When I explain to people that chiropractic care can help their digestive issues, I usually face disbelief and skepticism. “How can a back doctor improve my stomach?” they ask. “All chiropractors are good for are sore backs and necks.”
There is a degree of shortsightedness in conventional medical wisdom; it is primarily symptom based. Think about it… if your head hurts, take ibuprofen. If you have high blood pressure, take Metformin. High cholesterol? Try Lipitor. Acid reflux? Tums will do the trick. Almost every common treatment is directed toward taking something to help you ignore the symptom. There’s very little attention paid to what caused the symptom in the first place. It’s almost like seeing the warning light come on in your car, telling you something is wrong, and trying to fix it by disconnecting the warning light. It simply doesn’t work – or at least it won’t work for long.
Like everything else in life, there’s a “cause and effect” relationship in our bodies. Symptoms are merely one system of our body telling another system what is going on, and the expression of those symptoms – how you feel – is determined by how those systems react to the information available.
When you eat, for example, your stomach produces enough acid and enzymes to properly digest exactly what you’ve eaten. When your digestive system is working as it should, your symptom is that you feel good. However, symptoms like heartburn and indigestion are warning signs that something is not working as it should.
So what does chiropractic carenhave to do with digestive issues? Plenty. First, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERS is often caused by hiatal hernia. This is when a portion of the stomach slides up through the diaphragm, leading to back flow of stomach acids into the esophagus. Chiropractic is very successful at pulling the stomach back down to its normal position. This treats the symptoms at its roots – no more acid in the esophagus, no more reflux!
The cause-and-effect relationships I mentioned are completely dependent on communication between the different organ systems throughout the body. Your stomach sends information to the brain via the spine, and the spine sends information to the stomach through the vagus nerve, one of the few nerves in the body that is not connected to the spine. If something interferes with these nerve signals, the messages sent back and forward get confused. The end result might be too much acid, not enough acid, undigested food, and ultimately the symptoms we associate with heartburn or indigestion. Chiropractic works to remove the interference in these nerve signals so that the body can communicate properly again.
Next time you suffer from a bad bout of heartburn or indigestion, consider seeing your chiropractor instead of your primary care doctor. What do you have to lose, besides your irritating symptoms?
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