Are You Living Below Your Potential?

Life is brief. As humans, we’re tasked with making the most of the limited time we have on this earth. Realizing this, it breaks my heart to see people live below their potential.   Now, I have been in the healthcare business for 15 years and have seen miraculous recoveries in conditions ranging from low back pain to cancer.   In fact, I would argue there are very few conditions out there that do not have an example of a full recovery with nearly every level of intervention.

Unfortunately, most people hurry through life, never stopping to smell the roses and only decide to try for health after years of neglect. People will literally spend decades of their life abusing themselves, then are perplexed when they develop some disease. The frustrating part for me, as a healthcare provider, is that for most of us, there is no mystery to being healthy. In fact, I would say that most people know what to do, they just choose not to do it. Moreover, many of the conditions for which patients chronically endure are correctible with adequate lifestyle change and focused intent.

In my experience, being healthy is not a matter of chance but a matter of choice. For the average individual, your health at any given period of your life is more a reflection of the decisions you’ve made than fate or some form of destiny for illness. Humans are not built for illness. We’re built to be healthy. It’s what we do to ourselves that makes us sick.

You see, you have a near limitless potential for health inside of you. Even a basic understanding of health shows that your body is constantly repairing the effects of physical and mental stresses. Each and every one of us is under relentless assault. Our jobs, our homes, our hobbies, and our lifestyles are constantly attacking us. And, our body is constantly adapting to the assault.

So, why do people get sick? Is it genetics? Recent genetic research suggests that our environment may be actually changing our genes over time. But, does this mean that chronic illnesses are necessarily passed down? Does it mean that if your father and grandfather had heart disease, then heart disease is inevitable for you too? Perhaps genetics does play a mild role but I don’t think genetics explains the measurable rise in chronic illnesses in recent years. Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and even cancer have been steadily rising in the U.S. for quite some time. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. as 37th in general health but I recently heard a statistic that said we consume 42% of the world’s pharmaceuticals. What does that mean? It means that the ‘solutions’ we are turning to are not making us any healthier. Could a more reasonable solution be that chronic illness is learned? I mean, your habits and attitudes about food, exercise, and lifestyle were learned from your parents, who learned from their parents, who learned from their parents, and so on. So, maybe “it runs in my family” is a less accurate description than “I learned about health from my family.” Break the cycle and live up to your potential.

We are becoming a reflection of the choices we make. They say you are what you eat. In a way, that is very true. They also say ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ I think a more correct phrase would be ‘garbage in, garbage stays.’ You become a reflection of the choices you make, good or bad.

Your body is a machine. Much like a car, for example, how your body functions depends on how you treat it. You can’t expect your car to run well if you only drive it every 6 months and fuel it with garbage. The same is true of you. The difference is, and this fact is lost on too many people, your body can self heal. A car can’t. Your physiology is designed to heal. When you cut your finger, you heal. When you break a bone, you heal. When you get the flu, you heal. So, why is it that when we get, say, high blood pressure, we no longer heal? Why do we stop healing when we get diabetes? Is it because you have some form of genetic marker that says, “Ok, at this age you will get sick with a chronic, incurable disease?” Or, is it more likely that you are no longer able to heal from this illness because your potential has been suppressed due to years of neglect? More importantly, is there now hope for you now?

There is a belief in the population that I have seen all too frequently, and believe to be incorrect, that being sick is part of getting older. What if there was a way to change your direction and restore your body’s ability to heal? I’m not talking about magic potions and hocus pocus. I’m talking about getting your health back by making a measurable lifestyle change. You have a limitless health potential inside of you that you’ve suppresses with your neglect and bad choices. What if you could get some of that back? Wouldn’t even a 10% improvement in your health be a huge win? Your potential for health is still inside of you. You just have to remove any obstacles to the healing process and rediscover your potential. Your body is designed to heal. It wants to heal.

No one has all the answers for completely restoring your health. Frankly, I would be skeptical of anyone making such a claim. However, having worked with thousands of patient’s in my office, I have found several consistencies in patients who have reversed their disease processes:

  1. Stop eating so much junk – Your food is laced with poisons. From preservatives, to artificial colors and flavor enhancers, the FDA allows over 14,000 approved non-food chemicals in the food supply. Most of us consume copious amounts of these toxins annually. Remember, anything you put in your body that is not food is a poison. Your physiology is not designed to process artificial sweetener, additives, and chemically synthesized fats. It is designed to process carrots, and broccoli, and chicken. You need to eat food, the fresher the better.
  2. Lay off the sugar – As Americans, we consume an obscene amount of sugar every year. Now, I’m not talking about apples and strawberries. Honestly, I’ve never seen a patient get to 300 pounds by eating fruit. I’m talking about processed sugar and refined wheat. Sure, we need a little sugar in our diet, but we shouldn’t be eating our body weight in it every year. Worse, much of the sugar we add to our food is highly chemically treated and concentrated. Not only does it contribute to weight gain and diabetes, but sugar is pro-inflammatory, leading to joint pain and fatigue. I’m not saying to be alarmist about it, but you need to know that if you want to stay healthy, refined sugar is going to keep you from that goal.
  3. Get off your stinkin’ butt and move – Your body is designed for exercise. No, not the 30 minutes 3 times per week that’s been taught to us for years. How can you stay healthy on an hour and a half of exercise when you spend the other 166 hours a week largely sedentary? We are literally sitting ourselves to death. Humans are built to be hunter-gatherers. To that end, we are built for 12-16 hours of exercise per day. So, knowing that amount, is the exercise you are getting every day going to keep you healthy? Not unless you get in the game and get off your butt. And no, walking to get the mail or cleaning your house doesn’t count as exercise.
  4. Enough with the ‘stinking thinking’ – If you want to be healthy, keeping a positive attitude is a must. We live in a day and age where we are constantly bombarded by bad news. So, stop subjecting yourself to it. You are what you think about. When it comes down to it, it’s not the circumstances that affect us as much as our attitudes about our circumstances. What I see in my patients, and research confirms this, is that happy positive people are generally healthier. So, turn off the news and enjoy your life. You’ll be happier for it.
  5. You have to supplement – For years, we were told that vitamins are just a waste of money…that they don’t improve health. Vitamins were reserved for nutrient deprived countries to help prevent disease. Here’s a news flash! Americans are nutrient deprived. We’re overfed and undernourished. The reality is that many of us eat such a terrible diet, that we’re not getting all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Worse, even the healthy foods we eat nowadays don’t have the same health benefits as they did 50 years ago because of chemical treatments and depleted soils. I’ve seen that my patients who supplement consistently are generally healthier in almost every way than patients who don’t.
  6. Get adjusted – Physiology doesn’t lie. It’s impossible to be at maximum health with a corrupted nervous system. Your nervous system is in your spine and it probably needs attention. Do you really think that the mental and physical stresses we endure on a daily bases will have no affect on your nervous system function? Taking care of your spine and nervous system is just as important as diet and exercise to staying well. There is a reason that the number one disability in adults over 50 is spinal disorders. Why? Because fewer than 8% of the population has ever been adjusted in their life and less than 2% of the population gets adjusted for prevention. Our wellness care patients in our office don’t get sick often, generally sleep better, and are generally healthier than the patients we see who choose not to purse a spinal wellness plan. Get adjusted. It may make the difference in your health.

Don’t know how to get well? Find someone who does and listen to them. There are tons of healthcare providers and coaches out there who do understand health and still have faith in the body’s ability to heal despite huge obstacles. A key piece of advice that you must remember though: health is not the same as disease management. Health is health and symptom control is an illusion. Symptom free does not mean healthy.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself. There is always hope. No matter how dire the circumstances, you still have healing potential inside of you. The question is: are you going to stand in your own way or are you going to make the changes necessary to change you circumstances? You have more power than you know. Choose to be healthy!

Why Not Chiropractic?

Why isn’t everyone getting adjusted?  I mean, what is so terrible, scary, or wrong with a chiropractic adjustment?  There are plenty of other things that are far more risky.  In my opinion, there are also few other things that offer the same health benefits as a chiropractic adjustment.  So, why isn’t everyone seeing a chiropractor?

Chiropractic, as an art and science, has been around for over 100 years, since 1895.  Even then, Hippocrates, the father of Medicine talks extensively of the spine as a cause of disease and joint mobilization has been used for thousands of years by various cultures from around the world.  True, chiropractic as a healing art has gained traction in recent years, being covered by Medicare, recognized by the Veterans Administration, and addressed by most health insurances.  Chiropractors can even train in specialties like orthopedics, neurology, radiology and other disciplines.  Still, I get the impression that chiropractic is the ugly kid in the corner of the room no one wants to talk to.

One of my assistants recently told my about a visit she had to her son’s pediatrician that encompasses effects of poor information.  The pediatrician, recognizing that my assistant was in scrubs (our office uniform) asked what her profession was.   When she told her son’s doctor she was a chiropractic assistant, the tone of the visit changed.  The pediatrician asked with some apprehension, ‘well your son doesn’t get adjusted does he?’  My assistant was quick to say that he did and further explained that we see lots of kids in our office.  The pediatrician, knowing she was an assistant to a chiropractor, began to attempt to re-educate her about adjusting and told her that they ‘don’t believe in chiropractic.’  My assistant asked why, because we see children do amazingly well in our office all the time.  The doctor then continued, ‘Well, I’ve never been to a chiropractor but…’  Need I go on?

This unfortunate scenario is only the most recent of frequent reports I here from other “health” professionals.  Within this past week, I had another of my assistants visit a doctor’s office and introduce ourselves to them.  We were looking for a medical physician to refer some of our patients to and were wondering if that office would be interested in seeing some of our patients.  The catch was that we would only refer them our patients if they were open minded to chiropractic care.  To our surprise, my staff member was informed that their office ‘doesn’t work with chiropractors.’  Why not?  Well, it turns out that while the physician’s assistant in the office is very open minded, the head doctor is vehemently anti-chiropractic.

Over the years, I’ve discover that the most ardent opponents to chiropractic care I’ve encountered have never even been to a chiropractor.  Most of them have never read any research or even know a chiropractor.  All they know is what they’ve heard, what they gleaned from some casual third party interpretation, what they saw on some expose, or, more insidiously, what was taught to them erroneously in school.  Yet, they offer advice on chiropractic care as if they are an expert on the field, doing both a disservice to chiropractic and, more importantly, to the patient who now loses the potential benefit that adjusting may have offered them.  The blind truly leads the blind.

Here are a few of the objections I’ve encountered over the years and their simple reasons why they are simply nonsense:

1.        Chiropractic is Dangerous – Really?  Chiropractic is dangerous?  So, the reason that chiropractic malpractice rates are a mere fraction of the Medical profession means that chiropractic is dangerous.  I once saw a statistic that showed that adverse drug interaction and hospital errors account for so many deaths annually, that it’s the equivalent of a 747 full of people crashing every day in the United States for that same time period.  I can tell you that if a commercial airline were actually falling out of the sky every day for a full year, there would be a national emergency.  Yet, chiropractic is dangerous.  You see, the average E.R., urgent care, or family physician only sees those very few people who may have had a rare complication to adjusting.  They don’t see the millions who get well in a chiropractic office.  So, they base their opinion off their limited exposure without a complete picture.  Their assessment of chiropractic care is not based off the healthy patients who feel great that, frankly, no longer need medical services.

After all, how many people has chiropractic killed?  How many people has chiropractic even injured?  In a century of chiropractic care would we even match the adverse reactions and deaths of one year of traditional medical care?  Just look at the AMA or CDC annual morbidity and mortality statistics.  Sure there are risks to chiropractic care.  There are risks to everything in life, but they are small and, statistically speaking, very remote, especially when compared to other healthcare options.  And yes, there are side effects.  You might sleep better.  You might have more concentration.  You might actually not get sick this year.  You might not need your medication.  I think you get the idea.

