It is estimated that over 70 million people in North America suffer from digestive problems.
Almost everyone I meet wants to know if Chiropractic can help them or their children and loved ones, with a particular problem. So, I am going to discuss some of the health problems many people are plagued with that respond incredibly well with Chiropractic care; digestive issues.
I simply cannot believe the numbers of people I meet out and about, and see at our office with digestive problems. Would you believe that 20% of the population has digestive difficulties? That is not OK! It is estimated that over 70 million people in North America suffer from digestive problems. Most of these patients feel that their difficulties are just an inconvenience. That they can get by with only the occasional stomach cramping, the occasional constipation, and the weekly diarrhea! Many hold the belief that rectal bleeding is normal, that blood in the stool is OK, explosive gas is fine, dizziness and trembling are normal, and that missing work or school because of these difficulties is just part of life – par for the course!
So many people are affected that there seems to be a sense that there is “safety in numbers.” That it somehow seems almost “normal.” I hate to burst your bubble, but I would like to be emphatic here – it’s NOT! Have you ever wondered why, in such a technologically advanced society, so many people are sick? Look…In the year 2000 alone, the pharmaceutical industry sold over 96 billion dollars in drugs to “treat” digestive problems! My suspicious side is telling me that it is profitable for you to be sick.
Hmmm… Many people don’t really understand that symptoms of digestive distress are usually indicators that there is a malfunction somewhere within the system. Ignoring such signs is akin to having Cerebral Constipation. Such thinking doesn’t handle the reason for these symptoms. One thing I have learned from my experience in practice and the experience of other doctors like me: The body does not like to be ignored. And we talked about what symptoms really mean in the past – the fact that they are a warning – your personal alarm system!
Let’s take a look at your digestive tribulations more closely: your digestive system is essentially a long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your other end. It has one purpose-to extract nutrients and energy from the foods we eat. That’s it! Your digestive organs: esophagus, stomach, liver, gall bladder, intestines, etc., are simply modifications of that tube. Certain digestive enzymes, juices, acids, and other additives are secreted into this system to make the digestion of foods and thus the extraction of energy, more efficient and productive. This system is very efficient as long as it is functioning normally.
The three most common conditions affecting intestinal function that I see in my practice are: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s Disease. Although not exactly the same most specialists feel, they all have a great deal in common and escalate in severity. I personally feel they are all the same – just its different stages have been given different names.
Crohn’s Disease: This is the most serious. It is classified as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and is a long-term, chronic ulceration of the digestive tract. This condition extends through all the layers of your “digestive tube” In essence, the digestive system attempts to heal the localized ulcers and sores, and tends to produce scar tissue in the process This can literally restrict the movement of food through the system. These are referred to as strictures and can be very serious and life-threatening. Ulcerative Colitis: It usually involves the internal “mucosa” and “submucosa” layers of the intestine and the symptoms are almost identical to Crohn’s Disease. IBS is even lesser on this scale. It has been noted that Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis increase the risk of colon cancer by as much as twenty times. This can also be said for IBS to a certain degree.
If left untreated, bowel function slowly deteriorates and can be life threatening. The most common medical treatment for these conditions is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic medication, surgery and diet. And while sometimes necessary, this type of approach does not really deal with the cause of these conditions – instead, it addresses just the symptoms.
As a chiropractor, I see these conditions in a different light. One needs to remember that we are dealing with human beings, not simply their intestines. Our approach recognizes that difference. Many people, for instance, are surprised to learn that the body is a self-healing and a self-regulating organism. In other words, it is designed to heal itself and regulate its own functions. For some unknown reason, those who are affected with these conditions are not doing it! Their body is not healing! WHY? You probably have not given this much thought, but you are on “auto-pilot.”
For example, the cells lining your digestive tract deteriorate continuously and are replaced daily by brand new cells doing the same exact function. This is normal and is totally controlled by your internal “auto-pilot” – known as your Nervous System. In the case of Crohn’s Disease, for example, cells in the intestine die, but are not necessarily replaced by new, healthy cells. This is why the intestine eventually deteriorates and ulcerates. This can be life threatening. Why would that be?
One must also remember that your Nervous System runs the whole body and all of its functions: the immune system, the heart, your healing ability, etc., including the digestive system. All these functions are under direct orders and control of the Nervous System. So…what can interfere with the function of the Nervous System to the point where bowel function and even life are threatened? The answer will surprise you: If one of the vertebrae of the spine becomes subluxated (moves out of its correct position), especially in the lower spine, it will interfere with the way the nervous system sends messages to the intestinal area – the intestines and bowel will no longer be able to function normally – the Body will now do its “own thing.” It seems so simple and yet so profound!
A number of studies have shown that this is exactly the case with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS; that these conditions are neurologically based. This means that the Nervous System is no longer able to control the normal function of the intestinal area. That is a problem. This is my mission – I am mainly concerned with re-establishing the normal function of the nervous system so that the body is, once again, able to heal itself. Simple. A subluxation (vertebrae out of place), which has caused this scope of damage, has become a pattern the body has learned, a habit – and a bad one! Any chiropractor who attempts to deal with this habit will, in all likelihood, place a patient suffering with these conditions on a very intense schedule to start with. The reason is to be able to obliterate this habit. To wipe it out! No more! The goal here is to correct the Subluxation and care should be directed at correction, not simply feeling better. That is what Chiropractic is all about. Correcting the problem, not masking the symptoms. The number one recommendation I could make is to see me right away. I am here to help you and I will not give up! Please…if you have any questions, or would like any information on any health topic, it would be my pleasure to help you!– Dr. Jim Schaffer