Health is “a state of optimum physical, mental and social well-being. It is not merely the absence of symptoms, disease and infirmity”.
According to the World Health Organization, “the general health of most North Americans is poor”. Perhaps the reason that health is not our normal experience is that we do not understand what health or where it comes from. Most people think that health is simply the absence of symptoms. This is truly not the case! Symptoms are merely the end result of the body’s inability to function properly. For example, the first symptom of heart disease for many of those who suffer from it is a severe or fatal heart attack.
According to Gray’s Anatomy textbook, the nervous system has the job of controlling the function of all cells, tissues, and organs in your body. Therefore, health is only possible when all the organs of the body are functioning properly. In fact, disease is defined as “any deviation from or interruption of the normal function of any part, organ or system of the body”. A loss of health can therefore only take place as the result of a loss of function. For example, if the stomach is not functioning properly one can develop bloating, indigestion, ulcers, or even cancer. If the intestines are not functioning properly one can develop constipation, diarrhea, and numerous other ailments or diseases. A bone breaks and it has lost its normal function.
One can see from the above examples that without normal function one loses health and only if normal function is restored can we truly say someone has completely regained one’s health.
Traditionally, society’s emphasis has been on removing symptoms rather than on optimizing function. Health can only be achieved when the emphasis shifts toward creating optimum function, not simply removing symptoms. Chiropractic attempts to create optimum function by removing interference in the nervous system!
Illness is “any condition marked by a deviation from the normal healthy state”.
Illness generally develops in three ways. The first is traumatic. Trauma can be physical or chemical in nature. Physical trauma results in fractures, cuts, hemorrhages and resultant loss of function. Chemical trauma occurs by ingesting, breathing, or touching a substance that alters normal body function. The second way in which illness develops is via lowered resistance to infection. Only if one’s resistance is down, does one get sick. When the body does not function normally, one loses resistance, which invites such infections as a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. If having proper function would prevent an infection, then restoring proper function would be a major factor in getting rid of infection. The third and most common cause of illness is functional. In this case, it is the direct loss of function to an organ or tissue that results in illness or infection. A list of functional ailments would include asthma, ulcers, colitis, arthritis, psoriasis, diabetes, etc. These conditions are considered incurable by some physicians, but may respond favorably to treatment oriented at restoring normal function.
It is important to recognize the fact that when function is partially lost, symptoms may not develop for days, weeks, months or years later. If the heart lost 25% of its ability to function it might be years before the first chest pain or high blood pressure occurred. If the heart gradually lost its function over time the first symptom could be a fatal heart attack.
Chiropractors have as their major therapeutic goal the restoration of normal body function. They do this by removing interference in the nervous system, which is the master controller of every body function. First, chiropractic allows the body to maintain an optimal level of resistance so that it can better repel infection. Second, chiropractic improves functional disorders by attempting to increase function to the cells, tissues or organs supplied by the nervous system. It does this by removing vertebral subluxations that cause nerve interference and functional loss. Third, chiropractic works with those in trauma by restoring normal structural alignment and mobility thereby improving the body’s natural healing capacity, increasing resistance to future complication and preventing long-term spinal degeneration.
Dr. Dean MacDonald, D.C.
Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre