When the word health is mentioned, many things come to ones mind. Not having any symptoms and diseases, staying fit, eating healthy and excercise, and feeling good. These are all important things associated with health and often mentioned by people who are asked about their health.
What does health mean?
Looking it up in Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, edition 17 from 1993 is very informative. The World Health Organization defines health as being
“a state of complete physical, mental, or social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Interestingly it doesn’t mention how we feel, what we eat or excercise. It even stresses that being healthy is not being free of diseases and their symptoms. It is obvious that being healthy has a lot to do with how well we function, on a physical, mental and social level.
Often people associate their their health with how they feel. If they feel good the believe they’re healthy and vice versa. But how reliable is this belief? The fact is people can be seriously ill and not have any symptoms. A good example of that are the processes that end in a heart attack or a stroke, they are often without symptoms. If we measure our health by the way feel, are people healthy the day before they get a heart attack or a stroke? Of course not! On the other hand you may wonder if symptoms are always an indicator of bad health. Let’s take an example. A person may eat damaged food without knowing it is spilt. The body reacts by vomiting, getting rid of it. Does the person feel good while throwing up? No. Asked to describe it many would say that they were “sick”. But are they ? In spite of disturbing symptoms it is obvious that the answer is negative. Vomiting are methods of a healthy body to rid itself of “poison” that may be harmful to us if digested. From this we see that a person can appear healthy, be without symptoms of any kind and still only have a short time to live because of body processes that are relatively silent. On the other hand we see that sometimes when people experience pain it may be normal body function, actually an example of good health in a certain area.
The fact is that many symptoms are the body’s way of adapting to internal and external circumstances and depressing them is often not the smartest thing to do. In the example mentioned earlier the person could easily take a drug that would prevent the vomiting, making the person feel better. Would that make her more healthy? Of course not? Why not? Because health has to do with how we function and not how we feel. Symptoms or lack of symptoms are a poor measure of health, at best. Then it seems in order to ask, what controls the function of the body?
Health and chiropractic
When it comes to health, chiropractic has an approach that differs from all other health professions, whose goal is usually to treat symptoms and disease. Chiropractic builds its philosophy and actions on universal principles. It recognises the “smartness of the universe, (universal intelligence) that gives all living things their properties. Living creatures have an inborn quality (innate intelligence) that works toward keeping balance (homeostasis) within their bodies.
Our nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves and is undeniably the master control system of the human body. Early on in the development of the fetus it starts taking control and controls the whole process after that. It reaches all cells of the body, controlling their function. If a spinal joint experiences trauma it can loose it’s normal position and the resulting swelling of ligaments can put direct pressure on nearby nerves. This disrupts the function of the nervous system resulting in abnormal function in the area of the body controlled by the nerve being pressured. This is of course negative for the health and general being of the individual. This is called “vertebral subluxation, ” meaning a spinal joint almost luxated. This may be painless and without symptoms in the beginning but is likely to create symptoms sooner or later. Regardless of wether people feel good or not chiropractors realize that individuals are better off without nerve pressure. The goal of the chiropractors work is therefore always the same. To find the joint that has lost its position and is responsible for the nerve pressure, adjust the joint, correcting the subluxation. That means moving the joint, putting it back into its proper position, restoring its normal motion, removing the nerve pressure to allow the nervous system to do what it does best, to control all the billions of cells that our bodies are made of.