Where does health end and illness begin?
Homeostasis is a condition of dynamic equilibrium inside the body.
The body is in a balanced state of being—in other words, healthy.
The tissues receive an adequate and constant level of oxygen and nutrients at a cellular level and all systems function in harmony.
The nervous system is even-keeled, and all other physiological processes are finely tuned for vitality and resistance to disease.
All is well in homeostasis.
We often hear stories about people who were thought to be in excellent health but became sick “one day” and died soon thereafter. Is it possible that a person’s health can deteriorate so rapidly? Life-threatening illnesses rarely just happen. They usually develop over time—sometimes even decades—before obvious symptoms arise.
During that developmental period, chronic stress on the body contributes to the breakdown, setting the stage for disease. The prevalence of cancer and other diseases is evidence that healthcare providers are failing to recognize and manage the earliest stages of disease. Functional Wellness is the solution to this problem.
The Five Stages of Disorder
Let’s consider the Five Stages of Disorder, beginning with a reminder of where you want to be—in homeostasis (in balance). It is important to understand that even in the first stage of disorder, your vitality and ability to resist the damage caused by chronic stress are compromised; however, the signs of this may not be obvious to you.
Homeostasis: A tendency toward equilibrium between the various interdependent systems of the body.
Stage 1 – Deviation from Homeostasis: This is the first stage of disorder. The natural response of the body to any stress is to attempt to return to homeostasis. If this is not possible, compensation takes place and the body moves forward into the second stage of disorder. This deviation can be the result of a multitude of stresses, including infections, allergies, and toxic exposures.
Stage 2 – Pathophysiology: The functional changes that accompany a particular syndrome or disease. Although the body still attempts to return to stage 2, or even homeostasis, it remains in a state of compensation. Normal biochemical functions are disturbed and tissues and organs begin compensating. This is a potential tipping point for the disease process to kick into full gear.
Stage 3 – Pathomorphology: Changes in the structure of your body accelerate. Cells are dying and yet symptoms may be subtle or nonexistent. Immune function is compromised and there is degeneration of other functional systems. Even in this stage, the body still strives to revert to the previous phase. If unable to do so, it will degenerate with accelerated compensation and unmistakable symptoms will result.
Stage 4 – Symptomatology: In this stage, the body is challenged by symptoms that result from physiological impairment. The body unsuccessfully attempts to return to the previous phase. Its compensatory mechanisms are struggling and dysfunction persists. Lack of improvement further aggravates dysfunction. This is where conventional medicine generally comes into play––when you are feeling lousy.
Stage 5 – Death:The final stage. The body cannot compensate any longer and it cannot sustain the life force. The cumulative effect of stress has subjected the body to suffer a permanent cessation of all vital functions. Heart attack, respiratory failure… such events are common in the transition from stage 4 to stage 5. Many are preventable tragedies. There is nothing sudden about them; they have been developing—often unnoticed—for years.
Understanding the stages of disorder helps to distinguish Medical Intervention from FM. Medical Intervention focuses on identifying and treating overt symptoms—that is, stage 4. In contrast, FM focuses on identifying and correcting the sources of the body’s stress in stages 1, 2, and 3. With this approach, stresses causing health problems, or likely to cause them in the future, can be eliminated before manifesting as illness.