alternative therapist

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Whooping cough is on the rise in many parts of the world; and it’s far from harmless. It has been reported that 9 infants died from whooping cough in England between November last year and the end of May 2024. Altogether a total of 7599 cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in England this year, with cases continuing to rise from 555 in January to 920 in February.

In France too, cases of whooping cough are rising among all ages, the French health authority has warned, saying vulnerable groups should check their vaccinations are up to date. Cases of the illness – called coqueluche in French – have been rising since the start of 2024, states Santé publique France (SPF). It has called for people to be vigilant.

I have recently argued that this might be not least due to the irresponsible advice of homeopaths. But homeopaths are by no means alone in this.

According to advice from MOTHER EARTH LIVING several natural home remedies help alleviate whooping cough symptoms (as well as cold and flu symptoms) and clear the pertussis infection. A teaspoon of fresh garlic juice taken 2 to 3 times a day is a potent, effective treatment.

A pinch of the Indian curry spice turmeric, taken at least twice a day, relieves whooping cough symptoms and helps clear the bacterial infection. (Odorless garlic and turmeric capsules may not be as effective as fresh ingredients, whose odors can be minimized by chewing fresh mint).

Ginger has antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. It boosts the immune system, warms and induces sweating (which helps push fever and toxins out of the body), and calms coughs and sore throats quickly. It also stimulates appetite, which is important to sick individuals weakened by infection.


There are numerous further SCAM-sites that give advice to use this or that SCAM. The recommended treatments all have one thing in common: they do not work to prevent or treat whooping cough.

If one member of your family has caught the infection, please do me a favour:

avoid SCAM and see a real doctor.


Several years ago, I reported on the range of conditions which, according to homeopaths, “respond best to homeopathic treatment” (basically any condition imaginable). To remind you, here is the list again:

ENT and bronchial problems

  • Ear infections,
  • rhinitis,
  • sinusitis,
  • pharyngitis,
  • tonsillitis,
  • tracheitis,
  • bronchitis,
  • asthma.

Digestive problems

  • Stomach complaints
  • acidity,
  • heartburn,
  • fullness,
  • poor digestion,
  • flatulence,
  • duodenal ulcer,
  • diarrhoea,
  • constipation,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • canker sores.

Cardiovascular problems

Osteoarticular complaints

All types of muscle and/or joint pain due to arthrosis or arthritis:

  • neck pain,
  • shoulder pain,
  • elbow pain,
  • wrist pain,
  • Back pain,
  • sciatica,
  • knee pain,
  • ankle pain,
  • Sprains,
  • contractures etc.


Urological disorders

Gynaecological problems

Dermatological problems

  • Eczema, hives,
  • Acne vulgaris, acne rosacea,
  • Recurrent boils, verucas, plantar warts,
  • Molluscum contagiosum,
  • Herpes simple and zoster
  • Psoriasis

Neurological disorders

  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Eye problems
  • Conjunctivitis,
  • blepharitis,
  • styes, dacryocistitis,
  • uveitis.

Behavioural and psychiatric disorders

  • Anxiety,
  • depression,
  • stress,
  • mental fatigue,
  • Pediatric problems,
  • Ear infections,
  • tonsillitis,
  • bronchitis,
  • asthma,
  • diarrhoea,
  • vomiting,
  • skin complaints,
  • canker sores,
  • teething problems,
  • sleep disorders,
  • educational attainment issues,
  • behavioural issues.

Endocrine disorders

  • Obesity,
  • hypothyroidism,
  • hyperthyroidism,
  • Depleted immune defences,
  • Recurrent infections affecting the throat,
  • sinuses, nose, ears,
  • connective tissue, larynx,
  • bronchial tubes,
  • lungs,
  • skin,
  • bladder etc.

Palliative care

For the treatment of the diverse symptoms that appear over the course of the illness. Homeopathy can improve the patient’s general wellbeing and counteract the side effects of other treatments.

These are just a few examples, but the list could be endless – it is important to stress that homeopathy is very effective in pathologies that are difficult to establish or those with contradictory or paradoxical symptoms.

In recurrent illnesses, homeopathic medicines can boost the defences and help to regulate the sufferer’s body in order to prevent further relapses.

Homeopathy is an excellent preventive medicine.


You will notice that SCIATICA is on the list.

Would they really be as daft as to use homeopathy for sciatica?

Not only that, they would even conduct a study on the subject. Here is this recently published trial:

