What makes your body heal itself?

 

Why will a cut on your finger heal in time but a cut to a really good steak will not heal even if it is free of pathogens, stitched up perfectly, and a bandage is applied correctly?

FingerCut VersusSteak

It is this type of question that inspired the first chiropractors to search for the cause of one person in a family, living in the same conditions as the rest, to become ill or die while everyone else remained healthy. This is the crux of the difference between disease care and health care. This is the crux of the difference between medicine and chiropractic. The first focuses on the study of disease and what causes death while the second studies health and what facilitates life.health_continuum2.5

Looking only at science has, unfortunately, left this question unanswered and has actually revealed more questions that need to be answered rather than reducing them. To fully wrap our minds around this question we have to look at more than just science. This is why chiropractic was developed as a science AND a philosophy AND an art of things natural. Now many people who ascribe to science as an exclusive belief system mistake philosophy as being opposed to science. However, they are intimately related to each other. To simplify this relationship we can say that philosophy thinks up the questions that the scientific method attempts to answer through repeatable observation and hypothesis.

SherlockHolmsChiropractic philosophy looks at nature through deductive reasoning, much like the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.

“In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically…Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically.”  -A Study in Scarlet – Chapter 7 – Conclusion

“Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case, you remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there to observe and to draw inferences from our observations.” – The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

SherlockHolmsWhy do we need to reason backwards from simply observing? Good old Sherlock has the answer to this as well…

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”-A Study in Scarlet
AND
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” -A Scandal in Bohemia

So, before we come up with theories, we need to observe the facts.

  • Fact #1) Living things are organized systems that come from other living things and have distinct characteristics that nonliving things don’t have like;
    A) Organized
    B) Grows and Develops AKA Self-organizing
    C) Seeks Homeostasis AKA Self-regulating
    D) Metabolism AKA Uses Energy
    E) Response to environmental changes or stimuli AKA Interactive
    F) Reproduces AKA Self-replicating
    G) Biological evolution AKA Adaptive
  • Fact#2) Dead bodies never heal, EVER!
  • Fact#3) Law of Cause and Effect (in other words if there is an effect then there must be a cause. So if something is organized then something else had to organize it and transfer the energy to set it in motion)
  • Fact #4) Nonliving mater does not spontaneously self organize into living mater without ‘that something’ that gives living things the characteristics of A-G
  • Fact #5) If you are reading this then you started out life as a unique single celled organism made from the combination of two single cells from your father and mother.EggCellDevision
  • Fact #6) You then proceeded to build an incredibly complex community, of BILLIONS of individual cells, working together to experience a living existence.
  • Fact #7) Most of the communication and functions necessary to sustain this organized, multicellular community is done without our conscious control or awareness. (in other words the cut on your finger will heal regardless of you thinking about it.)
  • Fact #8) No living thing has ever been synthetically produced in a lab from scratch (yes, scientists have reprogrammed already living cells with synthetic DNA but have not built them from scratch regardless of what the media headlines say)
  • Fact #9) No direct measure of Life, Life Force, Life Energy, or Vital Spark has ever been attained in a laboratory setting. Effects of this entity or substance have been measured but not the entity or substance itself.
  • Fact #10) Artificial intelligence and man made machines are blurring the lines between living and nonliving but none have acquired the full list of characteristics.

Now on to the theories; Looking at the facts two theories have historically emerged, Mechanism and Vitalism. Mechanism is what reductionist reasoning brings the thought process to, where everything is made of the sum of the parts and it all works like a machine. Vitalism is where deductive reasoning brings the thought process to, where the mechanics of life and existence are evidence of an organizing Intelligence and the whole is greater than simply the sum of the parts. Vitalism does not deny mechanistic principles at work in nature but Mechanism denies vitalistic principles at work concluding that the parts are enough to describe all of the processes of Life and Nature. These two theories have been debated since the time of Plato and Aristotle. We are not going to go into too much depth about these two philosophies mainly because, after hundreds of years, neither can be proven nor disproven. For Vitalism to be proven some Life Force AKA Vital Spark must be directly measured and for Mechanism to be proven a living organism needs to be synthetically built from scratch with all of the characteristics of Life present and functional.  Until either of these happen, although it is a fascinating debate, it is functionally useless for most people to choose sides.AlexGrayEnergyBody

If you have been reading other blog posts written by myself then by now you might have realized that I am convinced (AKA biased) about which one of these two philosophies is more correct. However, do you care what I think? Just because I see evidence day in and day out inside my chiropractic practice, it really does not help you much unless you are one of my patients. So lets get right down to it. What serves you best?

The short answer to the question of what heals the body is the living YOU! No amount of drugs, surgery, nutrition, positive thinking, chiropractic, acupuncture, or electrical charge will cause a dead body to heal. Healing is a function of life regardless of if you think life is simply a chemical reaction or if you believe in the existence of Life as an entity. Atheist heal just like saints.  Mechanists heal just like Vitalists.

So what serves you best? To recognize that YOU are the healer. You can do lots of things to enhance your healing ability and support your body’s functions but as long as you are alive you have the potential to heal. If you want to really explore the potential that the human bodyDrSyringe has to heal itself then you need to look no further than what is called “The Placebo Effect.”  This is one of the biggest thorns in the side of our current, science based medical care system in America.  Most scientific approaches do not recognize any treatment in which the mechanism of action is not known, except the placebo. It is incorporated into the vast majority of scientific research on treatments for symptoms and diseases however how it works is a current mystery. What is even more mysterious is the fact that the placebo effect is increasing making it harder and harder for drug companies to show their products are of medical value.

The second disturbing fact about how we use placebos in science is when the effect is eliminated from the research because it is an outlier in the data and is not reproducible person to person. In reality there is no such thing as an “incurable disease” however since these spontaneous remissions are not common and they cannot be patented or profited from they do not get studied by mainstream science. Scientific research is expensive and unless there is the possibility of a big payoff from selling a product to sick people, drug companies will turn away from anything that places the power of healing inside the body of the sick person.

So what can you do to maximize your healing ability?

  1. NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP!
    When we lose hope and stop trying the possibility of ANY treatment working decreases significantly.
  2. HealthFoodsEat real food.
    Without the correct fuel and building blocks a body cannot function much less heal. Herbs are one of the first forms of medicine ever used and because they are food they help the sick as much as they help the healthy.
  3. Drink pure water regularly.
    It is one of the most abundant molecules in our bodies and is involved in most functions.
  4. Move your body regularly and correctly.
    Without correct movement of the musculoskeletal system most other systems are slowed down in function.
  5. Exercise and learn to increase control of your mind not just your body.Anatomy
    Stress related diseases and conditions are one of the most common reasons people seek medical help. If you don’t learn to control your mind then someone else will and they will not be interested in what is truly best for you. Meditation and lifelong learning are two of the best tools we have!
  6. Seek the advice, council, and help from many different healthcare providers so you have the best information to make decisions.
    Everyone has a bias and that includes doctors of all kinds. Don’t simply get one person’s opinion.
  7. SLEEP and relaxation are just as important to health and function as anything else.
    What most people don’t realize is that we must practice them. Just because it was or is easy to sleep does not mean it will always be easy. Practice and set up good routines now before a problem sets in.
  8. Stay social.
    Not only is our body a community of cells but we, as whole and complete beings, are set up to be social creatures. It is good to have alone time but it is also good to have social time. Love is a powerful drug.
  9. Decrease the toxins inside and outside of your body.
    This includes chemicals as well as emotions, relationships, addictions, and habits. What is toxic to one person is not to another so don’t get caught up in the hype and marketing but rather spend lots of quality time listening and being aware of how your body responds. You are not a victim.AutonomicNerveChart

Finally always remember that you are the healer. No one on the outside of your body can repair or replace damaged cells and this is the only way healing happens. Embrace the responsibility you have to the cells of your body because that is where your power resides. The placebo and the nocebo effect are proof that healing and function are an integrated relationship between our mind and our body. We can use this knowledge to effectively enhance our lives so that we have no need to rely on the disease and sick care system that we have today. YOU are the healthcare system!

 

Feel free to leave questions and comments below.
As always, stay adjusted!

Dr. Tad

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Is Chiropractic really an Alternative Medicine? Really?

 

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debunked

 

For the past few posts we have covered some popular myths about chiropractic. Some myths are spread by others and some are spread by many chiropractors themselves.  This post is likely the last on in this series and is dedicated to a myth that our whole culture promotes. The myth that Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine. There are two versions of this article, the short one first for those of you who don’t like to read and the long one that follows for those who want to know the reasons why this common perception about chiropractic is a myth AND why it is important to debunk it.

