Monday, December 3, 2018

Trust The Process of Getting and Staying Well

Be it in marriage, business, parenting, sports, or any other endeavor in life to which we strive to be prosperous, one of the key ingredients to sustainable success is developing, following, and maintaining a process that informs individual habits toward attaining goals. Nick Saban, one of college football's all-time greatest coaches, has made the phrase “the process” famous in the sports media, and he has excelled to levels unparalleled in recent generations on the collegiate gridiron because of that process. Currently in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers are putting their own spin on the phrase, having taken an unconventional approach that, while still on-going in terms of the results it hopes to produce, has been reinforced by the franchise with Saban-esque belief.

A synonym of “formula for success,” the process is an outline needed to give hard work and goal-orientation direction, and it is important to recognize how vital it is to being healthy. Your health is your responsibility, mostly under your control just like your relationships with your loved ones or your work-related achievements; neglect your spouse, your duties, or your health, and prepare for the consequences. To embrace that fact can, for some of us, come with a couple of tough pills to proverbially swallow, for example that we have for far too long ceded control over our health to others, that we may not be nearly as healthy as we thought we were, or that we have taken our health for granted, thinking of it as a mere unalienable right minus the requisite hard work that comes with it. However, until that realization has been reached, health will be a very challenging thing to come by.

On the one hand, it is a real shame that we have been given so little education on how to be healthy; it has made us a very sick nation with all its resources for healthcare tied up in fighting disease instead of willingly acknowledging the body's ability to largely prevent disease, then age gracefully, and eventually expire. On the other hand, truthfully, we have never collectively put together a process for how to be healthy in recorded human history; so, one could argue that, when it comes to health compared to other advances, humans just are not as smart...yet. The good news is that various cultures worldwide have been piecing together the makings of a big picture healthy blueprint for centuries. From sanitation to meditation to energetic understanding to birthing procedures to vitamins and supplements to knowledge about the nervous system to psychology to sociology (etc. etc. etc.), we have identified so many pieces of the healthy puzzle; now all that we need to do is put the pieces together into a constructive process and success will naturally follow.

Nutrition, exercise, stress management, proper function, and structural integrity form the backbone of healthy living and the basis for the aforementioned process. Without these elements (and their various sub-categories), health – defined as a state of complete physical, emotional, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity – cannot be achieved. If you want to feel well, if you want to genuinely be well, and if you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be, you have to be willing to put in the necessary effort. As the classic saying goes, “success is not given, but earned.”

Ideally, learning how to be healthy would be a skill unlocked at the same time that we learn to read, but until that day comes, the reality for many will be the equivalent of not having learned to read until a third to a half or more of their lives have already passed. Such is why it is important to separate the instant gratification mindset associated closely with the medical model, designed specifically to treat your symptoms and pry you away from the jaws of death, from the holistic model, which aims to help you get legitimately well and keep you thriving at the peak of your life. To expect a multi-decade old structure with a foundation proven faulty for most of its life to be quickly restored to its apex makes how much sense? Similarly, why would you expect your body to restore even a semblance of normalcy in just a few weeks or months under comparable conditions?

After winning the 2018 National Championship, Saban had this to say about Alabama's success: “The process is really what you have to do day in and day out to be successful, we try to define the standard that we want everybody to sort of work toward, adhere to, and do it on a consistent basis. And the things that I talked about before, being responsible for your own self-determination, having a positive attitude, having great work ethic, having discipline to be able to execute on a consistent basis, whatever it is you’re trying to do, those are the things that we try to focus on, and we don’t try to focus as much on the outcomes as we do on being all that you can be.”

Like learning to read, learning to be healthy has no age limit. Some may pick up healthy living faster than others just like some picked up reading faster than others and some may find it incredibly frustrating and want to give up at times, but all who want to change their circumstances would be wise to embrace the process, recognize that there is no quick and easy path to well-being, and put the work in. Trust the process of getting and staying well and there are few limits as to what you can achieve with your health.

Monday, November 12, 2018

CBD – Hype or Hope?

CBD – Hype or Hope?
Betz McKeown, HTP, INHC, CTCM

By now, almost everybody has read or heard about CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive healing properties of the cannabis plant. There’s a lot of miseducation and misinformation out there that runs the gamut from ‘Miracle Plant’ to ‘Snake Oil’ and everything in between. But what is CBD exactly? What health issues can it help? And why and how does it work?

What Is CBD?

CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis sativa that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. CBD is a non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant with enormous therapeutic potential. The research on CBD and various medical conditions is still in its infancy, but almost every preliminary study done on CBD concludes with the suggestion ‘warrants additional research.’

How Does CBD Work? (This is the science-y geeky stuff.)

Our bodies have several systems that regulate and run everything – from the digestive and respiratory systems to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, among others. We also have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is composed of receptor cells including CB1 and CB2 that work lock-and-key with cannabinoids. In other words, we were born to ingest and process CBD. Some even suggest that CBD is an essential nutrient that we have been starved of for three generations, since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively banned the use and sale of cannabis. Since that time, our ECS has atrophied, and we now find ourselves dealing with once uncommon, even previously unheard of, medical conditions that seem to present at ever younger ages.

The ECS is a key homeostatic regulator in the body, playing a role in almost every physiological system in the body in maintaining optimal health. For a long period of time it was overlooked as a possible therapeutic target, particularly because there was not much known about disease implications of the system. However, with the incredible success stories reported from the use of medicinal cannabis and hemp products, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), many researchers are shifting their focus onto the endocannabinoid system. In fact, a growing number of respected scientists in the medical community are studying the concept of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CEDS – low levels of endocannabinoids) and the possibility that it may be the cause of many conditions including migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.

CBD is the main active compound in hemp and unlike THC (which works specifically with the CB1 and CB2 receptors), it is not psychoactive, so it does not make you high. CBD, however, activates receptor cells like the vanilloid, adenosine, and serotonin receptors. Working through these other receptor cells, CBD plays a role in the mediation of body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation; provides anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects; releases dopamine, which is involved in cognition, motor control, motivation, and reward mechanisms, and glutamate, one of the mediators involved in memory, learning, and cognition; exerts anti-depressant effects; is involved in a series of processes from pain perception, appetite, nausea, and anxiety to sleep and addiction mechanisms; and decreases bone re-absorption and cancer cell proliferation.

Given the large number of diseases which have shown endocannabinoid abnormalities such as epilepsy, cancer, migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and a wide array of neurodegenerative diseases, it is an area which will undoubtedly be explored further in the future.

What Can CBD Help Heal?

CBD is causing quite a buzz among scientists, health professionals, and patients who are using CBD-rich products to treat a wide range of conditions. Academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere are currently studying the effects of CBD on these and other ailments. Scientists refer to CBD as a ‘promiscuous’ compound because it confers therapeutic benefits in many different ways while tapping into how we function physiologically, biologically, and psychologically on a deep level.

