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Wholism versus Reductionism…This is our approach to health!

Something happens when we try to reduce large, dynamically complex systems down to their smallest, constituent parts. This is called reductionism.

If reductionist medicine is isolating, wholistic medicine is relational. Where reductionism sees component parts, wholism sees biological systems. Reductionism is about hierarchy, wholism is about partnership. Many people are familiar with ‘take this for that’…this is reductionism. We are not like that.

At its heart, wholism seeks to find those deeper points of connection … between our habits and our health … between our bodies internal and external enviroments….between our bodies and the plants and foods we eat … between ourselves and others … between humanity and the planet.

Wholism calls upon us to embrace the dynamic nature of life, to recognize that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that the innate connections are what imbue living systems with vitality and uniqueness. We apply this approach when we look at every single patient in our clinic. WE LOOK AT THE WHOLE PICTURE.

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When we are looking at pain in an area of the body, sometimes it is from an injury like a car accident, sporting injury or recreational/domestic activities. Sometimes it is a ‘new’ pain, coming on suddenly, or gradually, over a period of weeks. Sometimes it is an old, (chronic, >3 months old ), pain that will not go away, or will linger where we had no pain before.beet-root-lgbeet-root-lg

Does this pain mean that a joint is “out”?…

Was it a miscommunication under stress between the bodies co-ordination of brain / nervous system / muscle / joint receptors in ligaments / stretch receptors in muscles? Were the signals fouled up or made foggy by underlying stressors? ( such as, already tight muscles, getting too tight and creating a message through the nervous system, a   bombardment of too little, or too many, demands on the brain/nervous system to over or under-compensate for this tightness by activating ( ‘turning on’ ), or inhibiting ( ‘switching off’ ) other muscles? ), Or were there other joints that were moving too much ( too loose ) or too little, (tight and stuck), to force a particular area of the body to become unbalanced and overworked and therefore painful? [ To understand how this relates to the spine watch the VIDEO: Chiropractic. It explains these concepts beautifully in a way you can understand.].


Was the pain a result of the wrong kind of fuel in the body?


Too much acidity ( eating the SAD (Standard American Diet), too many grains / red Meats / Milk / cheeses, alcohol and coffee/ black tea and sugar, and not enough root vegetables ( Yams/ radishes, carrots, beets, etc ), fish, water, Greens and other vegetables? Too much acidity changes the pH Inside of us. Small changes make a huge difference on how we respire (breathe). Remember breathing is one of the ways that we get Toxic wastes ( carbon dioxide) out of the body that are pro-inflammatory and get oxygen into our bodies, which is anti-inflammatory. Checking you oral and your urinary pH; it is a simple test to perform in our clinic, and, under the right conditions, it will give us a window into how acidic, or alkaline, your body is.

Remember, if your body is challenged, and leaning towards inflammation ( typified by more frequent and prolonged symptoms, not just pain, but digestive problems ( gas, bloating/ excessive flatulence / bad breath / alternating constipation and diarrhea ), skin problems ( dermatitis / excema / fungal infections / cystic acne ), hormonal problems ( too much estrogen ( heavy periods / clotting / weight gain / lack of energy), too much testosterone ( facial hair growth, ovarian cysts, aggressive behavior, etc), too little progesterone ( spotting, difficulty conceiving, low libido, relative estrogen dominance symptoms), too little testosterone ( low libido, less energetic ), low estrogen ( brain fog, hot flashes/night sweats, inability to gain weight ), insulin resistance ( poor energy, sweet cravings, inability to lose weight, falls asleep after meals ), diabetes ( more sugar in the blood, therefore more chances of prolonged inflammation and slower healing times), adrenal fatigue ( sleep problems/ low energy/ weight gain/ mental sluggishness ), Thyroid problems ( too little energy/ confusion/ chills/palpitations/low energy/hair thimnning/loss, cold extremities) to name just a few common maladies we see regularly, THESE FACTORS WILL INFLUENCE both your perception of pain and inflammation, i.e. the RATE THAT YOU HEAL, and ultimately your own path to healing, getting out of pain, etc. [ For more information see our previous BLOG POST on inflammation and accompanying VIDEO entitled: How long will it take to heal?]


