Articles by JCS

Green Healthcare

Green Healthcare

Almost Everything You Never Knew

About Chiropractors

by

JCS

T. Boone Pickens preaches the benefits of green energy like wind, solar and liquefied natural gas to replace our dependency on oil, but the idea of green alternatives in healthcare is lesser known although just as important to offer effective, natural, non-invasive, non-drug healthcare services at cheaper costs.

Certainly not a sexy topic, green healthcare is important to understand since your own health will be affected by it, just as you are affected by the oil crisis, both personally and financially. So bear with me as I explain almost everything you never knew about chiropractors, the largest provider of green healthcare alternatives.

The biggest problems facing green healthcare, just like alternative energy, stems from the powers-to-be that resist implementation at every turn; the AMA and drug kingpins have no interest in changing the status quo, whether it’s implementing green technology or supporting a nationalized health care delivery system. Like the oil industry, the present medical monopoly is happy to gouge patients (medical debt is the second-leading cause of bankruptcy in the USA) as it opposes any not-for-profit healthcare system that might limit incomes of MDs or increase competition with non-medical healthcare providers. Indeed, if anyone thinks the medical profession and drug industry want any changes in the present system, perhaps you’re taking too many meds!

Green healthcare includes a vast array of non-drug, non-surgical, and basically non-medical treatments known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), and foremost at the top of this heap stands the chiropractic profession, the century-old nemesis of the AMA. Although medicine is the present mainstay of American health care, like oilmen, traditional medicine has fought the inclusion of CAM in practice, its instruction in med schools, and its benefits in the hearts and minds of the media, legislators, and the public. Green may be important to people like Boone Pickens, but not to the mega-corporations in energy or healthcare who stand to lose market share.

The US spends more than two trillion dollars a year on health care, but are Americans getting full value for their money? “No” answers just about anyone who is anyone inside the healthcare system, and chiropractors are among the loudest who cry that chiropractic care could save billions of dollars annually in the $100+ back pain industry.

“Our health-care system is fraught with waste,” Gary Kaplan, chairman of Seattle’s cutting-edge Virginia Mason Medical Center.[1] As much as half of the $2.3 trillion spent today does nothing to improve health, he said.

The comments echo remarks made by none other than Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in June this year. “Improving the performance of our health-care system is without doubt one of the most important challenges our nation faces,” he said at the time.[2]

A good example of the medical mainstream sabotaging emerging green technology in healthcare is the huge, $100 million federally funded study known as Allhat that showed simple diuretics were the best blood pressure medicine to start with.[3] Unfortunately, the drug companies “ganged up and attacked, discredited the findings,” according to Curt Furberg, the early leader of the trial.[4]

The same resistance to natural solutions in healthcare has occurred many times and the most noticeable was the medical mainstream’s attack on chiropractic care, an issue most of the press and public are completely unaware. In fact, chiropractic today remains off the radar on most in the media and consequently, the public remains naïve of the lost benefits of chiropractic care in their own lives. 

Nonetheless, there are growing trends to alternatives in healthcare that remain for the most part under the media’s radar. David M. Eisenberg is the Director of the Osher Institute at Harvard Medical School and the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies who conducted two surveys that Americans made more office visits to non-MDs than they did to MDs. His shocking surveys revealed Baby Boomers made 427 million office visits to non-MDs in 1990 compared to 388 million visits to MDs, then his follow-up survey in 1997 revealed that the numbers to non-MDs rose to 629 million while the numbers to MDs went down to 386. Expenditures for CAM services increased by 45 percent to $21 billiona trend that obviously indicates a growing disenchantment with the present medical system. [5]

Dr. Eisenberg concluded, “Maybe ‘alternative’ isn’t so alternative anymore,” and be sure the medical and drug kingpins hate it when he talks like that.CAM Use Among Adults & Children

 Another large survey also revealed the growing popularity of CAM methods in both adults and now children. This was conducted as part of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study of thousands of Americans developed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More than one in nine children and teens use herbal supplements or some other form of alternative medicine, according to a new national survey. It's the first time children's use of such remedies, including acupuncture, meditation, and chiropractic care, has been measured. Adult use of alternative treatments remains about the same as it was in 2002 — more than one in three.[6]

Approximately 38% of adults in the United States aged 18 years and over and nearly 12% of U.S. children aged 17 years and under use some form of CAM, according to this nationwide government survey.[7] This survey marks the first time questions were included on children's use of CAM that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.