Short Version 

CadusisDoesNotEqualchiropractic_symbol_fw

This myth is false!
Why?

1) Medicine is focused on controlling diseases and symptoms.

2) Chiropractic is true health care because it does not treat diseases or symptoms (no, not even back pain!) rather is only focused on increasing a person’s ability to function and adapt.

3) The definition of “alternative medicine” does not include chiropractic because chiropractic is actually part of this country’s tradition AND it is integrated into the current dominant health care system.

Don’t get it? (My wife doesn’t either.) That’s why having a short version is dumb. Now, on to the…

Long Version

This is the long version so strap yourself in and don’t get surprised if we get into some semantics with this one. Words are powerful in their ability to deliver a message.  We must get specific with them to deliver a message clearly. The message that chiropractic fits under the umbrella of ‘alternative medicine’ is totally false.  Too many are under the impression that anything outside of the American Medical Association’s promoted list of services and products that an MD offers is ‘alternative medicine.’  One false impression leads to another.

Unfortunately the history of chiropractic is rife with turmoil as well as those who think chiropractic makes an excellent alternative medicine, much to the founders dismay.  This is why, today, about half of the chiropractic schools do not teach much about real chiropractic.  So it is only natural that this myth is so widely promoted and marketed by both the Chiropractic profession and the Medical profession inside our country’s healthcare system today. It really does not help in the debunking of this myth that the founder of chiropractic and his son were both very outspoken in their distain with the medical profession and its practices of their day. Many seemingly anti-medicine quotes are spouted by people that are authored by these two men. However when we look at their writings in context we find a different message. A pro-Chiropractic message is different from an alternative or anti-medicine message.

Here come the semantics! First we are going to start off with some working definitions so we can all be clear about what the message behind the words actually is, versus how some people choose to interpret it. Actual definitions can be very broad, words can have multiple meanings and meanings can be described with multiple words. This is where working definitions come in handy. A working definition is a refined definition chosen for a particular occasion or circumstance because the full definition is not practical in its ability to correctly differentiate between thoughts or ideas described by the words used. In this particular case, the definition of medicine is a perfect example. According to the MedlinePlus branch of the Marriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions of medicine is; 2 a: the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease.  However, if we actually apply this definition then technically every farmer on the planet is practicing medicine without a license because food is important to maintain health and prevent diseases such as scurvy. Since the prevention of some diseases like obesity or degenerative disc and joint disease requires correct movement of the body, all personal trainers are also practicing medicine without a license. This broad definition does not work in the real world even if the American Medical Association (AMA)  really really really wants to have a monopoly on health care. So taking into consideration what the AMA actually promotes in this country and filtering out those who do not fit into that box, we finally come up with a working definition of medicine.

Medicine: The treatment of diseases and symptoms by any means necessary including but not limited to drugs and surgery and whose practitioners (in the USA) require a license from a Board of Medical Examiners.

The reason we must exclude the term ‘health’ from the working definition of medicine is because the definition of health itself renders it outside the practice of medicine.  HealthFoodsHealth: The condition of an organism or one of its parts in which it performs its vital functions normally or properly. Although some medical treatments do result in the restoration of health this is not the goal or common practice. For example, if we have a disease or symptom and we go to a medical doctor the doctor will attempt to control that disease or symptom usually by chemically stimulating or inhibiting another function of the body to compensate for the symptom. Most MD’s, except an extreme minority who are practicing on the fringe of medicine, will not attempt to help the body restore normal function on its own. Even when we go for a physical or routine check up, an average MD is not looking for normal function or to enhance it. They are trained to look for abnormal function, and they are very good at finding it with the amazing technology we have today. Thus the AMA has set out to describe “normal” function as a means of ruling in/out abnormal function. Unfortunately this effort has resulted in the misconception that the average function in a population equates to normal function in any one individual. Most people do not spend enough time with their MD to be able to identify their unique normal function.  If there was a medical art that attempted to restore normal function, (not metrics or “levels”,) then this art has been lost by today’s dominant medical practice in America.

This brings us to the next working definition we need to address before debunking this myth. We need a working definition of the medical system we have in the United States of America today to see what the alternative forms of this system might be. Now, the more we hesitate to define something in a clear way the less we can rely on the scientific method. Science revolves around observation and we must clearly define what we are observing to collect accurate data and make hypotheses.  Dr. James F. Winterstein, DC,  president of National University of Health Sciences, once said in an interview; “Chiropractic is what chiropractors do.” This is a terrible attitude to take toward studying something, especially the effect of medical or health based practice. What is the purpose of a license to participate in a particular profession if the practitioner can simply do what they want and say their license covers it? Should your Electrician fix your plumbing? Should your Veterinarian charge you for approving the foundation on your office building?

With this in mind let us look at what our current medical system is and does to clearly define it. I don’t think that most people reading this will argue with the fact that the United States has the worlds best medical technology and emergency rooms. The treatment of communicable diseases and emergencies in this country is rivaled by very few. People travel from all over the world to receive treatment from American medical specialists. However when you look at the health of the American population it is ranked far below other industrialized nations. In the United States today, we have one of the world’s best disease and crisis care systems but we have a pitiful health care system. It is important to make this distinction because disease care does not equal health care. Both are important but different. The working definition of today’s medical system revolves around the treatment of diseases and symptoms.  Both symptoms and diseases are caused by abnormal function. But does today’s dominant medical system really seek to normalize those functions or just to normalize the results of the body’s inability to regulate the functioning parts?

If you go to an MD and they find your cholesterol levels are higher than average you will likely be prescribed a statin drug. A statin drug does not restore theDrSyringe body’s ability to “normalize” the production or use of cholesterol, but rather it chemically alters the body’s ability to make cholesterol. This renders one of the the vital functions dependent on the drug. Or you might go in for a check up and report that you have been feeling depressed. The MD might give you an SSRI drug. An SSRI anti-depresant does not address the body’s ability to regulate the neurotransmitters involved in positive emotions but rather it chemically alters the body’s ability to reabsorb serotonin. If a drug was to actually restore health then it would only be taken for a short amount of time until the body would be able to function better, or at least the same as it did before the disease or symptom began. Same is true of most surgeries. Does the removal of a tumor do anything to address the body’s malfunctioning immune system that allowed to over growth of cells to begin with?  When the most common approach utilized to treat a person are drugs and surgery then our current medical system is disease care by working definition.

Now there are many different types of medical professionals who practice the art of disease and symptom care; MD’s, DO’s, DPT’s, ND’s, Dietitians, Dentists, and technically even witchdoctors.  So it is easy to get convoluted in our definition and interpretation of medicine. We bring in additions to the word medicine like; traditional, alternative, modern, mind-body, evidence-based, integrative, sports, or natural. I find it funny that most people in this country call natural treatments, herbs, and life style changes “alternative medicine” while the most recently developed drugs and surgery they call just ‘medicine’. The natural treatments are the original and drugs/surgery should be the alternative. But I digress… Anyway, most of us can agree that although there are different types of medicine they all have the common focus and goal of treating diseases (illness) and/or symptoms.

WHOThis brings us to the place where we need a good differentiation of modern (American) verses traditional verses alternative medicine, if that is even possible. According to the World Health Organization:

Traditional Medicine: the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.

Alternative Medicine/Complementary Medicine (CAM): The terms “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine” are used inter-changeably with traditional medicine in some countries. They refer to a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.

So we can eliminate our current medical system (in the U.S.A.) from being under the term ‘Traditional Medicine’ because it is not the sum total of indigenous knowledge, skill, or practices and it does not concern itself with the maintenance of health. How much does your health insurance pay for preventative maintenance or treatments that actually increase your body’s ability to self regulate? No, our current “health care” system is a disease and symptom based system that is not interested in health or keeping people from developing diseases. This is simply because the practice of medicine, by working definition, is wholly focused on the results/symptoms of dysfunctions and the practitioners of medicine would be out of a job if diseases were prevented.

Now, we might be able to argue that our current medical system is actually CAM because it is not part of our country’s tradition except for the past 50 years. But on the other hand, we can also eliminate our current medical system from being under the term CAM because it is the dominant “health” care system but does not include practices that are not integrated into the AMA guide lines.  Many will believe that the AMA guidelines and common practices are the hight of scientific knowledge, this is unfortunately false.