CBD’s healing properties include:
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-ischemic (reduces risk of artery blockage)
  • Anti-epileptic
  • Anti-proliferative (inhibits cancer cell growth)
  • Anti-psoriatic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Bone stimulant
  • Anti-psychotic
  • Axiolytic (relieves anxiety)
  • Analgesic (relieves pain)
  • Neuroprotective
  • Intestinal anti-prokinetic (reduces contractions in the small intestine)

So, what does this mean in real terms of your health? Preliminary research suggests, and anecdotal studies and clinical successes show that CBD addresses medical conditions as diverse as systemic inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, etc.), Types 1 and 2 diabetes, artherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, neuropathy, migraines, cancer (as well as side effects of cancer treatments), insomnia, opioid dependence and other addictions, weight loss and cravings, stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression, asthma, COPD, blood sugar regulation, allergies, and so much more.

Not all CBD products are created equal. According to a research study conducted by Penn Medicine and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017, a full 69% of the products sold online were mislabeled. If you’re interested in learning more about high quality, full spectrum, non-GMO, pesticide-free, CO2 extracted, independent lab tested CBD products and how they might help you, your family, even your pets, I would be happy to talk with you. Please feel free to contact me:

(336) 817-1726

Betz McKeown, HTP, INHC, CTCM, is an Energy Alchemist, Transformation Coach, and Spiritual Direction Guide who works with her clients in private practice in Kernersville, NC, at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, and virtually/remotely with clients around the world.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cooperation is the Future of the Healthcare

Do you remember the kids from school so full of themselves that nobody wanted to do group work with them?  Perhaps you work with someone like that today, the know-it-all who has left no room in his/her mind for anyone else’s ideas.  Sometimes, these people attain great individual success, but it is often at the expense of group success.  American healthcare exemplifies that trend on a larger scale, with plenty of individual successes, but having spent far more money than any other nation on healthcare only to achieve dismal outcomes by comparison to our global peers, it would be fair to state that individual success has come at a steep cost: our health. 

Egocentrism, a self-centered tendency bordering on narcissism, has permeated American healthcare for a long time.  If American healthcare is to make the necessary changes that it needs, however, egocentrism must give way to a more cooperative environment. 

Cooperation is our path to the healthcare system we need, and that begins with a gargantuan challenge to everyone from the various practitioners of all different specialties to the third party payers to the sick to the well: we have to collectively recognize that what we have been doing for the past fifty years does not work, that attempting to strengthen the system dominant across these past five decades is a fundamentally flawed concept, and that a basic educational shift toward a broader understanding of what it takes to be healthy is paramount to any change we seek to make. 

The root of the healthcare crisis in the United States is systemic.  If we define health as a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity, then the basic tenet around which a cooperative healthcare system must be built is how to accomplish the various aspects of that health definition and the subsequent creation of a hierarchy among practitioners predicated on which aspects they optimally serve.  As it stands, the American healthcare system is primarily aimed at treating symptoms, disease, and trauma, making it unsurprising that our global peers so easily outpace us – our system is not built on being healthy, but rather addressing the various problems that stem from being unhealthy.  

As an industry, healthcare in the USA is thriving, but statistically healthcare is like a sports franchise that makes a ton of money and outspends everyone else while annually producing losing seasons.  Consumers demand overt expressions of success, in sports meaning wins and in healthcare meaning well-being, and it is time that consumers in the healthcare industry were made more aware of how bad our system has gotten so that they may take a more active role in demanding change. 

It is a unique challenge that we face, overhauling a system that triumphs financially in spite of its poor results.  Even the vast majority of the financial resources in the research community, which spearheads the effort to make advances that would improve outcomes, are spent on how to better treat symptoms, disease, and trauma; and yet disease is more prominent than ever, rates of cancer and heart disease are climbing instead of falling, and people are dying in alarming numbers from adverse reactions to the primary medical methods of choice to combat such conditions. 

Respectfully then, step one in this healthcare revolution has to be a substantial increase in both recognition on the part of the public and self-awareness from within the allopathic ranks that the goals and practices of conventional medicine can no longer be positioned as the gatekeepers of our health system.  $3.5 trillion and rising and consumption of 80% of the worldwide production in medications just to be ranked the worst health system?   We live in a sick nation, and we have a moral responsibility to figure out how to change that; the conventional methods are not producing results and, though it wields a great deal of influence that, given its profitability, it naturally would not want to concede, the truth is the truth and shall remain unchanged, regardless of economics, until drastic changes are made. 

Reducing American reliance on conventional methods would, in turn, reduce the role of insurance companies.  Conventional methods are very expensive, thus the insurance to cover consumer use of them is quite costly.  The Law of Insurance states that premiums drop only as the number of claims decreases; such is why life insurance is so affordable for young, generally healthy people.  Whereas we currently use so-termed “health” insurance to readily overuse conventional medicine with consequently skyrocketing premiums, a movement toward conventional medicine’s role being reduced would allow premiums to diminish in potentially dramatic fashion.  

Sacrificing is rarely easy, but like parents must inevitably sacrifice for the betterment of their children, it is just something that we figure out how to do when it is necessary; and the realities are that these sacrifices are long overdue and that the conventional philosophy and its constituents, which receive 99% of the trillions spent on healthcare each year, have the most sacrifices to make. 

Daunting as that may be conceptually, our other option is to allow a grassroots healthcare movement admittedly building strength to gain inches while we really need to be gaining yards; we must ask ourselves why we should settle for inch-by-inch progress when kids are statistically sicker in this country than ever before and while tens of millions suffer needlessly with preventable conditions. 

It is much easier to keep a well person healthy than to get a sick person well, thus step two in the healthcare revolution should be the cultivation of uniformity regarding the basic principles of healthy living and the appropriate expansion of the roles for practitioners currently considered non-conventional who are better suited and trained for a proactive, wellness-based philosophical paradigm shift.  A healthy percentage of non-conventional practitioners share the understanding that the human body is readily equipped to heal and sustain itself if it only receives what it needs to thrive.  The problem is that we lack a strong, unified message about the various things that the body requires to regain and maintain optimal health. 

Unity would go a long way toward taking step two.  All or nothing mindsets are part of egocentrism, and accordingly there has emerged a tendency for holistic practitioners to get stuck in the bubble of their own respective niches.  If we were to agree that the nerve system’s functional capacity to regulate the body is both of paramount importance and that it is something that can be influenced logically and scientifically; if we were to agree that nutritional counseling and supplementation are imperative, especially given the challenge of finding high quality, untainted food; if we recognized that the integrity of the human structural frame was dependent upon foundational balance and decreasing tension on the tissues; if were to agree that stress management coaching and attitude improvement were indispensable tools without which the goal of thriving is made far more perplexing; and if we were to further agree that these various aspects of healthy living, activity/exercise included, were not mutually exclusive but part of a vitalistic formula that every single person needs in order to be well, then we would have the core of an infrastructure for a revamped healthcare system.  

