Treating the symptoms of a health complaint masks the problem but doesn't cure it, Durango chiropractor James Forleo says. The only way to find permanent relief is to eliminate the root cause or causes.
"A fire alarm tells us there's a fire," Forleo said in an interview last week. "You can cut the wire, and the alarm will stop, but your house can burn down."
That's what can happen when drugs are used temporarily to suppress symptoms, Forleo said.
Forleo, 61, who has practiced in Durango for 33 years, explains his prevention-based approach to health care in Health Is Simple Disease Is Complicated: A Systems Approach to Vibrant Health. The book, published last year, won one of five gold-medal special awards over and above the 28 categories honored by Independent Publisher's first Living Now Book Awards competition. The program promotes newly published lifestyle books.
Forleo's book also was a category finalist for the 2009 Colorado Book Award sponsored by the Colorado Center for the Book, an arm of Colorado Humanities.
World Health Organization statistics indicate that the United States doesn't stack up well globally in the health field, Forleo said. The nation is No. 1 in the amount spent on health care, but it's in 37th place in overall health, 24th in life expectancy, 43rd in infant mortality and 72nd in health-system performance.
It's no wonder, then, that the average person takes 14 prescription drugs, that 2.5 million people have adverse reactions to prescribed drugs each year and 100,000 people die annually from such reactions, Forleo said.
The body is intelligent and can heal itself if given a chance, Forleo said. Health should be the norm, not the exception.
"Our body is trying to communicate with us with symptoms, telling us that something is not right," Forleo said. "But we treat symptoms with drugs, cutting off the communication."
Individuals are different, but everyone falls into one of four body categories according to which endocrine system predominates - pituitary, adrenal, thyroid or gonadal, Forleo said.
When a symptom manifests itself, Forleo said, people should listen to their bodies, look for the underlying cause of the complaint and make appropriate changes.
Underlying causes can reside in diet, lifestyle, interpersonal relations, emotions and/or one's spiritual side, Forleo said.
An analysis of all reasons for an ailment represents a new perspective, which in turn changes the perception of the problem and ultimately leads to renewed health.
In his 450-page book, Forleo leads readers through the interconnected and interdependent systems of the body - respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, skeletal, muscular, digestive, elimination, nerve, endocrine and immune.
In each section, Forleo includes health tips.
"Our Innate Body Wisdom controls and coordinates all body systems to function together in a state of perfect harmony and health," Forleo said in the book.
"Health is a process, not a one-time event," the book says. "We need to become experts in self-evaluation and build our own health-care program because we're all unique."