Shift Happens: The Paradigms within Healthcare
By Brian A. Stenzler, M.Sc, D.C.
Small shifts in your thinking, and small changes in your energy, can lead to massive alterations of your end result.Kevin Michel, Author
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A paradigm is a group of ideas about how something should be done, made or thought about. It is basically a way of thinking and for many, a way of life. Every paradigm has its own values, its own beliefs and its own way of doing things.
I am going to compare two lifestyle paradigms. The purpose of this exercise is not to comment on which is right or wrong or better or worse. Instead, I want you to think about where you spend the majority of your thoughts, actions and money when it comes to lifestyle and healthcare for yourself and your household. Perhaps by the time you finish reading this chapter, you will be ready to make a paradigm shift.
The outside-in approach is basically the model of our current healthcare system in the United States. This tends to be more of an allopathic model, which is basically the practice of medicine; but of course, there are exceptions. When something is not working correctly, medical doctors typically look to the outside and see what they can bring in (to the body or mind, for example) to make it “better.” The inside-out approach, however, tends to be more holistic, understanding that the human body is created with all it needs to return to a state of normalcy without the need to bring something artificial into the body. It is the thoughts, words and actions of the individual that determines the person’s health destiny. We will refer to this as a wellness model.
Artificial vs. Natural
The outside-in allopathic approach tends to be an artificial process. Drugs are typically manufactured synthetically in a laboratory and often contain ingredients that do not exist in nature. While they may often save or sustain life, they are not necessarily the best answer toward increasing the health of an individual.
We all know that many medications often prove to have value in helping get through and sometimes overcome a litany of health problems, and they do save lives. All I can say is, thank goodness for the brilliant minds that have created some of the most important life-saving treatments. However, medicinal use, especially long-term, can create problems that are as bad if not worse than the original problem.
All drugs make the body behave in a way that it would not ordinarily function; that is how they work. They change your chemistry to bring about a particular result. All too often, however, people rely on taking certain medications for conditions that could potentially resolve through more natural means and/or lifestyle changes.
Medications have many effects on the body, some desired and some not. We often refer to the undesired effects as side-effects, but they are not really side-effects. They are actually effects of the drug working properly, just not always desired.
Ask yourself, “Why is it a bad idea for healthy people to take medications when they do not need them?” Your answer is probably something to the effect of, “Because medicine will make a healthy person sick.” Exactly. So, if medications would likely make a healthy person sick, then how does one think that medications can make a sick person healthy?
They won’t. They can get you from point A to point B when needed, and even make certain symptoms disappear. But if you need a drug to keep a symptom or disease process away, does that mean you are really healthy?
The inside-out wellness approach typically considers the body’s very own pharmacopeia, or internal pharmacy. It is known that a healthy body is constantly creating all of the chemicals and hormones needed to regulate the body and keep it functioning optimally. When an imbalance occurs, the natural approach would be to help that person overcome the stress by looking at the person’s inborn natural healing ability and doing what may be necessary to help it heal without the introduction of artificial substances. This is done through lifestyle modifications.
Battling Disease vs. Building Health (Salutogenesis)
The outside-in approach is mostly about battling disease when something is apparently wrong. The mission more often than not is to treat the symptoms and, in some cases, get to the root of the problem.
While medical doctors tend to treat diseases with medicine that often have side-effects, there are other healthcare professions that provide options that are more natural and do not typically stress the body as much, if at all. These may include naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, functional medicine and functional nutrition providers, herbalists, homeopaths, physical therapists and some chiropractic doctors (depending on their philosophy of practice). Even though many of these options are natural, they are still a form of “sick care” as they are treating a pathology. While it may be natural, it is not wellness.
With the inside-out approach, however, the value is placed on healthy habits and positive lifestyle actions. This is essentially the purpose for living the DREAM, which is covered in great detail throughout this book. Importantly, many of the above-mentioned natural providers will treat the pathology while simultaneously providing lifestyle advice to encourage better health throughout the lifetime.
Intervention vs. (Re)-Connection
This was a big one for me because as I began to understand this concept, my entire thought process shifted. The outside-in approach looks to intervene and make the body do what “textbooks” say it should do. The inside-out approach, however, is quite different.
The inside-out approach understands the concept of innate intelligence and that ultimately the power that made the body heals the body. In a future Wellness Wiki, you will see a reference to the Michelangelo painting that is found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy (image above). When I was in chiropractic college at Life University, many of my fellow classmates wore shirts with an image of the painting on it. Not knowing much about art or spirituality at that point in my life, I asked my friends why they had it on their shirt. The response was almost always the same, “Because it’s spiritual.” I would always respond back and say, “Yes, I can understand that, but what is the significance of that particular picture and chiropractic?” The next answer again was, “I don’t know, it’s spiritual.” We would go around and around and never get me my answer.
Then, finally during a trip to Italy and a tour of the Sistine Chapel, my 96-year-old tour guide explained that the painting I had seen over and over again in chiropractic circles was that of God giving Adam the spark of life. That’s it! I immediately went back in my mind to my first month of chiropractic college in Dr. BJ Harmon’s philosophy and chiropractic history class. D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic (see Ch. 9-6 in the book), said that the purpose of chiropractic was to re-unite “man the spiritual with man the physical.” At the time, that really made no sense to me; I thought chiropractors just realigned the spine to help a person feel and function better. But now it was all starting to make sense to me. Now the purpose of my life started to become clearer in understanding that I would help ensure the quality of one’s life by helping humanity express true connection with Source. The reality is, we are never actually disconnected from God or Life Source, otherwise we would not be alive. That said, we often do not demonstrate that connection at times. The true expression of divine connection is a perfect example of atonement (see Ch. 5 in the book).
