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.