In addition to unity among the so-termed “non-conventional,” destigmatizing the likes of chiropractic, integrative medicine, naturopathy, etc. would also be very useful in stimulating the kind of dialogue necessary for health practitioners, allopathic and holistic alike, to work with instead of against each other in order to streamline the aforementioned big picture process. 

Language is a powerful, perception-shaping tool, and right now the language being utilized in healthcare downgrades everything non-medical into categories that describe them as subordinates of conventional medicine, as “alternative” to or “complimentary” of the conventional methods.  Conventional medicine is like calculus is to mathematics, its applications numerous and important but nowhere near all-encompassing.  Holistic practices deserve to be distinguished with language that acknowledges what they intend to be and not what conventionalists would rather label them; those labels misrepresent the comparison to the conventional as apples to apples, but it is in fact apples to oranges.  Our use of language regarding healthcare has to change if we want to better facilitate a more cooperative system, and that begins with a clear understanding of what everyone does and does not bring to the table.  

Once a more cooperative system has been established, then we can take our unified message to the masses, eventually implementing human physiology, nutrition, exercise, structural anatomy, and stress management/attitude as the basis for an elementary education curriculum taught in stages under the “Health” label right alongside the various pillars of learning mathematics; we can reestablish the better-suited role of conventional methods as guardians at the gates of death, the fire department of healthcare if you will, rescuing patients in need of its disaster intervention tools, a role at which it would
have the opportunity to earn worldwide recognition as the best at what it does exceptionally without extended sidebars about it being the leaders of the worst health system; we can revise the focus of research, which has practically been monopolized by the reactive mindset associated with disease/symptom treatment, to study causative factors and preventative measures that embrace rather than shun the human body’s innate capacity to heal, and also further refine the research process that has come under increased scrutiny.

The bottom line is that, without a collective conscious awareness of the realities we face and without greater unity among all of us to push harder (and in the same direction) for fundamental change, then the necessary healthcare revolution will continue to be rendered a surfer headed straight into a tidal wave.  With cooperation, though, we can realistically aim to strengthen the health of the population by focusing on the core aspects of healthy living, allowing those suffering to genuinely get well and educating those who are generally well on how to stay that way. 

Thinking good things for you,

Dr. Chad

Friday, September 7, 2018

Stress, Social Media, and How Finding Common Ground Would Make Us Healthier

Stress is the leading cause of health problems in the United States.  It is to us what kryptonite is to Superman, and the closer we are to it and the longer we are around it, the further it weakens us.  Though our bodies are capable of super-heroics, healing from all sorts of conditions, illnesses, and injuries (from the simple cut to the broken bone to the so-termed incurable disease process), stress at varying speeds strips us of our innate power, consequently rendering us decreasingly resilient in the fight to maintain sound health.     

Accordingly, we have to be more mindful of how to manage stress, for just as Superman can in the comics determine the presence of his Achilles heel by its bright green glow, we must develop a broader understanding of the various sources that create stress in our lives so that they may be promptly identified and dealt with.  For instance, one of the common themes among many stressors is negativity, but recognize that negative people or things do not always have to figuratively clobber you over the head every day to have a consistently detrimental impact on your health; worrying about monthly bills creates comparable internal strife as the daily interactions with an overbearing boss, exemplifying that subtler negatives build momentum against the positives all the same as the obvious ones in the figurative arms race for control over your body and mind.

The above having been stated, another source of stress that ought to be considered is the mounting number of polarizing issues in our world and, more specifically, both how we react to them and how often we are exposed to the rhetoric surrounding them.  For some of us, the on-going debates about healthcare, gun reform, human rights, etc. sit at the forefront of our everyday lives, while for others they occupy smaller spaces in our psyche, but very few can ignore the fact that there are a lot of things in need of our collective attention so that the problems we presently face can get resolved.  Our reactions to the politics, be they subtle or overt, are in fact happening, and we would be wise to consider also how much healthier we could be – via decreasing stress – if the resolutions to said issues did not feel so distant, as they are often at least perceived to be. 

Averting attention away from headline news has been getting harder for the last century and, peaking with our modern cultural climate of constant connectivity, it is more challenging now than ever before to escape the noise about society’s ills; and the noise gets ever louder, the spoken or written verbiage highly contentious, by and large.  It is the age of the all-or-nothing argument, and the more exposure we have to the barrage of endless bickering, the angrier we become and the higher our stress levels reach; it is not healthy.  Therefore, it is in our best interest to try to improve. 

One aspect of the digital age, which allows us to communicate with someone from a different background or even continent in seconds through a social media post, that we are still figuring out is how to assimilate the opinions and values of people that extend beyond our typical bubble, in which we become accustomed to similarly held belief systems and ways of life.  Psychologically, the research is pretty clear: we are predisposed to be very empathetic to family and friends, but the greater distance between us and our social networks, the lesser the tendency to be compassionate.  Social media has simultaneously disconnected us somewhat from our tribal disposition, if you will, and connected us to a much wider variety of different belief systems and ways of life; it has changed the world, and we are capable of changing with it. 

Mark Twain once said, “It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble [but what] you know for sure that just ain't so.”  Unfortunately, we have brought with the globalizing force of social media our long-held propensity to skew our perception toward all things unknown into patterns that fit an already established sociologic narrative, an inclination otherwise known as confirmation bias; in other words, we want new information to be consistent with what we already believe.  Social media expanded the scope of our potential interactions and, to its credit amongst its many controversies, it has given us an opportunity to break the bad habit of confirmation bias by observing the personal journeys of all sorts of people.  We have not yet recognized the potential of that opportunity and, so long as we remain in detrimental patterns, we will miss the chance to learn about and process different knowledge-bases and perspectives. 

American healthcare is still statistically the worst in the industrialized world, school shootings are only escalating in volume, we remain overly judgmental to downright cruel toward people who are different; and the only way to change any of those things is to tone down the destructive arguing and get back to discussions that more readily lead to constructive actions and education.  If we improve our discourse, then we make it easier to find common ground and quicken the pace toward making changes that are not so divisive.   

