Why is Chiropractic Considered Holistic?

Chiropractic care looks to find the underlying causes of the symptoms people feel. It is considered holistic care because it treats the whole body naturally without drugs or surgery.

Could you explain what the term holistic really means?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Sure. I mean, if you went and looked for a definition of holistic, it’s usually characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account the mental and social factors, rather than just looking at the symptoms of a disease. Another definition I’ve seen is related to or concerned with whole or wholeness with the complete systems, rather than the analysis of, treatment of, or the discussion or dissection into parts. Holistic medicine tends really to treat both the mind and the body, which is really important in chiropractic because there is a mind body connection, and wherever your mind goes, the body goes.

If you’ve ever seen anyone who’s kind of depressed, down in the dumps, sometimes we know these people at work, they’re always the ones who were always sick and always complaining. And their posture’s hunched over. You see someone who’s got everything going on, they’re just entering into a new marriage and starting a new family, they’ve got that spring in their step and they’re wide-eyed. There’s a connection between what’s going on in your head and how healthy your body is. So, I think those things are really important when you’re looking at the whole person, because you can’t just treat the body and then neglect the mind. They are intricately connected. And I think that’s really important.

From a holistic standpoint, you’re treating the whole body, not just looking at, oh, my hand hurts so we’re just going to put ice on and treat the hand. We’re treating the whole body. It’s a much different approach. And we get that approach a lot also in acupuncture as well, they treat more holistically. So that’s the true definition of what holistic means.

Is chiropractic considered holistic because it does not focus on any specific disease or illness, rather it treats the spine and central nervous system, which controls overall body function?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: You pretty much hit the nail on the head with that one. It’s correct, especially in light of the definitions that we just shared. Chiropractic takes into account that we’re not just this materia medica or a collection of cells glued together, or a collection of symptoms, but that there is a mind body connection.

That mind body connection, when we look at the brain, it’s really the master controller of everything that goes on. All the controlling mechanisms are sent via messages through the nerve system. And then, when you think about what the nerve system is, it consists of the brain and that thick bundle of nerves, which is called the spinal cord, which weaves from the brain down through the frame and magnum down through the spinal cord. And then it’s distributed by these 33 pairs of delicate spinal nerves that exit from in-between the bones of the spine. When those bones of the spine get misaligned, they can irritate those nerves. Those nerves branch out and they connect up with every cell tissue and organ system in the body so that the messages that they deliver from the brain are then interpreted by the organ or the end cell. The then it sends a message back to the brain to let it know what it’s doing.

So, if you interfere with that communication and the brain is not in touch with what’s going on on the cellular level then there’s a disconnect and that will impede the body’s ability to regulate, run itself and heal. A clear nerve system can be achieved with regular chiropractic care, resulting in more efficient and a healthier you. And we need to have more confidence in our own bodies than we do in all these pills, potions and lotions. So, I hope that kind of answers the question.

Is one reason why chiropractic is considered holistic due to the fact that chiropractic care does not utilize medication or surgery?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely Liz, it can certainly be put that way. By the very definition of holistic or holism, chiropractic is holistic. Surgery and medications, they only deal with symptoms, right? The practice of medicine primarily is what we call allopathic in nature. And allopathy means that whatever the symptom is, there’s usually a treatment for that symptom. There’s a pill to combat that symptom or a potion or a lotion, but it never really treats the cause. It’s kind of like symptom management, really. So, if I have pain and I go to a doctor, I’m going to get a painkiller. If I have inflammation, I’m going to get an anti-inflammatory. If I have a muscle spasm, I’m going to get a muscle relaxer from my doctor. All those drugs, they do what they’re designed to do, but they all have significant side effects or what I even call direct effects because it’s a direct effect of taking that medication.

When we look at that model more closely, sometimes it doesn’t always make sense because you’re treating the pain, but why do they have pain? Is it not a message? And when I look at pain, isn’t it a message from my body telling me that something’s wrong? So, if I shut down that message, it’s the same as if the smoke alarm is going on in my house, I can ignore it or I can pull the battery out of the smoke alarm, but either way, the house is still on fire. A chiropractor always wishes to answer the question, why do you have pain? Why do you have dysfunction? So, we’re looking more at the cause. Why is there inflammation?

Those things are usually your body telling you that something’s wrong and the pain is a message. Inflammation is your own body’s immune system flooding the area with nutrients and the building blocks of tissue repair and the cells that actually do the work for you. So why would you want to slow that procedure down or stop it when that’s actually the healing taking place? Painkillers work. If you’re in pain, they work to shut off the pain message. Absolutely. But being absolutely pain-free just makes you numb. It doesn’t really make you healthy. So, when we have irritation and pressure on the nerves, slowing down the healing process, why not look at the cause instead of just covering up symptoms that are present for a reason? Those are warning signs telling you to rest and recover and, they’re present there for that specific reason. If you ignore those symptoms and signs and just keep doing what you’re doing, then whatever caused the issue in the first place is going to still be there and you’re probably not going to kick it.

It’s super important that we look at the differences and the different approaches. But, allopathy, just treating the symptoms, never really looks at the cause. Chiropractic tries to look at the cause as to why the body isn’t healing. Why is there dysfunction? And a lot of times that’s just dysregulation because there’s so much pressure and irritation on our nerve systems from stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, all of these things accumulating over a lifetime.

In an effort to treat the whole person, can you describe how chiropractors work with other holistic healthcare providers to help their patients?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely. Look, chiropractic works all the time and it helps pretty much everyone who walks through that door. And I’ve said many times before, chiropractic is awesome, it’s simple and it stands alone. It doesn’t really need to be mixed with other things to be helpful. But very often, if I get a case that’s slow to respond or recalcitrant to the treatment I’m providing, I’ll refer you to an acupuncturist, to a massage, even to the PTs and orthopedist. We refer when it’s appropriate, but ultimately patients get to choose what type of healthcare services they receive. If they want to take a more holistic, natural approach, they should; if they just want to alleviate their symptoms, they can, it’s always their choice, but government and other people shouldn’t be telling you what to do with your body. It’s always your choice.

We’re big proponents of freedom of choice in healthcare, and you should be able to choose how you treat yourself. We work with anyone and everyone. If we think that someone needs a massage, we just send them to the massage. I don’t do the massages, but we’ll send them to them. If someone’s not responding or someone has a significant issue or a herniated disc that’s not getting better, we’ll always send to an orthopedist for another opinion. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s a holistic healthcare provider, we’re going to refer them where I think they’re going to be served best and I’ll give them a couple of options. And as always, the patients get to choose their healthcare and their healthcare providers.

Learn More

To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.

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