• The Ancient Art of Chiropractic

    by Reid Etter, D.C.
    on Apr 23rd, 2018

Most people are familiar with chiropractic, but very few are aware of its origins and its original purpose in ancient times. Broken down, the word 'chiropractic' actually means 'the practice of chirality.' That may sound like a jumble of nonsense to you, but chirality is a word used in chemistry to refer to two molecules that mirror one another. In this sense, chirality refers to balance or symmetry. Consider the yin-yang symbol we are quite familiar with from ancient Chinese wisdom.

'Practic' clearly represents the word 'practice'. Thus, chirality and practice together allows us to arrive at the true meaning of chiropractic: the practice of balance. 

Consider the human body. The human body is comprised of a myriad network of nerves, muscles, ligaments, tissues, etc. But these tissues themselves are composed of the most basic unit of life: cells. Each cell is known to generate energy utilizing thousands of metabolic processes requiring an remarkably great amount of various nutritional cofactors, enzymes, and compounds in specific ratios. In addition, there is scientific evidence to show that our mental perspective of the world has a powerful ability to affect these pathways. Candace Pert, in her book Molecules of Emotion, shows that the way we think and feel literally creates physical molecules that influence digestion and metabolism.

So if one is to engage in the act of chiropractic, which is the practice of total balance, and the body is composed of structural, biochemical, and mental components, the ancient chiropractor is charged with balancing all of these elements. Take this example: a person comes into a chiropractor for TMJ pain and neck stiffness. These complaints would seem to originate nearly entirely from a structural place. The TMJ is a joint of the jaw and neck stiffness usually has to do with joint immobility. But consider the fact that the stomach meridian (an energy meridian from Chinese medicine, as noted below) runs directly over the TMJ and also traverses the neck. We know very well that the stomach is involved with the stress response (consider a person getting 'butterflies' in their stomach when they feel nervous or the urge to vomit). 

When we really get down to it, it turns out the patient has recently gone through a rough divorce. The chronic, day in and day out stress from this drawn out event has created tension in the stomach and therefore an imbalance. The stomach meridian begins to flow in a more interrupted fashion and the TMJ is a common area for this stress energy to deposit or 'short-circuit' (when we are stressed we also clench our jaws). The muscles around the TMJ are therefore extremely tight and the person is now experiencing TMJ pain and neck stiffness, since both are related structurally.

As you've seen here, a patient presenting with TMJ pain and neck stiffness actually had its roots in a chronic emotional stressor. Until the stomach can be treated, the TMJ pain and neck stiffness will continue to occur. This is an example of holistic chiropractic in action: approaching and viewing the body from the three elements described above.

Chiropractic, the ancient art of treating the body wholly and fully!

Author Reid Etter, D.C. Dr. Etter spends much of his time outside of practice giving live talks in the community that relate to pressing topics in health. He spent his undergraduate years at Purdue University where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences with a particular predilection for Biochemistry and Human Anatomy / Physiology. Dr. Etter loves all things that relate to the human body and in particular the nervous system, as it is the primary communicator between all organs, glands and tissues of the body. Dr. Etter is also an avid musician and performs regular acoustic acts in the Chicagoland area.

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