Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Subluxation Complex Part I

The chiropractic profession lives a stormy life. It's claims are proud and strong - that by adjusting the spine health can be restored to the body. Despite being around for over 100 years, chiropractic is still very misunderstood by the majority of people the world over. This blog is dedicated to teaching the world about Health, and thus about the role chiropractic plays in establishing and maintaining healthy vitality throughout our years. It is this author's conviction that only through patient education can chiropractic grow towards its rightful place as a foundational therapeutic aspect of all our lives. This piece is dedicated to the teaching effort.

Chiropractic exists as profession both at the cutting edge of holistic treatment and at the center of controversy. There are those who say it is just a bunch of quackery. However, the fact that chiropractic endures today, without mainstream sponsorship and subsidization is a testament to the effectiveness and importance of adjustive therapy. The free market has carried chiropractic along from its inception to where we are today. The free market is the ultimate test of any product or service. It represents the combined decisions of millions of people over a long time period. We are here today because chiropractic works. Now it is question of communication and education of why it works, and why it is necessary for long term health.

Chiropractors treat the subluxation. It is a complex phenomenon, and one that unfortunately does not yield to simple definition. It is better to consider the subluxation an energetic phenomenon with distinct physical manifestations. Those familiar with this idea will use terms like "sticky" joint, dysfunctional motion segment, restricted motion, tissue abnormalities, etc. to describe their physical palpation findings. We are speaking strictly of joints, for those who are not familiar with this idea. More specifically, the subluxation is when spinal vertebra (or other joints like the elbow or ankle) become dysfunctional and cause system wide adaptation patterns as the body is forced to make changes to survive.

At this point it is important to emphasize several critical concepts that will be necessary for understanding health and chiropractic.

1) The Body Never Makes Mistakes

It is a fact that every action taken by the body is to survive by maintaining homeostasis. Loss of homeostasis means loss of life - its that simple. Every cough, sore throat, allergy, and yes even cancer is an adaptation forced upon the body by some kind of stress (see below). It is hard to believe that the person dying from cancer still has a body making correct decisions, but it is true. When we sneeze, or get a cold, or get a disease, the body is attempting to deal with something that is threatening its survival. The common cold is natures way of getting rid of trash accumulated inside our bodies.

Have you ever realized that a cough, runny nose, and fever all act to remove or destroy microbes inside us? The body raises its temperature to destroy pathogens, then the cough and runny nose, or diarrhea, serve to excrete the toxins effectively. But what are we told by medicine? That these symptoms should be suppressed! How insane is it to think that by stopping the body's natural process of getting ride of trash that somehow we are healthier for it? Remember this always - the body doesn't make mistakes. Those who understand health will support the body's innate intelligence, which is far superior to any doctor, and allow the body to cleanse itself naturally. We can support this excretion/detoxification naturally by stimulating and supporting organs like the kidney, liver, and lymph tissues with chiropactic adjustments and targeted nutritional support.

2) Treating Symptoms Will Never Cure nor Prevent a Single Disease

What passes for healthcare in America is really no different than a teenager who cleans his room by throwing all his junk inside his closet. His room looks clean from the outside, it even feels clean, but just under the surface all the trash is piling up. But hey out of sight, out of mind! The pharmaceutical industry makes ridiculous profits selling us proprietary products (read unnatural) designed to suppress symptoms. The fatal flaw, the source of rampant disease in America, is the widespread use of this symptom-suppression model.

The real price we pay for suppression of symptoms, while never addressing the underlying cause of disease, is that our bodies accumulate toxins and begin to toxify, inflame, and breakdown. Continued suppression of symptoms, which are the body's perfectly intelligent responses to rid itself of disease-causing agents, forces the toxins to go deeper into our bodies. If the body cannot excrete/detoxify itself it is forced to fight the toxins locally. This is inflammation. Inflammation is like wagging a war. Unfortunately for us, like all wars there is collateral damage. And as the body slowly builds up with toxic matter, the body is forced to deal with it by fighting in its own backyard. Think about what war does to picturesque towns when bombs are dropped from above and tanks role through the streets. The same thing happens to our own tissues at a microscopic level. Over time this leads to diseases that are far more serious than just a common cold.

