Chiropractic “Technique Wars”
Spears’ Painless System
Another of the more popular methods of full-spine treatment used by chiropractors comes from a book by the late Dr. Leo Spears (chiropractor) — The Spears Painless System. It advocates “full-spine adjusting,” with each thrust applied to the vertebrae gently with three progressive, downward movements, or “down, down, down.” The system simply calls for locating and removing nerve interference where one finds it. Indications of such are uncovered by palpation and X-ray examination with attention centered upon the entire spinal column.
The faith Leo Spears had in his method of treatment is demonstrated in this statement taken from his book:
Lockjaw, peritonitis, acute appendicitis, gall stone attacks, advanced pneumonia, advanced diphtheria, advanced scarlet fever, advanced typhoid and the like require close attention and adjustments sometimes as often as fifteen minutes to two hours apart. After getting such conditions well under control, or if gotten in the first stages, adjustments are seldom required oftener than one to twelve hours apart. Due to their rapidity of progress, however, it is seldom advisable to let any acute disease go longer than twelve hours without an adjustment .
Spears’ book was printed in 1950. Before the advent of immunization and antibiotics, one hardly had a chance of surviving such conditions as those listed above. Before penicillin was discovered, for example, practically all those who contracted peritonitis died. Since modern methods of treating these diseases were well along in 1950, it is hard to imagine how anyone could offer manipulative treatment for such conditions.
Probably, one of the most remarkable things to note about Spears is the fact that he owned and operated a huge chiropractic hospital in Denver, Colorado, which has apparently been successful in getting a good number of patients. Spears’ success, of course, depended upon a tremendous advertising campaign, spread out all over the United States, whereby he offered a treatment for practically every disease known to mankind — especially those conditions that were thought to be incurable (by treatment methods known to medical science). While many chiropractors looked with disfavor upon Spears for his advertising, he obviously had the support of a good part of the chiropractic profession in maintaining the reputation of his hospital. Like Palmer, Spears did not even have a high school education, and he had only a 19-month chiropractic education. Leo Spears died in 1956, but the Spears Chiropractic Hospital and Sanitarium continues to operate under the direction of two of his nephews.
Although many chiropractors employ Spears’ “painless system” of adjusting the vertebrae, we cannot assume that all of these practitioners are in harmony with the theories of Leo Spears. In fact, it would seem quite incredible that any practitioner fundamentally schooled in the basic sciences could agree with them. In his book, for example, Spears presented a brand-new theory on nutrition. He contended that since the amount of waste material that passed from the alimentary tract was the same, in quantity, as the amount of food ingested, it followed that the food — seemingly unabsorbed — acted only as a “stimulate” to the body’s functions and that, therefore, the body must generate its power from other sources! Said Spears:
Our findings point to the fact that we pass from our bodies, through the four eliminative channels — the bowels, the kidneys, the skin and the lungs — the exact amount of liquids and solids we consume through drinking and eating . . . . The water we drink and the foods we eat do nothing more than help stimulate the cells of the body into performing all their intelligent and necessary functions .
Actually, a good part of the waste material passed from the intestinal tract is composed of bacteria that multiply in the large intestine, also of shredded tissue cells, secretions, food residues, and so forth. Every schoolchild today is familiar with the body’s method of absorbing nutritive elements in the digestive process (as it takes place in the gastrointestinal tract).
In uncovering the body’s source of power, Spears also revealed, for the first time, the “mysteries of life after 28 years of research.” He proposed that the life-giving energy within the body is a form of electricity that is siphoned from a sea of ether by the brain and its “magnetic insulator,” the skull .