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Pamphlets from the International Chiropractors Association (1968-1972)

The International Chiropractors Association (ICA), which is the second largest chiropractic organization in the United States, represents chiropractors who advocate subluxation-based chiropractic. During the early 1970s, I collected five pamphlets that the ICA issued to explain its views to patients: Health Is Natural claimed that (a) every organ and cell receives its supply of “nerve energy” …

The International Chiropractors Association (ICA), which is the second largest chiropractic organization in the United States, represents chiropractors who advocate subluxation-based chiropractic. During the early 1970s, I collected five pamphlets that the ICA issued to explain its views to patients:

  • Health Is Natural claimed that (a) every organ and cell receives its supply of “nerve energy” from the brain, (b) this energy activates and regulates body function (c) misaligned (“subluxated”) vertebrae interrupt the proper flow of nerve energy between the brain and affected body parts, (d) chiropractors detect subluxations and adjust the spine to correct them, and (e) this restores the normal flow of nerve energy, which restores the person’s health. 
  • Your Child’s Health claimed that active children are likely to experience “falls, jolts, jars, and sprains” that frequently produce spinal subluxations.
  • Stay Healthy Naturally claimed that “often only the spine stands between a person and good health.”
  • Chiropractic: Natural Means to Good Health claimed that “chiropractors are specially trained to keep your spine in alignment.”
  • Why the Spine Is Important to Patient Health asserted that “a thorough analysis and checkup should be made on every individual at regular intervals.”

None of the above notions are accepted by the scientific medical community. Click here to read the full text of these pamphlets.



Chiropractic Pamphlets from Hardt Publishing Company (1983)

Robert J. Reinhardt, D.C., who practiced chiropractic in Pequannock, New Jersey, dealt mainly with musculoskeletal disorders and accident-related injuries. In 1983, he notified me that a lack of high-quality, non-flamboyant chiropractic educational material had prompted him to develop pamphlets to fill this lack. Doing business as Hardt Publishing Company, he marketed 18 of them: Arthritis • …

Robert J. Reinhardt, D.C., who practiced chiropractic in Pequannock, New Jersey, dealt mainly with musculoskeletal disorders and accident-related injuries. In 1983, he notified me that a lack of high-quality, non-flamboyant chiropractic educational material had prompted him to develop pamphlets to fill this lack. Doing business as Hardt Publishing Company, he marketed 18 of them:

Arthritis •  Disc Problems • Children & Chiropractic • Headache • Low Back Pain • Manipulative Therapy • Mid-Back Pain • Neck, Shoulder & Arm Pain • Pinched Nerve • Sacroiliac Pain • Sciatica • Scoliosis • Sports & Chiropractic • The Elderly & Chiropractic • The New Chiropractic Patient • Torticollis •  Whiplash Neck Injuries • Work-Related Injuries

 I have collected 14 of them, which you can access by clicking here. Unlike pamphlets from other publishers, these contained no subluxation-based claims and did not exaggerate what chiropractors can do.



The American Chiropractic Association’s Improper Attack on Prescription Drug Use

In 1985, the American Chiropractic Association released a Speaking and Personal Betterment Guide that was written by its public relations consultant, Irvin Davis. An ad in the October 1985 issue of the ACA’s Journal of Chiropractic promised that the book would enable chiropractors to speak authoritatively and “use the speaker’s platform and radio and television as a practice-builder.” One …

In 1985, the American Chiropractic Association released a Speaking and Personal Betterment Guide that was written by its public relations consultant, Irvin Davis. An ad in the October 1985 issue of the ACA’s Journal of Chiropractic promised that the book would enable chiropractors to speak authoritatively and “use the speaker’s platform and radio and television as a practice-builder.” One section, which contained proposed speech ideas, included a 10-minute talk titled “Beware of All Drugs and Medications.”

