An essay about Chiropractic

The following is a response I gave to a friend of my wife’s who is studying to get her Bachelor’s degree in nursing.  She is taking a course in complimentary/ alternative health and asked me some questions about “chiropractic medicine”.  The following is my response to her.

Hi Marji,
Thanks for taking the time to ask me these questions.  My answers may be kind of long, but I like to have a clear understanding of my work and what chiropractic really is.  There is so much mis-understanding about chiropractic, and a lot of it comes from the practitioners, that the public doesn’t understand how chiropractic can be of great importance in their lives. 
So, first off, let’s drop the term “chiropractic medicine”.  That is an oxymoron.  It is strictly chiropractic.  It sounds weird because the word should be an adjective, you feel like something should follow it.  It took me a while to get used to it way back when, but you do after a while.
To describe what I do requires an understanding of what chiropractic health care really is.  Chiropractic is a philosophically based approach to restoring and maintaining health in the body.  It is based upon the premise that the body is a self-healing, self-creating entity.  All living things, whether plant or animal have an Innate, or Inborn Intelligence that creates the body and sustains life.  Think about it.  We all came from a single cell that divided into literally trillions of cells that became a baby.  At first the cells were undifferentiated, but at the right time they became nerve cells, liver cells, muscle cells, and so on. The cells formed organs and systems all working in harmony to sustain life in the newborn.  This is all accomplished without outside interference!  The developing body knows what it needs to do and when.  This power to create and sustain life does not end with the cutting of the umbilical cord, it continues for the lifetime of the individual as the body grows and evolves for the next 60 to 100 years. 
In the developing baby, the first recognizable system to be formed is the Nerve System (NS).  The NS guides the formation of the developing body.  After birth, the NS continues to do this as well as co-ordinate all the functions of the body.  When I ask people what does the NS do, they usually tell me it helps them feel stuff, usually pain.  But sensation is only 6% of NS function.  The NS is operating system of the body.  You have anywhere from 50 to 80 trillion cells in your body and each cell has 3 to 9 nerve endings attached to them.  The brain is in constant communication with every cell in your body, monitoring and guiding everything they do.  Not only does the NS do this, but it is constantly taking in information from your environment to guide you safely through life to minimize risk to your body.  The NS heals, animates, motivates, and co-ordinates your body and life! To have a healthy body, you have to have a healthy NS.  And everything in your life is an expression of your nerve system.  
As we go through life, we are subjected to stress.  Stress always sounds like a bad thing, but it serves to protect us.  If we didn’t have stress, we wouldn’t know when to protect ourselves from danger.  There are only three forms of stress: emotional, chemical, and physical.  And I list them in that order on purpose.  Emotional stress is a constant.  People don’t realize it so much, but we deal with emotional stress all the time.  From the moment of conception and on we have emotional stresses.  As we develop we pick up the emotional stress that Mom may be going through.  Birth is emotional. Then we have to deal with family issues, school, friends, jobs, the news, traffic, bills, and on and on.  Chemical stress is anything that goes in the body that doesn’t belong there such as vaccinations, food additives, fumes from gasoline, or the new carpet you put in, insecticides, etc.  And physical stress is what it is – falls, sports, accidents etc.  Most people think physical is the biggie, but it’s small compared to the other two.  Even when there is a physical stress, there is an emotional component playing behind it.
The effects of stress are cumulative. And what stress does is that it creates tension in the spinal cord.  This alters the TONE and TENSION of the spinal cord altering the flow of communication between the brain and the body.  If you compare the body to a violin, the spinal cord represents the strings and stress makes them go out of tune.  This leads to changes in body function and therefore health.  If the brain and body cannot communicate properly, the body loses its ability to regulate itself leading to disease and ill health.  
The definition of health is when all the systems of the body are functioning 100% of the time when they are supposed to be functioning.  It is also a state of emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.  And health exists when people are able to realize their uniqueness and potential as a human being.  Health IS NOT defined by the presence of absence of symptoms.  Symptoms serve to let people know that the body needs help or to warn that something the person is doing is not working for them and they need to change something!  Being pain free is comfortable but not a sign of health.  If that were the case, dead people would be the healthiest – they don’t feel pain!  Being healthy is being in tune with the body and knowing what its needs are and making choices that serve the body.  Not being healthy is to ignore its signals and shutting them off when the signals interfere with what we feel we need to do each day.  But I’m digressing. 
