BJ Palmer wrote, “We are well when Innate Intelligence has unhindered freedom to act through the physical brain, nerves and tissues. Disease is a lack of normal functions.” Chiropractors have known for over 100 years that the principles Dr Palmer wrote about in The Science of Chiropractic transcend time and technology. Mixed or Straight, we treat our patients based on a fundamental and unbiased understanding that wellness stems from genetically congruent lifestyle choices free from the toxic effects of structural, chemical and emotional stressors. Medical scientists validate this on a daily basis but often do not credit Chiropractic philosophy as the lynchpin in the development of an efficacious health paradigm. Although previously antagonistic Chiropractic concepts like “mind-body medicine” are now becoming accepted in scientific circles, Chiropractors are still poised on the outskirts of recognition and will have much work to do to establish cultural authority and take credit for concepts which Dr Palmer and his followers essentially cultivated. In spite of all that we know about human physiology, many still cling to the notion that we can somehow outsmart the Innate Intelligence of the infinitely complex human body with pharmaceuticals and other reactive interventions.
Indoctrinated by traditional medical science with this idea, we as Doctors of Chiropractic often forget what the human body is capable of when it is freed from the shackles of the toxicity and deficiency caused by industrialization and sedentarism. Of course Chiropractic care has been shown to be extraordinarily effective in treating symptomatic back and neck pain, but has never been truly critically and academically studied as a vessel for delivering health. The lack of intrinsic high-quality evidence for the link between Chiropractic care and “wellness” poses a problematic quandary for our profession, because we acknowledge through our case-by-case experiences the power adjusting subluxations has on our patients but have difficulty proving to the rest of the academic world that what we do is not only important, but crucial.
We must also acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that a lack of proof does not mean that proof is lacking. Much of what we know about Chiropractic stems from a deeper understanding that randomized controlled trials cannot possibly reduce the “health” concept into compartmentalized terms of clinical prediction rules and symptom alleviation.
For this reason, it is absolutely vital that we as Doctors of Chiropractic embrace and lead the so-called “wellness revolution.” By complying with medically-imposed recommendations for establishing cultural authority and relegating ourselves to the realm of back and neck pain, we ignore the piles of compelling research showing us that, as Dr Palmer taught, adjustments are more than therapeutically effective. Although BJ’s flamboyant style and often inflammatory and dogmatic rhetoric has been misappropriated over the years, the science which validates our special paradigmatic authority cannot be ignored. No other profession has the tools to help society overcome the dangers of reactive, reductionist medicine. We must tout prevention. We must practice and preach healthy lifestyles. We must continue funding research which will help us break the cycle of medically-funded discrimination and, above all, we must believe in ourselves and the power we wield to help our patients.
As American Chiropractic Association or International Chiropractic Association members, we must take more aggressive steps toward unifying our profession. While the ACA is by far the most organized and politically powerful Chiropractic organization in the United States, it has yet to establish itself as an effective voice in the hearts and minds of most American Chiropractors; in fact, the ICA has done a tremendous job of bridging this gap in recent years. We must put our egos aside and acknowledge the strides made by each organization by creating a notion of “family” amongst our members. By reaching across party lines and meeting with leaders from each organization to further cultivate a culture of collaboration, we may share our special knowledge with the hope of one day uniting against the powerful medical lobbies to spread the vision of health that BJ envisioned. Clearly, when we stand divided, we stand defenseless. This does not mean that we must abandon our core philosophies; to the contrary, we must maintain a strong stance in the face of anti-Chiropractic legislation and continue to develop strong Chiropractic leaders who will lead our profession into the next century and help cement Chiropractic care in the public eye as the primary-prevention modality in American healthcare. Yes, we must continue to argue the importance of sweeping healthcare reform to our legislators and develop literature to educate our peers and patients, but more importantly, we must embrace each other as equals, respect our differences (as long as they are founded on best evidence and clinical expertise) and use our science, clout and esteem to deliver a pure, unadulterated model for wellness to the public.