Some Notes on Michael Pinkus, D.C

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
June 6, 2002

Michael Reed Pinkus, a chiropractor who lectures and writes about “alternative health care,” is said to have many movie stars and prominent athletes among his clients. His biographical sketch says that “his extensive research into nutritional solutions for chronic pain and illness has resulted in the special formulation of a complete line of natural health products” and that he has had more than 500 radio and television talk show appearances.

Pinkus was born in 1956, graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic in 1983, and operated a clinic in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, from 1984 through 1989. During 1999, the Web site referred to him as “Chiropractor to the Stars” and stated that he had “established one of the largest chiropractic practices in the United States.” [1] The site now says that he sold his practice in 1993 “to pursue writing, lecturing and research.” [2] The site contains an undated curriculum vitae that appears to describe the nature of his practice:

Dr. Pinkus utilizes the Applied Kinesiology (muscle-testing) approach to chiropractic care, which measures muscle imbalances, as well as gentle and safe spinal manipulation to bring about healing for patients. Pinkus Chiropractic Clinic is one of the few clinics in the Twin Cities area which uses this high-tech approach to total health care. Acupressure, myotherapy and nutrition programs are also a part of our approach. Because of our advanced techniques, Pinkus is one of the fastest growing clinics in the Twin Cities Area [3].

His Web site states that, “Since 1990, Dr. Pinkus has been writing and lecturing around the world. He has treated celebrities and professional athletes, and accompanied the 1996 US Olympic team in Atlanta.” The site also indicates that he was licensed to practice chiropractic in Minnesota from February 28 through December 31, 2001. However, his listed address is in Clearwater, Florida.

Applied kinesiology (AK) is a pseudoscience based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness that enables diseases to be diagnosed through muscle-testing and treated with nutrition supplements that “correspond” to the “weak” areas. Its concepts do not conform to scientific facts about the causes or treatment of disease. Testing is conducted by pulling on the patient’s arm after placing a test substance (such as a vitamin) under the patient’s tongue, touching part of the body, or using various other procedures. Controlled studies have found no difference between the results of muscle-testing with test substances and with placebos. AK is not taught in most chiropractic colleges. Many AK practitioners diagnose conditions that the medical profession does not recognize [4].

Disciplinary Action

In 1990, the Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners asked him to appear before a complaint panel to answer allegations that he had:

  • Failed to make or maintain records satisfactorily justifying the course of treatment for eight patients.
  • Failed to satisfactorily relate treatment frequency for four of the patients.
  • Failed to provide or timely provide patients with statements of their accounts; billed for services not documented in patient records; and/or billed for services not rendered—for three of the patients.
  • Failed to release or timely release requested records and x-rays of two of the patients.
  • Provided unnecessary or inappropriate services, including multiple “adjustments” in a single day, to four of the patients.
  • Incompetently treated one of the patients by failing to examine or treat the patient’s injured knee [5].

Following a conference with the board, Pinkus signed a Stipulation under which he was assessed a civil penalty of $5,000 and placed on probation for two years, during which time he was required to meet specified recordkeeping standards, transfer patient records promptly on request, and provide an itemized written statement at least monthly to every patient with an unpaid balance [6].

In 1994, the board concluded that some of Pinkus’s patient records lacked adequate progress noted, that his diagnoses were “often not supported by his documented examination findings.” He was reprimanded, assessed $500, placed on probation for three years, ordered to take a course in recordkeeping, and ordered to retake the examination by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners [7].

Questionable Promotion

Pinkus is heavily involved in the promotion of several dietary supplements marketed through Media Power, Inc, of Portland Maine, and its outlet MPDirect. He and the company would like you to believe that “enzyme deficiency” is widespread and can be remedied by a product called “Nu-Zymes,” which Pinkus promotes through television infomercials. According to Pinkus:

  • The American diet is generally enzyme-deficient because most of the food we consume has been cooked or processed.
  • Lack of enzymes in food strains the human body.
  • Enzyme deficiency causes heart disease, joint pain, obesity, and many other health problems that Nu-Zymes can correct.

The National Council Against Health Fraud is challenging these claims in a lawsuit that accuses the company and its president, Chris Homer, of violating California laws against false advertising [8]. It is uncertain whether Pinkus will be named as a co-defendant.

  1. Meet Dr. Pinkus. Web site, archived Oct 23, 1999.
  2. Ask Dr. Pinkus. Web site, archived June 3, 2002.
  3. Curriculum Vitae. Undated, archived April 11, 2002.
  4. Barrett S. Applied Kinesiology: Muscle-Testing for “Allergies” and “Nutrient Deficiencies.” Quackwatch, revised Jan 25, 2002.
  5. Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners. In the matter of Michael R. Pinkus, D.C., Notice of conference with complaint panel, May 22, 1990..
  6. Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners. In the matter of Michael R. Pinkus, D.C., Stipulation and order, Oct 1990.
  7. Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners. In the matter of Michael R. Pinkus, D.C., Stipulation and order, Nov 1994.
  8. Barrett S. “Enzyme deficiency.” Quackwatch, Aug 31, 2001.

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This page was posted on June 6, 2002.