Dr. Jim Reynaud approaches his practice, Reynaud Chiropractic, and his patients’ health through a collaborative, holistic approach: self-care, healthy food, consistent exercise, spirituality, spinal manipulation, and utterly pragmatic advice. Discussing health with Dr. Reynaud is nothing if not empowering. “The brain communicates with every tissue in the body,” Dr. Reynaud says. “Every tissue is controlled by the nervous system. The nerves communicate back and forth with the brain. If that’s the case, if there’s proper communication, then the body has everything it needs to repair itself.”
What led you to practice chiropractic medicine?
I was a journeyman carpenter by trade, and I screwed up my back. Someone wanted to do surgery on me. I said, “No. I’ll try this quackery thing called ‘chiropractic.'” I was so dramatically helped by a chiropractor, the next thing I knew, I was one—six years of school later.
How does a chiropractic approach to patient health differ from, for example, a general practitioner’s or other allopathic practice?
I’ll use analogies more than descriptions.
If you get a headache, well, some doctors say, “Let’s give you an aspirin to kill the pain.” But what if that headache indicates a hormonal imbalance? Sometimes, with a female patient, you adjust their lower back and the headache goes away. Women, of course, are on a repeating 28-day cycle. Throughout the first 14 days of that cycle, they’re pumping out estrogen, which is a vasodilator. They’re getting ready to make a baby. If nothing happens, the body says, “Man, that didn’t work,” so it turns off the estrogen and turns on the progesterone, which is a vasoconstrictor. There are two other tissues subject to that effect—those of blood vessels and the alimentary tract. [Symptomatically,] they also get headaches. So if you free up the nerve communication between the brain, ovaries and the uterus, the brain coordinates that, if it’s gotten out of coordination.
Sometimes, if you adjust the patient’s lower back, the brain says, “Oh, that’s what you were trying to yell at me.” I’ve had patients who, with no uncertainty, have said that I’ve allowed them to get pregnant. That’s not me. That’s a gift of the universe.
That whole scenario exists for the whole body. Think about that.
Another analogy: Our stomachs produce a pH of 2.5. That’s some bad-ass acid. But we also produce a mucous inside our stomach lining that prevents us from getting eaten up from the inside. If that’s wrong, if that’s out of balance, we get an ulcer.
Some chiropractors say that if you keep the body in perfect communication with itself, you don’t have all these maladies.
Can you describe your practice?
I don’t know if my practice is unique, but it’s not conventional. I’m the only one here every day. My first 18 years of practice was fairly conventional. I had an office manager and a bunch of massage therapists; my patients came and went; we billed insurance. At one point, I was an independent medical examiner.
Now I have a small office. I’m the only one here. I don’t bill insurance anymore; I’m cash-only. I get a lot of drop-ins. So I’m very low-key. I mean, I’m standing here in Levis. I try to wear a nice shirt. My patients come and go as they see fit.
When you began your chiropractic practice in 1984, how did the practice differ from practicing in 2012? I’m thinking specifically of the Wilk v. American Medical Association antitrust suit back in 1987.
Chiropractic medicine is climbing out of a hole that the Big Five trial cleared the legal path from, but it didn’t clear our name. Let’s face it, [the AMA] had tried to set out a smear campaign. That stuff goes away slowly. Chiropractic practice has evolved into more public acceptance, obviously, as doctors of chiropractic medicine began sounding more intelligent and started accepting more their intelligence. There used to be this mentality: “We don’t want to be doctors.” But I think chiropractic medicine have evolved into “If we want to be doctors, we should be.”
How does chiropractic manipulation work?
There are some chiropractors who just crack. You get a minute and half with them: They pop your spine, they twist your neck, you’re out of there.
What I do, there’s more to the body than the spine. I do muscle work. I do deep tendon massage. My adjustments take 12-15 minutes. I work out muscle spasms; I try to loosen up the spine and the soft tissue along the spine before I manipulate anything.
Manipulations are more about freeing up restricted movements. Vertebrae, over the course of time, develop movement patterns. This can restrict nerve flow. I work with the soft tissue, doing massage for 5-10 minutes, then I go to the manipulation part—putting vertebrae that are stuck back into motion.
From your perspective, why is consistent good health hard to maintain or achieve?
There are so many roadblocks.
It’s less expensive to eat shitty. So people are going to want to eat that way. The education as far as good overall eating goes—we are such products of a propaganda machine. Everyone thinks that this hamburger from McDonalds has green in it, so it must be healthy.
Big Pharma tells us that we just need to put this drug or this vaccine in our body, and that’s what health is about. We talk about health insurance, but it’s really repair care. Our idea of health is if we catch this cold early enough, we’ll stop it.
Try this: If you treat your body well, give the right food, and you exercise and take care of your spirituality, you’ll have health. Don’t worry about repairing yourself. Just maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s my thing. Get off the propaganda wagon from insurance, Big Pharma and the junk food industry. Or cheap food; the idea that we don’t care what the calories are made of, just give it to the body.
Quite truthfully, the biggest impediment to health is decadence. Our country has risen through a state of affluence into decadence. This is decay. I’m talking about mental and financial decay. We’ve taken ourselves out of the need to find good food, to walk, to exercise, to enjoy each other’s company. We rush through dinner so much that we can’t enjoy each other’s company for three or four hours. We’ve risen our level of stress into a level of decadence, into a level of decay.
Why is spinal health, specifically, so critical to general health?
Think of intelligence. You take one big cell and add a bunch of little cells—each has intelligence in there; I don’t care if it’s God intelligence or DNA or what it is—but when we’re born, there’s roughly 3 trillion cells, and they continue differentiating themselves. That’s major intelligence. That’s phenomenal. It’s mind-boggling.
Chiropractors believe that intelligence is housed in the brain. The brain communicates with every tissue in the body. Every tissue is controlled by the nervous system. The nerves communicate back and forth with the brain. If that’s the case, if there’s proper communication, then the body has everything it needs to repair itself, to handle the food that we eat.
So chiropractors, working on the nervous system, know it carries information back and forth and coordinates into one homeostatic being. One place that chiropractors have identified as an impediment to proper nerve transmission is the spine. So the biggest bang for the buck is opening up, freeing up the nerves around the spine. You’re freeing up communication, so then the brain knows what everybody [every tissue] is doing.
How much of your practice revolves around behavioral modification and patient education, regarding self-care?
When I was more energetic, I used to create workout pamphlets 12 pages long. Each patient got a workout regimen from me. In some respects, I’ve eased up on that. But “doctor” and “docent” have the same root word. They’re both teachers. If my patients are interested, I’ll teach them.