Racing Evolution?

In my first ever college class, we were assigned a book called Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine by R.M. Nesse and G.C. Williams. This book answered many questions I had all piled up in my naive pre-med mind- for instance, what is the reason we produce fevers when fighting infection, what is the purpose for feeling instant versus aching pain, etc. After all, I would one day have to understand sickness and explain to patients, why they are sick. If you are interested in thinking about illness from an evolutionary stance, it’s a great read.
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Ever since taking that class, I’ve constantly been considering the different ways that humans are simply out-racing evolution. Most of the deaths in the US are due to so-called “diseases of civilization” or “lifestyle diseases” stemming mostly from our readily available food supply and our quick-fix tendencies that lead to addiction (see the short wikipedia article for a definition and examples). We aren’t subject to the same selective pressures as cavemen- evolution basically doesn’t apply to humans anymore. The problem is, we still have the bodies of the cavemen human-folk we descend from. Our bodies evolved to function under certain conditions- eating naturally growing plants and wild meats, sleeping when it gets dark, enduring relatively low stress, living in groups, and living a highly active lifestyle (gotta run from the bears). If a human couldn’t do those things optimally, they’d die, wouldn’t pass on their genes- simple as pie. Yet, with our highly developed brains, humans went from [in a condensed nutshell] being great communicators, to great group-hunter-gathering-nomads, to great growers of things, to civilized. Civilized means yay! no more moving around and chasing animals for food, we can be sedentary and produce all of our food in one spot on a farm! We can all live around the farm! We can use all of our free time we save from not hunting to THINK! Hundreds of years later, that means ideas spread faster than I can even fathom to the point where we have computers and wi-fi and advil and flouresent lights. Yay for civilization for allowing humans to do all this thinking and create all this great stuff that I have. But BOO civilization for absolutely blasting evolution out of the water. We’ve developed in lifestyle, we haven’t developed to physically adapt to these changes.
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So what’s the point here? Go back to the diseases of civilization concept- it’s an issue. How can we fix it? Well, one option is to move to somewhere desolate with a group of people and become a hunter-gatherer society with them… I don’t want to do that personally. However, there are little things I try to do that consider my poor little caveman-capacity body. I exercise a lot. We’re built to store energy- we’re also built to USE it. The energy I get from food is (as best my poor grad student budget can afford) natural- lots of plants and very little processed stuff. I try to get a lot of sleep, and I rest when I’m feeling sick. Your body knows when something is wrong and it tells you to STOP so it can fight the pathogens. If a sick caveman without advil tried to go hunting he would be too slow and he’d get eaten by a tiger. If he stayed in his hut while the others hunted, he’d probably live. You see??? Our bodies instinctively want us to live- so listen I what my body tells me. Finally, I try not to put a lot of chemicals in my body. By chemicals, I mean processed-anything-in-a-bag, nicotine, fake sugar, drugs– I’m tempted to bring up modern medicine– I know, STICKY TOPIC. Medications are great for some people- lives saved everyday because of advanced drugs that alter tricky bodily chemistry. But drugs can also harmful. I don’t have enough time/energy for this blog entry to delineate everything bad about popping pills. I’ll just add as a final note that sometimes an herbal remedy is a safer, just as effective choice. There is definitely a movement toward natural medicine, as more doctors are catching on to the “diseases of civilization” idea, and choosing remedies that help our bodies naturally fight problems.

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Artistical Anatomy

Human Anatomy is not only fascinating to learn about- it is also fun to look at through an artistic lens. I own two anatomy atlases- Gray’s Anatomy, the standard, black-and-white, surgically-oriented atlas, and I also own Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy. Frank Netter, MD was an incredible artist who sketched and painted hundreds, probably thousands, of medical illustrations. He depicts the anatomy both perfectly as one would find in a human body, and also shaded, colored, and textured so that it seems like the image is three-dimensional. Often during bouts of frustration and confusion during memorizing the seemingly endless vocabulary of the anatomy, I will stop and simply admire the pictures in my book.

I recently went to a BodyWorlds exhibit, and aside from being jealous of Gunther von Hagens extraordinary dissection skills, I was in utter awe of the complex beauty of the human body, inside and out. He uses plastination on his corpses to preserve them, and he molds them into positions that optimally display certain organs and systems. For instance, there was a man kicking a soccer ball mid-air, displaying leg muscles, a ballerina with a gluteal muscle skirt, and a skateboarder inverted off a ramp with organs and muscles visible. To put it bluntly, he makes totally skinned dead people look visually inviting. I often find myself admiring the human body in school- ahem, obviously the outside can be quite nice to look at, but what I mean here is the craftsmanship of all the parts working together to make a living, breathing, moving human.  We are truly beautifully designed machines- from the seamlessly aligned articulations of our joints, the theme of undulating folds that are first seen the brain, then again along the gastrointestinal tract, the many ribbons of nerves, arteries, and veins, to how ribs arch in synchrony… Without taking into account the physiology of any of it- our bodies are elegant creations.