Phew! After all of that, we have a working definition of Medicine: The treatment of diseases and symptoms by any means necessary. And we also have a working definition of Alternative Medicine (look up two paragraphs above this.)  So now we can move on to finding out why Chiropractic cannot and does not fit into the definition of medicine, alternative or otherwise.

Chiropractic and the chiropractic art:

Since the beginning of the profession and art, chiropractic has been very narrow and exclusive about what it is and what it does. Although the scope of legalD.D.Palmer practice has been expanded to incorporate some medical philosophies and practices, this was not the original intent of chiropractic directed by the founder (Dr. D.D. Palmer) or his son, the developer (Dr. B.J. Palmer). Hundreds of early chiropractors went to jail to set the legal president that Chiropractic was a separate and distinct profession with a distinct focus and practice.

bjpalmerstampThe mixing of chiropractic and medical practice and/or philosophy was intensely demonized by both D.D. and B.J.  They used terms like “Mixer or Medi-practor” to distinguish between those that practiced real chiropractic and those who practiced medicine with a Chiropractic degree.

“MEDI-practic or MEDI-practor. MEDI, first two syllables of MEDI-cine and, A MEDI-practor, falsely represents MEDI-cine AND chiropractic, is an impostor to both, using subterfuging deceptions to both professions. A MEDI-practor is a mongrel, belonging to neither species or professions.” — B.J. Palmer D.C.

 “Chiropractic is founded upon different principles than those of medicine.” — D.D. Palmer D.C.

Although the practice that most states define as chiropractic is technically mixed with medicine, thus allowing the medical system to incorporate it, this is a compromise of the truth. To tease apart this compromise we need to have a working definition of real chiropractic that transcends the circular logic fallacy that “chiropractic is what chiropractors do.” Let us look at the original definition and remove what does not apply to the terms of a working definition. One of the first and best textbooks on chiropractic written by Dr. R. W. Stephenson D.C., Ph.C. states:Subluxation3

“Chiropractic is a philosophy, science and art of things natural; a system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column by hand only, for the correction of the cause of dis-ease.”

The term ‘dis-ease’ is used to refer to a state in which it is not easy to function. And by ‘hand only’ refers to the choice to only use the application of specific force to give the tissues of the body a chance to restore ease of function. Since the spine is literally the core of who we are, the most effective place to add that force is there. Not only does it have an intimate relationship with the governing system (brain and nerves) but it also has an intimate relationship with the muscles and connective tissue that allows us to move through life. Those two systems, musculoskeletal and nervous systems, control and mechanically effect every other system of our bodies. Small dysfunctions can have systemic effects because our body works as a whole unit. The less ease of function we have the more susceptible we are to outside forces like microorganisms, poisons, pollution, stress, and negative autosuggestions.

AutonomicNerveChartThe crux of chiropractic is the natural functions of a living body. This is where chiropractic places all of its energy and focus for the purpose of not only learning how these natural processes work but also learning how to work with them to maximize our efficient function in nature. This is why we can conclude that the working definition of chiropractic is: A system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column to support natural function through applying philosophy, science, and art. 

The goal of chiropractic has more to do with increasing the function of adaptability in people and less to do with fixing a symptom or disease. By the time symptoms and diseases set in, the body has been in a state of adaptive dysfunction for so long it begins to break down.  Now helping the body restore ease of function is as good to a sick person as it is a healthy person. If a sick person can adapt better to the situation they have the best chance to get well. If a healthy person can adapt better to the situation then they have the best chance at staying well.  In no way shape or form does a chiropractic adjustment directly fight disease, injury or symptom. This is the difference between medicine and chiropractic. It may be argued that chiropractic is AN alternative TO medicine because a person that stays well does not need medicine. However, since medicine treats the body from the outside to alter function while chiropractic helps the body remove the blockage in function from the inside, then chiropractic cannot be considered a type of alternative medicine.

Another, and less important fact that makes the classification of chiropractic as alternative medicine incorrect, is that chiropractic is technically incorporated into the dominant health care system of this country. Most insurance companies cover some chiropractic services and even the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states that chiropractic can be a useful treatment for certain symptoms. Also, it is part of this country’s tradition because it was founded and developed in Davenport Iowa around 1895.

health_continuum2.5

Here is the bottom line: the goals, outcomes, practices and sciences are too different between medicine (alternative or otherwise) and chiropractic to label them in the same category. But in practical reality, why should we care how about the label of things? Labeling things and classifying them is how the language dominant hemisphere of our brain processes information. What to do with those things and their meaning is how the language non-dominant hemisphere processes information. We need both ways of processing information to be able to arrive at the best solution to life’s problems.  Medicine has its place and chiropractic has its place in the complete care of an individual living human system. One to address saving life and one to address supporting life. However, we have to properly label them to be able to correctly understand what they do and how we can use them.

False labeling chiropractic can negatively affect our decision making when we start expecting chiropractic to provide medical results in scientific studies. Most scientific investigations published about chiropractic look at a medically modeled system with the measure of symptoms as the metric of success or failure. Any study, done by chiropractors or other doctors, that claims to show changes in symptoms after a chiropractic adjustment is measuring the results of chiropractic incorrectly. There are tons of studies that show chiropractic is a good treatment for some types of pain, and many others studies that indicate chiropractic can be an effective treatment for everything from scoliosis to childhood asthma.  AlexGrayEnergyBodyBut all of these symptoms were actually changed by the people being studied not by the chiropractor. So when studies get published saying there is no evidence for “causation,” they are right. The cause and the cure, according to the Chiropractic principles, are in the patient.  The best way to research the effects of the Chiropractic art is in measuring the changes in the nervous system in terms of function not symptoms. The real goal of the Chiropractic adjustment is to help remove the resistance from the flow of self organizing information in the patient’s body so that the patient’s body can function better and do more. If the flow of information has improved then there should be better information integration functions in the cells of the body. The brain and spinal cord are the first places to find evidence of a change in information integration because they are made of the most sensitive cell of the body.  They are literally the cells whose main job is to inform about changes in and around every cell of the body, or sense change and respond.

Spine1More research needs to be done in this field and that responsibility rests on the chiropractic profession.  I for one don’t want to do this research because I enjoy practicing Chiropractic so much. But this is a poor excuse and I hope one day to be able to give a contribution to more appropriate research on Chiropractic. Writing this blog has given me lots of time exploring the current research and it has been as challenging as it is rewarding.  It has given me an appreciation of words and the writing process that I did not know existed, especially inside of me. It is because of this great respect that I must adamantly oppose the term alternative medicine in relation to chiropractic. There is medicine, there is the type of medicine that exists outside of the United States of America’s common practice and then there is health care. Chiropractic has about as much to do with medicine as eating, sleeping, and exercise.  If you consider farmers medical practitioners then you will disagree with me and in that case you are free to call chiropractic an alternative medicine.

Stay adjusted and stay healthy, my friends.

Much Love,
Dr. Tad

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 4

debunked


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#7) Once you start seeing a chiropractor you have to continue for the rest of your life

This is one myth that I bought into before going into chiropractic school. Most of the chiropractors I knew at the timechiropractic_symbol_fw sold care packages and the insurance companies paid for X number of adjustments per year so of course they wanted you to come in at least that many times. Since I did not really know what a chiropractor truly did, I had trouble letting go of the fallacy that when a doctor “fixes” something then it should stay fixed. In my ignorance I thought that one adjustment should be enough to get a bone back into place and if it was not then that means the chiropractor was not doing something correctly. I understand now that I was setting chiropractors up for failure because my belief system was based on expecting the impossible. No doctor can “fix” anything in your body. Your body has to do the fixing and that includes alignment.

I once heard of a dentist joke saying something that is relevant to this topic. A dentist said; “You know that you don’t have to brush your teeth every day, right? You only need to brush the teeth you want to keep.”  This is the exact same concept with chiropractic, AutonomicNerveChartyou only need to maintain the parts of your spine and nervous system you want to keep functional. You don’t need to come, get checked and adjusted when necessary for the rest of your life but it would be healthier if you made that choice. There is a difference between a need and a desire. I need water to survive. I desire to maintain my function so that I don’t lose it and need emergency intervention in the long run. Most people that seek my help start off needing chiropractic care. They come in limping, on crutches, being carried, or on medication because they cannot function normally. This time of need for most people is relatively short and before long they no longer need chiropractic. The smart ones will, however, make a choice to utilize chiropractic for what it is best at which is preventative maintenance.

HighMaintenanceLifeSo really it comes down to this: You have very few basic needs and chiropractic is most likely not one of them. But, do you really want to go through life only covering your needs? How many things in life, that you work for, are actually desires above your needs? This is the difference between surviving and thriving. Both are important but one takes more conscious effort and action.