The logical way to evaluate any treatment is to compare the likely benefits against the likely risks. But the ACA’s suggested speech ignored the benefits and exaggerated the risks of appropriately prescribed medications. At the end it even warned: “The best thing you can do for your health is to beware of all of them.” Here is the full text of this speech followed by my reactions:

Beware of All Drugs and Medications

 Where does one draw the line in determining what is a “good drug” and what is a “bad drug”? ls it based on legal implications? Moral determinations? Or, is the most important factor its effect on health? The American public shows great concern over the use of the extreme drugs. Heroin, LSD, Acid, Speed—these are the worry of every parent, and are labeled “bad” because these escape drugs have captured a small percentage of our young generation.

While no reasonable person would condone the use of these deadly and illegal drugs, it is interesting to note that society—and parents in particular—do not seem to be concerned with the thousands of other drugs and medications that are widely prescribed and used.

We forbid our children to use LSD to escape mental reality; yet, on the other hand, we constantly push pills down the throats of these youngsters to escape physical reality. Aspirin, painkillers, and antibiotics are some of the most commonly used drugs, but there are more than 7,000 on the market under various brand names. How can we label one set of harmful drugs as “bad,” and at the same time accept another, much larger set of harmful drugs as “good”?

Iatrogenic, or drug-caused diseases are becoming a national health problem of critical proportions because of the overuse of medicines in our modem society.

There is a trend toward what might appear to be the easy way of treatment—seeking an escape or cover-up for the symptoms of the problem, rather than curing the condition itself.

Medical doctors prescribe drugs recklessly; patients take them recklessly; and too little is known about the final effects of drugs by medical doctors, patients or manufacturers.

If you think that our major concern is the extreme, illegal drugs, the following enlightening facts should be noted about medications found on shelves in most every home:

  1. An estimated one million patients are admitted to hospitals in the United States each year because of drug-induced illnesses.
  2. An estimated 100,000 Americans die each year from drug-contributing illnesses.
  3. 90 percent of drugs and medications are used unnecessarily.
  4. Many drugs have not been adequately tested on human beings prior to release.
  5. Painkilling drugs eliminate or dull the symptoms, but do nothing to eliminate the cause of the pain.
  6. Many drugs are habit-forming, thereby requiring greater and greater dosages for effectiveness.
  7. Many drugs give harmful side effects and can be fatal, especially when used in combination with others.

Although the intent of drug use is for the welfare of the patient, reckless or uninformed prescribing by the medical doctor … or negligence by the patient himself … all too often results in drug-induced illnesses. In many cases, drug reactions have been far more serious than the original health problem. And in too many cases they have been fatal.

It is absolutely essential to health that we neither overuse nor misuse nor become dependent on medicines. The risk is far too great—and the positive results are far too few.

Drug abuse was never more prevalent than it is today. It is interesting to note that since its inception, the chiropractic profession has recognized the danger of drugs and the benefits of natural health care. Chiropractic is a profession that does not use drugs for treatment. In fact, it has loudly voiced its opposition to the use of drugs and medications.

Perhaps you will ask, “Why?”

For numerous reasons—one of the most important of which is the fact that the body has perfect recuperative abilities within itself. The introduction of strong foreign chemical substances has a tendency to upset the natural processes of the body. Drugs often hinder the restoration of normal body functions.

The chiropractic profession recognizes that pain and discomfort serve an important role: They are warning signals of impending danger. They are the symptoms which signal the existence of a health problem. To dull these symptoms, or to eliminate them, does not cure the problem; it merely obscures the problem from the victim and from his physician.

Chiropractic is a realistic and practical health method. It recognizes that the human being cannot exist on pills and medications. He must establish a healthy mental and physical attitude and maintain his health through natural means—which includes a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and spinal care on a periodic basis.

