Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Archetype of Health

Defintion: ar·che·type
ˈärkəˌtīp/
noun
 noun: archetype; plural noun: archetypes
      a very typical example of a certain person or thing.
 
"    What does it mean to be the "Archetype of Health"? The reason for this article is that most people would believe that an individual representing the Archetype of Health is that perfect person that never seems to get "sick" no matter what, or that they have no health "problems." On the surface, this could appear true, however this idea alone takes on an incorrect context of what "health" really is. Is health really never being sick, which most people connotate with never having symptoms, or your ability to naturally cope with and adapt your environment in a balanced way. Enter (2) terms: 1. Homeostasis and 2. Allostatic Load, which better represent what an Archetype of health might look like. Homeostasis is an organisms ability to properly adapt and therefore remain in balance in a particular environment. Allostatic Load ( term borrowed from Dr Jamses Chestnutt, DC) is the amount of stressors in your environment that you might have to contend with in order to maintain balance and homeostasis. Dr Chestnutt uses and analogy that I like, he likens allostatic load to the number of rocks in your backpack that you are wearing while swimming. These rocks represent stressors such as toxins, medications, injuries, mental stress, etc. The more rocks, the harder it is to tread water before you sink and die. Basically, the more stressors in life in various forms, the harder it is to remain in homeostasis and the more sick and likely we are to manifest symptoms of illness. In the example above, there are definite "symptoms" (signs) of impending death while watching a person drown. I would argue that the "archetype" of a healthy individual is not simply the one whom never elicits symptoms, rather is the one that has appropriate response to their environment and maintains balance in their overall function. Hence, that archetypal individual will still get a fever as a natural and appropriate response to infection. Problem is, all too often we believe that we have to suppress symptoms of illness rather than focus on supporting the body in a healthy response and healing on its own. We therefore end up with a model of health that represents symptom free and over medicated, all the while this pictured individual just may be one of the sickest around. Now, just to be clear, this in no way means that I don't believe in the use of Medications or antibiotics, rather I believe in supporting the individual immune system so that it functions as optimally as possible, and only when necessary will there be the intervention of Medication that alters body-chemistry in a synthetic manner. As Americans, our Archetype is symptom-free, rather than Homestatic and this image is failing us. This is why I educate my patients daily on a proper paradigm of what it means to be "healthy." The Archetype of health is the individual that works to maintain Homeostasis and reduce Allostatic Load as much as possible, thereby portraying, not the person that is never ill, but rather the individual that is seldom ill, has high energy levels and is active, and has a positive demeanor and perspective on their life.

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