Objectives: Sciatica is a debilitating condition that causes pain in its distribution or in the lumbosacral nerve root that is connected to it. Although there are claims that homeopathy can reduce sciatica pain, systematic scientific proof is currently lacking. The objective of the trial was to determine whether individualized homeopathic medicines (IHMs) were as effective as identical-looking placebos in treating sciatica pain. Design: This is a double-blind, randomized (1:1), two parallel arms, placebo-controlled trial. Setting: The study was conducted at Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Howrah, West Bengal, India. Subjects: Sixty participants with sciatica pain were included in this study. Interventions: Verum (n = 30; IHMs plus concomitant care) versus control (n = 30; placebos plus concomitant care). Outcome measures: Primary-Sciatica Bothersome Index (SBI) and Sciatica Frequency Index (SFI) scores and secondary-Roland Morris Pain and Disability Questionnaire (RMPDQ), Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ), and Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire (OLBPQ) scores: all of them were measured at baseline, and every month, up to 3 months. Results: Intention-to-treat sample (n = 60) was analyzed. Group differences were examined by two-way (split-half) repeated measure analysis of variance, primarily accounting for between groups and time interactions, and additionally, by unpaired t tests comparing the estimates obtained individually every month. The level of significance was set at p < 0.025 and <0.05 two tailed for the primary and secondary outcomes, respectively. Group differences could not achieve significance in SBI (p = 0.044), SFI (p = 0.080), and RMPDQ scores (p = 0.134), but were significant for SF-MPQ (p = 0.007) and OLBPQ (p = 0.036). Gnaphalium polycephalum (n = 6; 10%) was the most frequently prescribed medicine. No harm, serious adverse events, or intercurrent illnesses were recorded in either of the groups. Conclusions: The primary outcome failed to demonstrate evidently that homeopathy was effective beyond placebo, and the trial remained inconclusive. Independent replications are warranted to confirm the findings.

So, homeopathy does not work for sciatica.

Surprise, surprise!

Why not?

Simple: because homeopathy does not work for any condition.

To accuse anyone of an abuse of science is a hefty charge, I know. In the case of proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) doing science, it is, however, often justified. Let me explain this by using the example of chiropractors (I could have chosen homeopathy, faith heaalers, acupuncturists or almost any other type of SCAM professional, but in recent times it was the chiros who provided the clearest examples of abuse).

Science can be seen as a set of tools that is used to estabish the truth. In therapeutics, science is employed foremost to answer three questions:

  1. Is the therapy plausible?
  2. Is the therapy effective?
  3. Is the therapy safe?

The way to answer them is to falsify the underlying hypotheses, i.e. to demonstrate that:

  1. The therapy is not plausible.
  2. The therapy is not effective.
  3. The therapy is not safe.

Only if rigorous attempts at falsifying these hypotheses have falied can we conclude that:

  1. The therapy is plausible.
  2. The therapy is effective.
  3. The therapy is safe.

I know, this is rather elementary stuff. It is taught during the first lessons of any decent science course. Yet, proponents of SCAM are either not being properly taught or they are immune to even the most basic facts about science. On this blog, we regularly have the opportunity to observe exactly that when we read and are bewildered by the comments made by SCAM proponents. This is often clearest in the case of chiropractors.

  1. They cherry-pick the evidence to persuade us that their hallmark intervention, spinal manipulation, is plausible.
  2. They cherry-pick the evidence to persuade us that their hallmark intervention, spinal manipulation, is effective.
  3. They cherry-pick the evidence to persuade us that their hallmark intervention, spinal manipulation, is safe.

If they conduct research, they set up their investigations in such a way that they confirm their beliefs:

  1. Spinal manipulations are plausible.
  2. Spinal manipulations are effective.
  3. Spinal manipulations are safe.

In other words, they do not try to falsify hypotheses, but they do their very best to confirm them. And this, I am afraid, is nothing other than an abuse of science.


And how can the average consumer (who may not always be in a position to realize whether a study is reliable or not) tell when such abuse of science is occurring? How can he or she decide who to trust and who not?

A simplest but sadly not fool-proof advice might consist in 2 main points:

  1. Never rely on a single study.
  2. Check whether there is a discrepancy in the results and views of SCAM proponents and independent experts; e.g.:
    • Chiropractors claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Homeopath claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Acupuncturists claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Energy healers claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Naturopaths claim one thing, while independent scientists disagree or are unconvinced.
    • Etc., etc.

In all of those cases, your alarm bells should ring and it might be wise to be cautious and avoid the treatment in question.

Jay Kennedy is an experienced chiropractor of some standing.

In “2018, ‘The American Chiropractor’ wrote this about Jay Kennedy:

Jay Kennedy, DC, is a 1987 graduate of Palmer Chiropractic College and maintains afull time practice in western Pennsylvania. He is the principal developer of the Kennedy Decompression Technique. Dr. Kennedy teaches his non-machine specific technique to practitioners who want to learn clinical expertise required to apply this increasingly mainstream therapy. Kennedy Decompression Technique Seminars are approved for CE through various Chiropractic Colleges.

‘The Dynamic Chiropractor’ published plenty of articles authored by Jay Kennedy.

I am telling you this because Jay Kennedy recently posted a comment which is far too important to be burried in the many other comments on this blog. I think it deserves full recognition and loud applause. I have therefore decided to take the unusual step and re-post it here as an entirely seperate post.

Here we go:

I was a DC for 30+ years and a notable one for the last 20 years. I taught 200+ seminars, wrote innumerable articles and taught at many chiropractic colleges. I had (3) private practices and was a technique “guru”: “Kennedy decompression technique” or KDT. We “certified” nearly 5000 DCs to be “decompression experts”!

Kdt still sells farcical traction-tables I developed and designed (labeled as “decompression systems”) as well as useless lasers, ultrasonic vibrators and other scam modalities to confound the DCs and milk the public. (I have been out of it for several years now).

I am not proud of the fact I made a lot of money both in practice and as a lying cultist-entrepreneur.