2.       Chiropractic care is for back pain only – Well, you may not realize this, but the first documented case of a chiropractic adjustment for the treatment of a condition was NOT for back pain.  It was for hearing loss.  In 1895, D.D. Palmer  applied the first adjustment to the upper back of a deaf janitor named Harvey Lillard.  Miraculously, his hearing was restored and the chiropractic profession was born.  Unfortunately, I think even some of my colleagues forget this little piece of our history.  We are not just back doctors.  Of course, there is more complexity in the story but there is little debate about the effect that nervous dysfunction can have on health.  It’s simple physiology.

I agree that our profession often subjugates the power of spinal adjusting to back pain treatment, but true spinal adjusting and maintenance has far more potential.  Relatively speaking, back pain is quick and simple.  Helping a patient realize their full health potential is a longer, complex journey, not a destination.  I see in my office that my wellness care patients don’t get sick like their friends, they sleep better at night, have more energy during the day, and are just healthier overall.  And, I am not unique in this observation.  There is more to a healthy spine and nervous system than just pain management.  An aspirin can manage your pain.  An adjustment will help improve your health.

3.       Kids shouldn’t be getting adjusted – Last time I checked, kids have spines too.  No, having a spine isn’t something you get at puberty or once you graduate from high school.  You have a spine from birth.  Spinal hygiene is about maintaining full spinal function.  It’s about preventing spinal decay and maximizing health throughout a person’s life.  Your spine can decay just like your teeth.  The difference is you can replace your teeth but you’re stuck with the same spine for life.

What’s the first trauma you ever experienced?  I would bet heavily that its your own birth.  Pulling and twisting and trying to push and pull a much larger baby through a much smaller opening would traumatize even the fittest of newborns.  I would argue that some of the trauma of childbirth can even haunt a person for their entire life.  Why?  Because their parents were told that adjusting is just for “back pain” and “kids shouldn’t be adjusted.”  In a society where we seem to be getting more obese and sicker with chronic illness, despite amazing advances in medicine, I think it’s time to change our approach to health.

I’ve even heard that adjusting kids is dangerous.  Are you telling me that a kid can take a fall from a 6 foot jungle gym and take off running without a pause where an adult would easily break their arm, but a pediatric spinal adjustment is dangerous?  Are you kidding?  We need to start getting real.

4.       Chiropractors are not real doctors – I once had a medical doctor tell me, to my face, that he wouldn’t refer his patients to someone who calls himself a doctor but only got his degree in a weekend course.  What a jerk!  In almost every state in the United States, chiropractors must have both a Bachelors Degree and a Doctorate in Chiropractic from an accredited chiropractic college.  So, essentially, a chiropractor has 9 academic years of education, the equivalent of a medical physician.  That doesn’t even include the doctor who chooses a specialty or board certification.  Chiropractors are required complete a national board examination and state exams.  They are also required to fulfill continuing education requirements just like their medical counterparts and are licensed by a State Board.  A chiropractic license is not just handed to the doctor after taking some internet classes.  It takes years of study and discipline and the term “doctor” is not used without merit.

5.       Chiropractors are ‘quacks’ – You don’t see this one too much anymore but I just read an article about how a state association in Texas that was trying to halt a run for congress by a chiropractor because he was a “quack.”  Besides being completely unprofessional, and that association should be ashamed no matter what discipline it is, I think the label needs to be put in perspective.  Dedicated hardworking chiropractors work every day to not just placate symptoms, but make an actual difference in the health of their patients.  We not only work to improve spinal and nervous system health but work to improve the general health of the patient.  We help improve nutrition, modify lifestyles and re-introduce a patient to exercise.  Rather than just covering up the patient’s symptoms with chemicals, our discipline works to remove obstructions to the body’s inborn, innate healing processes, helping the patient to maximize their health potential.  We track our patient progress, follow up with continuing care, and encourage prevention.

