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We talk a lot about root causes in the alternative health community, as though by locating and pointing "it" out to the patient, we can help them eliminate their symptoms. Indeed, when chiropractic was founded in 1895, spinal misalignments were theorized to be a primary cause of disease, and a spinal correction could perform miracles for a patient's nervous system.1 Adjustments continue to play an important role in ensuring the flow of our amazing life force energy, but in this toxic millenium, it is important to take into account our total stress/toxin load when considering root causes of chronic health issues and our body's inability to fully and properly heal.2
Any stress or toxin exposure sets off the same sympathetic fight/flight response of the autonomic nervous system. In addition, toxins require anti-oxidants to neutralize the free radicals produced. We were born with different detoxification capacities, which is why some people notice the effects of toxicity much earlier in life than others. Simultaneous stress/toxin exposures lower this threshold for triggering the fight/flight response, and the accumulated free radical damage triggers inflammation and accelerated aging.
What stressors contribute to the total stress/toxin load?:
The sympathetic fight/flight response causes the body to increase its heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. Muscle tension increases, blood vessels constrict and prioritize blood away from the skin and digestive system to the muscles and brain. Digestion slows, the immune system is on high alert and blood platelets become "sticky" to help blood coagulation. The liver releases sugar in to the blood for energy. "The mind scans for danger, even magnifying threats that may not be serious...Emotions become magnified - irritability turns to anger, concern turns to anxiety, fatigue turns to depressed mood."5
On a short term basis, the body uses up its limited resources to prioritize its own survival. On a long term basis, these functions are destructive, decrease our ever dwindling reserves, and can result in subclinical conditions that eventually manifest into named diseases. Doctors who use the Functional Medicine Matrix of which total stress/toxin load is an underlying concept, recognize the complex interplay between all these factors in supporting and/or blocking the healing process.
Two years ago I learned a lot about the impact of total stress/toxin load on my own health and healing. I was about to sign the lease for Niu Health Chiropractic, my first foray into having a brick and mortar business a year after graduating from chiropractic school. I was determined to create my own practice, to bring to fruition my vision for how I could best serve my community. I was terrified to take the risk, on top of being in a new place, where I knew only a handful of folks but where I knew I could make a valuable contribution. In the midst of this, my eczema was flaring up and I was starting to have digestive issues. After a shrimp dinner the night before my partner started her own journey as a phD student at UH Manoa (I was empathetic to her anxieties as well), I broke out into hives on my arms and my face, and I started to wheeze. I had never wheezed before, and I wasn't about to find out whether I might go into anaphylactic shock, so we called the ambulance and I got shuttled to the emergency room. When I was released with a prescription for an EPI pen and allergy medications, I knew I had to get to the bottom of this health crisis.
As I continued to wheeze over the next few days, I was astonished - asthma, perhaps? I never had that before. Every time I had a wheezing episode, I would reiki myself, use hara breathing, and check in on my emotional state. Anxiety. Looking at my nutrition, I thought I was a healthy eater, leaning more towards the paleo/gluten-free spectrum, but clearly, that wasn't enough. In my mind, I was determined - I made this
In retrospect, I realized these simultaneous stressors were connected, in that they contributed to my total stress/toxin load; the balance was tipped, and I could no longer go on with business as usual. My symptoms got my attention, and I listened hard.
With the help of a naturopath, an acupuncturist, and a chiropractor, I explored the possibilities of food sensitivities and mold exposure, received herb and nutrition advice, and began my own research into potential mechanisms of asthma and eczema. I discovered functional medicine, and the concepts of subclinical adrenal and thyroid imbalances, leaky gut, metal toxicities, food chemical sensitivities, and systemic candida.
My stomach was the last to heal. Learning about food combining made a big difference in improving my digestion. I began studying under a chiropractic master of Applied Kinesiology and tackled the concepts of metals and dysbiosis on a deeper level. I refined my approach, adding a wonderfully effective single herb supplement line to my practice. My stomach is much happier.
With the universe conspiring to help me, I haven't wheezed in a year, never had to use the epi pen, my eczema has all but disappeared, and I have a beautiful chiropractic practice in Mo'ili'ili serving patients dealing with stress and chronic health issues.
I turned each health crisis into learning opportunities that would deepen my understanding and propel my practice. Today, when a patient comes into the office with chronic health issues, we ask: If the body is so intelligent, why is it not healing itself? What are the factors that are blocking healing from occurring?
To find out, we conduct a thorough history, chiropractic exam, nutrition response testing and applied kinesiology to identify possible stressors specific to your situation. Using a myriad of techniques, including upper cervical and other low force chiropractic approaches, myofascial deep tissue percussion, nutritional/detox/lifestyle counseling, energy work, herbs and nutrient supplementation, we partner with you to help you decrease your total stress/toxin load so that you can rebuild your resilience and reclaim your vibrant health.
Here are some suggestions on how you can increase your total health load:
I've found that those who work to increase their total health load, decrease their nervous system stress, and better maintain their structural alignment. They are able to activate and spend more time in parasympathetic rest/digest mode - this is when repair and rejuvenation occurs. They maximize their own body's healing abilities and save on future healthcare dollars.
Throughout my journey, I have benefited from the weekly sessions with my own chiropractor which helps me to better understand my body. My healing process is dynamic, and my supplement needs are evaluated regularly. And I benefit from learning about and resetting any accumulated stress built up since the last visit. I am in a great place now, and I look forward to serving you!
Click here for a sample of the free Niu Patient Workbook which discusses the role of chiropractic in promoting health and outlines more specific suggestions for lifestyle changes that can improve the body's ability to heal itself.
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How chronic stress/chronic toxins and their total load impacts the nervous system and wreaks havoc on the body's healing and repair systems: How Toxins Make You Sick
...when chiropractors clear your nerve system with an adjustment, not only does your physical body improve, but so does your mental focus and ability to express your true self :) The Part We Love the Most
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"The health of the upper cervical spine is thus critically important to both blood and CSF flow and that makes it important to overall health. It is especially important to the health of the brain and cord. In addition to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis this site discusses many common and important health conditions related to upright posture." Brain Cooling and the Cranial Veins
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One of the core dietary recommendations we make, aside from avoiding your food sensitivities, is to avoid sugar, grains, dairy, and nightshades. See our Pinterest page for recipe ideas in line with our healing foods philosophy.
Yours in health,
Dr. Christine T. Lipat, Niu Health Chiropractic, Your Honolulu Chiropractor