Better quality communication requires a general faith that respective parties within the conversational roundtable have something valuable to contribute, an open-mindedness to ideas and viewpoints not necessarily shared by all.  Humans have been fighting each other near-constantly for thousands of years about the same basic things; shall we attempt an alternate strategy, one that tears down the black and white thinking that has plagued us for generations and that frequently makes it feel as though we are stuck in sociological quicksand?  If faith – in the divine, in ourselves, in the concept that we deserve to be happy, etc. - is one of the most powerful agents to combat stress, then more heavily investing our faith in other people would prove a valuable asset in creating the change that we need; and that extends to happiness and, subsequently, our overall well-being (health). 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Atlas for Logically Combating Autoimmune Conditions

If you are not currently familiar with a classification of health conditions known as autoimmune disorders, then count yourself among the few.  Described as situations in which your own immune system attacks the body it was designed to protect, autoimmune conditions are now among the most prevalently diagnosed in the world and include a wide range of labels you may already be familiar with (Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Type 1 Diabetes best known among the nearly one hundred identified to date). 

In the modern landscape of specialized healthcare, highlighted consistently by a failure to recognize the interconnectivity of everything that happens in the human body, conditions thought to be autoimmune in origin have continually baffled traditional thinkers with mindsets rooted in treating symptoms and disease via methods that produce the opposite effects.  In the case of autoimmune disorders, for instance, the response to an attack on the body by the immune system is to medicinally suppress the immune system, a “pick your poison” approach that unsurprisingly has massive long-term consequences in its own right and that fundamentally fails to address the most obvious question – why is the immune system attacking the body? – as if the question is inherently impossible to answer.  Within that traditional bubble, there is little to find but despair for sufferers of autoimmune conditions.

With medical spending on autoimmune diagnoses approaching the level spent on heart disease, it is time to get a firm handle on what goes on in the body to cause such fundamentally unnatural reactions and to apply a more logical approach to combating them. 

So, logically, what are the most common reasons why the immune system would attack the body?

Human physiology 101 – the basics of how the human body works – teaches that your immune system is controlled by the nerve system, the hubs of which are the brain and the brainstem.  Like our military defenses, there are immune stations positioned throughout the body that are directly linked to the brain via the nerves; in a constant game of Battleship throughout your life, the brain coordinates strikes on foreign invaders deemed threatening by relaying tactical instructions across the nerves.  The goal is to protect, and that protection is dependent upon proper communication between admiral (the brain) and fleet (immune system).  Disrupted communication in any circumstance will yield undesirable outcomes, but especially so in the human body when the immune system’s combat instructions from the brain are interfered with.  In part, autoimmune conditions result from this distorted communication; if the brain commands an attack on an infection in quadrant B6, but an inaccurate coordinate comes through the nerve network – E6 the spinal cord (MS), D6 the digestive tract (Crohn’s), P6 the pancreas (T1 Diabetes), or G6 the joints (RA) – then something has happened that fundamentally would not have happened if there had been proper communication. 

The brainstem is the cell tower of the body’s nerve network, responsible for the transmission of the signals from the brain along the nerves to the immune stations.  Thus, proper attention needs to be paid to the brainstem when evaluating an autoimmune disorder’s cause.  The brainstem is the largest part of the spinal cord and it rests in the rings of the vertebrae that are the smallest part of the spinal column.  It is an area where spinal cord compression can most easily occur and most commonly go undetected.  The Journal of Neurology published a study that showed, using functional MRI, spinal cord compression at the brainstem level in individuals that had undergone little more than common physical traumas.  Such traumas lead to misalignment of the delicate 1st cervical bone, one of the more vulnerable bones in the body to injury since it is held in place only by muscle.  Correction of this misalignment is of paramount importance to ensuring the restoration of proper communication between the brain and the immune system through the brainstem. 
Once the proper functioning of the nerve system that controls the immune system has been confirmed, the next logical culprit for autoimmune conditions is the steady bombardment of the body with chemicals from foods, beverages, medications, air pollution, and the like.  If the previous discussion of how neurology affects physiology is akin to a washing machine not suitably working because of an electrical wiring issue, then shifting the conversation to nutritional factors puts the focus on what the expectation would be for our laundry if we filled the washing machine with juice or degreaser or even dish soap instead of the detergent that the machine requires.  

Your body uses food to make over 200 billion new cells per day.  Back to physiology 101, your digestive system strips down what you put into your body, takes what it needs in the immediacy, stores some of what it needs for later, and sends the rest down the pipe to be eliminated; note that, when it comes to storage, there is also a category for questionable material comparable to your own “keep and decide later” pile when spring-cleaning.  Simply put, the better your nutrition, the stronger material you provide your body to make new cells and to keep the entire assembly line, if you will, running smoothly.  Unfortunately, the proliferation of genetically-modified food (GMOs), which makes up the vast majority of our standard food supply at present time, along with all the sodas, energy drinks, and other chemical-packed beverages have given our bodies an incredible amount of lousy materials to sort through; add in the American dependency on medications (7 out of 10 are on at least one prescription drug) and the aggressive childhood vaccine schedule and we collectively consume so many chemicals that it has become challenging for our bodies to thrive.  An individual human body is smarter than everyone reading this combined, but it has limitations. 

Remember, your immune system’s job is to eradicate harmful substances.  If your cells are built with harmful substances, if your body stores harmful substances, and your elimination system is under the constant barrage of harmful substances, would it not be logical to assume that your immune system would eventually be forced to target parts of the body it would otherwise be protecting? 

“The thing to understand about autoimmune diseases is that they are diseases of the immune system,” Dr. Amy Myers, functional medical doctor and NY Times best-selling author, has said.  “If you have an autoimmune disease, somewhere along the way your immune system went rogue and began attacking your own tissues. In some cases it’s your thyroid under attack, in others it’s your intestines, your skin, your brain, your pancreas, or another organ. But no matter what part of your body is under siege, the culprit is your immune system. This means that in order to treat, prevent, and reverse autoimmune disease you’ll need to get your immune system back under control.”  The most logical approach to doing so is to ensure that your immune system is functioning properly, to aggressively detoxify your body, and to overhaul the nutritional aspect of your lifestyle to limit the foreign invaders you voluntarily consume. 

Dr. Chad McIntyre owns and operates the Triad Upper Cervical Clinic in Kernersville.  Specializing in Upper Cervical Care, his office emphasizes a proactive, goal-oriented approach to health rooted in strong patient education.  If you would like to learn more about Upper Cervical Care, visit or call 336-992-2536 to schedule a consultation.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Debit System That Defines Your Health

Have you stopped and wondered why so little discussion of healing takes place in health care?  To many Americans, healing and health in general have become like a foreign film without subtitles, just engaging enough to ensure that we pay attention if we have to, but complicated to the point that it borderline demands that someone within the field – not limited to doctors, mind you, in this day and age of well-rounded, forward-thinking practitioners of various types – be a translator of sorts, offering guidance to ensure that health care continues its grassroots movement toward a greater number of sick people truly getting well and the genuine reform and loosening pharmaceutical grip that will come with it. 

