There are numerous internet claims that the practice of chiropractic can be traced back to ancient Egypt (4000 B.C.), China (2700 B.C.) and Greece (1500 B.C.). Moreover, there are even more disturbing claims that the famed “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates (500 B.C.), who was renowned for ridding medicine of superstition and quackery, practice chiropractic. These imaginative authors used Hippocratic quotes like “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases” as evidence of his involvement with chiropractic. Unfortunately, all of the foregoing claims are completely unsupportable and the products of over-active imaginations and/or wishful thinking. I have researched for weeks and have yet to unearth a single creditable reference to support such opinion.
Unfortunately, our father of chiropractic was a self proclaimed “magnetic healer,” named D.D. Palmer, who worked his magic in the Mississippi riverboat town of Davenport, Iowa in the late 19th century. In my opinion, D.D. was just the opposite of what Hippocrates stood for.
As the story goes, on September 18, 1895, D.D. came across a local janitor, Harvey Lillard, who had been deaf for 17 years. Upon examination, a sizable bump was noted above the fourth dorsal vertebra. D.D. decided this bump was a displaced vertebra and restored it to its correct position by thrusting rapidly upon it with his hand, i.e., the first chiropractic adjustment. Thereafter, Mr. Lillard’s hear was “miraculously” restored and the art of chiropractic was born.
Although D.D. Palmer was purportedly not much of a businessman, he is credited for started Palmer Chiropractic College–the worlds first chiropractic college–in late 1890.
In early 1900, the chiropractic torch was passed to B.J. Palmer (the son of D.D. Palmer) who took the school and chiropractic to a higher level. B.J., a stellar business and salesman, purchased two powerful radio stations named WOC—“Wonders of Chiropractic”—and begun to preach to word of chiropractic over the 50,000 watt signals. Needless to say, B.J. was extremely successful at marketing the family-owned chiropractic school, which soon began receiving students from all over the world.
Although the medical profession fought the unscientific, “cult-like,” chiropractic profession tooth and nail, it was too late, for the non-medicine based profession gained acceptance in state after state. By 1974, the last of the fifty states (Louisiana) had recognized chiropractic as an independent profession.
In modern times, the chiropractic profession has grown into the most regulated healthcare industry on the planet and boosts nearly 100,000 licensed chiropractors. As proof of the general public acceptance of the chiropractic, telephone surveys in 1997 demonstrated that an estimated 90-million people sought the services of a chiropractor that year.
Chiropractic has come a long way from the magnetic healing days of D.D. Palmer—although magnetism is still practiced in some sects—and we certainly have a better working relationship with the medical profession. In fact, research has indicated that 98% of modern chiropractors make referrals to medical doctors, and 65% of medical doctors refer patients to chiropractors.