Most every culture on earth utilizes some form of detoxification to aid the body's natural mechanisms. Whether we are dealing with sweats, saunas, mineral waters, clays, etc. each is designed to draw out toxins which helps to lessen the energetic burden on the body. American culture today is arguably the most toxic in human history. Simultaneously we are living without widespread detoxification methods being practiced. This is a major contributor to our epidemic rates disease.

3) Stress is the Ultimate Cause of Disease

While this may seem oversimplified, it is in fact an excellent model for conceptualizing what is going on in the body to produce disease. It is hard to believe that the body doesn't make mistakes, yet we are are collectively a very sick society! Something must explain this discrepancy and stress is the concept that is able to connect the dots into a cohesive whole of wellness understanding.

D.D. Palmer, the founding father of chiropractic, understood that disease was a result of three main ideas: trauma, poisons and auto-suggestion. We can refer to these as physical, chemical (toxic), and emotional stress. This is a common concept in applied kinesiology where patients are treated in regards to the triad of health - structural, chemical, and emotional stress. D.D. Palmer recognized that disease has more than one origin, but the effect is still stress on the system. This stress creates dis-ease in our body by using up and consuming the fuel, or energy, necessary for maintaining homeostasis.

Consider that while energy in the universe is infinite, each one of us has a bucket and that bucket represents our energy account. Our body has a finite amount of energy and must live within its means and budget accordingly (which it does superbly). When we are on a stress-free vacation, enjoying life, feeling great our bucket is leak-free and full. This abundance of energy is perfectly spent by the body on maintaining a "tight ship" and keeping all systems robust, clean, and maintained. We experience low stress and the body spends its energy currency on growth and repair - and we feel great!

Yet for most of us, the majority of our lives are more stressful than we would like. It is the nature of our world today and must be dealt with proactively. That bucket that was full while we were on our care-free vacation now has a leak. Actually it has several leaks. Instead of putting its energy income into savings, for future enjoyment i.e. Health, the body is forced to adapt to the stress by spending energy fixing holes in the bucket. The more stress, the more holes, the more energy spent. This is all fine and dandy as long as the energy coming in is greater than the energy going out. People will have colds, maybe the flu, allergies, and mild symptoms of all kinds in this phase of dis-ease. The body can manage the stress, but at the expense of the immune system working top notch. Unfortunately for us, the immune system is the first thing to weaken when we start to experience stress. It is difficult to guard against outside invaders when there is chaos inside the castle walls.

A critical point is reached when the body is forced to dip into its energy savings to take care of all the energy requirements of dealing with stress. Remember stress is structural, chemical, and emotional so the body is working on many fronts simultaneously. Before this critical point, income was greater than expenses. And just like any business enterprise, when the body must dip into savings to continue to operate, it is operating at a loss. This is an unsustainable course.

As the body dips into energy-savings, it is forced to breakdown less-critical tissue in order to maintain homeostasis. As stress increases, holes in the bucket multiply, and the body must begin to use energy, vitamins and minerals stored in the body to keep up with demands. As the expenses for dealing with stress grow uncontrollably, the body breaks down its own tissue in order to stay alive. The body is still acting correctly, it is just in such a difficult environment it has no choice but to shift into catabolism or tissue breakdown. If calcium is needed to fix the holes in the bucket then osteoporosis results as calcium is taken from bone, where it is stored long term. If cholesterol is needed to reduce oxidation, then hormones are reduced because cell repair is more important than a good sex drive. Continual stress on the body will cause disease as there is no other choice but for the body to start to break itself down to stay alive.

To Be Continued...