The recent tremors of panic regarding H1N1 flu and its potentially dangerous vaccine have provoked many interesting conversations in my family, office and Facebook community. I believe that the hype about the flu is a symptom of a much larger issue. It seems strange that we are not talking about ALL the people who are NOT “catching” swine flu or the numbers of people who are developing natural immunity to it. What causes one person to GET a disease while their neighbor or loved ones do not? Different life choices strengthen or weaken our bodies, making us more or less susceptible to different diseases.
Speaking about being healthy and strong to people in my practice, I realize that we are all in different levels of overall health and immune response. So many of us are just beginning our journey towards wellness…we are the white belters in the martial arts world of kicking flu’s bottom! We are the type of people who get very scared when people talk about the flu because we feel like we get EVERYTHING that comes around and it takes us three times as long to recover. We are novice students in the Kung Fu Class of Wellness. We have more studying to do about what creates more health and vitality in life. We must spend more time with the Masters of these healing arts and learn their secret moves in order to earn our next levels of wellbeing.
We have not always been encouraged to listen to our bodies and try to help them. Rather, we have often been taught to be afraid of their signs and signals, to try to squelch the crying voices of various needs for rest, quiet, ease in our bodies, sleep or good food. Think of a person in your life whom you adore. If you were to demand every day that they just do what you WILL them to do regardless of their needs and shush them every time they try to speak, the relationship would eventually suffer.
For many of us, our own bodies suffer when we do not shush our needs for rest and quiet with caffeine, sugar, computer, television and deadlines. In order to help our health and wellbeing to grow, we need to tend to our inner garden. Is the soil rich? Can health and wellbeing grow abundantly and with ease? Are there weeds we need to pull, like unhealthy food, constant stress, staying disconnected from our Inner Healer? Study your unique garden. How is the soil? How is the irrigation? Is there enough light? Most people can grow decent gardens with very little experience or finessing. With just a little bit of attention, nature thrives. With just a little bit of attention, you can help your health and immune system response to grow. As you finesse the garden of your wellbeing year after year, you learn new tricks of the trade to deepen your healing experience. But KNOW that your nature is strong and built to heal and grow with even the littlest bit of help. If you plant the seeds for health, your health will grow.
I am by no means a Master Black Belt at this process of life and health and wellness but I am an ardent student. A great tool I have discovered for well-being as a patient and practitioner is chiropractic. Research studies have shown that the nerve system and the immune system are interlinked and one cannot function without the other. One research study has shown that the immune function for patients who had been under chiropractic care was 200% greater than the group not getting adjusted. Another research study conducted in 1992 demonstrated the neuro-immune-endocrine inter-dependency with chronically stressed patients having altered nerve, endocrine and immune response.2 In 2000, a comprehensive look at neuro-immune function was published demonstrating the inter linkage of these two systems.3
More powerfully affirming than these and many other fascinating research projects, is my 23 years in the chiropractic community. I have seen over the years that we are truly healing machines. I have seen people heal their cancer, poisonous ant bites, allergies, asthma, and YES, the even the flu! Our culture spends billions of dollars researching DISEASES and very little time, attention or money on studying why some people heal and how. Even in our flu conversation, we are so focused on the small percentage of people who are dying of the flu, we are not focused on how many people are getting the disease and fighting it with ease and grace (yellow and green belters), and the people who seemingly are not getting the flu at all (the black belters).
MANY people will have the ability to get a “New Belt” this season, developing natural immunity and fighting this disease. Will it be hard for some? Yes. Is there something YOU can do to take your health into your own hands? There is! We cannot control what happens this flu season any more than one kung fu fighter can control another. But we can prepare, be smart, and be ready. With all the fear that swarms around us, we each can master a laser like attention on our natural healing ability and seek ways to harness our own wellbeing. May you practice the Kaizen principle of Constant Improvement and be more empowered to seek out ways to help your body to fight, to be stronger and better every choice, every day, every year.
1. Pero R. “Medical Researcher Excited By CBSRF Project Results.” The Chiropractic Journal, August 1989; 32.
2. Murray DR, Irwin M, Reardon CA, et al. “Sympathetic and immune interactions during dynamic exercise. Mediation via a beta 2 – adrenergic-dependent mechanism.” Circulation 1992 86(1): 203
3. Elenkov IJ, Wilder RL, Chrousos GP, Vizi ES: “The sympathetic nerve-an integrative interface between the two supersystems: the brain and the immune system.” Pharmacol Rev 2000;52:295-638.