Next time you get ready to pop a pill in your mouth—whatever the reason—be it to relax, to relieve tension, to put you to sleep or to do away with the sniffles, ask yourself: “ls it really worth it?” ls it worthwhile taking the risk of harmful side effects? Consider the accumulative effect. Consider the possibility that you may be covering up the symptoms of a health problem that should be treated . . . perhaps allowing it to get worse.

Ask yourself whether you care so little about your life that you are willing to become dependent on drugs. I hope you will decide, as I have, that it is not worth the risk. Drugs are drugs … whether they be legal or illegal. And the best thing you can do for your health and well-being is beware of all of them.

The above script was originally offered to ACA members in 1971 as part of an elaborately planned public relations campaign with the theme “Don’t Be a Pill Popper,” which included two billboard posters:

Associated “Pill Popper” radio and TV spots asked whether America was becoming “a land of strong pills . . . and weak people.”

The PR materials also included a patient-education pamphlet titled Beware of Overuse of Drugs that had a similar message. It listed more than 100 side effects of commonly prescribed drugs, presented the seven alleged “facts” listed above, and concluded with this statement:

Your doctor of chiropractic employs no dangerous painkillers to lull pain to sleep while body damage continues. He does not use sedatives to give you a false sense of security. He uses no drugs whatsoever in, his treatment, thus avoiding drug-induced illnesses and dangerous side effects often more serious than the condition being treated. His methods are scientifically aimed directly at the cause of the illness; his treatment aids in restoring your body to its normal function.

My Reactions

The speech was aimed to undermine trust of medical treatment and to persuade people to try chiropractic instead. Almost all statements it contained were either false or misleading.

The assertion that “prescribed drugs merely cover up symptoms rather than curing the condition” is potentially quite dangerous as well as false. Countless millions of people with chronic conditions are helped by drugs that can control their symptoms or even keep them from dying. Hormones can replace hormones that the body can not longer supply—as is done in treating Type I diabetes, hypothyroidism, and several other hormonal deficiency diseases. Other drugs can increase or decrease various body functions by blocking or enhancing metabolic pathways as is done in treating abnormal blood pressure. Many infections are cured by an antibiotic that kills the causative organism. Many cancer drugs work by killing cells that are functioning abnormally. Vaccines prevent disease by generating antibodies that kill invading germs, And so on.

The statement that many drugs are habit-forming is misleading. Only a few classes of drugs that affect the central nervous system are habit-forming. As with all drugs, their prescription should be based on whether the expected benefits exceeds the possible risks. The ability to determine this requires many years of medical training and experience. Chiropractic schools do not provide this.

The statement that medical doctors prescribe drugs recklessly is a vast overgeneralization.

The pamphlet’s discussion of adverse effects fails to mention that the drugs it discusses are usually beneficial and in many cases are life-saving. Suggesting that people worry every time they are about to take a pill is unconscionable.

The claims that chiropractic treatment addresses the cause of disease are simply false. The legitimate scope of chiropractic is very narrow.

People who seek “alternative” treatment to avoid taking drugs have a high probability of being misdiagnosed, financially exploited, and suffering needlessly from problems that could have been managed with proper medical care. Over the years, I have talked with hundreds of them.

The drug marketplace does have problems. But the best way to avoid them is not to avoid all drugs but to use the services of doctors who can sort out the facts and determine which treatments would be best for their patients. Chiropractic bad-mouthing can safely be ignored.



Chiropractic Pamphlets from Krames Communications (1993-1996)

In the mid-1990s, Krames Communications of San Bruno, California issued beautifully designed pamphlets that it described as “high-quality tools for informing new and prospective patients about the conditions you treat regularly and the benefits of chiropractic care” and for showing that ” you’re far more than a ‘back doctor.’” The consultant for the series was …

In the mid-1990s, Krames Communications of San Bruno, California issued beautifully designed pamphlets that it described as “high-quality tools for informing new and prospective patients about the conditions you treat regularly and the benefits of chiropractic care” and for showing that ” you’re far more than a ‘back doctor.'” The consultant for the series was Michael Pedigo, D.C., the only chiropractor who had served as president of both the American Chiropractic Association and the International Chiropractors Association. The pamphlets I collected were dated 1993, 1994, or 1996.

