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Holistic Addiction Treatment: Chiropractic

By | Addiction Neuroscience, Chiropractic | 8 Comments

Holistic addiction treatment should include chiropractic care as an integral “moving part” of the approach.

Addiction is caused by a variety of factors including a genetic predisposition. We know that most genetic markers–this is certainly true for addiction–require initiators and promoters to manifest the associated disease. Anything from physical or emotional trauma to nutritional deficiency or toxicity in the environment can initiate or promote a genetic predisposition.

Addiction is a disorder that disables the brain from producing the “feel-good” chemicals most people take for granted. As a result addicts are not only uncomfortable in their own bodies, they are highly dysfunctional while looking to foreign substances for relief. Addicts are unable to read, assess and respond appropriately to their own internal signals, let alone those from external sources, including other human beings. The condition worsens as tolerance increases and the vicious cycle of chronic abuse further disables an already weakened brain chemical system.

Pain, physical or mental, is our internal alarm system of a threat to our well-being. Masking pain, through self-medication or therapies meant solely to help us live with it, is tantamount to thinking you can put out a fire by turning off the fire alarm.

Whatever the multi-factorial causation of addiction, our challenge as health professionals is to break the abuse cycle, then habituate the addict to healthy practices long enough to enable the brain to rewire and begin producing its own feel-good chemicals again–or perhaps for the first time ever.

Sedentary lifestyle, exacerbated by the standard American diet of high insulin and inflammation producing foods, are strong initiators and promoters–co‑conspirators–of addiction. Introducing recovering addicts to a foundation of moving and eating well in early recovery is imperative for long-term sobriety.

Though neuroscience has made great strides in the understanding and interaction of chemicals in the brain and their impact on behavior, we have more to learn than we know. Invasive, chemical interventions with incomplete knowledge have a high risk of unintended, sometimes disastrous, side effects. This is where chiropractic comes into the treatment and management of this complex illness of the mind, body and spirit.

The latest brain research shows that stimulation of sensors (called mechanoreceptors) found all over the body is necessary for optimal brain function. As the body–including the spine–moves functionally and in a full range of motion, signals are sent back to the brain saying, “All is well!” This allows the brain to continue transmitting this good news to the rest of the body where all mind body systems benefit, including our emotions.

On the other hand, if the body is inflexible, it is unable to stimulate these feel good sensors. A different signal (called nociception) is sent to the brain saying, “Danger, Danger!” In response to the alarm, the brain executes an order to release stress hormones like cortisol that marshal a whole body alert: “Fight or flight!” Individuals in poor physical condition risk a state of chronic stress–and stress is the number one trigger for addiction relapse.

Chiropractic is particularly effective in mitigating chronic stress because of its focus on the spine. More mechanoreceptor sensors are located in and around the spine than anywhere else in the body. If the spine–our core–is not moving well, not only does it affect movement in the rest of the body, it triggers a stress response that, among other health risks, increases addiction relapse.

At Recovery Health Care, our Blueprint for Recovery™ 90-day program offers recovering addicts a series of chiropractic adjustments that allow the stimulation of the natural, feel-good neural pathways. As the individual makes progress, we add daily movement exercises, diet changes, and auriculotherapy to reinforce behavior that will bolster the neurological rewiring necessary for lasting change to feel well and become functional members of the community.

Neuroscience confirms that having a trained and qualified chiropractor on your integrated team for addiction treatment and management is a healthy decision.

popeye-the-sailor-man

Exercise the New Miracle Drug?: It’s All I Can Stands!

By | Diet and Exercise | No Comments

I get regular emails from Kaiser Permanente as my family has used the crisis medical care company, when in crisis, for many years happily and with good results. The headline of today’s email read, Is Exercise the New Miracle Drug?

Okay, gag me with a tongue depressor, will ya?

For 30 + years I have watched Kaiser and conventional sick care institutions follow the age old practice of first, denying and attacking holistic health care common sense, then begrudgingly acquiescing as patients begin to ask for it, and finally, behaving as if it were always self-evident and part of the program.

End of rant…well I’m almost finished.

I always considered the designation of HMO, Health Maintenance Organization, a misnomer. It has been my experience through the years that these organizations–and to their, better-late-than-never credit–have up until very recently, been more like Death Prevention Organizations. Thrive, indeed.

Now I’m done.

Here’s what we know: The innate, genetic intelligence of each of our mind-body-spirits as it interfaces with the environment, needs three things to maintain what the bodymind is always moving toward: Homeostasis or stable equilibrium. For this innate intelligence to thrive, it needs for us to, as James Chestnut, D.C. says eloquently, “Eat well, move well and think well all of the time and for some time.”

Each of these pillars or nutrients of true health requires diligence and practice, as stated. 75% of chronic illnesses in the U.S. are due to lifestyle choices and toxic environmental considerations. In other words, these illnesses are preventable.

Dr. Chestnut goes on to say, “We don’t get sick because of bad luck, bad germs or bad genes, we get sick because of bad choices.”

While standing in line to pick up end-of-life meds for my mother’s end-of-life crisis care a few years ago, I would marvel in watching deconditioned, grossly overweight, sickly looking individuals of all ages carrying away shopping bags full of pharmaceuticals from Kaiser’s drug store. It saddens me to think how we’ve been duped by a sick care super system that is driven by profit before principle.

No, and as Popeye says, “It’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”, exercise is not the “new miracle drug.” It is a nutrient our species has required from the dawn of our hunting and gathering, remarkably successful history.

A miracle can be defined as, “A new perception.” Thanks, Kaiser, for coming up to speed albeit in that deeply disturbing, calculated, mechanical way.

Everyone needs to exercise, every day–it’s common sense. But then, common sense is not so common.

Now gittyup.