In this era where chronic illness is on the rise, “traditional interventions” only detect disease once it’s occurred and even then only offer symptom control by chemically altering bodily processes.  That’s not health.  So, the condition continues to progress but at least the symptoms are decreased and the condition is more difficult to measure.  I guess that actually working to improve a patient’s health and healing potential is now quackery while symptom control is now health.  The world has truly become upside down.

6.       Chiropractic is not scientifically based – The biggest area where I see this claim is from the traditional medical field.  Now, I’m not sure if they feel threatened by chiropractic care, but I really haven’t come across another procedure in all of healthcare that has more efficacy and research to support it than the chiropractic adjustment.  It has clinical control trials, peer reviewed articles, retroactive case studies and has been put to the test for years.  Moreover, colleges and institutions have been trying to poke holes unsuccessfully in the chiropractic model for years.  Consistently, adjusting comes out on top and the research proves the safety, efficacy, and effectiveness of chiropractic care.  Chiropractic is here to stay.

Anyone who says that chiropractic is not science based has just blatantly exposed the fact that they are not staying current on their research and have no idea what chiropractic is.  If they were, I don’t think there is any way they would discourage adjusting.  And, shouldn’t every family physician who, more likely than not, has many patients treating with a chiropractor, be fully informed on all the healthcare choices their patients are making or may potentially make?  Or, is it better to guide that patient with less information and make poorly informed health recommendations?  A patient shouldn’t have to suffer because their doctor doesn’t know, or worse, refuses to learn.  Their doctor needs to know chiropractic.

I once was doing a health fair and, being normal mild-mannered myself, was taken aback by a physical therapist who decided to get into an argument with me in front of a crowd about how he didn’t believe in chiropractic.  I’ve since discovered this to be commonly taught to therapists in school.  What a shame!  I was met with a few sly grins when I explained that “It was a good thing, then, that there are piles and piles of research out there to support what I do and people don’t have to rely on just your opinion when deciding to see a chiropractor.”  Chiropractic care is not some fringe healthcare choice.  It’s based on accepted physiology and is backed by research.  Now, if only more healthcare professionals would actually read the research or, at the minimum, give chiropractic a shot themselves to see if it works.  I’ve been blessed to see many medical professionals as patients over the years and have changed many minds in my office.  If only we could expose every medical professional to chiropractic care.

Spinal adjusting is safe and effective for all ages when performed by a chiropractic physician.  It takes years of schooling to learn the techniques and years of practice to hone adjusting skill.  Not just anyone can adjust a patient’s spine with the skill and expertise of a chiropractor.

So, the question becomes, again, why isn’t everyone being adjusted?  Well, the answer is simple really: lack of education and fear.  Unfortunately, many of the professionals that people turn to for their healthcare decisions really have no idea what a chiropractor is, what we do, or how chiropractic works the way it does.  As a result, chiropractic care, which may be the solution the patient really needs, is dismissed outright out of ignorance.

How much success has been lost to fear?  Fear of trying something different?  Fear of trying something new?  Fear of thinking outside the box?  Fear that it won’t work?  Fear that it will?  The problem is, you may never know because you’ve never tried.

We are facing an unprecedented healthcare crisis in our country with skyrocketing costs, increased prescription drug use, and rising rates of chronic illness.  Isn’t it time that we reconsider what health is and what it’s not?  Shouldn’t chiropractic care be at least a consideration in every healthcare regimen?

In my opinion, with chiropractic care, the potential is high, the risks are low, and it should always be attempted first, before more invasive procedures.  Is chiropractic a panacea of wellness?  No way!  Chiropractic care makes no promises and has no guarantee.  But, it is should be included in the infinite options you may not have even considered.  They say that the biggest risk may be not taking one.  I mean, what might you actually do if chiropractic care worked for you?