Patients of mine are often surprised to learn that Chiropractics is not just a way of dealing with the spine, it actually provides a roadmap that looks at our entire wellbeing. In fact, it was the developer of Chiropractic, BJ Palmer who said even more powerful than the Chiropractic adjustment is the Chiropractic story.
Chiropractic’s philosophy on health is quite different than what we tend to see in western health care. One of the key differences is what I often refer to at the “Non Combative Principle”.
The non combative principle refers to Chiropractic’s orientation towards enhancing health and wellness by assisting the patient’s inherent vitality, as opposed to a more invasive orientation.
Too often, health care takes the form of “heroic medicine”. The patient’s body is seen as a battlefield, and the struggle for health is seen as a war. Historically, the widespread use of such martial metaphors in health care originated in the 1880’s, when the germ theory of disease gained prominence, if bacteria are “invading” the body, then the invasion must be repelled with a “counterattack”. This sort of thinking is visible today in such expressions as “fighting infection” and “conquering disease” with “magical bullets” and the rest of medicine’s “armamentarium”.
The problem with bombing disease back to the Stone Age is that the patient’s body is the battlefield. Disability and premature death due to unnecessary surgery and adverse reaction to drugs (prescribed and over the counter) are the price we pay as a society for the martial approach to health care.
Chiropractic practice follows a different clinical logic. In this type of health care, the practitioner is seen as a respectful facilitator of the patient’s inherent healing capacity, traditionally termed “innate intelligence”. For this reason, health measures which non invasively assist the patient’s innate expression of wellness are favored, while the most invasive approaches are reserved for the most dire situations. This point of view is captured in the slogan “Chiropractic first, drugs second and surgery last”.
As a Chiropractor we don’t always see “sickness” as a bad thing. For an example, a fever is the bodies natural way of raising its temperature to help the healing process. A cough is the bodies intelligent way of removing irritants in the airways. To “fight” against these intelligent natural responses of the body is to ignore the inborn wisdom of the body.
Some two millennia ago Hippocrates taught his students the first law of clinical practice: “First do no harm” The non combative principle in Chiropractic is very much within the Hippocratic tradition.