What chiropractic care is, as I said before, is an approach to helping to restore and maintain health to the body by ADJUSTING the NS through the spinal column.  By restoring the proper TONE and TENSION to the spinal cord, the brain and the body can communicate better and the NS can once again regulate and heal the body.  Remember, the body is an expression of where the NS is.  A sick NS creates a sick body, a healthy NS creates a healthy body.  There is no other way.  
Now, before I get into what I do, you asked about straights and mixers.  Straight chiropractors are also known as  principled or philosophically based chiropractors.  This what I am.  We do not try to emulate MD’s by diagnosing conditions and then trying to treat them with chiropractic methods. Whatever a person is going through is, in our terms, a product of a sick NS.  Restore health to the NS, and the body will heal itself.  The power that created the body, heals the body.  To me it doesn’t matter what a person has, it’s all an expression of a sick nerve system and a body that has lost it’s ability to adapt.  Now you may think ” Wow, that could be dangerous! What if a person has something really serious?”  Well, most people have already been to their MD’s and diagnosed out the wazoo! And if I suspect something weird, I always tell the person to have it checked out.  That’s very rare though.  People come to me with all sorts of issues.  I have worked with people who have hormonal issues, cancer, digestive issues, blood pressure, as well as headaches and stuff.  Many people consider me their primary care physician.
The mixers are chiros that have become more like glorified physical therapists.  They do diagnose, often work with MD’s, and “treat” conditions with chiropractic methods such as adjusting everything that is stuck.  They concern themselves with injuries – worker’s comp, car accidents, and sports. They use a lot of physical therapy equipment along with their adjusting, if they adjust at all.  They do stick to just a physical approach to the body. 
So what do I do? As you know there are many ways of adjusting the spine.  You probably experienced the high velocity thrust that results in a cracking sound.  I practice Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) which is a light touch approach.  The idea is not to move bones, but to tune the NS to its proper tone and tension.  When I perform my analysis on people, they are lying face down on the table and I check them for spinal cord tension. This shows up as leg length differences, ankle tension, muscle stress in the legs, and so on (without getting too detailed).  The pattern of stress that shows corresponds to spinal areas like in the neck or pelvis.  When I find the pattern, I go to that vertebral level, find the “sweet spot” and touch it very lightly and let go.  The person experiences a release of tension, their breath often gets deep and moves through the body in a wave. Often they will sigh. Sometimes they start to move on the table as the body “unwinds”, and sometimes (not often) they may have an emotional release.  The visit is often about 10 minutes long.  Afterwards most people feel relaxed, more at peace, lighter, more centered.  A study performed at the University of California Medical School in Irving (or Irvine? I forget) with almost 3000 people under NSA care found that after 3 months of care people reported feeling better able to deal with stress more constructively, they felt happier and enjoyed life more, they had less concerns with aches and pains, they had less colds and flu, they reduced or eliminated medications (with the help of their MD’s), they were able to make healthier decisions, and adapted healthier life styles.  You asked about negative reactions – there are none with this approach.

As far as labeling chiropractic care as complimentary or alternative – it is neither.  Chiropractic, if the practitioner is ‘straight’, is a stand alone profession independent of medicine.  The philosophy of medicine is that the body is incomplete, nature didn’t get it right, and it is system in failure that has to supported with drugs.  When the drugs don’t work, then remove the parts that are no longer needed or have died.  This is a mechanistic, Newtonian approach to the body that looks at the body the way a mechanic looks at an automobile.  Chiropractic is holistic.  Life is the expression of Intelligence through Matter.  The body is perfect and knows what it needs to do to maintain life.  Interferences develop to the expression of life in the body, and all we have to do is remove that interference and allow the body to do what it does best.  Chiropractic does not “compliment” medicine in any way.  Nor is it an alternative.  One should not think in terms of “should I take an aspirin for my headache or get my neck cracked?”  Alternative is either/or.  I educate my practice members to realize that their bodies are self-healing, self-regulating organisms, and that keeping them tuned gives them the best opportunities in life.  The healthier a person is, the less they need medicine (which is the leading cause of preventable death in the US today by the way).  

So there you have it.  I know I gave you a lot.  If you have any other questions (I’m sure you do now!) don’t hesitate to contact me again.