Perhaps if we abandoned the 19th century philosophy which teaches that “natural” treatment of disease is an alternative to and always superior to the treatment of disease with chemicals we could then look a little more objectively at our future. Science has learned much since the turn of the century when eclectics, naturopaths, drugless healers, and chiropractors were advocating “natural healing.” Disease is not natural. It is an unnatural state, therefore, if and when it needs to be treated it always necessitates unnatural attention for its proper treatment. Drugs, heat, cold, even manipulation and chiropractic thrusts are unnatural applications of natural forces. Chiropractic is not a treatment for disease (or should not be). If it is a treatment, then it is unnatural like any other (perhaps not as unnatural as others but nevertheless unnatural). If all treatment is unnatural, to what degree any particular procedure is unnatural is purely subjective. Are drugs more unnatural than ultrasound? Is heat more unnatural than cold? We have yet to fully explain the effects of electrical stimulation. Perhaps it is far more unnatural than drugs.
Many chiropractors justify mixing therapeutic procedures with chiropractic adjustments because they want to give the patient some relief while the body is healing itself (the healing process aided by the adjustment). In other words they will employ an unnatural but drugless procedure to give temporary relief while the only natural healing possible (the body healing itself) is taking place. Is it mere coincidence that they choose to do anything short of medication? Do we really believe that the administration of medication is never in the best interests of the patient? Come on gang, if you are really interested in giving people immediate relief while the body is healing itself then the discreet use of medication is a must in almost every case. Mixing physical therapy and chiropractic but refusing to mix medicine and chiropractic rings a little hollow. It reminds me of the anecdote concerning George Bernard Shaw. He approached a beautiful young actress and asked if she would have his baby for a million dollars. When she responded affirmatively, he then asked if she would do it for five dollars. Indignantly she answered, “Of course not, what do you think I am?” Shaw, smiling, responded, “Miss, we have already determined what you are, we are now negotiating the price!” We have arbitrarily set our price at drugs.
Many chiropractors employ multiple treatments for a condition, the procedures varying from the spinal adjustment which is the least invasive to whatever else they decide to do. Only a few diehard, monocausal, disease-theory practitioners still hold to a single cure or treatment for everything. But more importantly, very few practitioners of any kind hold to a single cure or treatment for anything. Science almost universally agrees that there are a multitude of causes for the production of any disease process and there are a multitude of effects. If you are to effectively treat the disease then treating all the causes and all the effects is necessary. Consequently, the treatment of a disease process almost without exception should include to a lesser or greater degree, chemical substances. Put aside the arguments that “we chiropractors are drugless,” or “drugs are unnatural” (we have already seen that all therapeutic procedures are more or less unnatural). What condition treated by a chiropractor would not respond better with the added use of medication? You may be hard pressed to find one! The major problem is that the drugless practitioner is under the delusion that some conditions are best treated by drugless therapeutics and some of course necessitate drugs and surgery. The medical physician is under no such delusion. Whatever else is helpful such as manipulation, physical therapeutics, vitamins, rest, rehabilitation, exercise, most patients respond more quickly (remember we are discussing symptoms) with the use of medication. To think otherwise is to ignore the way the vast majority of society and science thinks, and puts chiropractic in the realm of an unscientific religion akin to Christian Science. This is why the M.D. cannot understand the drugless physician’s rationale.
Society and science accepts the chemical alteration of drinking water. Society has accepted recreation chemicals (cigarettes and alcohol), chemicals in the workplace, chemicals in the air and chemicals in our food. Basically, society has a philosophy that says that the good or pleasure that we get from chemicals is worth the few side effects and does no real harm as long as the chemicals are used intelligently. (It is not my contention that that is a correct philosophy). The drugless physician then comes along and says that he has an alternative. That is simply not reality.
Here is the principle that every chiropractor should burn into his thick little skull. Any condition that can be treated effectively with drugless procedures can be treated more effectively with those same procedures plus the judicious use of drugs and that with no apparent side effects. But then that goes without saying for every therapeutic procedure.
The drugless practitioner (D.C.) is in a precarious position. He must move into the practice of medicine, that is, utilize chemical substances in conjunction with his drugless procedures for the alleviation of those conditions he determines are within his area of expertise. This has prompted a small segment of the profession to logically call for the right of chiropractors to dispense certain drugs.
There is yet another alternative. The chiropractor may work in conjunction with a physician who can dispense drugs, the chiropractor utilizing drugless procedures for the alleviation of the ailment and its symptoms and the medical physician utilizing chemical substances. This, of course, would put the chiropractor on the level of a physical therapist.
These then are the two alternatives we have mentioned: The chiropractor can begin to dispense drugs and be a general practitioner as the osteopath has become or he can become a limited treater of a limited number of conditions just like a physical therapist. The physical therapist cannot dispense drugs when drugs are often helpful in the treatment of a condition. Perhaps that is why our profession is so frightened of the physical therapist manipulating. When you strip off the diagnostic-doctor veneer, mixers are nothing more than physical therapists who have an added tool, manipulation, and now the physical therapist is acquiring that tool.
There is an obvious third choice. Stop treating symptoms. Inform the public clearly that the treatment of disease and alleviation of symptoms is the practice of medicine with or without the use of medication. That is not the chiropractic objective. Chiropractic restores health by removing nerve interference thus increasing the expression of the innate intelligence of the body.
These, then, are the choices – become a “full-fledged” medical doctor, a physical therapist or a straight chiropractor who understands his objectives clearly and practices accordingly. There is no merit in referring to oneself as a drugless physician. There is also no future in that type of practice. v4n3

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