 

#5) Chiropractic is not safe for SurprisedCatchildren

This myth comes mostly from people who either are not aware of how children are adjusted or confuse chiropractic with medicine. Some people imagine that kids with tiny spines are going to have their neck cranked all the way around and the chiropractor is going to jump up and down on their backs as if they’re a full grown adult.  My daughter was adjusted when she was just two minutes old, so I can assure you that it is very different.IMG_3479 Life is rough on a growing and developing body. As if squeezing through a birth canal is not enough, lots of bonks and falls await them as they grow. Children, too, have a spine with a nervous system and so it only makes sense that if their spine is torqued, twisted, or just slightly causing stress on their nervous system then this will have negative effects on their growing and developing bodies. The truth is, anyone and anything with a spine and nervous system will benefit from a good chiropractic adjustment, if they need it. But this post is not about the benefits to kids, it is about the evidence or lack thereof for chiropractic to be dangerous.

If anyone wants to do a search in the largest database of published peer reviewed scientific articles, PubMed, for chiropractic pediatrics adverse events only 4 articles will show up. One of these articles has nothing to do with chiropractic, one is on a specific condition (otitis media with zero averse events). The other two are of interest to this topic.

The first is from the University of Alberta and was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study reviewed 13 published papers about spinal manipulation in general but not specifically chiropractic. In the conclusion the author writes; “neither causation nor incidence rates can be inferred from observational data. Conduct of a prospective population-based active surveillance study is required to properly assess the possibility of rare, yet serious, adverse events as a result of spinal manipulation on pediatric patients.” SO basically we are back to square one with no direct evidence linking chiropractic adjustments to injuries in children receiving chiropractic care. If you have not noticed so far from my blog posts, when you start reading the scientific literature for yourself it becomes obvious that scientific studies are not as “black and white” in their findings as the media makes them out to be.

The second is a similar style of study that the first recommended at a single clinic. Both parents and doctors participated in monitoring the children and documenting adverse events. The adverse events that occurred were relatively mild and similar to what some adults experience. The parents reported that 1 in 867 adjustments led to adverse events and the doctors reported that 1 in 1813 adjustments led to adverse events.  To place this in perspective, take a look at this study that looks at how hospitals can decrease preventable adverse events caused by medical errors. After implementing the better system these events still occurred at a rate of 1 in 5. Which means that, at best, one out of five medical interventions lead to error or injury.health_continuum2.5

Now, I am not a fan of comparing medicine to chiropractic or vise versa. That is comparing apples to oranges. They each have their different benefits and limitations. However, historically the medical profession has lead the charge in spreading the myth that chiropractic is an undue risk to children but when we look directly at the evidence itself, medicine is far more dangerous. There is a reason for this, though. In emergency situations, tough calls must be made in order to save the child’s life that may involve some element of harm to that child’s body. Everyone agrees that this is an acceptable risk even though it is heart breaking. Very few would come away with the idea that children should never go to a hospital when they need it if they have a 1 in 5 chance of being injured. The same is true for chiropractic except, because of the different nature of chiropractic, the risk is hundreds of times less.

Everything comes with an inherent risk, though. This risk is increased by the fact that not every doctor acts in a professional or ethical way. There is also the fact that everyone makes mistakes. I have said this in a previous post and I will say it again. If you really want to see the risk associated with a profession, look at how much malpractice insurance costs. The insurance companies have a great financial incentive to charge riskier practices more money since they will be spending more money paying out to plaintiffs. This is how insurance companies stay in business, by being very good at risk analysis.  In the end there is no scientific evidence that shows a good chiropractic adjustment from a competent chiropractor is an unnecessary risk to a child’s body.

For those of you out there who are still afraid of a chiropractor jerking your kid’s spine around, keep this in mind. A child’s adjustment is far softer than an adult’s adjustment. The force required to adjust a child is FAR LESS than what is required for an adult for two reasons;

PerfectSquat#1) Children do not have as much muscular strength to resist the adjustment like most adults do.

#2) Children, in general, have not had the time that adults have had to develop the bad habits that lead to really bad subluxations.

Children are much easier to adjust and need fewer adjustments than adults because they are still in a state of ease with their body and do not over analyze or over compensate the way adults do. The bones of a baby’s spine are in multiple pieces before they fuse together to form a vertebra. This makes a baby’s spine much more able to create abnormal pressure on the nervous system with these extra pieces but this also means that an adjustment can be done simply by slightly pushing those pieces in the right direction with the very tip of a chiropractor’s pinky finger.

It seems that ignorance and fear are the basis of this myth and unfortunately the consequences of children not being adjusted when they need to can be far more severe than in adults. Any delay or decrease in development can affect someone for the rest of their life. This means that the same children, that those who buy into this myth are trying to protect, are the ones that will suffer the most. Children deserve to have Subluxation3the best start in life possible and chiropractic is one of the simplest and gentlest ways to help them. Every child should be checked by a chiropractor at least a few times during their formative years just to make sure there is nothing biomechanically interfering with their growth and development. It is just too simple to not give kids a chance to develop to their highest potential. Hopefully soon I will write a post about the benefits of chiropractic for kids and what to look for in a good pediatric chiropractor.
Stay tuned and adjusted.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 3

debunkedAll sited references are attached to the highlighted 
text and will open in a new window when clicked
Also click for → part #1 and part #2

#5) Chiropractic treats conditions like pain, asthma or stomach problems.

It all comes down to this: there is only two ways that healing occurs, either the repair or the replacement of the cells that make up our body. It does not matter if a healthy body does the healing normally from the inside or if we seek the help of doctors to stimulate the body from the outside, the result is the same. It can happen in no other way for the physical body.

CellHowever, please keep this in mind, everyday our bodies lose billions of cells. On average, every seven to ten years our bodies are almost a new collection of organisms with very few cells in place from seven to ten years prior. We are built for and by new life, as our cells are actually living entities in and of themselves. As I said before, every cell needs the communication from the nervous system to be able to work in harmony with all of the other cells of the body.

Most, if not all, diseases and conditions start out as “dis-ease” in a normal function. Once the ease of function is lost cells become worn out and damaged before becoming completely dysfunctional. Since the chiropractic adjustment helps the body restore the ease in communication, normal function then has the possibility of being restored by the natural systems that our cells have. This is why many conditions will appear to be healed as a result of receiving good chiropractic care BUT this DOES NOT mean that the chiropractor cured these conditions. Only your body and the intelligence that organizes it can truly heal or cure your body by repairing or replacing damaged cells. Many health care professionals can support your body in the healing process with nutrition, drugs, exercise, touch, surgery, or counseling but only chiropractors are specifically trained to identify and correct the cause of the loss of ease in communication between the cells of our body and brain. No system of the body can function properly with mechanical interference on the nervous system.

“Maintenance it the mortar of health!”

With this in mind, chiropractic is best utilized as routine maintenance to help our brain correct the “dis-ease” before the “dis”-function sets in which precedes disease. If we wait too long then diseases and symptoms will require more time and effort to correct. Waiting to see our chiropractor until something is painfully wrong is very much like waiting to change the oil in our car until the engine starts to seize up. Once the engine seizes it is too late for preventative maintenance. Then our options become limited until, eventually, we have an emergency and emergencies are the specialty of the medical profession.

So in the end, chiropractic does not treat any disease or condition. Rather it treats “dis-ease” and helps to restore the foundational element in optimal function, which is the normal informational flow between the cells and the intelligence that coordinates their function. My family gets checked by our chiropractor about twice per month because we want to be sure we are maintaining as much function as we can. Some people may require more and some people may require less, everyone is unique.

#6) Chiropractic fixes back and neck pain

Although pain is by far the most common reason to go to a chiropractor, this is another marketing inspired mythShockedSmiley based off the observation that most chiropractors experience in practice, which is; most people with back and neck pain benefit from a chiropractic adjustments.  The pain myth became mainstream when in the 1980’s medical insurance companies started reimbursing chiropractors for their services with the stipulation that improvement could be documented and predicted. It is easy to document improvement in symptoms but to claim that something “fixes” pain is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of pain itself. Pain is a creation of the brain. When someone tells you that it is all in your head, they are right, but that does not mean it is not real or it does not hurt. Pain is a very important signal from the brain that tells our body:

StrokeBrain#1) Something is not functioning correctly

#2) Slow down

#3) Fix the problem

Herbs and medication can alter the chemicals that signal pain but no one can fix pain except the person who is experiencing it. Chiropractic can help the body restore the proper communication between the brain and the body. This can help with the cause of pain in two ways.

