A 'Whole-Person' Approach to Health By Haas Wellness Center in Charlotte
Jun 28, 2020 07:35PM
By Shannon McKenzie
Kenneth Haas, DC, CCSP, is founder of Haas Wellness Center, a holistic practice in Charlotte since 2004. Natural Awakenings Charlotte recently caught up with Dr. Haas for a more in depth view of his career.
NA: In your video introduction to Haas Wellness Centers on your website, you say you’ve dedicated your entire professional life to holistic health, which you define as a “whole-person” approach. Can you explain what you mean?
KH: In the medical world, practitioners tend to only look at the part of the person that their specialty is limited to. For example, an orthopedist only looks at structural problems and a gastroenterologist will only work on the digestive system. Holistic practitioners view the person as a whole person. We address the structural, metabolic and mental-emotional aspects of health.
NA: You’ve been in practice for 37 years. At least early on, the concept of holistic health was generally unknown, or even thought of as quackery. What prompted you down this path?
KH: I used to be an internationally competitive gymnast. I began in 1966, became a three-time All-American, competed internationally, and after college was a professional gymnastics coach for six years. After I retired from competition, my body was pretty broken down. I was in my early 20s, yet I could hardly walk when I got out of bed. I had seen some of the top sports orthopedists in the country, and they were unable to get me back into competition shape. I found my way into the office of a holistic chiropractor. He was amazing. With very low-tech methods—Applied Kinesiology, which uses muscle-response testing as a feedback tool, as opposed to the standard lab testing the other doctors employed—he put me back together and I was even able to do some masters competitions. After a short time I decided to change careers from professional gymnastics coach to be like him. I learned firsthand about looking outside the box to try to heal when the healthcare system doesn’t have anything to offer.
NA: Have there been other experiences that reinforced your decision to pursue a holistic path?
KH: Yes. We learn both from our own experiences and from the experiences of those who are close to us. My youngest daughter suffered a catastrophic brain injury shortly after birth that was caused by her doctor’s and the hospital’s negligence. Lexi’s injury is permanent. She has kernicterus, damage to certain parts of the brain due to high levels of bilirubin. Lexi is now 18 and is extremely physically disabled but she is extremely intelligent. Along with my wife, she recently wrote a book about her life titled The Year of the Buttered Cat; it has been accepted for publication and should be available in early 2021. Lexi’s problem was caused by lack of attention on the part of the doctor and hospital staff, so I learned what it’s like to be on the receiving end of doctor error.
NA: You’ve said that in addition to environmental pollutants, our overall health is affected by our emotional reaction to everyday activity. How do you think recent events in Charlotte surrounding COVID-19 and protests for racial justice have affected our overall health?
KH: Mental and emotional stress of any kind changes neurological and hormonal activity, increasing the release of cortisol. Cortisol is great in an emergency, to help us “fight or flight,” but when it’s released constantly it causes disruption of many systems in our body. Restoring proper adrenal gland balance is primary. Some of the ways we treat stress are with vibro-ceuticals (homeopathic remedies), Bach Flower Remedies (flower essences that affect emotions) and somato-sensory techniques (meridian-based emotional techniques like emotional freedom technique, or EFT).
NA: What are the main issues you evaluate with your patients?
KH: We treat patients with a variety of presenting symptoms. The most common are fatigue, weight gain, sleep problems, pain, digestive problems, allergies, focus problems, ADD and ADHD, autism and thyroid problems.
NA: How does your approach to diagnosis and treatment differ from that of most medical practices?
KH: We see health as full function of all systems of the body. When interference to any system
occurs, health declines. Our patient evaluation looks at six different categories of interference that can cause dysfunction in the body. The first category is structural interference, involving the bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves and connective tissues. Correcting structural misalignments and tension or twists in the connective tissue is frequently necessary. The second category is electromagnetic interference. When our body tissues are under stress, it can create an electromagnetic field that disrupts the flow of information and even cellular mechanisms. The other categories are nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, emotional stress, allergies and sensitivities, and toxicity.
NA: What are the most common techniques you use to address these issues?
KH: The most common ones are chiropractic adjustments, myofascial release, cold laser therapy, brain integration, percussion, neuro-integration, spinal decompression, massage and reflexology. We also employ allergy elimination technique, pulsed electro-magnetic field therapy, energy balancing footbaths and color and sound therapy.
NA: How do nutritional imbalances affect the body, and how do you correct them?
KH: The adrenal glands, being part of our survival mechanism, are critical to certain bodily functions, like breathing, heartbeat and basic brain function. When adrenal function is disrupted, many systems are affected, including reproductive hormones, blood sugar, mood, energy, immunity and inflammation.
Each organ and gland in the body has its own nutritional needs. It’s important to address each one individually in order to correct nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. It’s also important to remove invading organisms such as yeast, viruses, bacteria and parasites in order for the body to function optimally.
In general, we want to make sure that you are eating the right kinds of foods and avoiding the wrong kinds of foods. We rarely find a patient who is not nutritionally deficient in some way. We might recommend supplements and nutrients, which should be taken at specific times and dosages. Sometimes they are only needed for a few weeks. But some patients with severe problems may require them for many months or even longer.
NA: We hear a lot about “gut health” nowadays. How does that play into your holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment?
KH: Restoring normal digestive function is a big part of my approach. If your body is not digesting the food you eat, it cannot absorb the nutrients that you consume.
There are over a thousand different species of bacteria that live in our digestive tract. With dietary indiscretions, and with the use of medication such as pain relievers and antibiotics, the normal bowel flora can be disrupted or destroyed. So balancing the digestive tract is one of the most common needs that we see in our patients. If you develop a leaky gut it can cause allergies, inflammation or autoimmune disorders.
NA: How does Haas Wellness Center differ from other health practices?
KH: In our center we offer many types of care from several kinds of providers. I am a chiropractor with a holistic background. Dr. Darryl Roberts is a naturopath. We have Dr. Ariel Steagall, who is a gifted massage therapist, and our reflexologist, Eva Gajewski.
NA: What can patients expect when they come in for an evaluation?
KH: Our evaluation usually begins with a 15-minute consultation to see if our practice is the right place for the patient. We then use a very detailed questionnaire to learn about the patient’s past history, family history, habits and symptoms. We do some in-office lab testing and biofeedback scans, and we perform a structural evaluation as well as an applied kinesiology evaluation. We conclude with a one-hour discussion for the findings and recommendations. The whole process usually takes over two hours.