I’ll admit, some people get sqeamish with the anatomical aesthetic, perhaps working with cadavers has desensitized me to seeing inner-body parts. But still, anatomy images are ubiquitous- the skull is often artistically rendered in tattoos, sweatshirt designs, car decals, etc. I’m not the only person who thinks our guts are glorious. When I stumbled across http://www.streetanatomy.com, I discovered there is a whole community of illustrators, designers, and artists who use anatomy as their subject.

Here’s a sample from the site, I urge you to check it out!
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all images from www.streetanatomy.com

Finally, a useful, high quality (& free) study guide for learning human anatomy! The YouTube user “jono03” has uploaded nearly 40 videos of an instructor going through structures on prosected cadaver. Their videos are among the best I’ve encountered because the instructor is easy to understand and the camera is on steadied by a tripod. I am posting the cranial cavity/orbit dissection, where we are currently in our lab!

Bathroom Quanderies

Here is something to ponder next time you use the restroom.  Lately it’s all I can think about when I have to take a pit stop throughout my day.  Your body is constantly breaking molecules down and rebuilding them.  This is a normal part of cellular function.  Red blood cells are no different.  The main function of red blood cells is to circulate oxygen throughout the body.  This is possible because red blood cells contain hemoglobin.  Bilirubin is the result of the catabolism of old hemoglobin molecules in the body.  Bilirubin undergoes several transformations as it travels from the blood to the liver and eventually is disposed of via the kidney or intestine.  In the intestine conjugated bilirubin undergoes a tranformation to form urobilinogen.  This is oxidized to stercobilin which is responsible for the brown pigment in feces.  Around 10 percent of urobilinogen is reabsorbed and ends up going to the kidneys where it is expelled as urbilin.  This is what causes the amber color in urine.  The image below is a nice flow chart of these events.  It was taken from http://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/clinpath/modules/chem/tbili.htm.

Now, every time I use the restroom I end up analyzing the color of my waste products.  It makes me think, “What is bilirubin up to now?”

“The Grade”

We’re heading spiraling towards midterm time, which really doesn’t stop until finals. AMIRIGHT?!

On Friday after our first midterm exam and basically everyday for the rest of the quarter, we will once again frequent the ugly, evil corkboard, so-called, “The Grade” board. It is a place of sorrow, mourning, terror, delight, and now introducing:

confusion & humor!!

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“Hm, how about that” -Grade Board Passerby

Fun is good.

“Fun is good” -Dr. Seuss.

Oh, Seuss, silly goose.

“The goose will get you loose!!” -L. Nguyen

Oh, Leena, Silly Girl.

“My girl. Talkin’ bout My girl” -The Temptations

Reminding me I got sunshine on a cloudy day.

(aka Vitamin D?)

anyway, back to FUN. the reason for this post….
We chiropractic students are in graduate/professional/full-time school. It’s a long day, with class starting at 7:30 and sometimes not ending until 5:40, not including study time. Some days we only have a lunch break to break up class after class after class. All this academia can drive a person wonky. How does one deal with all the i.n.f.o.m.a.t.i.o.n. and l.a.b.s. and e.x.a.m.s. ???
simply have a little fun.

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playing with a bouncy ball in the cafeteria, smiling. happiness. ❤ we love balls

A Chiropractic Adventure Blog

Some might say that this is where the journey begins. What journey you might ask? Great
question! This is a very specific journey for a very specific person. The adventure is one of a
Chiropractic nature, and if all goes as planned it will continuously blow our minds. What might
one encounter in a mind blowing Chiropractic blog? Glad you asked. The first thing that will
most certainly be a central theme will be the hopeless and hopelessly hopeful ramblings of three
of the fields newest critics/supporters. Confused? Hopeless and hopelessly hopeful? Critics
and supporters? How can this be? Well aren’t we all a mixed bag? I know I am, and in my
head criticism is a form of support. Point being no quandaries or opinions are out of order in this
courtroom.

Hopefully what comes of this blog is inspired dialogue, education, an outlet for fun, the ability
to dork out about all things chiropractic, and a reminder of how naïve we once were. Today for
example I wrote the following definition about chiropractic:

Throughout my studies I have compiled my own thoughts about what I believe
Chiropractic to be. Chiropractic is the study and treatment of issues relating to the
musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. This is part of the definition provided
by the American Chiropractic Association. Chiropractic works under a theory of
looking at a patient as a whole person and not as the sum of their symptoms. This way,
chiropractors are in a position to improve the overall health and wellness of their patients.
It also practices conservative medicine with the belief that the body has the ability to heal
itself. Manipulative therapies are an integral part of Chiropractic, but based on the many
tools at their disposal chiropractors are able to fulfill the role of a primary care physician.
Chiropractic is the future of preventative and accessible health care.

I am already feeling naïve when I read the hope in this young man’s voice. Maybe when I
lose my way I will one day return to this post and be re-inspired by everything I once thought
chiropractic could be.

So, welcome. Please watch us discover Chiropractic, grow as humans, and join us in our
absurdities. I hope you will enjoy our narrative.

Things to look forward to:

Ramblings
Charts
Diagrams
Advice
Sexy Back Wednesday: Help get you through hump day
Vertebral Disc Jockey Fridays