I have read your blog for several years and many of your books, especially related to Chiropractic. You are not mistaken and I do NOT believe you are biased, the fact that you define the practice as SCAM and a cult is absolutely the case. As has been said before it is “the world’s largest non-scientific healthcare delivery system”. I was fortunate many years ago to meet Stuart McGill PhD. It changed my practice considerably. I opened a gym and focused dramatically on exercise. I also had other income steams from selling bullshit equipment. The regrettable feature is chiropractors sell “treatments”…. Some of which superficially alter pain signals temporarily like many OTHER less expensive and less mendacious things. This “traps” many patients into an erroneous paradigm….one a DC is ready, willing and able to exploit. “Chiropractic treatments” NEVER get to the root of a problem, alter any disease-process or substantially improve a patient. Regrettably selling exercise simply WILL NOT garner the income that selling (and coercing) subluxation-elimination treatments will (and virtually NO DC has the experience or expertise a PT PhD has in that arena).

Interestingly when you do seminars as a chiropractor, most states make you sign a waiver stating that you will not disparage Chiropractic or discuss information that minimize the value of Chiropractic. Can you imagine medical seminars or a scientific seminar having such a waiver? Chiropractic is and has always been a moneymaking scheme. That doesn’t exclude the fact there are many chiropractors who buy into it as a supreme truth….just like Muslims who murder with the thought of getting directly to Heaven to start porking some virgins.

I have discovered most DCs are on the low IQ scale, have poor critical thinking skills and rarely question their golden-goose (or perhaps more sympathetically; never venture outside the bounds of the profession and its rhetoric and hyperbole. They have been effectively able to compartmentalize Chiropractic from rightful and accurate criticism). Most of the successful ones are of course entrepreneurs with ravenous appetites for money, prestige and approval (and have little or no interest in the “truth”…..oops I described myself I guess).

The majority however struggle to get by and are constantly seeking SOMETHING that might actually work. Thus 70%+ use and advertise “decompression”, Activators (and other ridiculous “adjusting guns”), drop-tables, energy-techniques, orthotics and whatever other nonsense some company advertises in Chiropractic Economics with a testimonial of how much money can be made. It always fascinated me that if “subluxation-reduction or elimination” was the solution for disease and pain WHY did the profession embrace all of these other nonsensical modalities? If your guess is: “chiropractic doesn’t really work”…give yourself a beer.

When you graduate as a DC you CAN ONLY be in private SCAM practice….no other opportunities exist. Is it really any wonder that lying is the only avenue available to support a practice and an income stream? Nope.


I wish to express my thanks to Jay for his courage and honesty in writing these lines.

The comment sections of this blog have provided plenty of reason to suspect that chiropractic is a cult, a health cult to be precise. A health cult is defined as a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator. The promulgator, in this case, is DD Palmer. As discussed previously, he ‘invented’ chiropractic and promoted many extraordinary claims and ideas, e.g.:

  • I was the first to adjust the cause of disease
  • Chiropractors adjust causes instead of treating effects
  • 95% of all diseases are caused by subluxations of the spine
  • Vaccination and inoculation are pathological; chiropractic is physiological
  • It was my ingenious brain which discovered [chiropractic’s] first principle; I was its source; I gave it birth; to me all chiropractors trace their chiropractic lineage
  • Among the wonderful achievements of this century, the discovery and development of chiropractic is preeminent; it is destined to replace all methods which treat effects
  • Dis-ease is a condition of not ease, lack of ease
  • His magnetic cure for cancer involved freeing the stomach and spleen of poisons
  • Chiropractic is a science of healing without drugs
  • Wants to turn chiropractic into a religion (as this would avoid chiropractors being sued for practising medicine without a license)

Since DD Palmer, the chiro-cult has changed. In fact, it has split into two camps. The ‘straights’ have become a Palmer worship cult, while the rest delude themselves of being based on evidence. That the former are cultists is impossible to deny. The latter reject such allegations but, in my mind, they too belong to a cult.

Let me explain.

The criteria for a cult can be defines as follows:

  1. Charismatic Leader: the ‘mixers’ might no longer worship Palmer, yet they are far from free of his ‘philosophy’; after all, they went to chiro-school where they were educated in the Palmer tradition.
  2. Isolation: chiropractors seek surprisingly little co-operation with other healthcare professionals and thus tend to be isolated.
  3. Control: chiropractors are under tight control of their professional bodies, peers, journals, etc. which all make sure that heretic ideas are kept at bay.
  4. Deception: chiropractors are masters of deception in persuading the public and their patients of the value of spinal manipulations, regardless of the actual evidence.
  5. Us vs. Them Mentality: chiropractors tend to create an “us vs. them” mentality, demonizing real doctors and promoting group cohesion.
  6. Exploitation: chiropractors have a long history of exploiting their patients; maintenance care is just one of many examples.
  7. Fear Tactics: chiropractors are scare mongers, for instance, when they diagnose subluxations even in perfectly healthy people and claim that this invented diagnosis needs urgent adjustments.

What, you don’t agree with these arguments?

