By Mansi Agarwal May 2006 Chiropractic is a non-invasive therapy that cures an array of health problems through aligning the vertebrae and removing restrictions on the spinal nerves. ‘I was suffering from a slipped disc. But a few sittings of chiropractic, followed by a strict diet, made all the difference,’ says Kamini Mathur. Chiropractic, which essentially consists of restoring spinal alignment, is not new, though it has become more specific and understandable with time. Profound in its emphasis on the importance of a practical and healthy lifestyle, it also stresses drug-free and surgery-free treatment. Chiropractic treatment of the back, neck, extremities and joints are surprisingly effective. Ancient forms of this practice can be traced back to as early as the fourth century B.C. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was the first to link spinal misalignment with ill-health and there are records of spinal manipulation for back problems since his time. Germany has also had ‘bonesetters’ since ages. But chiropractic as we know it today, was born about a century and a decade ago. HistoryDr Daniel David Palmer performed the first ever known chiropractic adjustments on September 18, 1895, upon a janitor, Harvey Lillard, who was partially deaf for almost 17 years. Dr Palmer examined Lillard’s back and found a spinal vertebra out of position. Palmer reasoned that this could be the cause of Lillard’s deafness and pushed the vertebrae back into place. As he expected, Lillard’s hearing improved drastically. Thus, he came to be known as father of chiropractic. One of Dr Palmer’s patients took the Greek words cheiros meaning ‘hands’ and practos meaning ‘done by’ and put them together and coined the term, chiropractic, meaning – done by the hand. Both chiropractic and mainstream medical science have concluded that much of the body is controlled by nerve impulses sent back and forth by the brain along the spinal cord. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves, all of which are housed by vertebrae. Even an insignificant shift in the vertebrae causes a significant ill-effect on the nerves. Spinal nerves may be squeezed or pinched and therefore, message flow can be imperiled. Whenever flow of energy to any nerve is obstructed, the organ connected to that particular nerve will be disturbed and give rise to an illness. There are two core reasons why the spinal column moves from its position. The first is due to physical afflictions like wrong posture, lifting heavy weights and bending incorrectly. The second is stress. Stress not just causes emotional imbalance but also obstructs the normal functioning of the body in general. To stay fit, it is very essential to attain a breakthrough in your stress levels. By aligning the vertebrae and removing restrictions on the spinal nerves, chiropractic claims to allow the spinal cord to relay messages back and forth the brain more effectively, thus promoting better health. The ProcedureTrained practitioners employ the use of their hands on the back of the patient, to locate the blockages in the spinal cord and administer gentle adjustments to the skeletal structure of the body. Chiropractic is a form of manipulative treatment. Says M.L. Kapoor, Mumbai-based chiropractor, ‘Chiropractic manipulations aim at removing disturbances within the nerves that stop proper circulation. And the pressure is usually applied with the knuckles.’ The healing power of nature then takes over, for, as Kapoor points out, chiropractic is essentially based on the philosophy of self-healing. Kapoor is a retired government official and learned this technique from his wrestling coach in Peshawar. Chiropractic cures ailments ranging from sinus, headaches to slip disc and muscular dystrophy. ‘Though,’ qualifies Kapoor, ‘you cannot cure polio totally, for the many people suffering from slip disc, chiropractic is a perfect cure.’ Anuradha Waghdhare, a housewife, says, ‘I suffer from sciatica and have recently started chiropractic. The pain has decreased tremendously.’ The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic, stressing the patient’s overall health and wellness. It recognizes that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors provide natural, drugless, non-surgical health treatment that relies on the body’s inherent recuperative abilities. They also recommend changes in lifestyle – in eating, exercise, and sleeping habits, to their patients. MeruchikitsaMeruchikitsa is the ayurvedic equivalent of chiropractic. Dr Manoj Garg, a specialist in meruchikitsa, says, ‘Meruchikitsa is not just a treatment, it is a therapy, and we treat the body as a whole. In a treatment you would be prescribed medicines which will heal the ill-affected part of the body, whereas meruchikitsa is pro-active, pro-life and pro-repair; the body’s natural healing abilities are enhanced to cleanse, detoxify, heal and repair. The therapy helps to uplift one on all levels of existence – physical, mental and spiritual.’ Meruchikitsa has also been endorsed in India by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Anup Govswami, an Art of Living teacher, says, ‘I was suffering from severe migraine and arthritis. Mundane chores became very difficult as I was unable to bend down by even a few inches. As, what seemed like a last resort, I went to a meruchikitsak. After just three sittings my body started loosening up and the tension in my back started dissolving. Apart from the back, I also had a phobia against darkness, which, I realized, simply disappeared. After five months of regular healing sessions, I have not just enjoyed considerable relief from my back trouble but have also overcome other physical blocks.’ Meruchikitsaks vouch that any part of the body or any system disorder can be healed by this therapy and there are proven cures in orthopedic cases such as backache, disc pain, arthritis, cervical/ lumbar spondylitis, whiplash injuries, and sciatica. Other than disorders or deformities of the spine and joints, functional disorders such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, cardiac irregularities, asthma, migraine or severe headaches as well as behavioral disorders, and disorders of the gastrointestinal system are treated. Meruchikitsa also stimulates and enhances the auto immune system of the body and most of the patients experienced peace of mind and a boost in confidence right after the second sitting. On occasion, it has also helped in the cure of cancer. Jayanti Sen, a research scientist, was suffering from cancer, and after two consecutive operations, was losing hope and getting depressed. But, she says, ‘Meruchikitsa showed me the light of dawn and I started recovering. After a few sittings I felt better and started going to my office like in the former days.’ Dr Neena Madan, a meruchikitsak practicing for the past four years, stated with utmost confidence when inquired about the success rate of the therapy, ‘It is hard to believe but the success rate of this therapy so far has been 90 per cent. My patients are highly satisfied with this subtle practice.’ However, she adds, ‘The time of the treatment varies depending on the severity of the ailment. But the psychological changes can be felt from session one itself.’ AuthenticityThe therapy’s efficacy has also been proven by Kirlian aura photography. The aura, a field of energy that surrounds people and other living things, reflects the energy of the spirit in that body. Kirlian photographs of a patient before and after the therapy, showed radical improvement in the aura. A 2002 survey released in 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (USA), said that chiropractic was the fourth most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine therapy among adults. Indeed, its popularity can be judged from the fact that chiropractors are employed by professional and Olympic athletes. Considering that emotional as well as physical upheaval strikes most of us, a therapy that addresses these aspects and has a high success rate, cannot be welcomed enough. Contact: Dr Manoj Garg 9810333552Dr Neena Madan 9810013177
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