Until greater change is made, the unfortunate truth for most people is that they are unlikely to learn much about health until they in some pronounced way become aware that they are no longer healthy.  A basic understanding of healing is paramount for everyone, especially as we collectively inch toward a more proactive paradigm, but it is particularly meaningful for the person reaching the fork in the road and making a very important decision to, like Neo standing before Morpheus in The Matrix, accept the figurative red pill en route to a fundamentally different paradigm for regaining and sustaining health or to accept the blue pill and find out how deep the allopathic (traditional medical) rabbit-hole goes.  Chronic illness and pain destroy more lives than all our other societal challenges combined and, when people have been through enough to learn that the most common solutions are often major parts of the problem, the path that they take at the fork in the road often becomes one of the defining moments in their lives.

Health is defined as a state of complete mental, physical, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity; put in a simpler way, health is basically like wealth.  When being educated about managing money, you are given the foundational knowledge that you cannot spend more than you have, as you will otherwise find yourself in a poor state of financial wealth, loosely defined as having a lot more than you spend.  Your body is like a bank account, trillions strong cellularly and with an innate potential expressed to such a degree of ad nauseum that it is taken for granted; it has the ability to create new cells billions of times per day, not just replenishing the stomach lining every quarter hour or the liver cells every month and a half, but also repairing a broken cut in mere days and a broken bone in mere weeks.  The most powerful and productive assembly line there has ever been, your body is fundamentally healthy, but enough debits even to a system that robust eventually take their toll. 

Confusion surrounding the basics of wealth or health management similarly create chaos, the difference being that virtually everyone knows that a massive hit to their financial well-being can be offset with more earning, whereas the fact that unmanaged stress is regarded as the leading cause of disease and that the annual leading causes of disability, death, and missed work/school days are mostly preventable suggest that we societally lack the equivalent level of health education.  No matter your diagnosis, in this day and age, the first suggested step to take on your so-termed road to recovery is prescription medication to subdue your symptoms, regardless of their cause and context.  Your body has built in warnings about too many debits being taken from your health account, but from an early age we are taught to ignore these initial heads-up, suppressing them near-constantly until we inevitably are on red alert.  Once that point is reached, it is not as easy to replenish the system, even when you finally know how. 

New cells are made of the food you consume, so consistently poor nutrition debits frequently from your health; traumas occur that create short-circuits within your own internal network, weakening organ function, and accordingly debit consistently from your health too; those same traumas induce shifts in the physical frame that slowly but surely debit from your musculoskeletal system the ability to hold firm its structural integrity; sedentary lifestyles at work and at home prevent the muscle movement that the body requires (structurally and internally), further debiting from and exhausting the once vast natural resources highly intelligently designed for thriving, not just surviving; negative attitudes and living your life around fear sour your soul by filling your mind with garbage, debiting from your health not just mental energy and hope (and the cascade of consequent effects from a lack thereof), but also normal neurologic rhythm (due to the ensuing fight or flight response from the stress); environmental influences also take from the health account, as does a constant bombardment of the system via pharmaceuticals; the average American family pays $833 per month just for “health” insurance premiums, so there is also financial stress to be considered.  The list of debits is enormous, but where are the credits?

When your health account is depleted indefinitely, you become unhealthy, no matter how good you may have felt before the debits mounted to the extent that you really noticed.  Healing, not just to feel better but to actually be better, involves accepting the fact that you are often starting close to square one with a significantly drained account (or even worse yet in debt) and that you have to learn how to replenish it with the restoration of balance and function, the adoption of persistent exercise, the daily improvement of attitude, the proper management of finances perhaps, the habitual pattern of eating clean, the reduction or elimination of medication necessity, etc.  The instant gratification mindset is not applicable to healing, as no more than you could expect to become wealthy in no time at all, you cannot expect to become healthy on the fast track either. 

It is as if we have previously been taught to think of our health as equivalent to being given a lump sum of money with the expectation that it would to some uncertain degree decrease until we expired, with limited opportunities to maintain or build up the bottom line.  Benjamin Franklin once said that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest; the further aware we become, of what it means to be healthy, of the realities of modern health care, and of what it takes to heal, the more clarity everyone will have, making these topics more approachable and making authentic change far easier to come by for those sick and tired of being sick and tired and the wellness-oriented alike. 

Adopting the Elite Athlete's Mindset: Preventing Injuries and Improving Performance

The foundational philosophy behind modern medicine as we have come to know it is referred to as allopathy, which is defined as the treatment of disease by methods that produce the effects opposite of symptoms.  Our pharmaceutically-driven healthcare system has pierced to its core the societal perception of what it means to be healthy.  We have been indoctrinated by a paradigm that strips away the control that we can and should maintain over our own bodies, all while preaching the virtues of faulty theories that, if the history of healthcare is any indication, will eventually be disproven in favor of the next generational hypothesis; the vast majority of us consequently take our health for granted, as evidenced by seven out of ten Americans taking prescription drugs but only one out of ten consistently eating quality food.

In our quest to take back control of our health, we would be wise to take a peek inside the minds of elite athletes, who embody that which health is really all about: being the best version of ourselves.  They work hard to achieve and sustain peak physical and mental conditioning; when an aspect of their game is weak, they seek the necessary help to make it a strength, be it through counseling to manage stress, coaching to maximize nutritional efficiency, training to enhance athletic performance, or chiropractic care to optimize their structural integrity and functional resiliency. 

Focusing on that final point, it is of note that only 10% of Americans seek chiropractic care and that, of those 10%, the vast majority go for a limited time in order to address only a specific symptom (or diagnosis), rendering the practice a more natural version of drug-therapy.  By comparison, “I would estimate that at least 90% of world class athletes use chiropractic on a regular basis to prevent injuries and to improve their performance,” Sean Atkins, who holds a PhD in Exercise Physiology, has stated. 

The science of chiropractic often gets scrutinized in the medical community for its lack of studies set against specific conditions.  Though such studies do exist and often produce profound results in helping people with diagnoses like hypertension and multiple sclerosis, especially in the upper cervical specialty, the historical focus of the chiropractic profession has not been on treating disease, but rather optimizing the body’s ability to heal itself.  Thus, research abounds when studying the chiropractic paradigm’s effectiveness in helping athletes.  For instance, one study concluded that collegiate baseball players were more effective statistically and healthier physiologically after Upper Cervical Care.  Another found that chiropractic helped injured female long distance runners both recover quickly and post personal bests in subsequent races.  

One of the key elements that separates an elite athlete from an average one is reaction time.  In soccer, for instance, a striker breaking free into open space needs a teammate to pass the ball at the right moment so that the striker can run onto it behind the defense without being called offside and have a breakaway opportunity for a goal; reaction time, in this example, is the ability to see the streaking striker and to make the necessary pass literally within a second.  Several years ago, research showed that athletes under Upper Cervical Care had a reaction time 15% faster than their peers.  Extrapolate that data out into the general population and think of how it might positively affect your ability to drive or to make quick, important decisions to simply (and literally) get your head on straight.