In this case let me quote a different set criteria that might help to decide whether chiropractic might be a cult. Here they are:

  1. Absolute authoritarianism without accountability
  2. Zero tolerance for criticism or questions
  3. Lack of meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget
  4. Unreasonable fears about the outside world that often involve evil conspiracies and persecutions
  5. A belief that former followers are always wrong for leaving and there is never a legitimate reason for anyone else to leave
  6. Abuse of members
  7. Records, books, articles, or programs documenting the abuses of the leader or group
  8. Followers feeling they are never able to be “good enough”
  9. A belief that the leader is right at all times
  10. A belief that the leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or giving validation

Bearing in mind that not all of the 10 criteria need to be fulfilled, I ask you: is chiropractic a cult?



Post-COVID-19 fatigue is becoming increasingly common as the pandemic evolves. Plenty of so-called alternative medicines (SCAMs) are on offer, including homeopathy. But is homeopathy really helpful?

This trial attempted to identify the preliminary evidence of the efficacy of individualized homeopathic medicines (IHMs) against placebos in the treatment of post-COVID-19 fatigue in adults.

A 3-month, single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm trial was conducted at the outpatient department of The Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, India. Sixty participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive either IHMs (n = 30) or identical-looking placebos (n = 30). The primary and secondary outcome measures were the Fatigue Assessment Scale (FAS) and Outcome in Relation to Impact on Daily Living (ORIDL), respectively, measured every month, for up to 3 months. Comparative analysis was carried out on the intention-to-treat sample to detect group differences.

Group differences in both the primary (FAS total: F1, 58 = 14.356, p &lt; 0.001) and secondary outcomes (ORIDL: F1, 58 = 210.986, p &lt; 0.001) after 3 months favored IHMs against placebos. Lycopodium clavatum (11.7%), sulfur (11.7%), Arsenicum album (10%), and Thuja occidentalis (10%) were the most frequently indicated medicines. No harm, unintended effects, homeopathic aggravations, or any serious adverse events were reported from either of the groups.

The authors concluded that IHMs produced significantly better effects than placebos in the treatment of post-COVID-19 fatigue in adults. Definitive robust trials may be undertaken to confirm the findings.

A glance at the authors’ affiliations is, I think, revealing:

  • 1Department of Organon of Medicine and Homeopathic Philosophy, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, India.
  • 2Department of Pathology and Microbiology, The Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, India.
  • 3The Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, India.
  • 4Department of Practice of Medicine, The Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, India.
  • 5Department of Repertory, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, India.

We are currently being bombarded with false-positive homeopathy trials from India. Why am I sure that the trial is false-positive? Well, I am not sure, of course. But I have suspicions:

  1. Homeopathy is not a plausible form of SCAM.
  2. The most reliable studies fail to show that is is more than a placebo.
  3. The journal that published this paper is 3rd class; if the findings were valid, they would get published in one of the top science journals.
  4. The authors were clearly biased and even admitted as much; they stated that they wanted “to identify the preliminary evidence of the efficacy” of IHM. But this is not how unbiased researcher conduct clinical trials. Such investigations are for testing hypotheses and not for identifying effects.
  5. Most importantly, the trial design is flawed. Even the authors realize this, and the 1st sentence of the conclusions should therefore have been far less definitive.

And what are the main flaws?

As far as I can see they were:

  • The sample size was to small for a far-reaching conclusion.
  • The study was not double blind. In other words the therapists had the opportunity to exert their influence on the patient to produce the desired outcome. Occam’s Razor demands that we assume this to be the real explanation of the positive effects observed here.

In view of all this, I suggest to change the conclusions as follows:

IHMs produced significantly better effects than placebos in the treatment of post-COVID-19 fatigue in adults which most likely is not due to the efficacy of the treatment applied but to the residual bias not controlled for in this study.

The objective of this paper was to review the 10 most recent case reports of cervical spine manipulation and cervical artery dissection for convincing evidence of the causation of cervical artery dissection by cervical spine manipulation. The author, Steven P. Brown, a chiropractor (who is quoted as “the authors have declared that no competing interests exist”), lists the following 10 cases:

Case 1: Yeung et al. (2023) [17]

Yeung et al. [17] reported that a “48-year-old female went to a chiropractor for chronic neck pain and developed right-sided weakness, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting immediately after neck manipulation.” Imaging showed occlusion of the V1 segment of the right vertebral artery and cerebellar stroke.

The adverse event immediately following cervical spine manipulation (CSM) was the cerebellar stroke, not the cerebral artery dissection (CAD). Right-sided weakness, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting are symptoms of cerebellar ischemia, not right VAD. The neck pain prior to the CSM is consistent with a CAD being present prior to CSM, not caused by CSM.

Even if CSM had caused the CAD, it is not biologically possible for a thrombus large enough to occlude the vertebral artery to form immediately [6]. Therefore, the CAD was likely pre-existing to CSM. While an existing thrombus may have been aggravated by the CSM, it was not caused by the CSM. In this case, it is plausible that CSM may have suddenly repositioned an already large thrombus in such a way that it blocked the V1 segment of the right vertebral artery, resulting in thrombotic ischemic stroke from vascular occlusion [26]. The practitioner failed to exclude CAD and performed CSM when it was contraindicated [7]. So, while thrombotic stroke may have been causally related to the CSM, the CAD was not.

Cases 2 and 3: Chen et al. (2022) [18]

Chen et al. [18] reported that “a 51-year-old man with a history of mild hypertension noted new-onset right neck pain two days following chiropractic manipulation.” Imaging revealed dissection of the C3 segment of the right ICA and right-sided stroke.

