any decisions regarding their health. One of the reasons I write this newsletter is to provide people with some more information about their health and usually from a unique perspective.


An educated patient reaps the most benefits to chiropractic care. I know for a fact that the patients that have read all the materials that I give them in their first few visits and those that read the newsletters, are not only among the healthiest people I know, but are also doing well in almost all areas of their lives. When people have a better understanding of how their bodies function and how they can be affected for the better by getting adjusted, it sets positive thinking into motion. And by actually taking responsibility for themselves and their actions, they become empowered. This reduces the effects of any negative thinking. It is not so much a placebo effect, but I believe it may reduce the nocebo effect and just provides a great mindset for healing. It allows them to steadily move toward optimal functioning in all areas of life.


Warning: The Surgeon General Has ...


We are all familiar with the warning label provided by the Surgeon General about cigarettes. That statement has appeared in all cigarette ads for years. I was recently reading an article about the government creating laws against smoking cigarettes. According to the article, the government rather than telling people they cannot smoke, should be educating them about why they should not smoke. At first that seems like a reasonable argument. However, a little bit of thought reveals that since the Surgeon General first issued his warning on the sides of cigarette packages, the government, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and every medical doctor and health professional have been warning people about the dangers of smoking. Further, we have restricted or completely disallowed smoking in public buildings, buses, airplanes and dozens of other places, letting people know that even second-hand smoke is a danger. Apparently educating people is not the answer for this issue or if it is, we are educating them in the wrong manner.

 

There is probably no one outside the tobacco industry that believes that smoking is not injurious to a person's health. Further, almost everyone, if asked, would say that smoking is directly related to lung cancer and heart disease. Why then do people smoke? Or more importantly, why is the educational program a failure?


It may be that there are two plausible reasons. The first is that most people live by the "I am an exception" school of thought. They believe that somehow they will be lucky and that they will not get cancer or heart disease. They believe that serious diseases like that happen to "other people" and not to them. This is the same reason people gamble in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. The odds are against them but they think they will be lucky and beat the odds. After all, those cities and casinos were built by all the money that was paid to the winners, right. People need to realize that there are universal laws like "cause and effect" and "reap what you sow." You cannot abuse your body in any way and not expect to reap the effects. They may not occur today or tomorrow but they will surely occur at some point. The effects may not be evident right away but they are there.


The second reason that people ignore their health is that they have the mistaken impression that medicine has or will inevitably have an answer to their problem so they abuse their bodies. If they overindulge in eating, they take an antacid. If they drink too much alcohol, they take an aspirin. If they over-exercise their muscles, they rub on an analgesic. If an organ or body part is sick, they have it cut out. Until people are educated that "remedies" are not equivalent to health, and though they may offer temporary relief they do not add to health, they will never obtain true health. In fact, like the problem they are treating, these "remedies" will actually detract from the highest potential level of health.


Some people use chiropractic the same way. They abuse their bodies and no matter how often or how much we tell them to get adjusted, they ignore us and their care until they are hurting. Then they come in, some practically crawl into the office for help. Once the subluxation is corrected, the body often has the ability to heal itself although sometimes it does not, but either way our frustration is the same. How many times do we have to tell people before the message gets through to them? Chiropractic is not a treatment for acute medical crises, nor is meant to be. It is not the way we practice in this office. Chiropractic is an approach to maintaining one's well-being by removing interference at the vertebral level. Period. That is what we do. That is all we do. I suppose some people may simply never get that. No matter how many times we write it and/or say it. What else can we do? I'm open to suggestions.


Of course for those of you probably reading this, you do not fall into the category of crisis patients. You need to be commended for learning about your bodies and chiropractic and for wanting the best for yourself and for your families.



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