Wholistic Nutrition, diet and herbal supplementationbeet-root-lgbeet-root-lgbeet-root-lg


Many of the nutritional supplements we use are Whole food concentrates or herbal complexes which retain the synergistic potency of  biological living compounds with all of their phytonutrients, enzymes and cofactors, both known and unknown, with years of empirical and clinical usage, not just in almost 20 years at our clinic, but over the last 80 to 150 years depending on the herb. We have observed that while synthetic isolates can be beneficial especially in the short term, they can be detrimental in the long term ( i.e. synthetic B vitamins and ascorbic acid, for example [see our previous BLOG POST on Natural versus synthetic], and while we may, from time to time, use some isolated synthetic ( i.e. 5-HTP or Coenzyme Q 10 ) products, they are nearly always in the short term, to correct, or reset, a certain faulty function in the body, which, when remedied, may no longer need the intervention. In cases where we have to use a synthetic isolate ( i.e. to support continued mitochondrial stress in Fibromyalgia patients or adjunctive support in patients who wish to be on a natural statin such as red rice yeast ), we will concurrently endeavour to pair other whole food supplements and dietary food sources to complement the long term use of such isolates.


Structural assessment involves the spine, the extremities and brain tests.


We always start with the feet..How are they rolling in the gait? How are the arches fairing under weight bearing? Is there excessive roll, torsion and torque created through the fore and rearfoot?, The ankle joint? the Achilles? the inside of the knee joint?, the inside of the hip? the pelvis? Low back and so on. Is one of the 26 bones in the foot affecting things upstream ( Knee/ hip/ back/neck/head?), How are the arms swinging during gait? (i.e. are there early signs of brain degeneration?), How is balance? ( does standing on one leg with your eyes closed mean you fall over? ).

Is the fact that a shoulder joint is restricted mean that there is chronic tightness on one side of the neck? ( very common).

Is a chronic knee or pelvic problem due to excess torque in one or both feet? ( also very common ).

The spinal segments have nerves that exit at every level, controlling different sequences of action and organisation in the body. For example, if the 3rd lumbar joint is restricted it could cause constipation, because this is where the nerves that work the large intestine originate from. The 4th, 5th and 6th  thoracic joint restrictions can affect stomach, liver and gallbladder functions ( indigestion, reflux, Gas and bloating, belching etc. ). The 5th cervical nerve serves the Thyroid gland, etc. We are always considering the Autonomic nervous system  ( autonomous from your thoughts ), functions that run and regulate your body, for when these get stressed and act up ( as they do), we can correct the cause a lot more completely when we perform both structural and functional ( diet, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness ) care and support, rather than just looking at an isolated treatment modality or single area of the spine/body.

We also recognize that stimulating joints distant from symptomatic/other areas of the spine, can influence other areas of the spine to heal..i.e adjusting the low back and the neck improves quicker, ( and vice versa), or adjusting a foot regularly and seeing inflammation decrease ( through joint receptor activation (mechano-stimulation) [See VIDEO chiropractic for explanation of this ] ).


State of mind


Mental and emotional thoughts will also affect the bodies perception of pain and how you, as an individual, can manage your health and your life. A more positive outlook will have less pain and inflammation. A more pessimistic outlook will always experience more pain and inflammation.

One of my favourite tools for ‘flipping a poor attitude’, is to encourage patients to think about their current life experience today, in the now, by answering the following questions: 1) Do you have access to drinking water? 2) Do you have access to food? 3) Are you being bombed or in an active war zone? 4) Is your life in danger? , etc. This will give some perspective if someone is experiencing problems not directly related to staying alive. A second level is then to reflect on what they have given today, to someone, and/or some cause, that has resulted in a positive outcome. Well done! Congratulations, they have made a difference in the world.

Maybe they have chronic anxiety and depression, in which case appropriate nutrition (including sufficient minerals, is PARAMOUNT ), and counseling, preferably with an EMDR trained therapist, helpful. We regularly see this in the clinic, and while we are ‘all over’ the nutritional support, we have a robust network of experienced skilled counselors we often refer to throughout the Pacific NorthWest to complement our work.


All of the above considerations are occurring in-between my ears, when I am interacting with a new patient, whether they are a car accident injury, a strained back, chronic headaches, have menstural problems, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, or auto immune challenges.

A wholistic approach is my broad sweep of concern, whenever a patient stands in-front of me.

Where are you on these levels? Can we help you? Your family? Your friends? By asking questions, and understanding your bodies functions better, you are not only better placed to heal, but also in a privileged position to share your knowledge with others who have yet to find compassionate, integrative care that just might be the answers to their health challenges.

This is what makes our clinic different. We embrace this wholistic approach.

Thanks for joining me, and allowing me, and the staff at our clinic, to help in your health journey!