Chen et al. [18] also reported a second case in which “a 55-year-old man with a history of cigarette smoking, no other cerebrovascular risk factors, received chiropractic cervical manipulation 1 day prior to presentation to the emergency department with new onset of left hemiparesis, facial paralysis, right neck pain, and dysarthria lasting for 5 hours.” Imaging revealed dissection of the C3 segment of the right ICA and right-sided cerebral stroke.

In these two case reports, the symptoms that prompted the patients to seek CSM were not documented. In the first case, neck pain started two days after CSM. In the second case, neck pain started 19 hours after CSM.

In these two cases, there was no adverse event immediately following CSM. As there was no neck pain, headache, or ischemic symptoms noted immediately after CSM, it is not likely that CSM caused the ICA dissection or the stroke. Furthermore, the C3 segment of the ICA is intracranial and has not been identified as an area for strain by CSM.

Case 4: Arning et al. (2022) [19]

Arning et al. [19] reported the case of a 47-year-old female with a two-week history of non-traumatic right neck pain who had increased, severe right neck pain immediately after CSM, and paresis of the right deltoid muscle and hypalgesia in the right C3 and right C4 dermatomes. MRI revealed a dissection of the V2 segment of the right vertebral artery.

The adverse event immediately following CSM was a stroke, not a CAD. Paresis and hypalgesia are symptoms of brain ischemia, not right VAD. The right neck pain prior to the CSM is consistent with a right VAD being present prior to CSM, not caused by CSM.

Prior to CSM, cervical spine disc herniation had been ruled out by MRI. Upon review, the pre-CSM MRI also showed dissection of the right V2 segment, which had initially been overlooked by the radiologist. The practitioner performed CSM when it was contraindicated. Therefore, while the CSM may have caused the ischemic stroke by a thromboembolic mechanism, the CSM did not cause the CAD.

Case 5: Abidoye et al. (2022) [20]

Abidoye et al. [20] reported, “This is a 40-year-old male with a medical history of migraine headaches and cervicalgia, evaluated for a sudden onset of headache, associated with nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and dizziness, two months after a chiropractic manipulation. He also reported rigorous exercise and sexual intercourse prior to the headache onset. Vital sign is significant for a 10/10, non-radiating right-sided headache. Neurological examination revealed right ptosis and miosis. Labs were unremarkable. CTA of neck showed tapering of the right ICA with near occlusion at the skull base.” No imaging evidence or diagnosis of stroke was documented. However, with ischemic symptoms of nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, dizziness, right ptosis, and right miosis, it is likely that this patient suffered a stroke.

In this case, there was no adverse event immediately following CSM, and the most recent CSM was two months prior to the onset of symptoms. As there was no neck pain, headache, or ischemic symptoms noted immediately after CSM, it is not likely that CSM caused the ICA dissection or the stroke.

The patient’s medical history of neck pain and headaches are risk factors for CAD. If there was existing right ICA dissection, it is plausible that rigorous exercise and sexual intercourse could have dislodged a loosely adherent ICA thrombus and caused immediate stroke by a thromboembolic mechanism. However, this is not possible to determine as the temporality from exercise and intercourse to ischemic symptoms of stroke was vaguely documented as “prior to.”

Case 6: Yap et al. (2021) [21]

Yap et al. [21] reported a 35-year-old male who presented with a two-day history of expressive dysphasia and a one-day history of right-sided weakness. The patient reported having CSM for pain relief sometime in the prior two weeks. Imaging showed left ICA dissection and left middle cerebral artery stroke. The dissected segment of the left ICA was not documented.

In this case, there was no adverse event immediately following CSM. As there was no neck pain, headache, or ischemic symptoms noted immediately after CSM, it is not likely that CSM caused the ICA dissection or the stroke.

Case 7: Xia et al. (2021) [22]

Xia et al. [22] reported a case of a 44-year-old male with chronic neck pain who reported sudden-onset left homonymous hemianopia after CSM a few days prior. The patient reported progression from a left homonymous hemianopia to a left homonymous inferior quadrantanopia. Imaging revealed bilateral VAD at the left V2 and right V3 segments, and right medial occipital lobe stroke. The authors noted that a right posterior communicating artery stroke was likely embolic from the right V3 and left V2 dissections. They also noted that the patient likely had a migrating embolus as evidenced by the progression from a homonymous hemianopia to a quadrantanopia.

The adverse event immediately following CSM was the stroke, not the CAD. Left homonymous hemianopia is a symptom of brain ischemia, not VAD. The neck pain prior to the CSM is consistent with VAD being present prior to CSM, not caused by CSM.

Even if CSM had caused the CAD, it is not biologically possible for a thrombus to instantly form and dislodge to cause sudden-onset thromboembolic stroke [6]. Therefore, the CAD was likely pre-existing to CSM. While an existing thrombus may have been aggravated by the CSM, it was not caused by the CSM. In this case, it is possible that CSM dislodged a loosely adherent vertebral artery thrombus to cause thromboembolic stroke [26]. The practitioner failed to exclude CAD and performed CSM when it was contraindicated [7]. So, while thromboembolic stroke may have been causally related to the CSM, the CAD was not.

