C.J. Mertz and “The World’s Best Kept Health Secret”

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
April 6, 2004

C.J. Mertz, D,.C., president of the International Chiropractic Association, wants to turn thousands of doctors into published book authors [1]. Teaming with Best Seller Publishing, he has developed a paperback book, The World’s Best Kept Health Secret Revealed, which contains 56 chapters written by a total of 64 chiropractors. Early in 2004, the publisher’s Web site indicated that chiropractors could buy into the program for “as little as $997,” which would cover professional editing of their chapter, as well as a print run of 400 books.

According to an article in The Chiropractic Journal (a newspaper), the book “has sold 25,000 copies and gained bookstore acceptance prior to printing [1]. I assume that all or nearly all of the purchases were made by the chapter authors. Yet consistent with the hype, the book’s font cover states “#1 Best Seller.”

Terry A. Rondberg, D.C., president of the World Chiropractic Alliance has stated: “This will be an exciting way for more doctors of chiropractic to tell their own powerful story about chiropractic, and enjoy the tremendous rewards of being a book author. I expect that, thanks to this program, many doctors will end up on local television and radio shows, with greatly increased practice volume.” [1]

The “secret,” revealed in Chapter 2, is “subluxation,” which the book says occurs when spinal bones (vertebrae) become misaligned. According to one author:

There are many situations in life that could cause subluxation. Subluxations can be caused by “things as common as car accidents, sports injuries, slips and falls, gravity, the birthing process and even life itself.”

Vertebral subluxation is something you may need to manage throughout your life. It isn’t something you can get rid of one time and be assured it never returns. In order to manage subluxation, first have a chiropractor check your spine. . . . If subluxations are found, the doctor will determine the degree and the protocol to correct them.

Then, you must regularly maintain your spine for subluxations, just as you would regularly maintain and check your teeth for cavities [2:13].

Another author notes that, “The chiropractic profession was created to find and correct vertebral subluxations which could be the initial cause of disease processes.” [2:16]

The book’s introductory pages contain the lmost elaborate disclaimer I have ever seen in a book. Spanning three full pages, it states that (a) the book is “for informational purposes only,” (b) the publisher and authors “make no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the content” and “in no event shall . . . be liable for any damages” resulting from the book’s use, and (c) readers who violate the disclaimer (by seeking damages) would be liable for any attorneys fees or other costs that the publisher or authors incurred as a result.

The body of the book is virtually unreadable because the chapters are repetitious. All of the authors espouse “straight” chiropractic philosophy, which is based on the 100-year-old notion that spinal misalignments are the cause or underlying cause of disease. All suggest that regular chiropractic care can make people healthier and more resistant to disease. Many attack science-based medical care, including immunization and the use of drugs. Some describe serious medical problems that supposedly went away under chiropractic care.

More about Mertz

According to a biographical sketch on the Amazon Books Web site:

By age 28 Dr. CJ Mertz built one of the largest subluxation care family practices. CJ realized for subluxation to become a household word, chiropractors needed to be leaders of their communities. In 1984, Dr. Mertz (Coach CJ) founded The Waiting List Practice (Team WLP), an organization which trains chiropractors with a systematic approach to running successful, subluxation-based care practices. Traveling almost three million miles, Coach CJ has trained over 10,000 chiropractors and opened over 3,000 subluxation chiropractic practices. Coach CJ has also produced and developed a world class infomercial, patient education and the first fully-automated, paperless chiropractic office system. Dr. CJ Mertz was voted Teacher of the Year in 1986, Chiropractor of the Year in 1995 and Humanitarian of the Year in 2001. In 2002, he was named President of the first chiropractic franchise, publicly-held Chiropractic USA. In 2003, he was elected the 14th President of the International Chiropractors Association.

A workbook from Mertz’s Waiting List Practice Seminar advises chiropractors to offer free evaluations with a goal of persuading all comers to sign contracts for weekly checkups for themselves and family members [3]. Each step from the initial phone call through the office evaluation is carefully scripted to persuade patients to contract for a minimum of one year of “correction care” (usually weekly) with a discount for advance payment. Page 53 of the manual advises seeing established patients for 4 1/2 to 5 hours a day with a goal of performing one spinal adjustment every two minutes.

  1. CJ Mertz launches innovative book program The Chiropractic Journal 18(4):1,30, 2004.
  2. Mertz CJ and others. The World’s Best Kept Health Secret Revealed. Chiropractic Press, 2003.
  3. Total Skills Integration Seminar. Waiting List Practice, undated, circa 2002.

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This article was posted on April 6, 2004.