What is your definition of health?

In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I like that this definition is focused on overall wellness, not just on lack of symptoms and diagnoses.

Since my practice focuses primarily on physical health, I want to dig a bit deeper into what “complete physical well-being” really means.

Before we begin, ask yourself:

  • What does “complete physical well-being” mean to you?
  • If you could change anything about your health, what would you change?

Understanding symptoms

When people come into my office, they generally have a list of symptoms that they want to remedy. What, exactly, are symptoms? The first thing to remember is that a symptom is not the first stage of something gone wrong in our bodies. Generally speaking, once symptoms occur, there has been a functional breakdown of the body over a period of time. The symptom is the body’s cry for help when it is starting to lose the battle of trying to maintain homeostasis (physiological equilibrium).

This concept holds true for both mechanical and physiological symptoms. If the body’s mechanics are impaired in one area, the whole body will begin to compensate, throwing things off both “up and downstream.” Pain and discomfort often appear after this pattern has become entrenched. Similarly, if the cells and organs aren’t functioning optimally over time, symptoms will start to occur as the body’s physiological functions begin to break down.

Think of the difference between an acute illness like the common cold and a chronic illness such as Type 2 diabetes. The cold is something that hits quickly, and the body wins the battle in a few to several days. With diabetes, on the other hand, blood sugar regulation begins to break down slowly and insidiously, until the body loses the battle and a diagnosis is made.

The second thing to remember about symptoms is that the body isn’t necessarily healed when the symptoms disappear. Total health restoration takes time. All the mechanical and physical functions must be restored so that the symptoms don’t recur. This is why many allopathic approaches are seen more as symptom management as opposed to healing the body. For example, if someone is constipated and drinking more water and taking in more fiber doesn’t fix the problem, a laxative will be prescribed. No further investigation into what might be causing the constipation in the first place will be done.

Total health restoration takes time

To fix a mechanical problem, the primary symptom, pain, needs to be handled first. Next, muscles need to be stimulated or relaxed, joints need to be mobilized, and the whole musculoskeletal system needs to be coordinated. There are many ways to get this job done: acupuncture, bodywork, chiropractic, physical therapy, and exercise training. Sometimes surgical repair is also necessary. It often takes more than one of these treatments to totally restore function.

Restoring physiological function is also a complex endeavor, but definitely worthwhile. Think of it as a cellular construction project. We need to replace 70 billion cells per day. This is a big job, but also a great opportunity. It is our opportunity to heal! In order to replace old cells with new healthy ones, we need raw materials and a clean environment. In other words, we need high-quality, organic nutrition and strategic detoxification. With these two tools, the body can heal itself.

To give you an idea how long total health restoration can take, think about the different rates at which various tissues are replaced. Skin cells turn over relatively quickly, at every 27 days. Blood cells turn over every 90 to 120 days.  Muscle, bone, and nervous system cells take much longer: 1 to 3 years, 2 to 4 years, and 7 years respectively. Of course, there is a constant cycle of cell replacement, so you start to feel better gradually over time. As the tissues are replaced, symptoms disappear and your energy, vitality, and wellbeing are restored.

Please ask yourself the following questions again

  • What does “complete physical well-being” mean to you?
  • If you could change anything about your health, what would you change?

Are your answers any different after reading this article? Are you more motivated to work on restoring your health? I would be honored to work with you and assist you and your body through this process. It takes effort and time, but in the end, it is totally worth it!