Case 8: Lindsay et al. (2021) [23]

Lindsay et al. [23] reported a case of a 47-year-old male who presented with left neck pain and headache. His medical history was notable for dyslipidemia and a cerebellar stroke six years prior. Imaging revealed dissections of the left vertebral artery extending from the origin of the artery to the V3 segment. The patient also had a dissection of his right renal artery. There was no evidence of a stroke.

Six years prior, the patient had presented with a one-week history of left neck pain and headache, as well as left facial numbness and dizziness. The pain was not relieved with ibuprofen and previously been evaluated and treated by a chiropractor. Imaging done six years prior showed no evidence of CAD but did show a left cerebellar stroke.

There is no plausible biological mechanism by which CSM six years prior could cause a current VAD. Therefore, it is not likely that there was a causal relationship between CSM and CAD in this case.

Ultimately, the patient was diagnosed with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disorder that causes connective tissue weakness and makes a patient susceptible to arterial dissection. This diagnosis is consistent with the left VAD and right renal artery dissection.

Case 9: Monari et al. (2021) [24]

Monari et al. [24] reported a case of a 39-year-old pregnant female with a history of tension headaches presenting with vertigo, vomiting, nystagmus, dizziness, and hindrance in the execution of fine movements of the right arm. The patient reported having CSM by an osteopathic specialist “in the days preceding the beginning of the symptoms.” Imaging showed a dissection of the V2 segment of the right vertebral artery and a right-sided stroke.

In this case, there was no adverse event immediately following CSM. As there was no neck pain, headache, or ischemic symptoms noted immediately after CSM, it is not likely that CSM caused the right vertebral artery dissection or the stroke. Medical history of headache prior to the CSM is consistent with a VAD being present prior to CSM, not caused by CSM. Pregnancy is also a risk factor for CAD.

Case 10: Ramos et al. (2021) [25]

Ramos et al. [25] reported a case of a 48-year-old female with a history of chronic neck pain who experienced sudden neck pain and generalized weakness during CSM. Imaging showed bilateral VAD and occlusion and bilateral acute cerebellar stroke. There was also tetraplegia noted at the C5 sensory level, C5 and C6 vertebral fracture, spinal cord injury, epidural hematoma, and acute disc herniation.

There is convincing evidence that CSM caused CAD and stroke in this case. This case is exceptional as the CSM was contraindicated by pre-existing cervical spine pathology. Cervical spine bony ankylosis was noted which existed prior to the CSM. The CSM appears to have been a posterior-anterior manipulation of the cervical spine at the level of C5-C6, which was contraindicated due to the presence of the bony ankylosis [27].

The practitioner failed to exclude cervical spine pathology and performed CSM when it was contraindicated. The spinal pathology in this case could have been diagnosed with a cervical spine X-ray examination.

As the Ramos et al. [25] study provided limited case information, a case report from Macêdo et al. [28] provides additional information on this exceptional case.

“A 47-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman with long-standing back pain sought chiropractic care for symptomatic relief. Until then, she had never consulted a doctor to treat her axial pain and was not aware of having any specific spinal pathology. Since childhood, she had a moderate cognitive deficit, which probably compromised her ability to adequately describe the pain and, thus, led the family to seek medical advice. During her last session of spinal manipulation, she mentioned new-onset paresthesia beginning on the upper limbs and progressing to the lower limbs. Her complaint was disregarded, and the session continued, at the end of which she was unable to stand. Urinary retention ensued a little after. The patient was referred to our service only a week after, completely bedridden. Spine MRI revealed a transdiscal fracture at C5-C6, resulting in critical stenosis and compressive myelopathy. CT angiography revealed traumatic thrombosis of the vertebral arteries emerging on this level. Whole spine-imaging evidenced multiple syndesmophytes giving a characteristic bamboo spine appearance, as well as ankylosis in sacroiliac joints, uncovering the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. She underwent laminectomy from C2 to C6 and arthrodesis from C2 to T2 for spine stabilization but did not recover mobility. Even though a systematic review did not find an increased risk of significant adverse events related to spine manipulation therapy, there have been descriptions of vertebral fracture following a session on patients with ankylosing spondylitis and unsuspected multiple myeloma.”

The author concluded that nine out of the 10 case reports of CSM and CAD did not provide convincing evidence of the causal relationship between CSM and CAD. Only one case report provided convincing evidence of a causal relationship between CAD and CSM. This case was exceptional as the CSM was contraindicated by pre-existing cervical spine pathology. Therefore, we conclude that practitioners of CSM should exclude cervical spine pathology before performing CSM.

I must say that I find it difficult or even impossible to follow most of the arguments of Mr Brown. Do they teach them a different kind of physiology and pathophysiology in chiro-school? Foremost, he seems to think that case-reports can/should establish cause and effect. Do they teach research methodology at all in chiro-school?

Here is what Wiki tells us, for instance:

In medicine, a case report is a detailed report of the symptomssignsdiagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports may contain a demographic profile of the patient, but usually describe an unusual or novel occurrence. Some case reports also contain a literature review of other reported cases. Case reports are professional narratives that provide feedback on clinical practice guidelines and offer a framework for early signals of effectiveness, adverse events, and cost.