The most commonly used CAM therapies among U.S. adults were

  • Non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural products (17.7 percent) Most common: fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil or pills, and ginseng3
  • Deep breathing exercises (12.7 percent)
  • Meditation (9.4 percent)
  • Chiropractic manipulation (8.6 percent)
  • Massage (8.3 percent)
  • Yoga (6.1 percent)

 

CAM Use Among Children

Overall, CAM use among children is nearly 12 percent, or about 1 in 9 children. CAM therapies were used most often for back or neck pain, head or chest colds, anxiety or stress, other musculoskeletal problems, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD).

The most commonly used CAM therapies among children were

  • Non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural products (3.9 percent) Most common: echinacea, fish oil/omega 3/DHA, combination herb pill, flaxseed oil or pills, and prebiotics or probiotics
  • Chiropractic manipulation (2.8 percent)
  • Deep breathing exercises (2.2 percent)
  • Yoga (2.1 percent)

 

"I definitely see a trend, and it's a bit surprising adult use didn't rise more, given other trends,” said Michael Cohen, a lawyer who teaches health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health.[8]

For adults, pain was by far the main reason adults tried chiropractic care and other alternative therapies. Many adults say they had trouble getting back pain relief from mainstream medicine. "Some facet of conventional care is not satisfying and they're looking at other options," he said.

Despite the growing popularity of CAM methods, some old guard MDs can’t admit this trend, such as Dr. Wallace Sampson, an emeritus clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University, who had the gall to say, “The reality is none of these things work, including some of the more popular ones. They're placebos."[9]

He offers no proof of his critical comment, an attitude indicative of the medical bias that can’t admit the obvious whether it’s research that recommends non-drug solutions as the Allhat study or patients who vote with their feet seeking relief after medical treatments failed them.

For years biased MDs would tell patients that chiropractic care was “all in their heads” suggesting this placebo effect despite the plethora of RCTs to the contrary that show its effectiveness. What Dr. Sampson also fails to also admit is the ineffectiveness of many medical methods. Indeed, all the medical profession had to do to eliminate the need for CAM was to get good results, which it didn’t achieve.

Dr. Kathi Kemper, a pediatrician at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine believes medical doctors need to be careful about attacking alternative medicine, because some long-endorsed pharmaceutical products have turned out to be treatment failures. I might add some surgical procedures have failed as well.

"We have a pretty spotty history of being evidence-based ourselves," said Kemper, who chairs an American Academy of Pediatrics committee on complementary and integrative medicine.[10]

Finally, an honest MD who admits that much of medical care is based in tradition, not science as some like Sampson would pretend.

 Just as green energy alternatives remain obscured by the preponderance of the oil industry and despite the increase in CAM usage, the chiropractic profession remains at best a mystery science profession. Ironically, little does the public know that after a slew of new research into the epidemic of back pain, chiropractic now stands at the top of the heap after a century of ridicule. Like green energy, chiropractic as an alternative to drugs, shots and surgery has emerged as a “proven treatment” recommended by the US Public Health Service, but it remains the ugly step child to mainstream medicine that controls patient flow for very contemptuous reasons that few people understand.

Dr. Eisenberg noted how his own view of chiropractic has changed from his early days to the present. He was taught in med school that chiropractic was “irrelevant, worthless, a waste of money, and dangerous.” In the 1980s it was “unproven, unorthodox, and unconventional.” After his study showing the huge usage of CAM, he noted that the terminology has changed from “complementary and alternative” in the ‘90s to “integrative” in 2000-05 to the present use of “comprehensive.”

