Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Is Neural Organization Technique Valid?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

I know a 60-year-old man who has chronic medical problems, including migraines and depression. He has seen many medical specialists and psychologists and has finally decided to visit a chiropractor. The chiropractor he is seeing learned the Neural Organization Technique from Carl Ferreri, the chiropractor who developed the technique.

Is it worth paying a substantial amount of money for this kinesiology-based technique, or could something like massage be just as effective in managing symptoms? Is there any evidence to support Neural Organization Technique?

Answer

Applied kinesiology (AK) is a pseudoscientific method of testing muscle strength to detect the presence of disease, vitamin deficiencies, and other problems thay supposedly can be treated with spinal adjustments, supplements, acupuncture, and other methods. AK advocates claim that every ailment or organ dysfunction is accompanied by weakness in specific muscles and that you can locate or identify the disease and test the effectiveness of a treatment by testing corresponding muscles. Well-designed studies have failed to demonstrate any value in this method of diagnosis, which is appropriately considered to be a form of fraud.

Neural Organization Technique (N.O.T.) practitioners claim they "can address almost any deficit which can befall the human condition by organizing and reorganizing the central nervous system." They use AK muscle-testing as a diagnostic aid in identifying food allergies, cranial respiration dysfunction (impaired circulation of cerebrospinal fluid), and other problems claimed to be causing such conditions as Attention Deficit Disorder, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and congestive heart failure. Treatment may range from adjusting the skull bones (correcting "cranial faults') to changing the diet. I consider N.O.T to be total nonsense.

I recommend against using any chiropractor who claims to diagnose problems throughout the body by testing the strength of the arms. The systems that rely on this test are potentially dangerous because they use misinformation to guide patients away from appropriate medical care.

I doubt that massage would have much impact on either migraine or depression. For persistant migraine, I would recommend seeing a neurologist or a headache specialist. Forr depression, standard treatments (psychotherapy and/or medication) are usually effective.

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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 September 24, 2002.