Whenever asked to write or speak about wellness, or chiropractic for that matter, I always begin by providing an operational definition. Unfortunately, wellness, like health and like chiropractic, is becoming less and less well defined and thus more and more ambiguous. Discussing wellness and chiropractic together is particularly challenging.
Wellness, like chiropractic, is really best described and best understood as a concept or a paradigm, one that seemingly originated as a reaction to the allopathic divergence from the original meaning of health. Within allopathy, health has come to be defined as the absence of disease or a lack of a medical diagnosis.
Medical research often describes the study of “healthy subjects,” presupposing that “healthy” can be accurately defined as simply having no diagnosed illness. The discussion of the inherent shortcomings of this will be left for another time; I am optimistic that many will become self-evident after more valid definitions of health and wellness are provided.
Wellness, as I discern from the literature, is really nothing more than holistic health in which each component – body, mind, and spirit – is recognized as contributing equally to the expression of wellness. It is not some ephemeral concept or New Age idea, it is a holistic science paradigm.
This definition of wellness really necessitates a definition of health that differs from the one currently being used within allopathy. Health in the wellness paradigm is really a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis is really a state of balanced function, a state of ease. Health and homeostatic function are thus synonymous.
If wellness is a state of holistic health, then it is also a state of physical, mental, and spiritual homeostasis. It is not possible to be well or healthy unless one is simultaneously expressing homeostatic function in all three domains. Each domain has an equal influence on the others; they are in a state of co-dependence; they form an indissoluble union.
Some other defining concepts of the wellness paradigm are that the body-mind-spirit is seen as innately or inherently intelligent, as self-healing and self-regulating – within limits of course. Health is considered the natural state. Living organisms are genetically or innately programmed for health, they are programmed to continually strive for homeostasis and to adapt to whatever environment they are exposed to in the most intelligent way possible with respect to survival and healing, growth, and repair.
In the allopathic paradigm, chronic illness is seen as stemming from genes; humans are seen as being innately programmed for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, etc. Chronic illness and disease are considered innate phenomena, the result of pathological genes expressing pathological cell, tissue, organ, system, and organism function.
This is in diametric opposition to the wellness perspective, which views humans and other living organisms as genetically programmed for homeostasis; health is an innate phenomenon, and illness is based on adaptation to a pathological (toxic or deficient) environment.
Science and logic both seem to support the wellness hypothesis. Chronic illnesses have been increasing exponentially over the past decades. How could this be due to genetics? I often ask whether or not the allopathic genetic hypothesis of human disease would even be considered for any other species. When all the fish in the Great Lakes started getting tumours and their fertility rates dropped, and the birds that ate them began to die and/or have brittle eggs, would any biologists actually have been taken seriously if they had blamed the genes of the fish and the birds? Of course not.
In the history of biology, has there ever been a rapid decrease in health or increase in disease incidence within a species that has been shown to be genetic? Let’s not forget that humans are an animal species. It is no more logical to blame genes for the rapid increase in human illness than it would be for fish, or birds, or lions or chimpanzees. The problem is that many of us have been fooled into thinking of humans as living outside the natural laws that govern every other species. It seems to me that this thought pattern dominates allopathy.
What has changed over the last century, our genes or our lifestyle choices and thus the expression of our genes? The answer is self-evident.
The answer is also found in respected journals. As someone with a graduate degree in physiology who is the son of a PhD biologist, I admit to some bias. However, I feel strongly that the study of physiology and biology is where the answers to wellness questions will be found, not in the study of pathology. Figuring out how to treat sick people does not provide answers about how to promote the expression of health and wellness, or how to prevent illness. Nor does it address the real causes of the illnesses.
ILLNESS AS ADAPTIVE PHYSIOLOGY
In the wellness paradigm, illness, like health, is defined in reference to homeostasis, as a lack of homeostasis, or perhaps more accurately as a state of adaptation. Illness does not represent an inherent error or breakdown but rather a state of adaptive physiology in response to an environment that is not congruent with the requirements for the genetic expression of homeostasis. Illness does not indicate pathological function but rather an intelligent state of adaptation aimed at survival in a stressful or incongruent environment. It is the environment that is pathological, not the physiological response to it.
What then does a wellness practitioner do? The most logical response to this question is that a wellness practitioner offers interventions that result in movement of the body-mind-spirit toward or back to a state of homeostasis. There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the concept and practice of wellness. I teach a 100-hour wellness certification course, and I still find it a struggle to get people to think, live, and practise within the wellness paradigm.
The first thing that must be done is to start researching within the wellness paradigm. The most important research questions within the wellness paradigm must be aimed at discovering what is required by the innate genetic intelligence or inner intelligence of the body in order to express homeostasis. In other words, we know that the body is programmed to express homeostasis, that the body has the innate genetic blueprint to be able to express homeostasis. What we need then is to find out what raw materials are required and what things are toxic.
We need to know how to live genetically congruent lifestyles. We need to eat, move, and think congruently with our genome. We have to make lifestyle choices that supply sufficient amounts of raw materials, and avoid that which is toxic. If we are programmed for homeostasis, then the only reason we are not in a state of homeostasis is because we are deficient in something we require, or toxic with something that is poisonous or stressful.
Lifestyle is really the ultimate determinant of whether or not we will express homeostasis or a state of adaptation and illness. Wellness practitioners then must be experts on genetically congruent lifestyle choices, and on how to role model, teach, coach, inspire and empower patients to adopt them.
The evidence supporting the idea that both the causes of the current pandemic of chronic illness and the solutions to it are found in lifestyle choices is overwhelming. Wellness experts must have intricate knowledge of the lifestyle choices that promote the expression of homeostasis.
The world needs true wellness practitioners who provide evidence-based wellness care. History, science, and clinical experience indicate there is no other viable solution.
What roles should chiropractors play in delivering wellness care? I believe the foundational premises of chiropractic fit perfectly with the concepts of wellness. Research indicates that a properly functioning neuromusculoskeletal system is an integral part of mind-body-spirit homeostasis. In my view, properly trained wellness chiropractors are positioned to be the world leaders in role modelling, teaching, inspiring, coaching and empowering people to eat well, move well, and think well.•
The Wellness Expert
Understanding, embodying, and teaching the science of genetically congruent living.
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