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Findings of a Medical Doctor's Investigation of Chiropractic
Gregg C. Anderson, D.C
Many folks I meet as a Sacramento chiropractor ask me why many medical doctors don't believe in chiropractic. There's no easy way to answer that since I haven't talked to them all! My hunch is that most won't attempt to stop their patients from going to a chiropractor and many are probably relieved that their difficult cases go somewhere else.
I am often the doctor of "last resort." It happens every week. Medical diagnosis is not always easy and treatments can often be as challenging than the initial problem. Many of the folks I consult with are understandably fearful of their proposed medical treatment plans such as surgery. Virtually all treatments including medications and hospitalizations have some risk.
I am fortunate to enjoy the mutual respect of many M.D.'s in the Sacramento area. The ones who refer to my practice have an understanding and appreciation for what I do for people as a chiropractor. As they say, the proof is in the pudding! They see their patients respond favorably to chiropractic care.
The M.D.s who refer tend to be the younger, more progressive and wellness-oriented providers who acknowledge that conservative, drug-free care can make a lot of sense, especially when not much has worked medically.
Many years ago, in 1921, a young medical doctor by the name of Henry Winsor was intrigued with the great results that chiropractors were claiming, without medicine. After graduating from medical school, he investigated the chiropractic and osteopathic journals and was inspired to design and perform an experiment. The University of Pennsylvania gave Dr. Winsor the green light to perform his study.
Dr. Winsor then began a meticulous dissection of fresh cadavers to see if there was a relationship between any diseased internal organs discovered and the vertebra associated with the nerves that controlled the organs.
As Dr. Winsor wrote when he published his results in Medical Times, "The object of these necropsies was to determine whether any connection existed between minor curvatures of the spine, on the one hand, and diseased organs on the other."
He figured that if chiropractors were correct in their theory that misaligned vertebra or "subluxations" cause interference with the nerve supply to the organs, then he should find evidence, for example, that a cadaver with diseased stomach would have misalignments in the mid-back where the nerves came from.
Dr. Winsor used 50 cadavers for his investigation. In his reports he noted that 49 of the 50 cadavers displayed minor curvatures of the spine, and one displayed the normal slight smooth curve in the thoracic spine. This one cadaver still showed very minor organ pathology immediately above and below the reported curve.
All the other curves and deformities of the spine were rigid, apparently of long duration and were not able to be mobilized with manual force.
Amazingly in 50 cadavers with diseases found in 139 organs, he found curve of the vertebrae, belonging to the same sympathetic segments (nerves) as the diseased organs 128 times, leaving an apparent discrepancy of 10, in which the vertebrae in curve belonged to an adjacent segment to that which should supply the diseased organs with sympathetic filaments (nerves) Dr. Winsor noted that the ten apparent discrepancies from adjacent segments could be accounted for by nerve filaments leaving the spinal cord and traveling for a few segments.
The author noted that if he included the cadaver with only a slight curve and faint organ pathology that the correlation between spinal misalignment and organ damage was 139 out of 139 or 100%.
It is very interesting to note that the types of organ pathology documented included:
Larynx cancer, fatty degeneration of the thymus, pleural adhesions, pleural effusions, pneumonia, tuberculosis, pulmonary edema, pulmonary congestion, lung fibrosis, bronchitis, enlarged lymph nodes, influenza, heart endocarditis, heart dilatation, heart muscle degeneration, pericarditis, aortic aneurysm, liver cirrhosis, liver swelling, liver tumors, enlarged spleen, atrophied spleen, inflamed spleen, pancreas degeneration, cystic kidneys, appendicitis, uterine adhesions, prostate hypertrophy, prostate atrophy, cystitis, hydrocele, osteomyelitis of the tibia, etc. In general, he found the ordinary diseases of adult life.
In a separate evaluation of still more cadavers, Dr. Winsor found 221 diseased organs; of these, 212 were observed to belong to the same sympathetic (nerve) segment as the vertebrae in curvature. He noted that sympathetic (nerve) disturbances are likely to cause functional or organic disease in viscera (organs) by altering the blood-supply of viscera, through vaso-motor spasm. This is a fancy term for restriction of blood flow! The organs were in many instances affected by acute disease, while the deformed vertebrae proved that the curvatures preceded the organic diseases.
Dr. Winsor noted that spondylosis (or arthritis) is a process, the last stage being fixation of segments, with immobilization of painful joints being one of nature's later efforts to check disease. The disease appears to precede old age and to cause it. The spine becomes stiff first and old age follows. Therefore, we may say a man is as old as his spine, the arteries becoming hardened later from constant vaso-motor spasm, following sympathetic (nerve) irritation.
The journal reference is below. I would also like to thank Dan Murphy, D.C. for e-mailing me his thorough review of this landmark study.
If you are feeling as old (or older) than your spine, perhaps it's time to do your own investigation and find out how you might benefit from chiropractic care. I never cease to be amazed at how great it can work.
Sympathetic Segmental Disturbances
The Evidences of the Association, in Dissected Cadavers, of Visceral Disease with Vertebral Deformities of the Same Sympathetic Segments
Medical Times, November 1921, pp. 1-7, Henry Winsor, MD
Copyright Gregg C. Anderson, D.C. 2007
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