Updated: Jul 1
That was the first post I saw this morning when I clicked on my Facebook feed. After I cleaned up the coffee that came spraying out of my mouth, I thought, “Are you kidding me? Who wrote this?!”
My initial impulse was to respond like most people who feel insulted do…with an angry tirade, but that would have gone against my personal policy of not engaging with people looking for a fight. I did, however, think, “You know…I should blog about this and set the record straight!”
So here goes…
Since the Flexnor report came out in 1911, medical training has been symptom/drug oriented. In fact, the system we call our “Health Care System” has NEVER been about health!! What we have is a Disease Care System and the only acceptable remedies taught at medical school involve resolving the symptoms of those diseases with drugs, radiation and surgery. What I call the Poison, Cut and Burn approach to health.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not at all apposed to the advances in modern medicine thanks to this approach. Modern medicine is amazing in it’s ability to treat acute and life-threatening conditions. Thanks God we have this technology! But still, we can’t call it Health Care since it’s directed at people who are already sick or injured. I liken modern medicine to the fire department. They truly are the hero in our darkest hour with their bold and innovative technology, and it just keeps getting better.
But, this approach is NOT health care! In fact, I have asked many medical doctors I know how they would define health. To a person, they have always defined health as the absence of symptoms or disease. So do my patients! In fact, I recently had a 46 year old new patient come in for low back pain. As I took his history, he kept complaining, “Doc, I’m here for my back. Why are you asking me all these questions about my health? I’m healthy as a horse! Can’t you just crack me and get me better?” Meanwhile, during my thorough history (Yes, Chiropractors are trained in proper history taking, physical examination and differential diagnosis) I found out this guy was diabetic, had high blood pressure, had sleep apnea, had chronic swollen ankles and had a swollen prostate with extremely high PSA numbers, as well as a myriad of other “minor” symptoms that “everyone has” like chronic headaches, etc. NOT GOOD!
So… my question is, “Is Mr. ‘healthy as a horse’ really healthy?
The answer is NO! This guy is a walking health disaster! However, both he AND his doctors (yes, there are a few of them) consider him “healthy” because he no longer has symptoms. THAT IS NOT HEALTH CARE! IT IS DISEASE MANAGEMENT! My wife and I have always had “to teach, lead and empower” as our clinic Moto. I’ve always been a fan of the Socratic method so I kicked into “teacher” mode. I started asking him as series of questions.
I kept this line of questioning up through his entire symptom list. Then I went back through and asked, “Can you tell me WHY you have high blood pressure?” Can you tell me WHY you’re diabetic?” Can you tell me WHY your PSA numbers are high?” and so on. His answer to EVERY one of those questions is exactly what he had been told by his doctors…”It’s genetic.”
Here is a newsflash for you, folks… NOT ONE OF THOSE IS A GENETIC DISEASE! They are ALL the result of life-style habits that do not support the optimal expression of ones genetic potential. The diseases are the result of his body doing the best it can to compensate for his crappy life-style habits in order to just try and survive.
The burgeoning field of Epigenetics is proving that life-style has the ability to directly up or down regulate gene expression. So even if someone does have a familial predisposition to a disease, with proper life-style management, we can keep that gene from expressing.
Chiropractors have been teaching THAT since 1895! We have been teaching that disease is the result of the body not being able to properly adapt to physical, chemical emotional, and even spiritual stressors and that the disease is the by-product of compensations. The preventive remedy for these diseases is proper food, water, air, sun, exercise, nerve supply and loving relationships. (All things that modern medical science has validated over and over.).
The problem is, these things require patients to take FULL responsibility for their own health. Like an athlete training under the tutelage of a coach, they have to do the work! Sadly, in this day and age of immediate gratification and “better living through science," people don’t want to hear that. They would rather take a pill or “just get cracked” than live the life-style that supports optimal gene expression… thereby achieving optimal health.
You see, EVERY living organism has an innate, internal, organizing intelligence that is programmed to express itself fully. It’s ability to do so is DIRECTLY influenced by the environment it finds itself in. It the environment is supportive, it will adapt…meaning it will get bigger, faster, smarter, stronger. If the environment is not optimal, it will do what it can and it will compensate for that environment. Compensations, by definition, are a degradation of the ability to adapt. When a compensation occurs, the organism is less adaptable and will compensate even more. THIS becomes the downward spiral that ends up as “Disease.”
If we had a true Public Health System, our governmental policies would mandate proper, organic, sustainable farming methods, we would demand clean water and air, we would remove neurotoxic chemicals from our environment and we would do things which support strong immunity. Instead, we encourage and subsidize factory farming, liberal spraying of crops with pesticides and antibiotics, we promote processed fast foods and sugary drinks and then we scratch our heads and wonder, “Why is everyone getting so sick?”
My question is, “Why aren’t people more concerned about their health than their convenience?” After all, in my view, being sick, debilitated and in excruciating pain, is MUCH more inconvenient! The pills, potions and lotions will only manage your symptoms so long…at some point the system will really break. Then what?!
Public health begins with the public taking responsibility for their own health, not from some outside agency setting a standard for symptom management and calling that Health Care.
Chiropractors have been teaching this to their patients for 125 years. Maybe now, the public is ready to hear it.