Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Is My Husband Being Conned?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

My husband has been diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis and cirrhosis of the liver. He is taking a multitude of medicines from his primary gastroenterology doctor and has had a splenorenal shunt. Needless to say, he is getting worse and the possibility of a liver transplant is in his future.

Recently, a neighbor took my husband to two chiropractors whose brochures say that they specialize in neurology, kinesiology, acupuncture laser therapy, cold laser therapy, organ manipulation, Neuro Emotional Release, frequency modulation, heavy metal detoxification, metabolic lab testing, chiropractic, endonasal therapy, and biocomputerized nutrition

I became alarmed when my husband told me that the chiropractors had said that something had happened to him inside his mother during pregnancy. Then, through the years, like in 1978, something traumatic happened, and so on.

Next, little vials or jars of chemicals were held against my husband's body to test for chemical reactions. This was done very fast, and we were not told what the test revealed. The chiropractors then touched my husband's chest and different parts of his body, telling him that something was wrong in his chest, spleen, liver, and colon, etc. (Of course, my husband is thin, yellow-eyed, and gaunt.) He was also told that he is under stress at home, in his marriage, etc.

The chiropractors advised my husband that many of their patients had regained their health by participating in their 10-step program of care, including removing nerve interference to reset the "adrenal adaptive mechanism."

My husband is very ill and is looking at anything as a last resort. I am afraid the two chiropractors he is seeing are con artists and are taking his money and giving him false hope. He really believes them and has left me for a trial separation to see if he will feel better. I am beside myself. Do you have any feedback on these two chiropractors and their treatment methods?

Answer

All the methods listed in the chiropractors' brochure are either unproven or downright fraudulent. I can't judge whether the chiropractors believe in them or are deliberately conning your husband. However, I can tell you that their clinical judgment is extremely poor and that giving advice that encouraged your husband to abandon both you and his medical treatment is reprehensible. I can also tell you that chiropractic education does not prepare chiropractors to provide appropriate advice related to emotional stress.

Not knowing either you or your husband, it is difficult to know what you can do to persuade him to come to his senses about the chiropractors. However, you could consider doing the following:

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Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This article was posted on October 6, 2002.