By Dr. Patrick Gentempo, Jr. and Dr. Christopher Kent

One of the most exciting and revolutionary events in chiropractic history was the first annual “Scientific Symposium on Spinal Biomechanics” sponsored by the ICA in 1969. It marked the beginning of interdisciplinary, universitybased chiropractic research.

Together for the first time were chiropractors, neuropsychologists and engineers specializing in spinal biomechanics. Chung Ha Suh, Seth Sharpless, Marvin Luttges and their colleagues sought to explore the uncharted mysteries of the vertebral subluxation.

With the support of the ICA and later the ACA, Dr. Suh developed sophisticated computer models of the spine in three dimensions. His work was further refined to develop computer programs which could effectively compensate for projectional distortion in spinal radiographs. Such technology held the promise of one day developing better strategies for the analysis of vertebral subluxations.

Dr. Sharpless discovered that in experimental animals, dorsal roots were far more susceptible to compression block than peripheral nerves. Dr. Luttges pursued studies exploring biochemical changes which occurred following compression of nerve tissue. Dr. MacGregor explored the actions of groups of nerves working together. All individuals concerned hoped that their efforts would ultimately improve the practice of chiropractic and benefit the chiropractic patient.

Suh and his colleagues persisted in their efforts despite incredible pressures from the American Medical Association and its affiliate organizations. Chiropractic college faculty members became research associates at the University of Colorado where they worked and studied with Suh and his colleagues. The objective was to produce chiropractor/researchers capable of communicating with the scientific community. Field chiropractors became interested in research. One crusty old D.C. actually stated that if research findings contradicted his clinical opinions, he was prepared to “change those opinions immediately.”

Two decades later, where do we stand? A look at the papers presented at the last “Scientific Symposium on Spinal Biomechanics” indicates that two clear directions exist for the future of chiropractic research.

Some papers, thankfully the majority, dealt with the vertebral subluxation. Others addressed topics so bizarre that it is difficult to understand how such work could possibly be considered appropriate for a symposium on spinal biomechanics sponsored by a national chiropractic organization.

Consider two papers selected for presentation at the Scientific Symposium on Spinal Biomechanics in Tampa, Fla., March 30April 1, 1990: “Changes in the Levels of Lactic Dehydrase & Transketolase in the Liver and Red Cells of Rats After Treatment With Garlic” and “Modification of Metabolism of Methotrexate Under Different Light Intensities in Rats.” [1]

Are these legitimate areas of research? Perhaps. That’s not our area of expertise. Do they have anything to do with the detection and correction of vertebral subluxations? Are they even remotely related to spinal biomechanics? Certainly not! Where did these papers come from? An ICA-affiliated chiropractic college!

It is not our objective to criticize the authors of these papers. We are personally acquainted with two of them, and they are fine men with excellent credentials in chemistry and toxicology. They are enthusiastic about chiropractic. Yet, they are not chiropractors, and these papers have nothing to do with spinal biomechanics.

Why not use their talents to develop biochemical research relating to chiropractic? There is certainly a great deal to be done. How about research on biochemical changes in blood chemistry, immune function, and hematology in chiropractic patients and controls? How about in vivo NMR spectroscopy, in conjunction with MR imaging, to explore the biochemical changes associated with subluxation degeneration? We can use enthusiastic chemists to help us explore the mysteries of the subluxation. Why waste their talents on garlic and rats?

In response to the paper on methotrexate, a drug used for cancer therapy, one chiropractor asked, “Does this mean we should adjust them (our patients) in the dark?” The author feels that many chiropractors have been adjusting in the dark long enough. It’s time to concentrate our limited research resources in a direction that directly benefits the chiropractic patient.

The “Scientific Symposium on Spinal Biomechanics” isn’t the only place to find strange papers emerging from chiropractic institutions. Space does not permit even a sampling of the papers that address symptoms instead of subluxations, or the efforts by some factions to eliminate chiropractic terminology in their publications.