#1) If the body is sending information along the nervous system and that signal is distorted on its way to the brain then responding correctly to the stress of life is impossible. Our brains need to receive as much correct information as possible from the body in order to make the correct decision on what to do in response. Eventually this lack of correct response can lead to wasting the time and the fuel that is needed for good function and repair. When certain cells of the body do not have the time and/or fuel for repair or function then we can eventually develop pain symptoms as the surrounding cells signal the brain that there is dysfunction.

#2) If the brain is sending information along the nervous system and it gets distorted on its way to the body then responding correctly to the stress of life is, again, impossible. The trillions of individual cells that make up our bodies need the information from the brain to be able to do their part for the body as a whole. We might know what to do but our cells might not be getting the message and simply do their own thing. When our cells stop functioning in communion with the rest of our bodies then dysfunction begins that will eventually lead to destruction and pain.

According to number 17 of the 33 principles of Chiropractic: every effect has a cause and every cause has an effect. Pain is an effect (symptom) and unless the cause is addressed by the intelligence that runs our body then it will never truly go away. Taking drugs for pain is much like unhooking our check engine indicator in our cars. It does not fix the problem with the engine. Now for some people it is necessary to turn that signal off because it can be so overwhelmingAlexGrayEnergyBody that it inhibits the functions required to live. So medicine definitely has its place in these emergency situations and it is very effective. However, outside the emergency situation, the medical philosophy guides a medical doctor to try and fix the engine. This is where chiropractic philosophy differs from medical philosophy. According to the chiropractic principles, since the person who’s engine needs repair has the same intelligence that built the engine to begin with, it would be best to have the builder oversee the repairs. The doctor is an assistant who helps to remove the obstacles preventing the builder from repairing what was broken and worn out.

“The power that made the body heals the body.”

The spinal column (neck and back) is a vital component in signaling to the brain where the body is in relationship to the environment. Without this information it is impossible to adapt and survive. This is why so much pain can be associated with the spine, the brain is very picky about its function. The smallest dysfunction in a single of the 76 joints can result in the brain sending massive pain signals. At the same time, the smallest restoration of joint function can signal the brain to decrease or stop the pain signal completely.

PainPostureAlthough many chiropractors claim they are improving joint function, that is not credit they should take.  Some evidence does exist that very subtle changes in position happens immediately as a result of a good chiropractic adjustment, the improvement in function of the joints is accomplished by the cells that make up the joint. This is the indirect effect chiropractors have on back and neck pain; they help to restore function by applying a force to remove the mechanical interference from the nervous system. A specific chiropractic adjustment frees our nervous system of mechanical interference allowing our inborn intelligence to do its job, which is to organize the material of the body to adapt to the stress of life. Any abnormal inhibition of this system’s function will eventually lead to destruction and dysfunction which causes the brain to give us pain as a warning. Once the brain no longer needs to warn us then the pain goes away.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 2

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Some of the links are embedded into the 
highlighted text and others are cited below.
To view part #1 click here.

#3) Chiropractic neck adjustments cause strokesStrokeBrain

            Yikes! This is a scary one and the people who spread this myth are counting on that. There are only a handful of studies that look at this, few of them by testing the anatomical or physiological aspects of the body necessary to scientifically prove a causative effect. Most of these studies come to varied opinions by simply looking at statistics and applying different forms of analysis. Since the estimated risk range is HUGE (1 in 5000 to 1 in 5 million {[i]} depending on who you read) we must carefully read the body of evidence in its entirety before we jump to conclusions, because a range this big is very suspicious and essentially tells us nothing. The most telling study that I have come across is from a Chiropractic school where the least experienced “doctors-to-be” practice on people. If there is any place that would run a high risk it would be in the schools. However Jaskoviak {[ii]} reported that not a single case of stroke occurred in approximately five million cervical “manipulations” at The National College of Chiropractic Clinic from 1965 to 1980.   Not one!

            Everything comes with a risk. That is a fact that cannot be ignored by anyone. Before I go into too much detail lets look at the supposed risk of chiropractic compared to other things that most of us do without giving a second thought. According to www.squidoo.com/oddsdying on the odds of dying:

HomerReeper2Stroke in the general population 1 in 23

Motor-vehicle accidents over-all 1 in 87

Complications of medical care 1 in 1,313

Fire in building or structure 1 in 1,451

Drowning while in natural water 1 in 2,370

Fall involving furniture 1 in 4,225

Storm 1 in 4,346

Struck by lightening in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1 in 5000

Drowning while in swimming-pool 1 in 6,258

Drowning while in bath-tub 1 in 11,042

Average of the insanely large range from “scientific” studies of chiropractic and stroke 1 in 2,497,500

            Now I am not statistician but I can’t figure out how the risk of dying from stroke being 1 in 23 in the general population and the absolute worse estimate for stroke due to a neck manipulation being 1 in 5000 can somehow show chiropractic to be dangerous. If anything it seems to show that we are more likely to drop on the sidewalk from a stroke than on a chiropractic table by thousands of times over. But then again, a chiropractic adjusting table is technically furniture and since that is statistically more dangerous than the adjustment from the chiropractor, it may increase the risk.

For the sake of argument though, let us pretend that the risk is around 1 in 5000. Think of how many chiropractors would have strokes victims in their offices since the average chiropractor delivers around 5200 neck adjustments a year. That averages out to at least one per DrSyringeyear per chiropractor. Think of how much malpractice insurance would cost for chiropractors if every chiropractor was causing one stroke per year! In reality medical malpractice insurance is at least 30x more expensive than chiropractic malpractice insurance. So if $$$ talks then chiropractors are at least 30x safer.

 

One of the major logical errors that we need to be careful of is mistaking correlation with cause and effect. For example, when the weather gets hot more people choose to drink lemonade. Since August is a hotter month in America the increase in lemonade consumption has a correlation to the month of August. However, it would be silly to say that it is the actual month of August that causes the lemonade to jump in peoples’ mouths. This is basically the same with strokes and Chiropractic. Most people who are in the early stages of a stroke start off having headache, shoulder, and/or neck pain. These are very common reasons for seeing a chiropractor. So these people, who are already in the process of having a stroke, walk into the chiropractic office and guess what follows. There may be an argument for a correlation with chiropractic and stroke but there is absolutely no scientific evidence that chiropractic adjustments causes strokes.
ThinkDangerous

The second logical error we need to be careful of would be to only read part of the information and then jump to a conclusion. The majority of the studies that show a higher risk than is reported in reality do not just look at chiropractors. According to Terrett ([iii]); “manipulations” administered by a Kung Fu practitioner, GPs, osteopaths, physiotherapists, a wife, a blind masseur, and an Indian barber were incorrectly attributed to chiropractors.” We must recognize that an MD, DO, or DPT can take a weekend course on “manipulation” then proceed to adjust everyone who comes into their office. However, chiropractors train for a minimum of three years to adjust correctly. This is a huge difference in the amount of training that each profession receives. Personally I would never let a medical doctor adjust me. I would also never let a chiropractor remove my appendix or prescribe me drugs simply because that is not what they are trained for and thus the risks go up.

Here is the bottom line, when all of the literature is read thoroughly; zero scientific evidence can be found that shows chiropractic neck adjustments causes strokes. This is simply a case of fear mongering. When the absolute worst-case scenario is about as likely as getting struck by lightning and in the best case we are 25x more likely to be killed by an asteroid, then chiropractic seems extremely safe by comparison.

[i] Chestnut J: The stroke issue: Paucity of valid data, plethora of unsubstantiated conjecture. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27;368-72. http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161- 4754(04)00054-5/fulltext

 

[ii] Jaskoviac P: Complications arising from manipulation of the cervical spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1980;3:213. Not available online.

 

[iii] Terrett AGJ: Misuse of the literature by medical authors in discussing spinal manipulative therapy injury. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995;18:203. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7636409

 

 

#4) Chiropractic adjustments hurt

Unfortunately, of all the myths I have discussed so far, this one is the most likely to be true. A good chiropractic adjustment will most of the time feel like a huge relief. However there are some factors that can make this myth true like:Ouch

1) The skill of the chiropractor at finding the right place to adjust

2) The severity of the subluxation

3) The skill of the chiropractor at delivering the adjustment

4) The ability of the patient to relax

5) How much pain the patient is in to begin with

6) How much dysfunction the patient has to begin with

A great chiropractor can make the most difficult adjustment easy and comfortable but a poor chiropractor can make the easiest adjustment very uncomfortable. It greatly depends on the skill of the chiropractor and how good of a relationship between the patient and the chiropractor. That is why when people ask me what to look for in a chiropractor I always start with the most important factor; How much do you trust the person with the chiropractic degree?