From Arnold Schwarzenegger to Jerry Rice to Michael Jordan to John Stockton to Wayne Gretsky to Serena Williams to Usain Bolt to Aaron Rodgers (whose dad is a chiropractor), athletes have become increasingly aware of chiropractic’s effectiveness for decades. 

Traumas occur throughout our lives (especially during youth) that disrupt the delicate balance between the head and the upper neck, the proper alignment of which is foundational to our structural integrity and the misalignment of which begins a head-to-toe compensatory domino effect that causes the body’s natural biomechanics (how it moves) to change.  The widespread physical adaptation prompts the muscles of the body to pull against each other instead of work together, creating a destructive dynamic that makes the body more prone to injury and various symptoms of distress (pain among them).  That same misalignment also compromises the brainstem, the organ responsible for routing the communication between the brain and the organs, muscles, and tissues like a cell tower in a phone network; a lack of normal function internally has a globally detrimental effect on the body. 

Most people address fundamental problems with their health, such as the upper cervical misalignment and its cascade of side effects, long after they become symptomatic; this is largely because our health system has taught us to be reactive.  Elite athletes, on the other hand, have been taught to be proactive. 

Jerry Rice, an NFL Hall of Famer and Upper Cervical advocate, once said, “Life requires the edge that chiropractic provides.”  Upper Cervical Care keeps the structural frame balanced and keeps the brainstem free of neurologic distortion to allow for top notch internal networking, resulting in optimal heart, lung, and musculoskeletal function among a great many other benefits.  Athletes desire that edge because it helps them to train harder, recover faster, and perform better.  Why are the rest of us not following their lead, collectively tweaking our mindsets toward health in order to become the best possible versions of ourselves?

The Similarities Between March Madness and Your Health

One of the most frequent topics of conversation I have with you, face-to-face, is about how well you are managing your health amidst the other responsibilities in your life.  As mentioned in our New Patient Orientation Class, I consider stress management to be the most underrated vital aspect of healthy living and, since unmanaged emotional stress is the leading reason why patients lose their Upper Cervical corrections, I not only discuss it with you often because I want you to be the best versions of yourself possible, but also because it typically has such a direct effect on how well you will maintain the foundational work that we're doing at TUCC. 

For me, the primary stress management tool in my playbook is sports.  There is a lot going on in the world that presents us with daunting challenges to overcome, the core issues with American healthcare certainly at the top of my list of wrongs I am taking personal responsibility to help right during my time on this earth; honestly, if the only thing I did was think about our big picture problems and how to solve them, I imagine I would feel pretty consistently lost and overwhelmed, so sports provide me an outlet to lose myself in something of a (mostly J ) constructive distraction.  Today, I want to blend the seriousness of healthcare with the more youthful-type joy that I still find in sport, conveying this month's newsletter-led message for your consideration with an analogy befitting of the month of March. 

The third month of the year brings to the forefront the state of North Carolina's crazed obsession with college basketball; no state, in fact, embodies the spirit of March Madness to a greater extent than we do.  The 2018 NCAA Tournament is underway!  Among the most impressive things in sports, to me, is the psychology of winning consistently in college basketball, due to the fact that the star players can leave for the professional ranks so quickly after high school, as opposed to the rules in football that keep kids in college until three years removed from their high school graduation.  To build a program like Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) has at Duke or like Bill Self has at Kansas is fascinating really; the discipline that goes into established routines through every aspect of the operation offers a life lesson on success, no matter the endeavor. 

If we were to compare, then, the success of a college basketball program to your health, the coach would be the equivalent of the brainstem.  Facilitating the connections to the entire body, it is the quality of the “coach's” decisions that lay the foundation for victory; its organizational skills in combination with the brain, similar to an athletic director, are vital to the health of the systems in place designed to make winning an expectation.  The organs, muscles, and tissues (all made of cells) are the players, the heart, lungs, digestive system, and immune system regularly among the figurative leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, and defense, all under the direction of the coach's game-plan, with the nerves acting as the assistants to ensure all the players know their responsibilities for improving the well-being of the team.

To round out the analogy, the director of basketball operations would equate to structural alignment, without which the balance necessary to ensure a winning culture would simply be made far more challenging than it needed to be; the training staff takes care of the exercise necessary to ensure the body is in peak physical condition; and, finally, practice would serve as the comparison to stress management, in that there is a strange assumption among some circles that practice is not actually necessary to achieve optimal results – even a team with all of the innate talent in the world would not be able to win the ACC Championship and a #1 seed in the Big Dance without practice. 

The piece that ties a winning program together that will be the primary focus of our educational efforts this month is recruiting, college basketball’s version of nutrition.  Contemplate how frequently the cells (players) that make up the organs, muscles, and tissues of the body are produced and recycled.  Every 6-8 minutes, the cells of your stomach lining are replaced; every 4-6 weeks, your liver cells are renewed; every four months, you have fresh blood cells.  Our bodies make new cells with the food that we consume, so the quality of our cells is dependent on the quality of the materials that we feed our bodies.  Would you rather “recruit” new cell production from a fast food restaurant (for you fellow basketball aficionados, a 1-star player) or would you rather “recruit” a higher caliber player of the 4-to-5-star variety (i.e. non-GMOs, real food, fruits, vegetables, etc.)?   

Wellness and winning are an expression of the efforts put forth in each area of health.  Unquestionably, the coach and his assistants, the AD, the director of basketball operations, and practice regimens (i.e. the optimal function of the brainstem/brain/nervous system, structural integrity, and stress management skills) lay the groundwork for a top-tier, extraordinarily healthy college basketball team, but recruiting is just as important.  How well – and, most importantly, how consistently well – your cells are replenished is a major part of the difference between elite health (28-5 year-in and year-out with deep runs in the tournament periodically), above average-to-good health (20-10, fringe tournament team), or just plain mediocre (18-15) or poor (10-20) health. 

Excellent health is a desire we hope to cultivate in all of you, even those of you who have underlying circumstances that make becoming the Kentucky basketball of mental, physical, and social well-being far more challenging.  Remember, some of you begin your journey toward changing your life when your “program” is in shambles, in need of revamping at every level (think Wake Forest this decade); some of you are looking to regain your powerhouse health position after a couple of down years (think Ohio State); some of you have more limited resources (think Wichita State or Gonzaga); some of you struggle to maintain the necessary better habits to sustain your health (think Texas Tech); all of you, though, have the ability to put together a winning formula.

Clarifying Concussions: What Should I Do If I Get One?

