Chiropractic philosophy gravitates toward a holistic ("total person") approach to healing which combines elements of the mind, body, and spirit. The philosophy asserts that health depends on obedience to natural laws, and that deviation from such laws can result in illness.
The aim is to restore and support the innate healing ability of the body, mind, and spirit. We call this the innate intelligence. We remove "interference" which can be structural (subluxation), chemical (deficiencies or excesses), or mental/emotional. Removing this interference allows the innate intelligence to do the healing and restore balance.
Because many chiropractors choose to include nutrition and other therapies, our practices can be more like a naturopathic practice. Many practitioners consider this to be Functional Medicine. The main difference is that a chiropractor's license doesn't permit him/her to prescribe medications.
Hippocrates’ instruction to physicians clearly states that whatever intervention a doctor can make is only acceptable if it will do no further damage to the patient’s health. A good example of a functional medicine approach to healing a bacterial infection is to strengthen the body's immune system instead of killing all the body’s bacteria with antibiotics. Antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria and cause over-growths of pathogenic bacteria later by shifting the body’s innate microorganisms and gut flora, leaving an individual's immune system weakened. Although there are situations when antibiotics might be necessary, functional medicine practitioners would prefer to try a more natural, non-toxic approach.
Another example is to not suppress symptoms, which are the body’s efforts to self-heal. The body may provoke a fever in reaction to a bacterial or viral infection, and as our body heats up, it creates an inhospitable environment for the harmful bacteria, thereby destroying it. Of course, the practitioner would not allow the fever to get dangerously high, but also would be slow to turn to fever-reducing medications as a first step.
Functional medicine also employs the healing power of nature. The goal to restore and support the powerful and innate healing ability of the body, mind and spirit. The beauty of this principal lies within the individuality of the patient and their body’s own genius to adapt and overcome external and internalized stressors. As long as the obstacles to healing (“the root cause”) can be identified, addressed, or removed, the body’s intelligent healing ability can be facilitated and enhanced.
The added bonus is that the entire physical body will be assessed and adjusted to promote optimal function and wellness.
The history of chiropractic began in 1895 when Daniel David Pamer of Iowa performed the first chiropractic adjustment on a partially deaf janitor, Harvey Lillard. While Lillard was working without his shirt on in Palmers office, Lillard bent over to empty the trash can. Palmer noticed that Lillard had a vertebra out of position. He asked Lillard what happened, and Lillard replied, "I moved the wrong way, and I heard a 'pop' in my back, and that's when I lost my hearing." Palmer, who was also involved in many other natural healing philosophies, had Lillard lie face down on the floor and proceeded with the adjustment. The next day, Lillard told Palmer, "I can hear that racket on the streets." This experience led Palmer to open a school of chiropractic two years later.
After the case of Harvey Lillard, Palmer had a patient with heart trouble which was not improving. He examined the spine and found a displaced vertebra pressing against the nerves which innervate the heart. He reasoned that if two diseases, so dissimilar as deafness and heart trouble, came from impingement, a pressure on nerves, were not other disease due to a similar cause? Thus the science (knowledge) and art (adjusting) of chiropractic were formed at that time.
Before entering most chiropractic schools, a bachelor's degree is required. Following this, a chiropractic degree requires five more years of schooling.
Besides learning chiropractic philosophy and how to adjust the spine, a chiropractor's education includes neurology, orthopedics, pharmacology, embryology, two years of anatomy, nutrition, pathology, microbiology, physiology, radiology, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology.
In fact, many schools have 400-600 more classroom hours than medical schools. Chiropractors have more hours in anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, and orthopedics.