  • The 1993 titles were: “What is Chiropractic?,” “Low Back Pain,” “Neck Pain,” “Headaches,” Scoliosis,” and “Whiplash.”
  • The 1994 titles were “Disc Problems,” “Shoulder Pain”, “Sciatica Leg Pain,” “Spinal Degeneration,” “Arthritis,” and “Children and Chiropractic.”
  • The 1996 titles were “Spinal Subluxation,” “Avoiding Back Pain,” “AHCPR Guidelines” “Pregnancy and Chiropractic, “Research Supports Chiropractic, and “Chiropractic Education”

Nearly all of the pamphlets contained these basic messages, with minor variations in some of them:

Chiropractic is a natural method of health care that treats the causes of physical problems rather than just the symptoms. Chiropractic is based on a simple but powerful premise: With a normally functioning spine and nerves and a healthy lifestyle, your body is better able to heal itself. That’s because the spinal cord, which is protected by the spine, is the main pathway of the nervous system. The nervous system controls movement, feeling, and function throughout your body.

Your chiropractor has at least six years of professional training in the sciences and health care, leading to a doctor of chiropractic (DC) degree. He or she works to maintain or restore your health and guides you in a personalized approach to overall wellness. . . .

Just as you need regular dental exams, you also need regular chiropractic exams. Even if you don ‘t have symptoms, chiropractic care is one of the best ways to manage or prevent  . . . problems and maintain a healthier life.

All also implied that chiropractic care could prevent the problems described in the pamphlets and would maintain or restore general health.

No scientific studies have demonstrated that chiropractic treatment generally treats “causes rather than just symptoms” or that chiropractic maintenance care will lead to a healthier life.

Krames’s 1994 catalog for chiropractors offered about 50 more educational items.

Click here to read the full text of the pamphlets.



Pocket Guides from Positive Promotions (1990s)

Positive Promotions of Brooklyn, New York, marketed pocket guides that could be imprinted the chiropractor’s name. Each consisted a jacket that displayed information as a card inside was pulled in and out. During the 1990s, I collected four such guides: The Prevent-A-Backache Guide contained useful tips for sitting, standing, walking, sleeping, diving, shopping & traveling, and exercise …

Positive Promotions of Brooklyn, New York, marketed pocket guides that could be imprinted the chiropractor’s name. Each consisted a jacket that displayed information as a card inside was pulled in and out. During the 1990s, I collected four such guides:

  • The Prevent-A-Backache Guide contained useful tips for sitting, standing, walking, sleeping, diving, shopping & traveling, and exercise & diet.
  • The Exercise Away Your Calories guide could display the number of calories in about 100 food items and the number of calories used per minute with running, swimming bycycling, walking, and aerobics. Sliding the inside card could then indicate the number of minutes of exercise that would burn off the number of calories of the selected food.
  • The Auto Collision Counselor guide, which contained a checklist of things to do in the event of an accident, provided a handy reminder to the collect the necessary  information.
  • The Vitamin/Mineral Guide enabled the user to see what nutrient deficiencies were supposedly associated with acne, depression, excessive thirst, heart trouble, high cholesterol, irritability, and twenty other symptoms or conditions and which foods were the best sources of these nutrients. This approach was irrational because the symptoms would be far more likely to have other causes.

Click here to see the guides.



Gallery of Chiropractic Ads and Other Promotional Materials

This gallery illustrates how chiropractors promoted themselves before the development of the Internet. I collected most of the newspaper ads from local papers, but some were mailed to me from other areas. Where many ads were placed by an individual chiropractor, I have grouped them into individual files. Before 1980, nearly all of the marketers …

This gallery illustrates how chiropractors promoted themselves before the development of the Internet. I collected most of the newspaper ads from local papers, but some were mailed to me from other areas. Where many ads were placed by an individual chiropractor, I have grouped them into individual files. Before 1980, nearly all of the marketers promoted subluxation-based philosophy and suggested that chiropractic’s scope was unlimited. After that time, these ideas persisted but gradually became less prominent.

