by Dr. Melissa Sonners
July 13, 2020
I am a chiropractor, and as such considered an alternative doctor, practicing alternative medicine. Quite simply, alternative medicine is defined as any of various systems of healing or treating disease (such as chiropractic, homeopathy or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula of the U.S. and Britain.
The chiropractic school curriculum is very similar to that of medical school (see table below), but as an alternative to learning about which medicines are used to treat disease, we study an alternative route. We focus on prevention and take to heart Benjamin Franklin’s adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Just as our car’s “check engine” light is a sign of an issue that needs attention, many of our body’s signals that are treated with modern medicine (fever, diarrhea, cholesterol, blood sugar numbers) are also signs of underlying challenges that must be addressed. As chiropractors, we study physiology and how each system in the body impacts another. We study food and nutrition and how these play integral roles in our health that are still so misunderstood. We study viruses, how the body responds to them and which systems need support when fighting them. We look at the incredible role of fevers and so much more. These are all considered alternative.
We learn about the homeostasis of all things. That not all bacteria are bad. That some bacteria play an important part in our immune system and that antibacterial soaps, products, strong disinfectant and antibiotics wipe out all bacteria. That in certain times it is necessary to “put out the fire,” but once that’s done there is an entire other process that must take place in order to balance the body and restore the immune system.
Our alternative training guided everything we did when Jason and I decided to start a family. We spent years researching and learning about pregnancy and birth before embarking on this journey. Although we spent very little time researching the best stroller, we spent much time understanding the physiology of pregnancy and birth. How to prepare my body and his to be as healthy as possible before my body grew a human. How to optimize my microbiome and environment (chemical, physical and emotional). We learned about contractions and the purpose they serve, that epidurals not only knock out the sensory nerve pathway to block the pain, but also block the motor pathway meaning my body wouldn’t be able to help our babies down the birthing canal. An epidural would also require me to be on my back (no motor or muscle control), literally minimizing my pelvic opening and the space for our baby to come out.
We clearly understood that traditional medicines and interventions had roles to play—important ones—but we knew pregnancy and birth were normal physiological events. If supported correctly, if all health screenings on the baby and I showed all was good, we knew my body would know what to do. Our bodies were literally designed for this. Knowing all of this we chose to have our babies naturally, two of them at home. An alternative choice. And we have raised them in the alternative health world. Our children were breastfed for two years each. Thankfully, I was able. Their first foods were selected very intentionally as are their foods today. We leave room for splurges but the core of their diet is based in whole foods that are nature made and don’t come in a wrapper.
Our children, with a combined age of 20 years, have been on antibiotics a total of three times. Their bodies have rarely needed them and if I felt they did, I got them. Again, traditional medicine has a time and a place. They have no allergies (food or environmental) or asthma, have never had strep throat and rarely had ear infections once we realized their triggers.
I say this not to gloat or to brag, but to highlight and share that there must be something to this alternative way. Many of my colleagues, alternative practitioners who are also raising their children this way, tell similar stories.
I, however, was not raised this way and it took me a long time to not only hear and be open to this alternative way, but years to trust it enough and little by little have faith in it. Again, it’s alternative, so it is still not the common narrative—you won’t find it unless you go searching for it.
I feel a pull to share this information now, during this time. We are currently hiding from a virus awaiting a cure while our economy rapidly declines. We are starved of human connection which has a major impact on our immune system (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125010/), and mental health and drug overdoses are surging.
Is there an alternative way?
In dealing with the virus is the only option to distance ourselves, wear masks, over sanitize and wait for it to clear or for an experimental treatment to be released? Or can we also proactively take steps to help increase our immune system?
A study from June 2020 describes the important relationship of Covid-19 and Vitamin D levels. You can read it here, but this is a key point:
“An inadequate supply of vitamin D has a variety of skeletal and non-skeletal effects. There is ample evidence that various non-communicable diseases (hypertension, diabetes, CVD, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often-concomitant vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events. Much more attention should be paid to the importance of vitamin D status for the development and course of the disease. Particularly in the methods used to control the pandemic (lockdown), the skin’s natural vitamin D synthesis is reduced when people have few opportunities to be exposed to the sun.”
What is the best way to increase your Vitamin D levels? Sun exposure. We are an “outside” family—we love the outdoors and we also know to be aware of its effects on our skin. So, we tend to get our exposure before or after the hours of 11am-3pm and let our skin be the indicator of when it’s time to be done. Skin turning slightly pink is an indication to get out of the sun or cover up, not to put on more sunscreen. Many sunscreens give us a false sense of security, expose us to some UV rays and also contain carcinogenic chemicals. More on this another time.
We also take supplemental vitamin D to ensure our levels are adequate. You can find my favorite one for our entire family here.
What else are we doing in our home to increase our immune systems?
- Getting plenty of rest
- Limiting sugars as sugar and processed foods lower the immune system
- FASTING! Fasting is one of THE MOST effective ways to enhance the immune system and it is FREE! Click here to read more about this. (We teach people how to successfully fast in our online coaching groups. If you’re interested, click here for more information).
- Exercising and moving our bodies. The way this looks has certainly changed since we are with the kids a lot more. No more glorious solo runs around the neighborhood, but I am still committed to moving my body every day.
- Most importantly, balancing our stress levels. We all know stress has a disastrous effect on our health and yet we deal with it every day. Pausing to take a breath and RESPOND rather than REACT to any events in our lives has a major physiological effect on balancing our stress. Surrounding ourselves with positive information and things that make us happy and limiting information that does the opposite is also key. Starting the day with a half hour of meditation or gratitude rather than jumping right into emails, social media or the news are also effective ways to limit stress.
In our family we do our best to focus on what we CAN control in any situation, rather than stress about what we can’t. There are many things during this time that are completely out of our control and nobody really knows when this will end. By focusing on what we can control and how we can impact our health and immune system, we not only give ourselves a better chance of faring well if we get sick, we end up as healthier more balanced versions of ourselves in the process.
I would love to hear from you. Drop me a quick email at email@example.com. What are you currently doing to positively impact you or your family’s health?