The adjustment of the subluxation to release pressure upon nerves, to restore mental impulse flow, to restore health, is big enough to rebuild the thoughts and actions of the world. ~ B.J. Palmer, The Big Idea
In the last two articles I discussed the origins of human health. I touched upon the principles of Universal and Innate Intelligence—the forces responsible for order, organization and life in the universe. If Universal Intelligence is the source, and Innate Intelligence is the source operating in living things, then what is it conducts this force, this energy, through us? The answer lies in the most intricate and complex operating system known to man—the human nervous system.
Components of the Nervous System
The nervous system is composed of two parts—the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS is comprised of the brain and spinal cord, a conglomeration of neural cells and networks that controls and coordinates all bodily processes. From heart rate to respiration to immunity, nothing can happen in the body without some sort of input from the nervous system. The CNS is the master control of the body; it’s like a computer chip, the central processing unit (CPU), running the entire operation.
If the CNS is the CPU, then the PNS is like the fiber optics transmitting information to and from the organs and tissues of the body. The sensory system takes in information from the internal and external environments, sends them to the CNS for processing, which then directs a response back down through the PNS to the organs, tissues and cells. Sounds fairly simple, right? Well, it’s not. Here is what makes the human nervous system the most complex and efficient intelligence transmitter in the known universe: it processes billions of bits of information every second!
“But wait!,” you might say, “supercomputers process information quickly, too.” Yes, they do; but here’s what a supercomputer cannot do that the human nervous system does all the time—learn, adapt and change in response to external pressures.* Ah…Innate Intelligence at work. Ta da! That is what makes the human nervous system so incredible—its ability to process massive amounts of information quickly, its ability to learn and adapt and its enormous storage capacity, all of which are direct components of Universal and Innate Intelligence.
*To be completely accurate, computers can learn, just at a miniscule fraction of what the human nervous system can
Innate Runs the Body
Last article I explained in detail how Innate Intelligence forms the human embryo, directing its development into the fetus and ultimately into a fully formed human body. Not only does Innate Intelligence know how to flawlessly form a human body, but it knows how to run one as well.
The human body knows exactly how to perform every one of its functions—it knows how to control precise movements, how to digest food, and how to remove toxins; it knows how and when to produce and secrete every hormone and neurotransmitter in the proper proportions; and it knows how to regenerate tissue. The body knows how to distinguish self from non-self, how to learn, and it even knows when the time is right to expire. It does this all through Innate Intelligence.
Innate intelligence is expressed through the nervous system. Remember that the nervous system controls and coordinates all bodily processes. In chiropractic we say that Innate Intelligence is expressed from an above-down-inside-out process (ADIO). That is, from brain cell to body cell, intelligence moves downward and out through the nerves to all the organs and tissues of the body. Chiropractic found it necessary to discuss the flow of nerve transmission to distinguish it from the outside-in approach that has become our culture’s medical legacy.
But wait! Not only does Innate flow from ADIO—Universal Intelligence also flows in an ADIO fashion. The force that orders and organizes all things comes from above-down-inside-out. Now I will leave the interpretation of that statement to you. Just ponder one thing—the power of the sun fuels all life on earth. When the sun goes it all goes in the solar system. The sun’s rays travel in every direction but we receive it from above, and we process its energy from within in the form of food and even the production of vital nutrients.
So if there is nothing else you get from this discussion, get this—true health flows from above-down-inside-out, and never the other way around. If you want it, you’ll have to go within.
Definition of Health
What is health exactly? When I ask audiences this question I am always amused at the wide range of answers. The most common are:
- Pain free, symptom free
- No illnesses, no diseases
- Strong, better than average
- Being in a “state of wellness”
Although the last one on the list is certainly a consequence of health, I wouldn’t categorize it as health on its own. That would be like saying your physical looks are your self-esteem. While liking the way you look would certainly lift your self-esteem, you would probably agree that there is more to it than looks alone. Wellness without question depends on our physical health, but it also does on our mental health, financial security, relationship, etc.
The first three answers on the list are flat out wrong. In fact, each one is a convolution that might actually prevent some people from experiencing optimal health. I would argue that symptoms often are health, and without occasional illness we wouldn’t know what health is, but both of these topics are for another discussion. Being “better” than average is what many strive for, and I touched upon this in the first article of this series—it’s an illusion that can actually lead to greater stress and degeneration of the body, but this, too, is for another article.
But what about health—how do we define it? The World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition is pretty good:
- Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
But let me make it even simpler. My definition of health is
- All bodily processes operating and performing their functions unimpeded.
That’s it, that’s health! Health is nothing more than a properly functioning body. It is the kidneys working as kidneys are supposed to—nothing more, nothing less. And this goes for all other organs, tissues and cells, too. As long as they are operating the way they are supposed to, then you have health. This is not the same as saying symptom-free either, because your body is supposed to have symptoms under certain conditions. I am sure you would be quite grateful to vomit in response to ingesting a spoiled piece of meat, wouldn’t you? And why not? It is not illness, it’s health.
Defining health in this way leaves the door open for human variability; in other words, we are not all the same, neither in personality nor in physiology. So although using standards in the measure of physiological processes are useful, I find that being too rigid in our interpretations can lead to faulty conclusions…and it dishonors Innate Intelligence.
