Chiropractic no longer “drug free”

By Terry A. Rondberg

Question: What’s wrong with the statement, “Chiropractic is a safe, effective, drug-free alternative to medical treatment”?

Answer: It’s no longer true.

Doctor thinkingFor the first 100+ years, DCs could all honestly state this was what they offered. Safe. Drug-free. Alternative. Sadly, despite many decades of hard work and devotion to the principles of chiropractic, the profession is becoming nothing more than a bunch of medical technicians doling out prescriptions to treat diseases.

Earlier this month, National University Health Sciences (NUHS) — the school that used to be called National College of Chiropractic — announced with barely contained glee:

“The United States is experiencing a shortage of primary care family doctors. That’s why over the last 8-10 years, chiropractic associations in states with severe shortages of primary care physicians have sought to expand the scope of practice for chiropractic physicians. They seek new laws and regulations that would allow chiropractic physicians to prescribe a limited range of medications in order to help their patients in a more comprehensive manner. These include medications that are common to conditions frequently seen by chiropractic physicians, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that treat ailments such as osteoporosis and arthritis.”

Naturally, National is jumping on the drug bandwagon and gearing up to teach DCs how to pass out the meds just like the MDs. “NUHS determined that chiropractic physicians would need 90 hours of pharmacology in addition to the prerequisite physiology and biochemistry courses already required by accredited chiropractic education programs. (The DC program at NUHS already provides students with these 90 hours in pharmacology, but such requirements are not representative of all chiropractic institutions.)”

New Mexico has already changed its chiropractic scope to allow “chiropractic physicians with the right licensure and training to prescribe drugs from a limited formulary.” Other states are sure to follow, and National (and no doubt many of our other colleges) will be right there, ready to teach DCs (oops … chiropractic physicians) to grab a prescription pad rather than look to the cause of the problem. Just what we need. MORE doctors handing out drugs.

Coincidentally, the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) also released its proposed revised standards at about the same time, and it removed ALL reference to subluxation from the document, as though the whole concept didn’t exist in chiropractic. PLUS, it removed the phrase “without drugs or surgery” in reference to chiropractic practice. It also re-worded the standards to allow itself to accredit DC or “equivalent” degree offerings. In other words, the CCE appears willing to chuck even the word “chiropractic.”

Whatever happened to the Position Paper and Paradigm developed by the Association of Chiropractic Colleges, which was signed and endorsed by ALL college presidents? It stated clearly what chiropractic is:

“Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. … Chiropractic is concerned with the preservation and restoration of health, and focuses particular attention on the subluxation.”

Instead, now we have Dr. James Winterstein, president of NUHS telling us: “Chiropractic physicians are already licensed as primary care doctors in most states. As health care policy-makers wrestle with the scarcity of general practice physicians, expanding the scope of chiropractic care to qualified chiropractic physicians makes good economic and strategic sense. New Mexico’s citizens will undoubtedly benefit from broadening health care delivery by chiropractic physicians, and we anticipate that more states will see the wisdom in this as well.”

Good economic and strategic sense? Is that what’s he’s worried about? What about patient safety? What about safeguarding their right to have access to a drug-free wellness approach? What about protecting the livelihood of chiropractors who don’t want to be medical physicians?

There is no “wisdom” in taking this direction. The future belongs to non-medical wellness care and to an understanding of the effects drug-free approaches (like the “old” chiropractic) have on the neurological AND musculoskeletal systems of the body. It belongs to a recognition of the innate ability of the body to achieve and maintain homeostasis, and of the way chiropractic impacts subtle energy fields. It does NOT belong to drugs and surgery and the treatment of disease.

It won’t be long before Dr. Winterstein’s idea of chiropractic “medicine” goes under, along with the other allopathic treatment modes. It’s going to be the health care equivalent to the Titantic sinking and I don’t plan to be standing next to him when that happens.

About the Author, Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Dr. Terry A. Rondberg has been an advocate and staunch support for drug-free chiropractic since Day One. Learn more by perusing one of his many books, including Chiropractic First and Under the Influence of Modern Medicine, or by visiting the World Chiropractic Alliance online.

Reducing the ‘meds’

Yolanda Fawcett
courtesy iVillage

I started in practice more than three decades ago but I’ve never stopped being amazed at how many times patients find chiropractic care to be “life changing.” Here’s another case: in March of this year, Yolande Fawcett, 46, was featured on the wildly popular website, iVillage (which is associated with Oprah Winfrey and the NBC television network). Years ago, Fawcett was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — as were all six of her brothers and sisters (along with some five million other Americans). The medical response was to put her on a pile of pills.

