Better health without drugs? It's possible, doctor says

Photo by Dave Boyd
Dr. Charley Ward speaks with a patient about her x-rays. Ward practices the Gonstead method of chiropractic medicine.

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
If he can't help you, he won't treat you.
You have Dr. Charley Ward's word on that.
Ward, an Elizabethton chiropractor, has treated thousands of patients in his 25 years as a natural healthcare professional. He and Dr. Howard Dennis specialize in the Gonstead method of chiropractic, which is based on very specific, rather than random manipulation of misaligned vertebrae.
Dr. Ward says that in his years of practice he has seen a trend of declining health care with each successive generation -- the upcoming one being the worst.
In his new booklet on nutritional therapy, "Healthy for Life: Building Health Rather Than Fighting Disease," Ward says 1 million people die each year from heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the nation and a disease many in the research field consider largely preventable.
Another 600,000 persons die annually from cancer, the No. 2 cause of death in America. Some types of cancer also are considered preventable.
The third leading cause of death is medical care, according to Ward, who says a conservative estimate is 400,000 deaths a year. Of those, approximately 120,000 die from adverse reactions to prescription drugs that were properly prescribed. Another 180,000 die from prescription drugs that were improperly prescribed, or improperly performed medical procedures. "And then a conservative estimate is that 100,000 people a year die from hospital infections," he said.
The latest statistics available from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's "State Health Facts Online" shows that in 2001, there were 319,000 adults in Tennessee diagnosed with diabetes. The state also led the nation in heart disease deaths in 1999, with 308.5 per 100,000 population compared to 270.4 for the nation.
In 2001, Tennessee matched the nation pound per pound in Overweight and Obesity, with both weighing in at 56 percent. In 1999, Tennessee surpassed the nation in cancer deaths, with 218.7 per 100,000 population vs. 202.7 for the nation.
Ward says that when he looks at the hierarchy of what it takes to be healthy, "The No. 1 thing is that we have to have a nerve system with no interference, because that controls everything. We know that once the brain quits working, the body is dead. If you reduce part of that impulse from the brain to an organ, then that organ is that much dying -- 10 percent, 20 percent, however you want to say it."
The second thing is that the body be fed properly. "We need to feed the body the nutrients it needs to carry on its daily repair and all of the metabolic processes that go on. We have to have those things to function properly. In some people, you can't re-establish that until you correct the nutritional deficiencies. That's what 'Healthy for Life' therapy is about.
"We have to eat the right things, plus we have to be cognizant of the things that we eat that are actually detrimental to our health," he said.
"For instance, most people eat a lot of carbohydrates -- a lot of foods that are made with flour and sugar -- white flour and white sugar being the worst. Those type of foods cause the insulin levels of the body to be sustained higher than normal in order to keep the blood sugar under control."
Insulin not only causes blood sugar to be driven into the cells to be used, but it also has a number of ill effects on the body, he said. "For instance, it causes the liver to produce cholesterol, and it causes the cells that line the arteries to become thickened. Between those two components right there we have a strong impact on people with high blood pressure.
"If we can lower the body's manufacturing of the excess cholesterol, and we can cause those cells to once again return to normal, then the size of the blood vessel is lowered, there's less restriction, and you have less blood pressure," he said.
Insulin also can cause people to retain fluid and to convert carbohydrate to fat. "That's why a lot of people will go on a restricted-calorie diet and still not lose weight, because basically they're on a low-calorie/high-carbohydrate diet, but the body is still converting that carbohydrate to fat because of the high insulin levels," Ward said.
To change direction and build health, he recommends the following, in addition to alleviating interference with the nervous system and correcting nutritional deficiencies:
* Getting sufficient rest so that our bodies can repair themselves and detoxify, processes which occur largely while resting;
* Getting physical exercise; and,
* Having a good mental attitude.
"We need to have the expectation of doing well. That has a powerful effect on your body," Ward said. "You put all five of those together and you do all of that on a regular basis, you can count on building health.
"When I consider a patient chiropractically, I look at them from the sense, 'Is there interference here that could be causing their symptoms?' If there is, then there's a good chance that chiropractic can help.
"But we also have to consider what the patient is eating every day so that we can better impact their ability to repair. You can only build healthy cells with the foods that you put into your body. If you're eating junk food, basically, you build a junk body. A junk body is more susceptible to becoming ill than a body that is built with healthy food," Ward said.
"Medicine is more about fighting the disease process. It's about treating the symptoms of what's already gone wrong as opposed to doing things that are involved with trying to prevent things from going wrong," he said. "We want to help people build health rather than waiting until they have to fight disease."
The brain, which controls everything about the body, communicates to the body through the spinal cord that runs right through the spine. In chiropractic, when there is interference to normal function of the spinal segments, or vertebra, and the bones of the spine no longer function properly, then it creates swelling at the joint, and that swelling can cause pressure on the nerve.
"Then wherever that nerve goes just can't function right," Ward said, using the example that some homes have lights operated by a dimmer switch. "You turn the switch down and the light dims."
The spine operates similarly, he said. "If you have pressure on the nerve in the spine, that's like reducing the energy to the light and the light doesn't burn as brightly," he said.
"Disease is an organ that has been malfunctioning for a long time, and then the tissues begin to break down and there are manifestations of change that can be seen and measured," or symptoms, according to Ward. The patient goes to the doctor, who in turn prescribes a drug for the symptoms.
"When a person goes to the doctor with high blood pressure, they get drugs to change the numbers. But what does changing the numbers do for why the blood pressure got that way? It doesn't do a thing.
"The same thing with cholesterol. A person goes in with cholesterol of 260 and the doctor says, 'That's too high. It's going to cause heart disease.' They have a drug that drops the number, but they're not considering why that number went up -- and there's the real problem," Ward said.
Something as simple as a sinus infection could be the result of a misaligned vertebra pressing on a nerve.
"Nerves basically do one of two things: You have one group that causes function to speed up, like the accelerator of your car. You have another group that causes function to slow down, like the brake of your car. So if you have pressure on the nerve that causes the brake not to work, so to speak, then function goes too fast and you have too much mucous formed," Ward said.
Too, just the opposite can happen. "You can have pressure on a nerve that causes the accelerator not to work, and then you have more braking than acceleration. If we're looking at it from the sinuses, this would be somebody who never has any moisture in their nose, their nose is always dry, their eyes are always dry -- that sort of thing."
Though many express fear at chiropractic treatment, Ward offers some assurance. "I can tell you that chiropractic care is the safest health care there is. Just ask the insurance companies that insure chiropractors. My malpractice insurance costs me less than $1,000 a year. Why do you think that is? It's because chiropractic is safe."
Ward said that on average, better than 90 percent of the patients he and Dr. Dennis accept begin to tell a difference within two weeks. "This is without altering them with drugs," he said. "Yes, you can take a drug and feel better that day, but you've done nothing for why you've gotten that way," he said. "Chiropractic takes a little more time."