In praise of chiropractors

My first ever blog post in 2007 was about a guy performing a set of pullups while talking on his Bluetooth headset. It was a masterpiece of multitasking. Yesterday, I came across a 2023 remake of this incident. This gym member was doing a set of machine dips while watching a movie on his phone. He had rested his phone across the top of his water bottle so he could look straight down at the screen while his arms moved the weight up and down. 

Just as technology evolves, so too do the sources of meaningful health care advice. The absolute best on the Internet today is Eric Berg, D.C. Dr. Berg has over 10 million subscribers on YouTube, and his 5-minute videos on every health topic from curing migraines to eliminating cellulite deliver spectacular value. There are no drug recommendations, of course (chiropractors can’t prescribe). Rather, Berg broadcasts straightforward lessons on organic chemistry and the application of common sense. How to: achieve electrolyte balance, reduce sugar intake in all its forms, avoid seed oils, adopt intermittent fasting, and use nutrition principles to conquer everything from cancer to infertility. All of it can be done basically for free.

I am also grateful for my recent discovery of the ToePro, and its inventor Tom Michaud, D.C. Plantar fasciitis is one of those persistent injuries that can reduce quality of life. Medical doctors and physical therapists recommend complicated and contradictory treatments for plantar fasciitis, such as rolling a frozen water bottle with your foot, stretching your (already inflamed) facia, and sleeping with a night splint. Seeking a solution to my own foot problem, I watched Dr. Michaud’s 20-minute ToePro demonstration, and studied the insert that came with the device I ordered. In a couple weeks, my pain was gone.

I used to believe that chiropractors were quacks. That’s what the media, physicians, and other vested interests told us. Nevertheless, a silver lining of the COVID fiasco was the revelation that all official narratives are in play.

One new approach to patient care in the medical profession is the field of functional medicine. It’s an effort by some doctors to overcome medical silos and treat a patient holistically. For example, a person with heart disease can go to a cardiologist. Instead, the best treatment for the patient might be working with a psychologist to resolve stressful family relationships, or consulting with a nutrition specialist to improve insulin sensitivity and increase copper levels.

The importance of treating the whole person is not new to the healthcare field, however. It was in fact a founding principle of chiropractic going back to the 19th century. If you removed the label “chiropractor,” and instead told me about a set of health professionals focused on non-drug, non-invasive treatments who consider biological, psychological, and social factors, I’d be in love.

Here’s what the website for one chiropractic college says students learn in school:

In class, a chiropractor will specialize and spend time on subjects related to anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, biochemistry, pathology, orthopedic and neuromuscular evaluation, geriatric and pediatric care, microbiology, immunology, nutrition, radiology, philosophy, and research.

Sounds good to me. In fact, it’s so good that the American Medical Association identified chiropractic as a competitor and threat 100 years ago.

In the early 20th century, the AMA used its influence to rig “basic science” state licensing examinations. The exams were written to include extensive testing on surgery and obstetrics, two specialties that were not part of the chiropractic curriculum. As a result, chiropractors either practiced without a license or were pushed out of the market in many states.  

A remarkable article in the AMA Journal of Ethics from 2011 described the scope and intensity of the AMA’s efforts to undermine chiropractic. In the 1960s, the AMA created a formal organization to encourage ethical complaints against chiropractors, prevent chiropractors from joining health insurance panels, and keep chiropractors out of hospitals.

In 1976, a group of chiropractors sued the AMA in a federal antitrust suit. Court documents exposed the AMA’s systematic campaign to destroy the reputation of chiropractors: “AMA writers ghostwrote television and movie scripts, as well as Ann Landers’ widely read newspaper column and any other media outlet that could be used to tarnish the reputation of chiropractic in the public eye. The AMA even encouraged the distribution of antichiropractic materials to high school guidance counselors so they would dissuade interested students from pursuing careers in it.”

The lawsuit ground on for 11 years, ending in 1987 when a United States District Judge found the AMA guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The judge wrote that, “the AMA decided to contain and eliminate chiropractic as a profession” and that it was the AMA’s intent “to destroy a competitor.”

If there’s one thing Big Medicine can’t allow, it’s people getting well and staying healthy.

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