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What’s the difference between a problem and a disease? The short answer is perception. People may look at problems as small annoyances that they can worry about later. A disease is a more serious collection of problems that can bring about fear and anxiety.

We can use the chiropractic view of health to approach disease and plan for prevention. Chiropractors put their focus on the nervous system, which is the first line of defense when it comes to health problems that could balloon into a disease.

Rather than putting disease center-stage, the stresses that hinder the nervous system are emphasized. Stress occurs three ways: mechanically, chemically and emotionally. With metabolic syndrome as an example, high blood pressure and high blood sugar are explored as logical responses when the nervous system is impacted by stress.

When the spine is under mechanical stress from an injury, blood pressure will increase as part of the protective mechanism of inflammation and pain. Inflammation begins the healing response. Pain is an indication that the brain has been alerted and needs to keep the process going.  

Chemical stress from dietary choices, drugs, cigarette smoke and industrial exposures will also increase blood pressure. Chemicals and heavy metals interfere with minerals needed for vital life functions. The nervous system must increase blood pressure to compensate for the deficit.

Emotional stress can keep the body in a constant state of high cortisol. This is the hormone behind the “fight or flight” response that raises blood pressure so the body is ready to run from imminent danger. An overkill reaction can become memorized by the nervous system when emotional stress is not well managed.

Blood sugar will spike as a reaction to similar stresses, as well. Spinal mechanics affected by injury or distorted posture can change  how nerves communicate with the pancreas, which releases insulin. A poor insulin response that allows blood sugar to go unchecked leads to tissue damage.

Chemical stress from carbohydrate consumption, caffeine and artificial sweeteners increases blood sugar and also weakens the immune system, which further strains the nervous system.  

Emotional stress plays its role again in the cortisol response. This is to provide extra energy by boosting blood sugar levels. This also drains energy and creates a vicious cycle where the body needs more. People crave sugar when they need quick energy, hence the term “emotional eating.”

This kind of analysis allows people to better understand how prevention practices can be beneficial. The generic advice of improved diet and exercise is a good start, but chiropractic expands upon it. Because malfunction at the nervous system is the beginning of the disease process, chiropractic is an effective first step in making positive change.  

Chiropractic adjustments are used to settle down the nerve responses that have gone into hyper-drive. Nutritional balancing and stress management will then help reinforce the retrained nervous system. This unique perspective shows people how they can play a significant role in their personal progress.

Lisa Ann Homic, M.Ed. D.C., may be contacted at

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