A 13-city study published in a chiropractic journal found that of 5,456 chiropractors listed in the yellow pages during 1985 and 1986, 14.7% bought additional space in the regular listing section, 11.6% purchased large display advertisements, and 73.7% listed only their name and phone number. Of those who bought additional space, 10.8% advertised techniques, 11.6% mentioned symptoms, 14.7% mentioned injuries, 3% mentioned professional affiliations, and 4% offered free services. Since the late 1970s, I have collected more than 1,100 yellow-page display ads but have not done a statistical analysis.

In 1987, the American Chiropractic Association noted that advertising claims had been “getting worse and worse” and urged chiropractors to “stop the garbage yellow page ads” that contained coupons, offered free spinal x-rays, promised that there would no out-of pocket expense, or made exaggerated and unprofessional claims.

Inclusion in this gallery should not be interpreted as an assertion that all of the items were misleading. Most were, but some were not. My intention in posting them is simply to illustrate what I happened to collect. To place the items in perspective, please see the commentary articles listed below and other Chirobase pages that discuss the types of promotional claims that were used.

Early Promotional Materials
Pennsylvania Ads and Fliers from the Late 1960s and Early 1970s
Pamphlets
Booklets
Newspaper Ads and Mailers from the Mid-1970s through the Mid-1990s
Turn on health” bumper sticker from the 1980s
Yellow Page Ads
Other Promotional Materials
American Chiropractic Association Public Relations Materials
Internet Claims
Other Noteworthy Ads
Advertising Regulation


Dr. Joseph Mercola Ordered to Stop Illegal Claims

Joseph Mercola, D.O., who practiced for many years in Schaumburg, Illinois, now operates one of the Internet’s largest and most trafficked health information sites. Since 2012, Mercola has stated that his site has over 300,000 pages and is visited by “millions of people each day” and that his electronic newsletter has over one million subscribers …

Joseph Mercola, D.O., who practiced for many years in Schaumburg, Illinois, now operates one of the Internet’s largest and most trafficked health information sites. Since 2012, Mercola has stated that his site has over 300,000 pages and is visited by “millions of people each day” and that his electronic newsletter has over one million subscribers [1]. The site vigorously promotes and sells dietary supplements, many of which bear his name. It also publishes a steady stream of propaganda intended to persuade its visitors nit to trust mainstream healthcare viewpoints and consumer-protection agencies.

For many years, Dr. Mercola and other staff members saw patients at his clinic, which was called the Optimal Wellness Center. In 1999, Mercola announced that about one third of his new patients were autistic and that he had treated about 60 such children with secretin, a hormone he said “appeared to be a major breakthrough.” [2] After it was well settled that secretin is ineffective against autism [3], Mercola’s Web site still said it would work if a child complied with his recommended diet strategies [4].

In 2004, Medical Economics reported that Mercola’s practice employed 50 people and that he employed 15 people to run his newsletter, including three editors [5]. Much of his support has come from chiropractors who promote his newsletter from their Web sites. Two of his books hit the #2 sales rank on Amazon Books shortly after his newsletter plugged them for the first time. In 2017, a former employee told The Ringer that most of the articles on his website were ghost written and reviewed by him [6].

