Chiropractic (& Nervous System) 101

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease” -Thomas Edison

My Experience

As a 24-year-old with a “bad back”, I gave chiropractic care one last shot after experiences with specialists, PT’s, and other chiropractors, and for the first time, I heard the principles upon which the discipline of Chiropractic was created.  I had been lead to believe that chiropractic was based on trying to get out of neck or back pain (chasing symptoms), and I had a great teacher who was passionate about true health and its principles, and he reminded me that:

  • The body is highly intelligent and heals from above-down, inside-out, on it’s own time
  • The nervous system controls every process in the human body
  • The body innately knows how/when/where to heal (as long as there’s no interference within the nervous system)

Over time while being under care, I realized that aside from my back pain going away and having the desire to train again, I didn’t have allergies anymore, my mental health was much better than ever, and I was sleeping and recovering better than I ever had before.  I stopped divorcing health from strength, diet, sleep, or anything else that would compartmentalize one realm of health from another, and I began to honor that everything is 100% connected. I realized that there was a lot more to chiropractic than I had previously thought, from both a healing and performance standpoint, and that this was the catalyst to making some big personal changes.

So, how what exactly is chiropractic?  True, straight Chiropractic is about detecting and correcting specific nerve inference within the spine/nervous system to allow the body to function optimally and heal on it’s own.  This misalignment causing interference is more commonly called a “subluxation”, and this healthcare discipline emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery, as long as there is no interference within the structure.  The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. In addition, doctors of chiropractic recognize the value and responsibility of working in cooperation with other health care practitioners when in the best interest of the patient.


Chiropractic care can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time. Writings dated back to 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. from China and Greece mention spinal adjustments to ease low back pain. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., also published texts detailing the importance of what is now known as chiropractic care. He once wrote, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”. Many indigenous cultures have also been said to use the art of “bone setting” to help restore movement, replace bones to their natural alignment and were even said to cure certain ailments by doing this.

In 1895, Daniel David “DD” Palmer founded the Chiropractic profession in Davenport, Iowa. He was well read in medical journals and had great knowledge of anatomy and physiology. In 1897, DD Palmer went on to begin the Palmer School of Chiropractic, the first chiropractic school.

D.D. Palmer’s beard ate other beards for breakfast

The Science

Chiropractic is based on the scientific fact that the nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) controls the function of every cell, tissue, organ and system of your body. Our body is much like the Internet: our brain is the computer, our spinal cord is the information highway, unfortunately our body has not yet evolved to be wireless and needs the spinal nerves to link the brain to the body. Our spinal vertebrae protect the spinal cord, and the nerves are the links to our organs (such as heart, lungs, intestines, reproductive organs, hormonal glands and even the immune system).

The disruption of the function of the tissues of the spine, spinal column, spinal cord and spinal nerves and thus nerve control is called the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. Chiropractic is the science of finding these areas of subluxation and correcting them.

The Art

The adjustment and the way it is performed (chiropractic has over 200 techniques which is why you can have very different experiences with each chiropractor) is the “art” of chiropractic. This includes a comprehensive evaluation, a complete review of health history, diagnosis and a recommended specific treatment plan customized to your needs. This includes specific spinal adjustments. An adjustment is described as a directed and controlled pressure to restore spinal segments to a more normal position and range of motion, aiding in increased flexibility, increased immunological function and increased life energy.

The Philosophy

Chiropractic philosophy recognizes that the power that created our magnificent body can also heal our body – as long as there is no interference to this healing process. Our doctors do not heal you, they are the catalyst that can help create the correct environment for the body to heal itself. The main purpose of the chiropractor is to reduce interference to your inborn, innate healing ability by removing the interference in the brain body communication at the level of the spine.

The philosophy is both vitalistic and holistic. Holistic means we view the body as a whole, not individual parts or even the sum of its parts. The systems of the body are complex, interactive and have a powerful ability to self-correct provided functional integrity is maintained. Vitalism is the understanding and principle that all living systems are self-organizing, self-developing, self-maintaining and self-healing. We have a specific intelligence that guides our development, interactions with the environment, and responses to daily challenges. In chiropractic we refer to this intelligence as innate intelligence. This intelligence uses the brain and nerve system to control and maintain the body in health. Interference to the nerve system can lead to changes in health which can result in disease or loss of function. But more than that, this interference can affect performance on multiple levels, some easily observed while others are more subtle.

Chiropractic is not a cure or treatment for any disease or condition in the medical sense. When the functional integrity of the nervous system is restored the body can then resume its job of adapting to its environment and regenerating itself. Although chiropractic has a comprehensive effect on the health of the body, the following is a list of specific disorders that have shown improvement with correction of vertebral subluxation and more specifically of the upper cervical vertebral subluxation.

Getting Under Care

If you’re in the SF East Bay area and would like to get under Chiropractic care, I’d love to get you into the Life West Health Center to see if we could help you out.  If you aren’t in the area (the more likely option), I would be happy to find you a principled Doctor of Chiropractic near you.  Use the contact form or send me a message directly if I know you personally and told you to check out this page (again, the more likely option).

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