What is Health?
Written by Editor   
Monday, May 02, 2016 08:30 AM

CLICK HERE TO OPEN ARTICLE IN DIGITAL JOURNALThe word health is frequently mentioned in the healthcare professions.  It carries different meanings for different entities involved.  A feature article in the upcoming issue of the Texas Journal of Chiropractic  looks at both a chiropractic and a recent medical model of health that are quite similar.

Healthcare involves a number of different professions and a myriad of entities.  Each of them has its own concept of health.  For example: 

  • The World Health Organization states that health is “a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

  • A  dictionary defines health as “the general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor, soundness of body or mind, freedom from disease or ailment.”

  • Australian Aboriginal people state, “Health does not just mean the physical well-being of the individual but refers to the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural well-being of the whole community.”

  • Another defines health as “a condition of well-being, free of disease or infirmity, and a basic and universal human right.”

Consequently, there are almost as many goals for patient care as there are entities involved.  This ambiguity facilitates misunderstandings and may be used in power struggles.  The chiropractic profession is no stranger to these power struggles.

Healthcare has focused heavily on physical health and the science of pathology, but health is concerned with more than merely the absence of pathology.  It is concerned with the demands that life has placed upon us.  In 2011, Johannes Bircher, MD, Emeritus Professor, University of Bern, Switzerland, sought to clarify the meaning of health in a biological model presented at Meikirch, Switzerland.

Much as with D.D. Palmer, the Meikirch Model is based on a biological understanding of what health actually is. At its center are three elements:  The demands of life, the biologically given potential abilities of the individual, and the individual's personally acquired potential abilities.

“Chiropractic is a science which postulates that disease is a failure of adaptation ... chiropractic ... relieves this environmental irritation of the nervous system and adjusts the individual to his environment.” The Meikirch model is a medical model that espouses what chiropractic has been attempting to describe since 1895.  

Read more about these models in A Chiropractic AND Medical Model of Health in the upcoming May issue.