Thursday, October 27, 2016

No, Medicine Is Not Bad

Many times, people today look at their options for wellness and medical care, and they choose one “path.” Commonly there are those who have a more holistic approach towards health, and those who are less holistic, and more “mainstream.”

Once a side is chosen, people tend to develop an “us vs them” mentality. They see their approach toward health as superior to the dreaded “other”, and seek to destroy the other’s credibility and opinion. Those that do not like holistic medicine call practitioners “quacks.” Those who do not like medicine are equally vindictive in their attempts to discredit the “opponent” with phrases like “pill for every ill.”
This is not helpful, productive, or correct in any situation.

We know so very much today about health. Our ability to scientifically research the human body has never before been so advanced. The research available to those who care to look is abundant and many modalities of health and wellness care have been able to base treatments and care plans on sound science.

I work with a holistic approach. I believe strongly in the body’s capability to heal itself. That does not mean that I think antibiotics can’t be life saving, or that routine blood tests can’t give you good information about the current state of your health. I do not think medicine is at all the bad guy.

Anyone who works in a field where they desire to be a healer has a desire and a passion for serving people and helping them pursue and maintain health, regardless of the field they chose. Health is always important to them.

However, they cannot be expected to do everything.

It’s unrealistic to expect one type of care provider to be an expert on all approaches of care. For instance, you cannot go to a hospital - that practices medicine - and expect them to give you anything other than that. It’s not “on the menu” so to speak.
  • Medical doctors to not fully understand what a chiropractor does, so it’s not reasonable to ask them for advice on chiropractic adjustments when that’s not what they do.
  • A nutritionist cannot give you IV antibiotics when you’re gravely ill with a bacterial infection.
  • Medical doctors also have no training on the healing properties of food and nutrition. You need to see a nutritionist for that information.
  • An acupuncture specialist will not know much about drilling root canals - you need to speak with a dentist or oral surgeon for that.

See where I’m going here?

To illustrate this, I heard a birth doula once tell me that, while attending a birth in a hospital, the laboring mother was staunchly insisting on refusing all kinds of medical care. She did not want a heparin lock in her arm, she refused fetal monitoring, she was asking to sign paperwork saying that she would not have pitocin after the birth, and on and on it went. The nurse, who was a wonderful nurse and eloquent advocate for the mother, told the doula, “If a woman doesn’t want medicine, why does she come to a medical facility? We are a hospital - medicine is what we do. If you don’t want medicine, don’t go to the hospital.” And that is fair.

If you personally believe in a holistic approach, seek out the right kind of care providers for you. Wellness cannot possibly come from only one type of provider - collaborative care between several modalities provides you with the broadest spectrum of health advice and care.

Military Neck

When you look at the human body at a glance, it appears that the neck bones are straight. Between the muscles, ligaments, tendons,organs, and spinal structure that makes up the body of the neck, it certainly looks that way. But a quick peek inside an optimally aligned spine shows us otherwise. The careful and deliberate design of the neck is, in reality, highly complex, much like the rest of the body.

The neck is what we call the cervical portion of the spine. To function optimally, the cervical spine needs to be at a curve. When the neck bones are completely straight, it is sometimes referred to as “military neck” and the clinical name for it is cervical alordosis.

When not in proper alignment, and when they have military neck, some patients can experience pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and many other types of discomforts. This is sometimes a tricky situation, however, because sometimes people with straight necks have no symptoms at all.

Whether there is pain present or not, we know that the spine cannot properly facilitate communication within the body when it’s misaligned. Lack of communication within the body is the root of all kinds of health issues, many of which we don’t even fully understand. Increasing alignment and therefore communications within the body is, in essence, the foundation of chiropractic care, and is necessary in every person.

There are a few ways that one can find themselves with a straight neck. Most of the time it is related to poor posture. Leaning forward to look at a computer screen or looking down at a phone or tablet for much of the day can wreak havoc on your posture, especially the cervical spine. In some cases, a severe instance of whiplash can cause military neck.

Most people won’t know if they have military neck unless they are x-rayed or cared for by a skilled chiropractor who can diagnose and treat it. Whatever the case, restoring a proper cervical curve takes time, care, and a lot of patience. Most chiropractors will recommend the following:

  1. Traction. Traction is basically the exercise of stretching the neck over a support of some type the encourage the cervical curve. Chiropractors have a variety of tools that we use to facilitate traction, and we can give personalized advice for what to do at home.
  2. Proper posture. Since military neck is largely a result of poor posture, it's wise to be careful of your posture while you are in the process of correcting your neck.
  3. Put down the electronics. This is related to posture, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. We spend so much time looking down at our phones and tablets today that our posture and necks are paying the price.
  4. Most importantly: Get adjusted regularly. A skilled chiropractor will be able to help support your full body as it regains its proper function.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How Our Stuff Affects Our Health

This post is not based in science. There are no double-blind, placebo controlled studies to confirm this message. However this growing trend is displaying clear advantages to those who are choosing to practice it, and it warrants serious consideration for all of us.

I’m talking about minimalism. In practice, this means downsizing. I mean everything from your wardrobe to your boxes of photos - attic to basement. Downsize your kids toys, old photos, unused furniture, projects you know you’ll never actually have time to finish, clothes you’re holding on to for “someday,” and whatever else you may have lying around whose mere presence you feel the weight of.

Consider this. What’s the opposite of minimalism? You’ve all seen or heard of the show “hoarders” I’m sure. What’s the first thing most people have to say about those situations? That’s not healthy. Following this line of logic, if having too much stuff is a sign of someone being unhealthy, is the opposite also true - that having fewer things adds to our health and happiness?

Many are inclined to think so. Have you ever donated a load of things you no longer use, and instantly feel lighter? It’s as though you let go of a weight you didn’t even know you were carrying.

I was talking to a colleague recently who made an observation about minimalism. She and her family had gone on vacation with her family, and for lodging they had chosen to use an Air BNB house. The house they stayed in was solely used for this purpose, and it had only the basic essentials needed for visiting occupants. She continued to manage the home she was staying in as if it were her own, and it was so simple to do so, since there was no additional clutter sitting around to manage. She reported that her visit was one of the most relaxing weeks of her life.

It dawned on her that in this little apartment, they had everything they needed. Kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, furniture, etc were all basic, but it was more than adequate. She thought “Why do we have so many extras in our own home? What would happen if we went down to these basic essentials at home? How would our life improve?”

Upon arriving back at home, she got rid of everything that she considered non essential. Long story short, their family’s quality of life has improved. They have more family time to spend together.

Of course there is no tried and true way of knowing how our things affect our health. But isn’t it worth letting a few non-essentials go, and seeing what happens? Nobody ever attributed their health to an abundance of things. But plenty of people attribute increased peace of mind to having less.

Do you own your things, or do they own you? Try letting go of some stuff and see how you feel. You may be surprised at just how much your stuff affects you.