So, case reports “offer a framework for early signals of adverse events”. To expect that they demonstrate a causal link is ill-informed. Their significance in relation to risks lies mostly in providing a signal, particularly if the signal becomes loud and clear due to numerous repetitions, as is the case in chiropractic manipulations. Once the signal is noted, it needs further investigation to determine its nature. In the absence of conclusive further studies, a signal that has emerged hundreds of times, as in chiropractic, it has to be taken seriously. In fact, the precautionary principle demands that we then assume causality until proven otherwise.

As to the research effort of Mr Brown in assembling 10 case reports, I must say it is frightfully daft for the following reasons:

  • Most cases do probably not get connected to a CSM at all.
  • Many lead to litigation and are not published.
  • In the end, very few get published in the medical literature.
  • Being retrospective, they all lack important detail and are thus incomplete.
  • None prove causation and only some render it likely.
  • A sample size of 10 is laughable.
  • Brown’s desire to white-wash chiropractic is plapable.
  • So is his naivety.

In a recent comment, our resident chiro, ‘Dr.’ Dale Thompson (alias ‘DC’), in an attempt to provide a rationale for the approach, provided a link to a definition of MAINTENANCE CARE:

Maintenance care is care given to people with chronic illnesses to maintain or slow a decline in their health or function. For example, exercise and physical therapy can minimize abnormal or painful positioning of the joints and may prevent or delay curvature of the spine in a person with muscular dystrophy.

Let’s for the moment ignore that this definition is not necessarily related to CHIROPRACTIC maintenance care and assume it describes the approach adequately. In this case, chiropractic maintenance care would be:

care given to people with chronic illnesses to maintain or slow a decline in their health or function.

That sounds almost reasonable and is very different from what I recently implied it is, namely sly scare mongering of greedy chiros to fleece vulnerable individuals.

So, who is closer to the truth, Dale or Edzard?

How is chiropractic maintenance care employed in ‘real life’?

One way of finding out might be to look at social media and see how chiropractic maintenance care is being promoted or written about. Here are the texts of recent Tweets that I found on 23/6 informing us on this issue:

  • Chiropractic care encompasses three main phases:  1. Acute / Intensive Care  2. Healing / Corrective Care  3. Wellness / Maintenance Care
  • Maintenance is key! Once you’ve completed your care plan, routine chiropractic visits can help keep you feeling your best. Think of it as preventative maintenance for your body; you deserve it!
  • Chiropractic maintenance care now encompasses all sorts of patients; no matter their history, symptoms or reasons for seeking a chiropractor
  • Chiropractic care goes beyond back pain relief!  It’s all about proactive health maintenance, not just reactive illness treatment. Discover the pathway to a healthier, more balanced life
  • Understanding the proper documentation and coding of maintenance care in your office will help you sleep better at night knowing you are doing this correctly.
  • Staying well with chiropractic has never been easier! Researchers have discovered that people who receive maintenance chiropractic care have better long term outcomes and may even be able to prevent future episodes of back pain. Interested in learning more? Give us a call today.
  • Researchers have discovered that people who receive maintenance chiropractic care have better long term outcomes and may even be able to prevent future episodes of back pain. Interested in learning more? Give us a call today!
  • Many patients willingly choose to keep getting regular, maintenance Chiropractic care. Just like going to the dentist periodically, spinal hygiene and chiropractic adjustments are part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Consider your body as a biological machine, just like a car needing maintenance. Chiropractic care at The Joint provides essential upkeep, not just alleviating existing pain but also preventing future discomfort.
  • We advocate regular maintenance Chiropractic care to keep your spine and posture in as great shape as possible. If you have not been to the clinic for a while, why not call our reception team
  • When you finally get that special car you always wanted; you don’t want to trust just anybody for care & maintenance. The same is true with your healthcare.
  • Around 22 million Americans turn to chiropractic care each year for pain relief, holistic healing, and preventive maintenance!  Experience natural, non-invasive solutions that keep you feeling your best. Discover the benefits today!
  • We believe in the beauty of regular maintenance care. Nurture your well-being & witness the transformative difference in your life
  • Chiropractic and Maintenance Care “Do I need to keep coming back for treatment to prevent this from happening again?” This method of chiropractic care is known as Maintenance care.
  • If you are wanting to improve your overall quality of life. Maintenance care is very important
  • Chiropractic “discharge” plans are always something else. “Patient has no pain or complaints and is released from regular chiropractic care. She is recommended to return 4x/mo for maintenance care“. I’m not sure there is a profession that I think less of.

I ought to stress that most of these Tweets were accompanied by pictures of patients receiving spinal manipulations.

Who then is correct, Dale or Edzard?

I let you decide.

An article in ‘METRO’  caught my eye – not least because it quotes me. Here are a few edited excerpts:

Peter Stott lost his first wife to cancer in 1998. Her death, he believes, was due to geopathic stress (GS) – harmful energies that originate from the Earth. ‘I found out that the house where we had lived had a serious GS problem,’ he says. The discovery prompted him to become a professional ‘dowser’, devoting his life to finding and managing geopathic stress.

But what exactly is this mysterious force erupting from the surface of the Earth – and can it really harm people?Geopathic stress is said to cause discomfort and health issues for certain individuals. These energies, also called ‘harmful Earth rays’ by believers, can be detrimental, beneficial or neutral according to those who think they are ‘in the know’.