In 2006, an article in Business Week concluded that he was “one of a fast-growing number of alternative-health practitioners who seek to capitalize on concerns about the conventional health care system—in his case relying on slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics.” The article described how his promotions included (a) promises of “free’ to sell stuff; (a) lots of “bonuses,” (c) reports of real news that link to marginally related products, and (d) exaggerated claims. [7]

In 2012, an article in Chicago Magazine reported that Mercola had stopped practicing medicine six years previously to focus on his Web site [8]. However, his decision may have been influenced by a 3-year battle with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation [9]. I did not see any mention of this on his Web site, and the site invited patients to come to his clinic—which was renamed Dr. Mercola’s Natural Health Center—for offbeat practices that included detoxification, chiropractic, Dispensary, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Functional Medicine Program, homeopathy, Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST), Nutritional Typing Test, thermography, Total Body Modification (TBM), and Active Isolated Stretching.

In September 2014, Mercola announced that he had closed the clinic “in order to devote his full time and attention to research, education and increasing public awareness.” [10]

Many of Mercola’s articles make unsubstantiated claims and clash with those of leading medical and public health organizations. For example, he opposes immunization [11] fluoridation. [12], mammography [13], and the routine administration of vitamin K shots to the newborn [14,15]; claims that amalgam fillings are toxic [16]; and makes many unsubstantiated recommendations for dietary supplements. He has advised against eating many foods that the scientific community regards as healthful, such as bananas, oranges, red potatoes, white potatoes, all milk products, and almost all grains [17]. He has also given silly advice, such as minimizing exposure to electromagnetic fields by avoiding electric razors, microwaving of foods, watches with batteries [18]. Mercola’s reach has been greatly boosted by repeated promotion on the “Dr. Oz Show.”

Mercola’s Profits

Mercola is very critical of drug company profits and proudly states:

Mercola.com does NOT accept any third-party advertising or sponsorship, and I am in no way tied into any pharmaceutical company or any other corporate “interest” whatsoever. So you get the real inside scoop on health issues, with practical advice that matters to you untainted by outside influence! [1]

He has also stated:

Mercola.com is not . . . a tool to get me a bigger house and car, or to run for Senate. I fund this site, and therefore, am not handcuffed to any advertisers, silent partners or corporate parents. . . .

Profit generated from the sale of the products I recommend goes right back into maintaining and building a better site. A site that, startling as it may be with all the greed-motivated hype out there in health care land, is truly for you [19].

I don’t doubt Mercola’s sincerity—and I know nothing about how he allocates his income. But the BlockShopper Chicago Web site stated that in 2006 he purchased a house in South Barrington, Illinois, for $2 million and that it had 5,563 square feet. It was sold in 2016 after he had relocated to  Florida. The Bing Maps aerial view indicates that the property is quite luxurious. His current Florida home, which he also uses as a business address, is much larger.

In 2011, Mercola announced the formation of Health Liberty, a nonprofit coalition whose goals include promoting organic foods and targeting fluoridation, vaccination, genetically modified foods, and the use of amalgam fillings [20]. In a video accompanying the announcement, Mercola stated that he planned to donate $1 million to catalyze the project. In addition to Mercola.com, the coalition members are:

  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which understates the benefits and exaggerates the risks of vaccination.
  • Fluoride Action Network (FAN), the leading promoter of misinformation about fluoridation. Its donations are funneled through the nonprofit American Environmental Health Studies Project.
  • Institute for Responsible Technology, which understates the benefits and exaggerates the risks of genetically modification of foods
  • Consumers for Dental Choice, which vigorously attacks amalgam use with misinformation, propaganda, lobbying, and lawsuits.
  • Organic Consumers Association, which irresponsibly promotes unpasteurized milk and spreads false alarms about food irradiation, agricultural biotechnology, and vaccines.