Your relationship with your chiropractor plays a big factor in how easy it is to relax right before the adjustment. Since you cannot control how the chiropractor adjusts the best factor you have in your control is your ability to relax. Stress:RelaxThe more relaxed your muscles are the easier it is for your body to correctly receive the adjustive force. This is why some chiropractors recommend receiving a massage before an adjustment. However I totally disagree. A good chiropractor should be able to place your body into a position that is easy to relax into and deliver the adjustment faster than your muscles can tense up. I feel it is laziness on the part of the chiropractor to recommend massage first. If the chiropractic adjustment restores the proper communication between our brain and body then it would make more sense to have your brain fully in charge of the muscles before trying to get them to relax with massage. Otherwise you will be fighting against the massage therapist rather than working together.CrabPinch

The next thing to remember is that there are multiple ways to accomplish something. It is your responsibility to let your chiropractor know that what they are doing makes you uncomfortable and you would like them to try it a different way. A good chiropractor should be able to accommodate this. Again, the more you relax the better so if you are being positioned in a way that makes it more difficult to let go then say something.

One last factor that is not in anyone’s control is the amount of pain that someone comes in with. The more pain you are in before the adjustment the more uncomfortable the adjustment might be but the more relief you will feel after. On the opposite hand, the more dysfunction someone has before the adjustment the more discomfort they might feel after the adjustment. Healing takes time and that time is not always comfortable. Think back to when you were a child if you experienced “growing” pains. Many times our brains will send us signals to tell us to ReduceSpeedslow down so our body can heal, grow, or reorganize. If our brain has been having trouble communicating with our body for a long time then after an adjustment, when the flow of information has been restored, the brain will have a better picture of how it needs to organize the body. Once it gets to work, many times, it needs us to stop stressing our body for a while and thus it triggers pain or discomfort to slow us down. One of my favorite chiropractic quotes; “Chiropractic is designed to help you function better not necessarily to help you feel better.” Now improved function will eventually lead to improved feelings but not always instantaneously. This is another reason that my family uses chiropractic to maintain function rather than to restore dysfunction after it has set in.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

 

 

Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 1

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Part 1

This will be the first of many post about some of the popular myths about chiropractic. What is fact and what is fiction? I am not sure how many post this will involve because the understanding about chiropractic is very muddled from inside the profession as well as from outside. If you are reading this and you want a specific topic covered please feel free to recommend it in the comments below. Also, since I am still new to blogging and have not figured out how to place references at the bottom, all of the references I use are linked to the highlighted words in the articles. Just click on the word and a new window should open up with the citation.

Here we go…

Myth #1) Chiropractors align your spine

This myth is very popular and propagated mostly by chiropractors who had limited anatomy and physiological spine-alignmentknowledge as they try to explain to the lay public what they were doing. While it is true that the vast majority of people who undergo chiropractic care do show significant improvement in “normal” alignment, chiropractors should not be taking credit for this. The alignment of our spine (posture) is a function of our brain, muscles, and connective tissue. Our brain’s job is to organize coordinated responses to adapt to the stress of gravity on our bodies during movement: our movements and/or the environment’s. A chiropractor can give the body a very specific force that helps the body remove mechanical causes of misinformation traveling along the nervous system. Only then can the brain utilize the correct information to improve alignment. The only way this is done is by the brain signaling for changes to take place in the cells that make up the tissues responsible for alignment in the first place. This means that the actual improvement is done in and by the person receiving the adjustment, not the chiropractor.

Brain2In fact the brain can utilize any outside force to improve alignment if that force is in the right place, at the right time, and in the right direction. However, it is MUCH more efficient to have an expert deliver the force rather than waiting and hoping that the right “accident” will come along. Many other professions such as massage and physical therapy can help the muscles and connective tissue change shape to support better alignment, but chiropractors are the only professionals trained to help the body remove the mechanical stress on the nervous system that causes maladapted tissue dysfunction in the first place. When your brain can freely communicate with your body YOU will correct improper alignment and posture. No one can move your body better than you, so don’t get duped into giving someone else this responsibility and power. Chiropractic can help you accomplish this but only you can actually do it!

Myth #2) Chiropractic is founded on pseudo-scienceTinHatArea

We can trace this myth back to the American Medical Association (AMA) directly. Before I get into that, though, I would like to give you a brief history of chiropractic and its founders. The use of spinal adjusting is more than four thousand years old with the first written records about it found in China around 2700 B.C. Many other civilizations have used spinal adjusting for thousands of years such as: Egypt, Greece and even some Native American tribes. This form of treatment has come in and out of favor with the different civilizations that had no interactions with each other, and so each can be said to have “discovered” it on their own. The same can be said for Daniel David Palmer (D.D. for short), although it has also been suggested that he D.D.Palmerdid have contact with bone setters and the founder of osteopathy prior to the following date:

In 1895 D.D. found a backbone out of place on the janitor for his office building named Harvey Lillard who had been deaf for 17HarveyLillard years prior. After two tries to “rack” the bone back into place Harvey’s hearing was restored permanently. After this, D.D. dedicated his life to studying why this happened the way that it did and taught others how to do it again. Although what he discovered was not new he did finally discover why, after centuries of anecdotal evidence, adjusting the spine positively affects health. He was way ahead of his time and like most geniuses was harassed and even jailed because of it. At this time in history, the mainstream medical profession was still bleeding people to get rid of “bad blood” and injecting them with mercury to “balance out the humors.” Meanwhile D.D. Palmer was writing and teaching about the nervous system being the master control system of the body and that the Innate (meaning inborn or born with)  Intelligence of the body used the brain as command central to organize all of the cells of the body to work together. He stressed the importance of proper “tone” of the nerves and position of the tissues that surround them in the body. Palmer proposed a unique theory about the nature of health/disease and gave credit to the role of the patient’s body and its innate healing ability, rather than doctors’ treatments, as the key to health and healing. This made him many enemies in the medical community.

As Chiropractic began to grow and become more scientifically validated, the medical community began to organize and attack anyone outside of their control claiming that they were the only ones with scientific validity behind their treatments and all others were “quacks.” Chiropractors by the hundreds where routinely jailed for practicing medicine without a license. The amazing thing is that most of these jailed chiropractors were released after their patients protested in front of jails and court houses across the country, only to be arrested again for the same false charges days or weeks later.

Eventually chiropractic was legally recognized as a separate and distinct profession from medicine, thus protecting chiropractors from these types of false charges. The medical community did not give up, however, and in the 1960’s the AMA created the Committee on Quackery to “contain and eliminate the Chiropractic profession.” Mountains of propaganda against chiropractic were distributed and medical doctors were discouraged from working with chiropractors upon threat of loosing their licenses.

HealthJusticeIt was not until the late 1970’s that a lawsuit was filed against the AMA and 11 other medical associations, which came to be known as “The Wilk Trials”. After almost 10 years of court battles the decision was handed down and a ruling was made. The court found that the AMA and its members were guilty of “participating in a conspiracy against chiropractors in violation of the nation’s antitrust laws.”

Even though the AMA was forced to stop sending out propaganda and refusing medical doctors the right to work with chiropractors, the damage had been done. Still today there are many people, including medical doctors, thatChiroPubMedResults continue buy into the myth that chiropractic is pseudo-science. The funny thing is that there are literally hundreds of studies proving the efficacy of chiropractic published in peer reviewed medical journals, but still, this myth remains.

While it can be argued that chiropractic was founded on incomplete science, due to lack of anatomical and Anatomyphysiological knowledge during the late 1800’s, to say that it is or was founded on pseudo-science is blatantly false. Even today we do not fully understand exactly how the nervous system works and interacts with the other systems of the body. So we can definitely argue that today’s entire health care system is based on incomplete science. And it is a safe bet that future generations will look back and laugh at the way we describe things just as we look back on previous generations’ language, wording, and understanding. This is where most people who propagate the myth of chiropractic pseudo-science make their points, reading the historical words but refusing to find out what the author was attempting to describe. Just because our understanding has increased does not mean that previous generations were wrong. We just have more information today, and all of that new knowledge has added to the scientific validity of chiropractic no matter what words the founders used to describe why people function better after a good adjustment.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

Click here to read Part 2

Why practicing good posture is NOT important.