Your body carrying out its functions unimpeded is your body expressing health; however, health can become compromised. Obstacles to health come in many forms like
- Microorganisms—influenza virus, tuberculosis bacterium, herpes simplex, HIV and amoebic dysentery to name just a few
- Toxins—nicotine, nitrates, smog, and prescription drugs
- Inactivity—which lead to deconditioning and obesity
- Excesses—eating, drinking, high sugar intake and any other uncontrolled habit
- Mental stress—chronic resentment, infatuation, envy, stagnancy and other mental imbalances
- Accidents/injuries—falling off a ten story building, getting run over by truck, fist fight with Mike Tyson, you get it
Every one of these obstacles has the potential to endanger your health; some might even end your life. They damage your health by preventing the free flow of Innate Intelligence throughout your body. They are obstacles to your full health expression.
All healing arts, whether medicine, acupuncture, physical therapy or psychotherapy, work by removing one or more of these obstacles. I know it’s tempting to believe that these healing arts cure you, but there is no such thing as cure—your body heals, that’s it. All the practitioners, modalities, therapies, medicines or techniques do is help you overcome obstacles by either weakening the external agent (microorganism, mental imbalance, toxin) or strengthening the internal environment (you). Your body, your Innate Intelligence, is what heals you. It’s what mends wounds, stops inflammation and regenerates your liver. Not doctors, not drugs, not therapies—you and your amazing Innate Intelligence, flowing from above-down-inside-out.
Subluxation: A Unique Obstacle
What does this all have to do with chiropractic? Well, chiropractic addresses and removes one unique and significant obstacle that hampers the free flow of Innate Intelligence through the nervous system. That obstacle is the vertebral subluxations.
Subluxations are spinal imbalances that have biomechanical, chemical and neurological consequences. They prevent freedom of spinal movement (biomechanical), cause pain (chemical) and disrupt the transmission of nerve impulses (neurological) within the body. All three dysfunctions related to spinal subluxations hamper human health, making the subluxation one of the most globally damaging obstacles we face in our daily lives.
Subluxations are ubiquitous in the human species. They originate from trauma, and they became more prevalent as we went from crawling on all fours to standing upright. The compressive forces of gravity on the axial planes of the body just leave us more susceptible to developing subluxations. Quadruped animals (walking on all fours) get subluxations, too, just not to the same degree we humans do.
Most people have subluxations. Whether their symptoms are enough to drive them to do something about it is not the question, but they certainly have them. And those people that do nothing about it are simply not expressing their health to the fullest.
Subluxations prevent the nervous system from operating unimpeded, which in turn—by virtue of being the body’s central command, controlling and coordinating all bodily processes—prevents organs and tissues from operating unimpeded, which ultimately has a deleterious effect on the overall health of the body.
Patients often ask if subluxations cause disease. No, they do not; however, chronic subluxations (those left uncorrected) do leave you susceptible to disease. When your body is not operating at its full potential—that is, when it is not expressing its full health—then it is weakened, vulnerable to attacks from opportunistic organisms, prone to injury, degeneration (breakdown) and associated disorders (cancer, heart disease), as well as premature aging. Subluxations sap health and eventually they sap life.
That’s where chiropractic comes in.
Chiropractic Removes Subluxations
Chiropractic was designed to detect and correct the vertebral subluxation. While other healing arts may inadvertently remove subluxations, chiropractic is the only healing art that specifically addresses the subluxation as a unique health-damaging entity.
By correcting subluxations, nerve irritation caused by the misalignment is removed, allowing the transmission of nerve impulse, and thus the free flow of Innate Intelligence, to proceed unimpeded throughout the body.
This one simple act—the correction of the vertebral subluxation—allows Innate Intelligence to do its thing, which is to flow and operate throughout the body. When proper cellular, tissue and organ function returns, health is restored, because health is simply the body doing what it is supposed to. A body with subluxations cannot perform the way it is supposed to; from the nervous system out to the organs, it is hampered in its expression. But when the subluxation obstacle is removed by the chiropractic adjustment, health is restored.
Beauty in simplicity.
I have been a chiropractic client for most of my life. I received my first adjustment as a seven-year-old child. I have had injuries, falls, auto accidents, you name it. Chiropractic has brought me back to health every time. Oh I do other things, like yoga, eat well, balance emotional charges, and get as much rest as I can…but without chiropractic, who knows what my life would be like.
I give chiropractic care to my family as well—my wife through two pregnancies, my daughters, and my mother. Most people that know us would agree that we are a pretty vibrant family—and we are! I know with complete certainty that chiropractic is a big part of it.
I have been so blessed to receive this gift of life from the work of many amazing chiropractors that have preceded me. I have dedicated my own life to giving it back to you. I want every person on this planet to experience the healing, life-giving power of their Innate Intelligence. My gift to the world is to provide as many people as I can with chiropractic care, but I have to share this story first. By understanding what true health is and where it comes from, you can make the best decisions in caring for yours.
You are a part of this magnificent universe, expressing life through your Innate Intelligence. Take care of your health (physical, mental and spiritual) as if it is your most precious asset, because in the end…it really is.
-July 19, 2010