Peter Stott
Peter Stott is a professional dowser

The word ‘geopathic’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Geo’ meaning the Earth and ‘pathos’, meaning disease or suffering – hence the term pathogens, the medical terms for bugs that make us ill.

Dowsing, practitioners say, is a method used to detect the presence of various subtle Earth energies and assess their nature and quality. They argue that some of these energies can be linked to geomagnetic anomalies caused by flowing underground water, dry faults and fissures, subterranean cavities, or mineral and crystal deposits.

Dowsing is carried out by a dowser, practitioners who try to find the source of these energies using special tools, such as pendulums, rods, and bobbers – essentially sexed-up tree branches. The person holds the tool, waiting for it to move or react, which they take as a sign that they’ve found what they’re looking for. The odd practice can allegedly also be used to identify leaks, stress fractures, environmental pollutants, electromagnetic fields, nutritional deficiencies, black spots, and, rather oddly, sexing pigeons.

Peter claims that a skilled dowser effectively advises on the optimal placement of buildings and structures to mitigate the impact of geopathic stress, and often possesses the ability to reduce or eliminate it through the use of various methods. He emphasises the fact that GS ‘does not affect everybody in the same way. Cancer has been described as “a disease of location”,’ he says. ‘And if there is a family history of cancer – as there was in my late wife’s case – a person can be more susceptible to GS being a contributing factor in succumbing to the disease.’ Peter believes that GS impacts our immune system, depleting its resources and hindering its ability to function optimally. By eliminating GS from our surroundings, we allow our immune system to operate more efficiently, he contends. Our susceptibility to GS varies, he says, with some experiencing mild symptoms like sleep disturbances and fatigue, while others may face more severe health issues such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

17th Century dowsing illustration
Dowsing has been around for millennia (Picture: Getty)

In 2017, rather incredibly, a report revealed that 10 out of 12 water companies in the UK were employing the practice of water dowsing to identify and locate leaks. Even more incredibly, last year, it emerged that Thames Water and Severn Trent Water were still using this form of ‘witchcraft’ for leak detection, despite scientific research indicating its lack of efficacy.

But water companies aren’t the only ones turning to dowsers for help. Peter believes that ‘it is also possible to carry a token or amulet on your person that has been imbued with the powers of protection by someone who is proficient in [dowsing]’. ‘This can protect you from GS and other detrimental energies wherever you go anywhere throughout the world,’ he claims. ‘Other protection techniques can also offer a degree of protection.’

However, Dr Edzard Ernst, a man who has dedicated years of his life to examining questionable, science-based claims, won’t be enlisting the services of a GS specialist or house healer anytime soon. ‘Geopathic stress cannot cause health problems for the simple reason that it does not exist,’ says the retired physician. ‘It is a sly invention of quacks who exploit gullible consumers. The methods to diagnose GS are as bogus as the ones that allegedly treat it. But the quacks don’t mind – as long as the consumer pays.’

Peter fully acknowledges ‘that dowsing and this work in general is not a catch-all solution for every ailment or every person’s situation’. ‘However, often we are approached by people who are “at the end of their tether” due to their exasperation of experiencing events or circumstances in their lives that are not well catered for in the mainstream wellbeing sector,’ he says. ‘I can only speak personally, I cannot speak for the possibly tens of thousands of dowsers around the world. If our work can help ease a person’s experience of life then that is a good enough reason to continue to help where I can’. He adds that ‘we are never going to change the minds of people like Dr Edzard Ernst’, someone ‘who seems to focus exclusively on debunking anything for which there is not a scientific explanation’. Moreover, science, he notes, ‘is moving on with research done into quantum physics and the theory that everything in the universe is connected and is also accessible to everyone’.


Oh, dear Peter!

Perhaps you should learn the difference between critical evaluation and debunking (this ‘debunker’ has shown more forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) to be worthy of integrating into the NHS than anyone else).

Perhaps you should read up about the difference between evidence and belief?

And perhaps the chapter on dowsing in my book could help you in this endeavour:

Dowsing is a common but unproven method for divining water and other materials. In alternative medicine, it is sometimes used as a technique for diagnosing diseases or the causes of health problems.

      1. Dowsers employ a motor automatism, amplified through a pendulum, divining rod or similar device. The effect is that the device seemingly provides an independent, visible reaction, while the dowser is, in fact, its true cause.
      2. Dowsing is used by some homeopaths as an aid to prescribe the optimal remedy and as a tool for identify a miasm or toxin load.
      3. The assumptions upon which dowsing is based lack plausibility.
      4. Dowsing has not often been submitted to clinical trials.
      5. All rigorous attempts to test water dowsing have failed, and it is no longer considered a viable method for this purpose.
      6. The only randomized double-blind trial that has tested whether homeopaths are able to distinguish between a homeopathic remedy and placebo by dowsing failed to show that it is a valid method. Its authors (well-known homeopaths) drew the following conclusion: “These results, wholly negative, add to doubts whether dowsing in this context can yield objective information.”[1]
      7. If dowsing is employed for differentiating between truly effective treatments (rather than homeopathic remedies), the risk of false choices would be intolerably high, and serious harm would inevitably be the result.

[1] McCarney et al. (2002).


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