The money for the donations was funneled from Mercola.com Health Research LLC through Mercola’s nonprofit Natural Health Resources Foundation, which showed the following grants for the above groups on its tax returns:

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015 2016 2016

Total

Consumers for Dental Choice

103,152

75,000

100,000

175,000

175,000 220,000 240,000

1,088,152

National Vaccine Information Center

300,000

400,000

400,000

400,000

400,000 500,000 401,000

2,801,000

Organic Consumers Association

505,000

200,000

460,000

580,000

580,000 861,000 720,000

3,906,000

American Environmental Health Studies Project

10,000

10,000

25,000

20,000

20,000 30,000 15,000

130,000

 

The “health freedom” argument involves deception by misdirection. It focuses on individual freedom but does not consider how people who fail to protect their health put the rest of society at physical and/or financial risk. Failing to vaccinate, for example, decreases herd immunity so that contagious diseases spread more widely. In 2012, Mercola began calling his newsletter “Health Liberty Newsletter.”

In 2013, Williamette Week reported that Mercola had donated a total of $26,975 in cash and in-kind contributions that included polling and a YouTube video to support the efforts of the antifluoridation group that is opposing a fluoridation referendum in Portland, Oregon. The report also stated that “Mercola has questioned whether HIV causes AIDS, suggests that many cancers can be cured by baking soda, and warns parents not to vaccinate their children. He also says that animals are psychic.” [21]

The Washington Post has reported that by 2010, Mercola’s businesses were generating $3 million a month and that in 2017, he indicated that his net worth was over $100 million [22].

Mercola lives with Erin Elizabeth, whose health-related views and activities are similar to his and describes herself as “a long-term health nut, author, and public speaker.”

Better Business Bureau Reports

Mercola markets his supplements through Mercola Health Resources, LLC. In 2011, after a customer complained that she thought a product she purchased was overpriced, I began checking whether the Better Business Bureau had received any complaints. I found that the company was rated C- on a scale of A+ through F. On February 1, 2012, the BBB reported that during the previous 36 months, there were 26 complaints—which is not an unusually high number for a high-volume business—but the report contained the following comments:

A recent review of consumer complaints filed with the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois against your Mercola Health Resources, LLC delineates a pattern of consumer allegations. Consumers are alleging that Mercola Health Resources does not honor the 100% money-back guarantee listed on your website. Customers have reported that refunds have not been provided for returns that were specifically covered under this guarantee. Consumers have also reported that they have experienced delivery issues. While www.mercola.com states that orders ship within 10 business days, consumers say they have waited much longer for their products. Customers allege that the company’s service staff has been unable to provide explanations regarding this delay. Some consumers have also reported that Mercola provided them with shipment tracking numbers that were not valid with their respective carriers [23].

On November 26, 2013, I checked again and found that during the previous 36 months there had been 34 complaints, but Mercola Health Resources was rated A+. In September 2015, I checked and found that there had been 10 complaints but the rating remained A+. In January 2017, I checked again and found there had been 5 complaints and the rating was A-. In July 2020, I checked again and found that there had been no complaints and the rating was A+.

FDA Warnings

In 2005, the FDA ordered Mercola and his Optimal Wellness Center to stop making illegal claims for products sold through his Web site [24]. The claims to which the FDA objected involved three products:

  • Living Fuel Rx, claimed to offer an “exceptional countermeasure” against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, etc.
  • Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil, claimed to reduce the risk of heart disease and has beneficial effects against Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and many infectious agents
  • Chlorella, claimed to fight cancer and normalize blood pressure.

In 2006, the FDA sent Mercola and his center a second warning that was based on product labels collected during an inspection at his facility and on claims made on the Optimum Wellness Center Web site [25]. This time the claims to which the FDA objected involve four products:

  • Vibrant Health Research Chlorella XP, claimed to “help to virtually eliminate your risk of developing cancer in the future.”
  • Fresh Shores Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, claimed to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and degenerative diseases.
  • Momentum Health Products Vitamin K2, possibly useful in treating certain kinds of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Momentum Health Products Cardio Essentials Nattokinase NSK-SD, claimed to be “a much safer and effective option than aspirin and other pharmaceutical agents to treating heart disease.”