In addition to admitting that she “loves her mania” side of manic-depression, she stated: “I’ve finally found a cocktail of daily medications that seems to be working, after 20 years of feeling like a human guinea pig, going on and off medications and trying new things. I’ve learned that I can’t go off of the medications just because I start to feel better. When I’ve done that in the past, it’s made me much sicker. I know now that it’s the medication that is making me feel better, and to stay better, I need to stay on my meds.”

Fast forward to last week. The same woman is in a chiropractic office undergoing “life changing” care to allow her to reduce her “meds.” In an article in TCPalm online newspaper, Fawcett credits her chiropractor, Bruce Hansbrough, DC, with not only helping her feel better, but for allowing her to reduce her “meds.”

“Despite years of medical treatment for bi-polar disorder, Fawcett was looking for alternative treatments in order to lessen the amount of medication that she was taking for her condition,” the article by Jeannie Ferrara stated.

Fawcett is quoted in the article as saying, “Dr. Bruce has been able to ‘shock’ my system and align my spine so that I am more limber and have a better range of motion. His work has also decreased the amount of neck and shoulder pain I experience when I am under stress. Which unfortunately is all too often. With regular visits, my discomfort has lessened.”

I doubt if iVillage will announce that development, but if more people who have been burdened with medical diagnoses for stress- and diet-related conditions like “bipolar disorder” would learn of the potential for drug-free, non-invasive chiropractic care, our offices would overflow and the world would be a healthier, happier place!

Brain power — not will power — a key to weight loss

By Terry A. Rondberg

Increasingly, chiropractors and other wellness professionals are called upon to help patients and clients lose weight. Obesity is a huge problem in our society and the medical approach is not only dangerous, but it doesn’t work.

Brain PowerNeither does will power, according to a recent study led in Australia by the Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute (MODI) at Monash University. Researchers were trying to figure out why some people seem to be able to eat anything they want and never gain weight, while others put on the pounds after looking at food.

The answer, they say, is in the way our brains function. “We discovered that a high-fat diet caused brain cells to become insulated from the body, rendering the cells unable to detect signals of fullness to stop eating,” stated MODI director Michael Cowley. Apparently, the “insulation” acts like a fatty “subluxation,” interfering with the signals that tell the body to stop eating and to burn energy from reaching the brain efficiently.

“Secondly, the insulation also created a further complication in that the body was unable to detect signals to increase energy use and burn off calories/kilojoules,” Cowley added.

The research showed that support cells in the brain developed overgrowth in a high-fat diet. This prevented the regular brain cells (the melanocortin system or POMC neurons) from connecting with other neural mechanisms, which determine appetite and energy expenditure.

Professor Cowley said the study findings provide a critical link in addressing the obesity epidemic. “These neuronal circuits regulate eating behaviours and energy expenditure and are a naturally occurring process in the brain. The circuits begin to form early in life so that people may have a tendency towards obesity even before they eat their first meal,” he explained.

Eating a high fat diet causes more “insulation” in the nerve cells, and makes it even harder for the brain to help a person lose weight.

“Obese people are not necessarily lacking willpower. Their brains do not know how full or how much fat they have stored, so the brain does not tell the body to stop refuelling. Subsequently, their body’s ability to lose weight is significantly reduced,” the researcher commented.

What I find particularly interesting about this research is that it confirms that neurobiology is the key factor in obesity (as it is with so many other — and probably ALL other — health issues).

That’s important since other research has shown that we can learn, through techniques such as neurofeedback, to actually control and change our neurobiology. For instance, a 2009 study published in the scientific journal EEG and Clinical Neuroscience demonstrated that neurofeedback can be regarded as an evidence-based treatment for Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

It won’t be long before chiropractors can begin teaching patients how they can monitor and control their own neurological functions and allow the proper brain signals to reach organs and tissues throughout the body. That, coupled with chiropractic adjustments, can propel our profession into the vanguard of the new wellness revolution — and finally allow our patients to enjoy optimal health.

SOURCE: “Synaptic input organization of the melanocortin system predicts diet-induced hypothalamic reactive gliosis and obesity,” Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. Published online before print August 2, 2010. Abstract

About the Author, Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Dr. Terry A. Rondberg, CEO of the World Chiropractic Alliance, is a nationally known author, speaker and advocate for drug-free wellness and alternative care, especially subluxation-based chiropractic.