As the world has been made increasingly aware over the past several years, concussions – otherwise known as mild traumatic brain injuries – are scary.  The more they are studied, the scarier they become.  Until recently, the conversation about concussions centered primarily on the sport of football, but alarming statistics once muted in the discussion by lack of awareness are now getting the spotlight.  For instance, more than twice the number of concussions were diagnosed last year compared to the number of new cases of diabetes; of those concussions, 39% could render the concussed more likely to have a catastrophic head injury leading to neurologic disability if coupled with multiple concussions.

Though half of the reported concussions happen in youth sports (only an estimated half of all concussions are actually reported), the other half are due to common traumas that most experience throughout life, with prevalence by far the highest from ages 3-13, when balance, coordination, and strength are still being developed.  Common symptoms starting immediately after until around two days following a concussion include brain fog, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, emotional symptoms (anxiety, depression, confusion, irritability, etc.), fatigue, headaches, nausea/vomiting, and sleeping problems. 

For future reference, if you or a loved one experiences signs of a concussion, the following will walk you through the steps to ensure an optimal recovery:

Step 1: Pretend that you sprained your ankle or tweaked your back, and just rest.  For the few hours following a suspected concussion, remain awake under supervision and refrain from driving.  Then, sleep for 2-3 hour periods if possible, having someone periodically wake you in order to ask basic questions that will help rule out a more significant brain injury.  Rapid onset of more serious symptoms (severe headache, slurring, unconsciousness, repeated vomiting, etc.) would be the cue to seek emergency medical care. 

Step 2: It takes 95 G's of force to cause a concussion, but only 4 G's of force to injure the upper neck, making it impossible to suffer a concussion without also having an underlying neck injury.  The upper neck is where the brainstem, which is responsible for coordinating your internal functions, is located; the importance of having the upper neck evaluated by an Upper Cervical Practitioner far outweighs the lack of awareness on the subject.  Have the upper neck issue corrected as soon as possible, as it otherwise becomes akin to having a pebble in the shoe on the side of a sprained ankle, only this pebble compromises the hub of your nervous system.  Then, be re-evaluated consistently for at least a few months. 

Step 3: Just as walking on a sprained ankle is ill-advised, so too is a lot of stimulation (driving, exercise, school, screen-time, work, etc.); if you want your brain to heal, you have to give it time.  For 3-4 days post-concussion, continue to stay home in a dimly lit space and avoid stimulation.  Proceed to the next step once symptom-free.  If, after 4-5 days, symptoms remain, go back to see the Upper Cervical Practitioner for a sooner re-evaluation. 

Step 4: Simple mentally-stimulating activity (reading, listening to low volume music, etc.) may resume for no more than about an hour throughout one entire day and, so long as symptoms do not reoccur, it is then OK to proceed to the next step. 

Step 5: For half a day, return to school or work, but get a ride and avoid stimulation beyond your standard, in-person task list.  Students are advised to avoid tests and homework, recess, or gym class; adults should do no heavy lifting, operate dangerous machinery, or perform manual labor.  If symptoms arise during any step, return to the previous step; if consistently asymptomatic, proceed to the next step. 

Step 6: Return to school or work for a full day, being mindful to stay away from over-stimulating things like loud music or screen-time and over-stimulating environments that involve large crowds or critical thinking.  Alert whomever it may concern of a need to take more frequent breaks and of an expectation for roughly two-thirds production in your normal workload. 

Step 7: Take your time, but steadily return to your normal activities of daily living, removing one above-suggested restriction per day (one day gym, next day full study regimen, for instance).  The more the steps are rushed, the slower the healing process.  Seek re-evaluation from an Upper Cervical Practitioner a week to ten days post-concussion. 

Step 8: Get back to your normal routine, beginning with driving, then your typical class or workload and, assuming you are still asymptomatic afterward, vigorous exercise. 

After symptoms subside, there is still about a month-long window within which another even small impact can do greater harm.  For optimal healing, your brain requires normal blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow in combination with the cell tower of your internal network, the brainstem, being able to properly regulate the nervous system's response to stimuli, hence the role that the Upper Cervical Practitioner plays in balancing and stabilizing your upper neck.

If the above steps are followed immediately, healing time is shorter and long-term affects can be minimized. 

Sources: The CDC, The Headcase Company, Upper Cervical Health Centers of America


It is possible that, in order to move to the next phase in the grassroots process to change American healthcare, further pulling it out of its multi-decade long downward spiral, we may have to draw a clearer line of distinction between healthcare as it ought to be and the disease management system that currently and unfortunately dominates American healthcare to the tune of outrageous costs and statistically dreadful results.  There is so much circular talk in our society today that rarely yields the results that we need, so perhaps instead of trying to, with natural, holistic health principles, infiltrate a broken system and how the public views it, we should spend that energy creating a new, separate system altogether that, in time, the general population would learn to understand through long-term education and experience.

Health should be taught right alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic so that we can rebuild the general knowledge-base necessary to properly take care of ourselves; if it was, then kids would, by the time that their ages hit double-digit years, be able to grasp the essentials of healthy living as easily as they would be able to read instructions or divide thirty by three.  Such fundamental education would organically shift people, generation by generation, toward approaching health like they would other necessities instead of prioritizing it like a luxury, simultaneously moving societal momentum away from our modern trends toward letting our bodies break-down for years without consistent attention paid to maintaining optimal health and later hoping for an instant gratification-based quick fix when various levels of suffering begin. 

To those ends, it would be helpful for all of us in the holistic health community, patients and practitioners alike, to simplify our collective definition of health and to organize our overall comprehension of the things necessary to obtain and maintain health; it would be a key step in the direction of uniting the various schools of thought. 

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity; let us build off of that.  Each of the three core elements can be broken down into sub-categories.  Take, for instance, the integrity of the human frame, including the bones and the muscles that allow them to move, as a sub-category of physical well-being; the health of the musculoskeletal system dictates, in part, how physically active we can be and how optimally we feel, meaning therefore that poorer health of the bones and muscles ultimately causes corresponding symptoms and less physical activity.  Were we to define the integrity of the human frame as a state of structural balance, proper movement, normal tone, and minimal symptoms, then we could start to better reason how to ensure it and to properly designate the practitioners most helpful in each area. 

Structural balance is the most basic piece of the healthy human frame's puzzle, as proper movement, normal tone, and minimal symptoms cannot be sustainably achieved without it.  Thus, it is vital that human anatomy be taught to everyone in a way that directly associates it with being healthy, specifically as it pertains to one of the most commonly misinterpreted aspects of the body: the location of its structural foundation.  The human body being built from the brain-down, the foundation of the body is at the top instead of the bottom.  Now, if we want to merely assess structural balance, we can observe whether or not the orientation of the shoulders, hips, and legs are equal, and we can also measure whether or not weight is carried comparably, left vs. right.  If not balanced, though, we have to go back to the top link in the chain, which is the positioning of the head and the neck. 