The inside-out approach understands and honors the importance of that connection and does everything possible to help the individual harness his/her natural healing abilities, as opposed to trying to play God with manmade interventions. Young children are living examples of innate intelligence. With very little educated intelligence at that point in life, they are essentially living on instinct.
Physical vs. Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual
The outside-in approach often looks at the body solely as a physical being made of flesh and bones. Many healthcare treatments only consider the way it would affect that body part. Also, many of the causes are looked at as purely physical.
The inside-out approach, however, considers the thoughts, the traumas, the toxins and the energy of the individual and how those have an effect on the cause and/or resolution of issues. Looking at and working with one’s mental and emotional state as well as spiritual connection often helps people overcome and avoid many physical ailments.
Mechanistic vs. Vitalistic
The outside-in approach views the body as an incredible piece of machinery. Think about Frankenstein for a moment. (Many people think of Frankenstein as the monster in the movies, but those that really know the story are aware that Frankenstein was the doctor who created the monster.) Dr. Frankenstein believed that if he could take all the parts of a dead human and zap it with enough electricity, he could make that body come back to life. That is a very simplistic view of mechanism, but hopefully you get my point.
While wellness providers also see the body as an incredible piece of machinery, they also see it as a perfect and complete being. The word vitalism comes from the Latin root of vital meaning that it pertains to life. A vitalistic approach considers that something we cannot see on the surface exists to keep us alive and separate from a piece of meat. This is very much tied into the concept of innate intelligence (see Ch. 4-1 in the book).
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine if you cut a steak. In one week, go back and look at the steak. What will the steak look like? That’s right, still cut and rotted out. Now imagine your son cuts his hand. What would his hand look like after a week? That’s right, it’s healed or in the process of healing. What is the difference between that steak and his hand? You got it, life. Whether we are referring to a bovine or human, a living being has the ability to heal.
Replaces vs. Restores
The outside-in approach is quick to take out body parts that are not working correctly as if we are created with too many organs. I can say with certainty that we were not created with too many organs or too few drugs in our bodies. Now I am not saying that removing body parts at times does not save lives. I am again oversimplifying a concept. Though I will say that if you think your children were created with organs that they do not need, like tonsils and the appendix, that is just ludicrous. Those organs have been shown to be part of the immune system, as well as a first line of defense to helping fight disease and infection. But even if we did not have knowledge as to what certain organs do, where do we come off thinking that they are extra?
The inside-out approach looks to help the organs, muscles and glands that may be stressed and naturally restore their ability to function as intended.
Treating Symptoms vs. Correcting Causes
The outside-in approach often helps people feel and function better. However, it often falls short of actually fixing the problem that caused the symptoms in the first place, making someone a customer for life. A perfect example of this would be type II diabetics whose doctors only prescribe insulin (or other medications), as opposed to helping guide them with a change in lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise.
The inside-out approach in a wellness model desires to get to the root of the problem and do the best possible job at restoring the person to optimal function, again, through lifestyle modifications. The outside in approach mostly uses drugs to resist death whereas the inside-out approach helps people take action to promote life!
Chemical vs. Chemical and Electrical
The chemistry of life is a term I learned from a mentor Reggie Gold, DC. Your chemistry keeps you alive as your body is run on chemicals every second of every day.
The outside-in approach often looks to modify chemistry. If your blood pressure is too high, you would be given a chemical, whether it be a drug or supplement, to lower it. If your heart is beating too fast, you would be given a chemical to slow it down. If your pancreas is not producing insulin as in the case of diabetes, you will be given a chemical to breakdown sugar. The chemistry of life is an ebb and flow of chemicals and hormones regulating every single body process. Chemistry must be balanced for the body to function and regulate.
You may have learned at some point in your education that your body produces all the chemicals and hormones needed for your body to function. Your organs and glands have an inborn intelligence that knows exactly how much of each chemical to produce and when to produce it.
The brain is in constant communication with your organs and glands, informing them of how much to produce of each hormone. The brain sends electrical messages down the spinal cord and out to the spinal nerves that feed vital information to every organ, every muscle, every gland and every cell of the body, every moment of your life. If optimal communication between your brain and organs were to become compromised, that could potentially impact the performance and function of that organ.
In an outside-in approach, it would not be typical protocol to check the electrical flow of energy in your body prior to putting you on a medication or natural therapeutic. That is why it is extremely important to look at both the chemistry and the electricity in an inside-out model. I can’t tell you how many times I have someone visit my centers with a problem that they were medicated for, but when I was able to remove the interference to the nervous system with a specific chiropractic adjustment, the problem resolved itself from the inside. The true wellness part of this scenario is in determining the stressor that caused the interference in the first place.
A true wellness provider who really gets the inside-out approach would not ever claim to heal or treat any condition. While many issues resolve through natural approaches, the provider would rather honor the power that made the body and work within that realm to maintain / restore balance, so that you can express your true perfection.
Many in the chiropractic profession use the term, ADIO (Above-Down, Inside-Out). They are referencing that the optimal expression of health, life and vitality is dependent on nerve signals and mental impulses arising from above (referring to the brain), travel down the spinal cord which is located centrally inside the body from the spinal cord and then travels out the various nerves. The nerves feed vital information to every organ, gland, tissue and cell of the body. (Some chiropractors with a more spiritual perspective refer to the above aspect as being God, more so than to the brain.) A true wellness lifestyle helps ensure that the nervous system continues to function optimally, all of the time.
What are your current beliefs within the 8 paradigms listed above?
Which of the paradigms explained do you see shifting to the most for yourself and your family?
What actions do you take each day to reduce your risk of ill health? What more could you do to take an inside-out approach in your daily life?