6 out of every 10 MDs sued during career

By Terry A. Rondberg

Being the target of a malpractice lawsuit doesn’t necessarily indicate incompetence or unprofessional behavior for any individual practitioner. Too many lawsuits are filed because of ignorance, lack of understanding, inaccurate expectations, unrelated personality conflicts, arguments over billing, and — sadly — greed.

Medical MalpracticeStill, in general, the number of malpractice lawsuits filed against a profession or professional subsection can be roughly equated to the overall safety of that discipline. That’s why a riskier specialty like obstetrics or neurosurgery are associated with higher rates of malpractice lawsuits whereas lower risk approaches like chiropractic and acupuncture enjoy a far lower rate of legal actions.

It’s significant, therefore, to find that by late in their career, nearly two-thirds (61%) of all medical doctors have been sued, according to a study conducted by the American Medical Association.

The study analyzed data from 5,825 physicians who responded to the AMA’s Physician Practice Information survey, which examined costs of medical practice and associated factors from 2007 to 2008. The study revealed that, for the physicians surveyed, there were 95 medical liability claims filed for every 100 physicians — almost one per doctor. Highlights in the report include the following realities:

… Nearly 61% of physicians age 55 and over have been sued.

… Before they reach the age of 40, more than 50% of obstetricians/gynecologists have already been sued.

… 90% of general surgeons age 55 and over have been sued.

The study notes that 65% of the claims are dropped or dismissed, but doesn’t specify what percentage were settled out of court in the plaintiff’s favor. Average defense costs per claim range from a low of more than $22,000 among claims that are dropped or dismissed to a high of over $100,000 for cases that go to trial, the reported noted.

Although exact figures are not available for the chiropractic profession, it’s obviously far, far lower than those seen among even the “safest” of medical specialties. That’s reflected in the malpractice insurance rates as well as in the courts.

The information on the rate of lawsuits against MDs is good to keep on hand next time a patient or interested member of the public wonders about the safety of chiropractic!

SOURCE: Source: AMA Policy Research Perspectives, “Medical Liability Claim Frequency: A 2007-2008 Snapshot of Physicians,” August 2010 (

About the Author – Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Dr. Terry A. Rondberg is founder of the World Chiropractic Alliance, as well as serving as its CEO. He is an staunch advocate for drug-free chiropractic care, not only for the spine for for the whole body. He traveled the world to speak on the issue of CAM in general — and chiropractice in particular —  and the shortcomings of our current healthcare system.

Would you turn in an incompetent colleague?

A recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that many medical doctors have direct, personal knowledge of an impaired or incompetent physician in their workplaces but won’t report them.

Doctor thinkingThe researchers, led by Catherine DesRoches of Harvard Medical School, surveyed 1,891 practicing US doctors in order to “understand physicians’ beliefs, preparedness, and actual experiences related to colleagues who are impaired or incompetent to practice medicine.”

A majority of the doctors surveyed (64%) said they agreed that it was important to report other MDs who were “significantly impaired or otherwise incompetent to practice.” But just 69% said they were prepared to really do anything about the situation if it came up in their practice.

More shocking was the revelation that 17% of the doctors had direct personal knowledge of a physician colleague who was incompetent to practice medicine in their hospital, group, or practice. But of those, a full one third (33%) had not reported the colleague to the relevant authority.

The reasons they gave for their silence were the belief that someone else would take care of the problem (19%), the belief that nothing would happen as a result of the report (15%) and fear of retribution (12%).

The actual numbers might be even higher since, of the 2,938 physicians contacted, only 1,891 agreed to take the survey — the other 36% might have decided the questions were a bit too delicate to answer.

As bad as this sounds, I wonder how it differs from the chiropractic profession (or any health care profession). Granted, an incompetent chiropractor is far less of a threat to a patient’s well being than an incompetent MD, but what do we do when we realize a fellow DC is significantly impaired? If we know a colleague is drinking or using drugs during work, or is otherwise unfit to care for patients, do we report him or her to the board?

I realize that there have been many (far too many) cases where chiropractors have “tattled” on their competition for the most trivial infractions of the rules, but that’s a far cry from accusing another practitioner of being incompetent.

This is one of those grey areas that require soul searching and total honesty. If we truly believe that a colleague might do any harm to patients or to the profession as a whole, we owe it to those patients and chiropractic to take a courageous stand. We might try approaching the doctor and discussing the situation with him or her, offering to assist in getting the person proper help overcoming the problem. If that doesn’t work, we may have no choice but to file a complaint with the state board.

SOURCE: “Physicians’ Perceptions, Preparedness for Reporting, and Experiences Related to Impaired and Incompetent Colleagues,” JAMA. 2010;304(2):187-193. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.921