If some of you are reading this and scratching your head as to where the heck do I get off saying that practicing good posture isn’t important, hear me out first. Naturally having good posture is a sign of a healthy functional brain and body. Posture is supposed to be a subconscious product of good proprioception (meaning your brain knows where your joints are in space), balance, coordination, and muscular function. Poor posture is a symptom of one or all of these areas being weak. Thinking that we can change our posture by consciously moving our body into the position we think it should be in totally misses the underlying problem.

Since having perfect posture is a sign of perfect balance and coordination, if we want to have good posture (and all of us should strive for that goal) then we have to start at the source.

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If you have to sit all day sit on a ball…preferably outside. LOL

DrTadSchexnailder 41. Work on your balance. Please refer to my previous blog post about balance, but to sum it up; Balance is the foundation under the neurological function of coordination. If you want the coordination of good posture then balance must be practiced and maintained. Just so you know that I am practicing what I preach; nearly every day I stand on a fit-ball and do slow steady squats. I am currently working on the ability to stand and squat on the ball with my eyes closed.  I also practice on a wobble board with my eyes closed and when I sit to write these blogs it is on a fit-ball.

DON'T stretch the areas of your body that stay stretched all day.

DON’T stretch the areas of your body that stay stretched all day.

2. Stretch, but think first! Stretching is good only if the muscles you are stretching need to be elongated. For instance, if your job requires you to sit all day then stretching your back, buttocks, top of your hips, back of your neck and shoulders is counter productive. They get stretched all day long!

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Instead, think about the muscles that are shortened by sitting with your arms in front of you like the front of your hips, your chest, your stomach, the front of your neck, the back of your knees. These are the muscles that need to be reminded to lengthen while the opposite muscles that need to be compress and shorten.

 

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3. Relax and do it regularly. Get a massage, meditate, or join a yoga class. Remember, every muscle has an opposite in the body. When one moves its opponent must relax in cooperation. Relaxation is the key to efficient effective movement as well as strength and flexibility. If you are fighting your opposing muscles plus gravity then you will not be able to maintain good posture. Relaxation is a practice and unless we do it regularly we can’t expect to do it well.

4. Practice good breathing techniques. Take slow deep breaths all the way down to your belly button. Short shallow breathing is a contributing factor not only to poor posture but also to neck pain, shoulder pain, memory loss, and anxiety.

5. Get lots of rest, exercise, water, and sunshine. Without these, depression is sure to follow. Anyone can spot a depressed person by their posture: shoulders forward, head down, slouching. Never underestimate the effect emotions have on our body. Set yourself up for emotional health by keeping yourself active and passionate about life. Thinking positively is good but it is hard to do so in an unhealthy body.

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6. Feed your brain. Eat lots of healthy fats and proteins while eliminating artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

7. Get regularly checked for subluxations by your chiropractor. A subluxation is a joint that is slightly chiropractic_symbol_fwdisplaced or moving in a way that causes distortion of the information coming to or leaving the brain. Unless you can move one back bone at a time then you might need some help. Your chiropractor is specially trained to do just that. Due to the amazing adaptation ability of our bodies, subluxations usually go unnoticed until they build up to the point where our bodies start to get overwhelmed. Don’t wait for the symptoms of pain or disease. Get checked and adjusted (if need be) BEFORE it causes dysfunction in other tissues.

8. Balance your brain. This is possibly more important than practicing balance with our body. A happy healthy brain increases the likelihood that we will have a happy healthy life AND body, since the brain controls the body and all. Do a cross crawl exercise where you move your arm and opposite leg in unison (Such as Right arm, Left leg). Work out both hemispheres of the brain like doing math or cross words for the left hemisphere and doing creative writing or dancing for the right. There are lots of new web sites out there that turn brain exercises into games.

Remember that posture is a symptom of brain function. Don’t focus on the symptoms and ignore the problem. As with anything health related, start from above down and from inside out.

Much Love and always stay adjusted, my friends!

Dr. Tad

Balance ~ A foundational component of your health

So this is my first official blog post. Yay! I can think of no other topic more relevant or foundational in correcting many of the problems our society faces today.

DrTadSchexnailder 2Most of the time when we read something about balance, it mostly has to do with making sure our lives are balanced, our activities are balanced, our thoughts are balanced, our relationships are balanced…. All these are all good things to do, no doubt. However none of these will be accomplished without first addressing the system that controls ALL functions of our body, the nervous system.

The more we practice our balance the more we continue to reinforce proper brain function as well as communication in our nervous system. As a child develops, the higher potions of their brain matures after and in direct relation to the ability to balance. Balance develops first! Connect the dots: keeping our balance strong will keep our coordination and brain function strong for as long as possible.

How to keep physical balance strong:

  1. Make it fun! Any chance that we have to walk, run, jump, bounce, or wiggle should be taken and done with joy and curiosity.
  2. Do more things bare foot. It is a work out for our feet. Our feet are really important for balance and posture of the whole body. Relying on arch support in shoes too often eliminates the need to use our foot muscles. As muscles go; use it or loose it.
  3. Sit less but if you have to sit make it a challenge. You can sit on a fit-ball, an inflatable cushion on your current chair, OR you could rearrange your work space to be able to stand rather than sit
  4. Do things with your eyes closed. When we practice balance with our eyes closed we are relying only on the information sent to our brain from our muscles, joints, and inner ear. If all of these are strong then we will never have to worry about falling or injuring ourselves in regular everyday activities.
  5. Pick up your toes. Keep all of your weight between your heels and the balls of your feet so that your toes are free to move.DrTadSchexnailder 9 Test yourself; when you think about it while you are standing, wiggle your toes. If you have to shift your weight to do so then you know you are off balance.
  6. Practice relaxation. When one muscle tenses, the opposing muscle has to relax in order for you to move in any way. True balance and strength are 50% relaxation.
  7. Feed your nervous system and your muscles. Talk to a nutritionist about healthy fats and proteins that are vital for brain health. Eliminate excess sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives as these are toxic to the brain and nervous system. Some simple suggestions are raw nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fresh organic free range meets and eggs, lentils, quinoa, and a big serving of raw organic vegetables on a regular basis.
  8. Stretch. Can you touch your ear to your shoulder without raising your shoulder? If you can’t then start stretching. Lateral bending is important for  healthy spinal curves which are vital for balance and posture.
  9. Get other people involved! We are social creatures and we need human interaction. Get a massage, stretch with some friends, challenge your kids to a balance contest, or join a yoga class. Do something for your health that involves other people and you will be surprised at how fun it can be.
  10. Get adjusted by your chiropractor.  Keeping all of your joints moving properly is an important part of brain health, balance, and posture.

Much Love!

Dr. Tad


What are your thoughts? How do you practice balance? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

Work Out While Preventing Injuries -Part 1 of 3

This series of blog post is intended to give the basic principles of a healthy workout to prevent injury in the short and long term. Whether you are a hard core gym rat or you just decided to take some steps toward greater health this will help you out. I am laying out the principles — NOT telling you what or how to do things. There is no perfect workout for everyone but if you follows these principles and apply them to the workout that you choose, then you will not only get the maximum benefit but you will also save yourself from getting hurt.

If you take nothing else away from this series take this: THINK!!!!- Any workout starts in the brain and the body follows.

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A muscle, no matter how strong, is useless if the brain cannot fully control it in the way it was designed to function. A balanced brain leads to a balanced, functional body that looks and feels great.

Unfortunately most people follow what is commonly called “gym-science” in which the biggest guy at the gym must know the most science. This is flawed because, with a few exceptions, body building is a very unhealthy sport. Having lots of overdeveloped muscles leads to more problems and less functionality in the long run. Work out for function not vanity. The healthier you are on the inside the better you will look on the outside. As chiropractic philosophy states; health flows from above down and from inside out.