Yet, many people continue to talk about chiropractic care with skepticism and understandably so. As you will learn, the AMA conducted an overt campaign to destroy the chiropractic profession with a systematic boycott as well as a PR campaign designed to discredit chiropractors on every level of our society. To say the chiropractors were marginalized for political and economic reasons is an understatement, and the effects linger today.

As a 30-year practitioner of chiropractic, I admit there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical about some within my profession. The more I’ve worked as a chiropractor, the more jaded I’ve become and I’ll be the first to admit there are quacks in chiropractic, not because they practice without the use of drugs and surgery, but for other reasons such as making claims that are unsubstantiated and practicing more as faith healers than learned professionals dedicated to science. Of course, there also are the shysters more interested in money and extended treatment plans than helping sick people get well as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Realistically, I have to admit when the past president of the largest chiropractic college pronounced that “the only thing chiropractic can’t cure is rigor mortis,” it’s enough to make anyone flinch no matter how open-minded they might be about CAM care. Quackery is a hard image to overcome once it’s been firmly established despite calls from within modern chiropractic for reform and progress. Certainly, what people often talk about is not so much the benefits of chiropractic care as much as the outlandish claims some chiropractors have made or the slander they’ve heard from MDs. But let me assure you, modern chiropractic in terms of education, science, and practice is not what your grandfather knew.

A prominent chiropractic spokesman, John J. Triano, DC, PhD, Dean, Graduate Education and Research, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, often warns, “It’s not what we do, but what we say about what we do that matters most.”

 Sadly, this enigmatic image has overshadowed the clinical effectiveness chiropractic spinal care that has had helped with many types of musculoskeletal disorders ranging from migraine headaches[11], neck[12], mid-back[13], low back pain[14],[15], whiplash[16], and fibromyalgia[17]. While there is anecdotal evidence that spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) helps organic disorders, some evidence suggests that other types of illnesses such as asthma[18], otitis media[19], and infantile colic[20] may be helped to some degree. For the most part, however, chiropractors focus on musculoskeletal disorders—the common neck pain, low back pain, and headaches are the main reasons most patient seek our care.


 



[1] Victoria E. Knight, Half of U.S. Spending on Health Care May Be Wasted, Washington Post, December 2, 2008.

[2] Victoria E. Knight, Half of U.S. Spending on Health Care May Be Wasted, Washington Post, December 2, 2008. 

[3] The Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT) December 18, 2002, JAMA.

[4] Goldestein, J. “Study found cheap blood pressure meds are best. No one cared.” Nov. 28, 2008, New York Times.

[5] Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Foster C, Norlock FE, Calkins DR, Delbanco TL. Unconventional medicine in the United States -- prevalence, costs, and patterns of use. N Engl J Med 1993;328:246-252.

[6] Mike Stobbe, 1 in 9 U.S. kids use alternative medicine, The Associated Press, Dec. 10, 2008

[7] Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007. December 10, 2008.

[8] Mike Stobbe, 1 in 9 U.S. kids use alternative medicine, The Associated Press, Dec. 10, 2008

[9] Mike Stobbe, 1 in 9 U.S. kids use alternative medicine, The Associated Press, Dec. 10, 2008

[10]Mike Stobbe, 1 in 9 U.S. kids use alternative medicine, The Associated Press, Dec. 10, 2008

[11] Tuchin PJ - J Manipulative Physiol Ther - 01-Feb-2000; 23(2): 91-5

[12] Hoving, Koes et al - Ann Intern Med.  2002;136:713-722

[13] Schiller L - J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001;24:394-401

[14] McMorland G - J Manipulative Physiol Ther - 2000 Jun; 23(5): 307-11

[15] Anderson GB - N Engl J Med - 1999 Nov 4; 341(19): 1426-31 

[16] Khan S, Cook J, Gargan M, et al.  - J Ortho Med 1999;21(1):22-25

[17] Millea P &  Holloway R - Amer Family Physician - 2000 Oct; 62(7)

[18] Bronfort G, Evans R - J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001;24:369-77

[19] Froehle, RM - J Manipulative Physiol Ther - 1996 Mar-Apr; 19(3);169-77

[20] Kemper KJ - J Pediatr - 2001 Sep; 139(3); 467

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