The head and the neck meet at the junction between the skull's base and the top vertebra in your spine, the latter nicknamed the “atlas,” in reference to the Greek mythology figure who upheld the world; the atlas is the one bone in the entire body that is not locked securely in place, dramatically increasing its mobility but weakening its stability and making it more likely to shift detrimentally as a result of a trauma, be that trauma as severe as a major accident or as minor as an early childhood face-plant while learning to walk.  The skull/head rests on the atlas, so if the atlas shifts, it takes the head off level, engaging an instinctive reflex that prompts the rest of the body to compensate to return the head to balance; the body uses your eyes being level and the equality of your inner ear fluid to establish equilibrium, so without that reflex and its consequent physical adaptation, you would be consistently dizzy or disoriented.

In the adapted state, the other spinal vertebrae, the shoulders, the hips, and the legs are all forced out of their normal positions, altering muscle tone, disrupting motion, and essentially creating a body at odds with itself.  Minus the means to support itself as designed, the body breaks down quite prematurely, long before age becomes the factor it is often professed to be in catch-all fashion.  Signs of breaking down often include headaches, acute and chronic pain throughout the body, numbness, and tingling, then disc and joint degeneration and even a closing down of spinal nerve canals (stenosis), all of which only amplify the original symptoms.  Traced step-by-step back to their origins, these signs began, in part, with a structural, foundational problem stemming from trauma that went unaddressed.

Connecting this discussion back to the definition of general health (which is inherently based in proactivity) and emphasizing the importance that everyone (the health-conscious, chiropractors, the sick and sicker, medical doctors, kids, physical therapists, athletes, massage therapists, etc.) understand the role that head and neck alignment plays in being healthy, at present time, the primary, secondary, and tertiary reasons to have structural balance assessed are obvious signs of physical health already in a perpetual state of decline; until we unite on such basic principles as the head and neck needing to be balanced in order for the body to maintain structural integrity (health's equivalent of 2+2=4), the change we want to see in healthcare will stall from our inability to integrate the awesome things that have propelled the holistic movement to this point and widespread suffering will continue.

It is easier to keep a well person healthy than to get a sick person well; even if our society is many years away from embracing that principle, our health system must at least set its intention to make that principle one of its core tenets.  In our current system, spending keeps rising as outcomes keep dropping, with catastrophic problems inherent to it that make change crawl along at a slower pace.  We have to get back to basics and, if creating a new system altogether is the most efficient route to the change we need in the big picture, then so be it.

How To Get Everything You Want Out Of Life

Stop and think sometime, if only for a moment, about the fact that literally every great idea before or since the wheel came from someone just like you, born of the awesome combination of an intended goal, the subsequent motivation to make it happen, and a positive mental attitude.  Think about 1900 BC, when it is thought that the world's first joke was told; one person said something that elicited laughter out of another person, recognized it, and figured out that the right mixture of words about something humorous earned more laughter, and of course the happiness that accompanied it.  Basketball, the cell phone, the sanitation system, the novel, the robot vacuum cleaner, etc. join comedy in the incredible and infinite list of things in our world that came from motivated people taking abstract concepts and turning them into realities. 

What would you like to achieve? 

How about adequately hydrating yourself on a daily basis or inventing a piece of safety equipment to make car seats more secure or committing to weekly lunches with just you and your kids or starting an online fundraiser for a cause that you are passionate about or scratching that itch to try community theater or buying the car that you have wanted for a decade or cutting sugar out of your diet or finding a more rewarding job?  The possibilities span every aspect of your life, and they are endless. 

Intention, or what you want, lays the foundation for achievement; it is a major part of what allows the Law of Attraction to work in your favor, whether you believe in the farthest reaches of the philosophy or just simply acknowledge that what you think about, you bring about.  It is a powerful exercise to merely sit down and write out goals and ideas, as it is a subtle form of commitment which takes a goal or an idea to the next phase of its natural process, sparking a fire later stoked by your intention-reflecting actions.  The more specific you are about your intention, the clearer the path to success becomes, so review your notes and expand on them until you have a firmer grasp of exactly what you want.  Re-read your intention frequently and you will have essentially made an agreement with yourself to pursue your goal; let that agreement be known to the most supportive people in your life and the likelihood of success grows even more. 

Once the groundwork is set, you can build your plan and start putting it into action.  Motivation, then, is the fuel to your fire, the psychological process of harnessing the same basic instinct that makes you eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired into taking full ownership of your mind and pointing it directly toward what you want out of life. 

Motivation comes in so many forms.  Spirituality, the performing arts, our peers, sports, books, etc. offer several distinct sources from which to draw motivation, but also bring awareness to remaining in the moment so that you can experience day-to-day, less overt examples of inspiration; a student exhibiting knowledge that you facilitated, your eleven year old dog cuddling up to your five year old child, someone taking the time to thank you (an amazing motivator no matter the reason), your two year old kid or grandkid looking up at the moon at dusk and saying, as if it is the most amazing thing ever, “Look, it's an egg in the sky,” a random act of kindness...these little things are hugely important in the grand scheme of goal realization because they are the sun that shines brightly upon and enriches your world, presuming that you will allow them to do so. 

As the ancient Greeks wrote in the Temple of Apollo, “Know thyself,” and the deeper you get into your journey toward achieving your goals, the more imperative that becomes.  The world is going to keep on moving, so embrace the process that it is your life.  Learn about yourself by paying close attention to your habits and patterns in order to develop strategies that help you figure out when and from where you need boosts of motivation.  While pushing yourself further toward your intended goals and into uncharted waters, you may feel sometimes like you are on a ship in the middle of rough seas, where it is harder (but not impossible) to steer well enough to maintain your course; it just reinforces that finding multiple sources of motivation is important, the integrative approach to health and well-being manifesting itself once again, this time in a different part of your life. 

In the recipe for success of any kind, your intention determines what you want to do, your motivation determines if you will actually do it, and your attitude determines how well you do it; a good attitude is the ingredient that gives you the ability to navigate the inevitable challenges along your path, allowing you to see them in more constructive ways and to subsequently choose how you will react to them with the clarity influenced by your intention and motivation.  Genuine positivity can be cultivated into an emotional response mechanism that will keep you focused on remembering that your goals are bigger and more important than their associated challenges, and that will provide a subconscious reminder that you can, for instance, take control of your health and know that you will end the year far better physically and emotionally than when you started it, even in the face of adversity.  

Of course, it is not always so easy, setting and achieving goals, small, medium, or large, but if your intention is clearly set, if you are powered by proper motivation, and if you have a good attitude, you can resolutely stand firm in confidence that anything you desire to achieve is possible.