  1.  Work out your connective tissue before your muscles.  Ligaments and tendons take 3x as long as muscles to strengthen. That is why strains and sprains are the most common reason people stop activity. So especially when you first start to work out do low weight and high repetitions for a few months before you even think about lifting heavy weights. The saying “go heavy or go home” is a fantastic way to get hurt, so you will likely have to actually “go home” for a while.
  2. Spend at least 10 minutes to warm up and cool down with dynamic stretching before and after each workout.  Dynamic stretching means you move your joints only with the muscles that are supposed to move them in a rhythmic motion. Static stretching where you push a joint till you feel a stretch and hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds is OK but only AFTER a workout. If you take a joint and push it passed the normal range of motion before workout then you are setting yourself up for an injury.  To get the benefits of dynamic and static stretching add yoga to your workout. But keep in mind that it is a workout in and of itself. So on yoga days don’t go out and lift heavy right after a long session.
  3. Work out your extensors 2x as much as your flexors and stretch your flexors 2x as much as your extensors.  musclesFvsEFlexor muscles pull our arms and legs toward the center of our body and they pull the center of our body into a fetal type position.  Extensor muscles, on the other hand, pull us into an upright posture and pull our arms and legs away from the center of our body.  Now most things we do in this society involve sitting in a flexed posture or reaching down or in front and thus use our flexors.  Does it really  ake sense to continue to work out our flexors since we use them so often in every day activities? Think about this; babies are born being flexor dominant and develop their extensors in conjunction with the frontal cortex of their brains, where our ability to reason occurs.  As adults, our extensors are supposed to be stronger than our flexors and our frontal cortex is supposed to be stronger than the lower, more animalistic centers of our brains. There is a reason that the stereotypical “meat head” has a low IQ and is easily angered. (If you would like to do more research on the connection between upright posture and brain health look up Dr. Uner Tan Senior Researcher, Department of Physiology, Medical School, Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey. You can start with this interesting PDF @ http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/2051587/214865967/name/REFLECTIONS+OF+A+SCIENTIST.pdf%20)  Regardless of what you start out with, over developing the flexors will lower the ability to reason and increase the likelihood of emotional reactions. Our flexors are mostly on the front of our body from the waste up and on the back of our legs below our butt. Our gluts, butt muscles, are one of the most important extensors to work out. So think about what position your body spends most of the day in, then work out in ways that oppose that position. For example; if you sit at a computer most of the day it would be wise to work out doing squats, lunges, rows, and pull-ups. Avoid doing sit-ups, bench press, and bicep or leg curls. Take extra time throughout the day to stretch your chest, biceps, front of your hips, and the front of your neck.
  4. Balance is the key to correct technique and posture. Here is the hard truth to swallow for most guys who want to lift heavy weights: If you can’t lift the weight while balancing on a fit-ball, Bosu-ball, or wobble board then, no matter what your posture looks like on the ground or sitting, you can’t lift the weight correctly. When you lift weights while balancing you eliminate the use of your core muscles to move the weight because they are fully engaged in their real job, balance, which is really correct posture. This leaves only your outer “movement” muscles to lift the weights unassisted. So not only are you working your core muscles the way they are supposed to be worked but you are also getting the maximum out of the muscles you are targeting with the lift, even though the weight will be necessarily lighter in the beginning  It is hard to have bad posture when you are standing on a fit-ball. No one should do any exercise while sitting EVER because it requires no balance!

Stay tuned for part 2 where we will talk about how much exercise you really “need” and how to accomplish your work out goals most efficiently.

As always… Much Love and stay adjusted, my friends!

Dr. Tad Schexnailder DC

Vitalistic Chiropractor

Work Out While Preventing Injuries – Part 2 of 3

This is the 2nd post in a series on general workout principles, that if followed and applied to the workout you choose, can prevent many injuries both acute and chronic.  Again the most important principle is for you to THINK!!!  Remember to do your own research and make sure that your goals are achievable and simple.Einstien

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch  of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction” –Albert Einstein

5) Stick to functionally based exercises. Most people will never have to push a weight off of their chest outside of the gym but everyone will need to push themselves off of the floor at some point. Bench-press is a useless exercise for anything other than vanity. Push-ups, as with most closed-chain exercises, are a much better exercise that not only improves your strength but also your ability to move your body. That is what your muscles where designed to do, to move your body not to move the things outside of your body. A closed-chain exercise is where your body is free to move and your extremities are planted as in squats, push-ups, and pull-ups. Open-chain exercises keep your body still and your extremities move weights as in leg press, bench press, and lat pull downs on a machine. Multiple scientific studies have been done on the benefits of closed-chain exercises over open-chain.

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“Closed-chain exercises have been shown to require graded, coordinated and sequential muscle activation to govern joint movements; co-contraction muscle activation to govern stability; and emphasis on proprioceptive feedback to initiate and control the muscle activation sequence. Thus, from a functional prospective, they are more beneficial…” — Hyde TE, Gengenbach MS. Conservative Management of Sports Injuries. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007:73  Its really just common sense, functionality is much more important than looks or the ability to throw heavy weights around for the average person, with the exception being athletes and models. Here is a link to a great book for those of you who want to do more research… http://books.google.com/bookshl=en&lr=&id=8iza_h84kBYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=closed+chain+exercise+benefits&ots=mOFu4DXzEc&sig=a7DOLAF9pmCZRrgDbHXjYctAmHA#v=onepage&q=closed%20chain%20exercise%20benefits&f=false

6) Work out smarter not harder.  This is a link to a fascinating documentary that explores the research on exactly how much exercise is really needed to accomplish the health benefits of exercise. Insanely interesting, short documentary!!!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17177251

For those of you who want to workout longer than 3 minutes here is the basic idea; intensity matters. If you can work out longer than one hour then your workout is not intense enough, unless you are a professional athlete who works out for a living. Make your workout count, stay focused, and squeeze every second out of your workout that you can then spend the rest of your day with friends and family or relaxing.

7) Know your goals and how to accomplish them. Do you want to trim down and tone up? Don’t just do cardio!!!A beautiful asian woman doing push up at a beach The stereotypical “cardio” workout is great for a warm up or cool down but that is about it. Weight training is the best for trimming up and toning. Plus weight training IS cardio. Try it without increasing your heart rate, it won’t happen! Cardio may burn calories at the time you do it but weight training increases your metabolism long term so you burn more calories all day long. Ladies, don’t worry,  if you do light weight and high repetitions you will never “bulk up” unless you take something to change your body chemistry. The key is to use a weight that is heavy enough to fatigue you to failure after around 15 to 20 reps and do about 2 to 3  sets with a very short rest between sets. Actually it would be better to not rest but to immediately move on to work out another part of your body between sets. This is called circuit training.

Incroyable HulkDo you want to get stronger? Start with core exercises and use explosive movements. After preparing your connective tissue for a month or two begin using weights that are heavy enough to fatigue you to failure after only 3 to 5 repetitions and do this for 5 to 7 sets with a few minutes rest between each set. It would be best to start with your own body weight and then move to weights while on an unbalanced surface (a Bosu ball or wobble board) to promote better posture and proper core activation. Remember if you can not lift the weight while on an unstable surface then you do not have the core strength to lift it properly while on the ground.

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Do you want to get larger muscles? Look into muscle confusion workouts. The basic concept is to get your muscles to work in all possible directions so you strain every fiber possible. Work with a weight that will fatigue you to failure after 8 to 10 reps and do 3 to 5 sets with a short rest period between.

Remember that the goal of weight training to fail. You want to work your muscles to the point that they can not do any more, rest, and repeat. Change the weight, number of reps, sets, and rest time to accomplish different goals. The best advice is to find an athletic trainer or very educated personal trainer to help you create the ideal work out plan for your individual body.

Fats8) Get good nutrition. It is about quality not just stuffing protein powder into your body. If there are not the correct enzymes present to break down and absorb the protein then it does not matter how much is taken. There are A LOT of marketing ploys out there selling crap that is very harmful to your body but promises “results.”  Don’t get taken advantage of by catch phrases or fancy packaging.  Real food can not be beat!  The best advice is to see a nutritional expert and make sure you are not only taking the proper vitamins, minerals, nutrients and enzymes but they are also in the correct ratio with the correct amount of water for your individual body type.

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9) Make sure your spine is aligned. If even one of your spinal vertebrae is slightly misaligned then every one above and below it must shift to compensate. Our bodies are not compartmentalized, they are complete integrated systems.  It is called the kinematic chain and if any link is weak then the whole chain is weak. Chiropractors are specifically trained to find the weakest link and help it into a position that strengthens the link and the whole chain. No exercise can be done correctly if even one spinal joint is even slightly misplaced.

If you missed part one here is a link-   https://organiclivingchiropractic.com/2013/04/23/work-out-while-preventing-injuries-part-1-of-3/

Stay tuned for the last post in this series where we will define a simple and easy exercise routine specifically designed for people who sit at a desk or in the car regularly through out the day.

In the mean time, what are your thoughts on this series so far? What have been your experiences in exercising?  I’d love to hear from you: leave a comment!

As always Much Love and  stay adjusted, my friends.

Tad Schexnailder DC