Consider the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
(JMPT), which doesn’t even use the “Cword” in its title, or the American Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, a moniker which can only confuse those within and outside the profession. While some may wish this were not so, to the public, “medicine” means allopathy. Why muddy the waters more? Have you ever seen a journal of optometric naprapathy? Dental podiatry? Certainly not! Chiropractic is NOT a subset of medicine. It is an exception to the medical practice acts — a separate, distinct, nontherapeutic philosophy, science and art.

We have been unable to define “manipulative and physiological therapeutics.” How can any therapy NOT be physiological, unless applied by a cadaver?

Reading the pages of JMPT certainly doesn’t answer the question. When a reader finds papers such as “Potential Impact of Colonic Irrigation on the Indigenous Intestinal Microflora” [2] or “Efficacy of Various Methods of Sterilization of Acupuncture Needles” [3] sprinkled between papers addressing manipulation, symptoms and diseases, the muddy waters become opaque.

Whatever “manipulative and physiological therapeutics” is, it certainly isn’t chiropractic!

Sadly, the nouveau “chiropractic researchers” of today seem to think chiropractic is a treatment modality rather than a separate and distinct approach to human health. Even more reprehensible is their attitude of simply ignoring the work done by subluxationbased chiropractic researchers.

The editors of the socalled “chiropractic science journals” have not included the editor of the refereed, peerreviewed Chiropractic Science Journal among their ranks. The role of this publication is clearly defined. CSJ is “dedicated to basic and clinical subluxationrelated research.” Why are they being ignored?

And what of the work of chiropractor/Ph.D.s who are doing subluxationrelated research? How many D.C.s are aware of the work of Lasca Hospers, Ph.D., D.C., and Ronald Hosek, Ph.D., D.C., on electrophysiologic changes associated with vertebral subluxation and adjustment? And how about Charles Lantz, Ph.D., D.C., and the models he has developed of the anatomical and functional basis of vertebral subluxation? There are other chiropractic researchers, such as Grostic, Owens, and others doing subluxation related research, whose work is all but ignored by the “medhead” faction.

Today’s “medhead” researchers are like a group of children who wanted to have an attraction for their neighborhood carnival. One boy suggested that a fivelegged dog might fit the bill. “But we don’t have a fivelegged dog,” protested one of his friends. “Sure we do,” he replied. He produced a dog, and revealed his strategy. “If we call the dog’s tail a leg, we’ll have a fivelegged dog,” he explained. “But that’s a tail, not a leg,” protested a second companion. “All we have to do is take a vote,” said the first boy. Votes were cast, and the group unanimously agreed to call the tail a leg and to charge admission to see a “fivelegged dog.” But their customers weren’t deceived, and neither was the sheriff, who ordered all money refunded and ended the enterprise.

Many of our researchers are trying to turn chiropractic into a fivelegged dog to peddle in the carnival of thirdparty pay. Their grotesque caricature of chiropractic is that our profession is but one of many purveyors of “manipulative therapy” for the amelioration of musculoskeletal symptoms. They think they can turn chiropractic into something that it is not and never was.

The supremacy of the nervous system in controlling human physiology cannot be negated by taking a vote. The clinical results obtained by chiropractors in the last 90 years can be ignored by some, but the reality of such results cannot be negated. Chiropractic is not a treatment — it is something else. These “kids” had better be forwarned. The sheriff is coming, and boy is he mad!


1. Advertisement for 64th annual convention. ICA Review 46(1):36, 1990.

2. 2. Sisco V, Brennan PC, Kuehner CC: “Potential impact of colonic irrigation on the indigenous intestinal microflora.” JMPT (1988 Feb) 11(1):106.

3. Sisco V. Winters LL, Zange LL, Brennan PC: “Efficacy of various methods of sterilization of acupuncture needles.” JMPT (1988 Apr) 11(2):947.

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