I remember more than 25 years ago when I made my first visit to a chiropractor. I was excited to “try something different” for my chronic headaches. I knew the treatment would involve “cracking of bones,” and I thought it would be “cool to try.”
I went to the doctor, had my neck and back and hips adjusted. He then suspended my head in traction over a door. On the way out, he gave me a sand bag and instructed me on exercises I needed to do with it every day. I also had to return several days per week.
Well, needless to say I was a teenager and did none of the things he instructed me to do. I tried the sand bag on the knee and lifted several times. But it was boring and it tended to hurt after a few reps, so I decided it was not in my best interest. I didn’t make all my appointments, either.
And I still got headaches. And my mid back always hurt. And my hips were always out of alignment.
Looking back, though, the problem with that so-called “alternative” therapy was not its method, not its boring-ness, not its time-consuming nature. The problem was that I went there as a “last resort” for headache treatment, and when it did not garner fast enough results, I quit it.
This is a common behavior I find when consulting with my wellness clients. Many nurses, doctors and people in pain come to me (to a medical alternative), when either all else has failed them or when they are just fed up with the costs of mainstream medicine.
And these people, many of them at least, are either expecting some miracle cure or a fast turn-around of signs and symptoms. And I would be delighted to offer both, if I could. Many times I am successful in “curing” someone in short order. Other times, the sheer depth and difficulty and time-line of the problem makes that impossible.
You see, much of the alternative methods of treatment are aimed at rebalancing the body to restore health. Chinese medicine uses herbs to balance blood, qi, body fluids and organ function. Acupuncture uses needles to open meridian lines and correct energy imbalances. Chiropractic uses manual adjustments to realign the spine to allow correct functioning of the nervous system.
All of these methods take time create the desired change. The methods themselves are not time consuming. Rather, it is the body that takes time to “allow” the method (herbs, needles, nervous system) to take hold in the body and effect balance. When we attempt to create change in the body, the body sees this as an outside invasion and defends itself from that change. The body likes to stay where it is, because it requires little effort to do so. But after repeated treatments, or periods of time on herbs, the body finally realizes that it is actually easier to be in a state of homeostasis (balance) than in a state of imbalance, and “lets go” of its old holding pattern.
Think of it like working out at the gym. If you are out of shape and lift weights, you will be sore. But little by little you will be less sore after the exercise and you will notice your muscles taking on a new shape. Well, internally this is what is happening with alternative medicine. Each day, each treatment, each bottle of herbs taken brings you one day closer to the body allowing them to take hold and the body stepping out of its own way to a cure.
The worst part is, that people still look to alternative therapies as a last resort, and mainstream pharma drugs and surgery as a first choice. This is perverse. Using the big guns for the beginning of a problem (depending on severity) is ridiculous. You don’t blow up a house to kill kitchen ants.
My feeling on maintaining a balance in health and between mainstream and alternative medicine, is this. I think everyone needs to get a physical every year, including blood and urine tests. If a problem is found, they should seek alternative, non-toxic, non-invasive methods to balance the body. After a period of time, they should have more tests run to see if the problem is better or worse. If better, continue with alternative medicine. If worse, and in the red zone of health, then turn to mainstream medicine for help. Not the other way around.
As it stands, we alternative practitioners get the worst cases, and we get them after years and decades of tests and toxic drugs and surgeries have truly damaged the body. And we are left to balance these bodies, in short time, at low costs, and with high hopes.
It’s time to reframe our minds on this issue as a country.
The next time you feel un-well, seek out alternative medicine first. Allow us to balance your body while the problem has not been confounded with toxic drugs and invasive surgeries.
Natural healing fist — manufactured medicine second. But only after you have done what is instructed and enough time has passed for the alternative method to take hold.
Mark V. Wiley is unique. As a doctor of both Oriental and Alternative medicine, best selling author, martial art master and international seminar instructor… no one does for wellness what he does!
Dr. Mark’s interest in holistic and natural health practices was not just a mere curiosity; he was looking for long-lasting relief from the debilitating migraines and chronic pain that plagued him for nearly three decades.
His passion for wellness has led him to become an innovator in the field of holistic health with the creation of the self-directed wellness model called The Wiley Method. This Method is unlike other healing systems that look at the individual symptoms and diseases and work toward managing them. Instead, it takes a systems view of health as being intimately tied to ones body, worldview and lifestyle choices.