Archive for September, 2011:
We are pretty amazing creatures. We begin inside our mothers, too tiny to even see with the naked eye. After we are born, we stick around, most of us, for many decades. We end up with 70-100 trillion cells inside our bodies. This conglomeration of separate little cells comes together and becomes us! How do we stay in balance, coordinating all those trillions of cells? It is the communication system that makes all of this work and it is critical to the coordination of function in our bodies and our lives. The nervous system is our communication system. A vast network of messages flow constantly from our senses into our brains. Our brains tell our bodies how to respond to the information that comes in from our eyes and ears and nose and skin. All of this changing information is monitored and an ongoing picture of our outside world as well as our inside world is constantly being generated in our nervous systems. What we know about ourselves and our world is a constantly updated picture that is literally created by our nervous systems and brain. We take in light and sound and vibration and touch and heat and cold and other aspects of our world that come into our senses and we ‘make sense’ of the world. It is actually a ‘story’ we tell about ourselves and the world. The better our senses work, and the better the integration of all this input that occurs in our nervous systems, the more coordinated we are in our actions in life.
One big constant in our lives is gravity. Gravity is so familiar that we hardly even think about it, like water to a fish. We maneuver through our lives and our conscious minds never thinking much about the effects of gravity unless things go wrong. Our bodies however, are always thinking about gravity. We have an amazing number of receptors that monitor gravity in our bodies. They are now called ‘graviceptors’! Our bodies must constantly be aware of gravity so we can maneuver about in our world.
The way we check to see if your body is responding in the most efficient way to gravity is to stand you up on the Anatometer. Gravity can be thought of as a vertical line that bisects you when you are standing upright, from the top of your head down through your spine and pelvis, continuing to the ground between your feet. When we are properly aligned with gravity, we have an ease at rest or in action. The Anatometer measures how closely we are matching gravity with our posture. When our pelvis is level and untwisted, when our spine stands straight up over our pelvis and our heads are in proper position on top of our spines, we are in the most minimal stress and minimal energy expenditure position possible. It indicates that the messages from our senses are working properly and we are well coordinated with gravity and the rest of the world around us.
When we stand up on the Anatometer and we can measure that the pelvis is unlevel and twisted, that our upper body is leaning on one direction or the other and our head and neck is askew, we realize that was are out of upper cervical adjustment. The centers in the brainstem that coordinate our function in the world and within ourselves become impaired. We are doing research that is currently indicating that upper cervical misalignment of the vertebrae in your neck cause the blood flow patterns through your brain to change. We are finding that venous outflow from the head is changed and slowed. This means more new oxygenated blood cannot get into the brain as fast as it needs to give the nutrition and oxygen to these hungry tissues. A change in the structure of the neck changes the function of all the centers that are affected and this affects the whole body, your whole life. We measure the posture as an indicator of balance in the nervous system because it is easy for us to do so. We cannot measure the changes in function of the other centers (nuclei) in the brainstem that help to control virtually every system in the body. The brainstem is the part of the brain that controls the automatic or ‘autonomic’ aspects of our body functions. This means it controls things like heart rate, respiratory drive (desire to take a breath!) blood pressure, being awake or asleep, and of course posture, among others. The brainstem acts to ‘tune’ the basic life processes so we can go about and live our lives without ever thinking about how much acid we need in our stomachs to digest the apple, how much insulin is required to get sugar into the cells, or a host of other activities that are controlled at the autonomic level. This is real health. It is the balance over the long course of our lives that creates the health we enjoy, or wish we had!
So although many people think of muscles and bones when they think of upper cervical chiropractic, it really involves your whole life. It is life affirming medicine! I don’t know of many other things in life that remove interference to the power of life in the way that this procedure does. I truly believe it is primary care. Many of you do too, because you will stop by the office to get an adjustment before you go over to the medical side and start getting sent to specialist after specialist. Often we have found over the years that the problem is functional and caused by being out of adjustment. Once you are back in adjustment, problems often fade away and it is not necessary to ingest toxic drugs to shut down the messaging system so you don’t feel the pain or the dizziness or whatever symptom is occurring because the body has gone out of balance.
When someone has gone out of adjustment, perhaps due to an injury, the body will still go ahead and heal. It just heals out of adjustment. This means the posture is chronically misaligned and you heal that way. Muscles do the best they can by attempting to hold you up against the twist forces that begin when the body begins to react to being out of adjustment. Essentially, when you are out of adjustment the body tends to compress downward in a twisting almost spiral pattern. (Like tightening up a screw-top on a pop bottle.) When the weight of the body moves off center, the muscles must pull hard on one side to keep you from falling over. If they stay tight for a long time, they become fibrotic, toughening and thickening up to try an do the job it has to do.
All the organs in the body are twisted too and their function is impaired to some degree. This means that if your body is a bit twisted, you can’t take as deep a breath and over time your oxygen levels change. All of the organs are dependant on normal blood and nerve flow. When these change, the function of the organ changes. Small changes can be cumulative over time. People who are out of adjustment often remark on ‘brain fog’. This is altered neural function affecting the brain itself. Small changes can make big differences over time. Look at how rain carved out the Grand Canyon!
This is why the upper cervical adjustment can work like a miracle at times. Many of you have come back into the office or called us on the phone to tell of the amazing turnaround that occurred after the adjustment. As great as it is for us to hear this, and it is! -even more powerful are the long term effects of staying in upper cervical adjustment. The quick description is: HEALTH! Our bodies are made to work properly. Interference keeps our health from being at its optimum level. Chronic function at less than optimal levels is chronic disease. Medicine’s answer is all too often suppression or palliation (turn off the signal or make you numb). Life doesn’t have to be turned down or turned off! This is the miracle of real chiropractic. Life can be fully lived. This is the care we are so proud to offer you in this office!