The warning letters explained that the use of such claims in the marketing of these products violates the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, which bans unapproved claims for products that are intended for curing, mitigating, treating, or preventing of diseases. (Intended use can be established through product labels, catalogs, brochures, tapes, Web sites, or other circumstances surrounding the distribution of the product.)

In 2011, the FDA ordered Mercola to stop making claims for thermography that go beyond what the equipment he uses (Medtherm2000 infrared camera) was cleared for. The warning letter said that statements on Mercola’s site improperly imply that the Meditherm camera can be used alone to diagnose or screen for various diseases or conditions associated with the breast, they also represent that the sensitivity of the Meditherm Med2000 Telethermographic camera is greater than that of machines used in mammography. The statements to which the FDA objected included:

  • “Revolutionary and Safe Diagnostic Tool Detects Hidden Inflammation: Thermography”
  • “The Newest Safe Cancer Screening Tool”
  • “[b]ecause measuring inflammation through thermal imaging is a proactive, preventative method you can use for detecting disease, which significantly improves your chances for longevity and good health.”
  • Additionally, thermograms provide: “Reliable and accurate information for diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. . .”
  • “Yes, it’s true. Thermograms provide you with early diagnosis and treatment assistance in such problems as cancer, inflammatory processes, neurological and vascular dysfunction, and musculoskeletal injury.”
  • Thermography can benefit patients by detecting conditions including: Arthritis: “[d]ifferentiate between osteoarthritis and more severe forms like rheumatoid.” Immune Dysfunction, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, “Digestive Disorders: Irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, and Crohn’s disease . . .” and “Other Conditions: including bursitis, herniated discs, ligament or muscle tear, lupus, nerve problems, whiplash, stroke screening, cancer and many, many others.” [26]

In 2011, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mercola had not complied with the FDA’s order and intended to “fight the FDA . . . if they decide to take it further.” [27] However, in 2012, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation asked Mercola to attend an informal conference to discuss a complaint that he was “making deceptive claims promoting thermography as a standalone diagnostic tool for detecting cancer and other diseases and is attacking the use of mammograms.” Mercola’s Web site still promotes thermography and trashes mammography, but the site stopped offering thermography appointments later that year—and Mercola’s special report, “The Safe Breast Cancer Screening Test Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About,” is no longer apparent.

FTC Action

In 2016, Mercola, Mercola.com, LLC and Mercola.com Health Resources, settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint by agreeing to stop selling tanning beds and to pay to $5,334,067 to cover the cost of refunds and administration of the refund program. The defendants were charged with falsely claiming that their indoor tanning devices would enable consumers to slash their risk of cancer and improve the clarity, tone and texture of their skin, giving them a more youthful appearance. Commenting on the case, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, noted that indoor tanning is not safe because it increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma [28].

COVID-19 Response

Mercola has reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic by claiming that many of his products can boost immunity and by attacking the preventive advice given by public health agencies throughout the world. In August 2020, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other nonprofit legal groups urged the FDA and FTC to stop Mercola from marketing at least 23 products with false claims that they can prevent or treat the disease. The letters state:

Mercola Group has been capitalizing on the coronavirus pandemic by advising consumers to purchase vitamins, supplements, and other products sold on its website to prevent or treat the virus. Mercola Group’s website contains many misleading articles, such as “Nutrition and Natural Strategies Offer Hope Against COVID-19,” and a “Coronavirus Resource Guide” compiling various unsubstantiated claims about the COVID-fighting properties of various supplements. It also offers “medical” advice, including the extraordinarily dangerous and unsubstantiated recommendation that individuals actually try to contract COVID-19 after using the supplements it sells to ameliorate the symptoms.

Mercola Group and Dr. Mercola make multiple deceptive and unsubstantiated claims in marketing supplements and other products. The products that Mercola Group sells through its online store, and that Dr. Mercola has endorsed in public statements (described below) for the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19, include: vitamin C (specifically, liposomal vitamin C); vitamin D; zinc and selenium (which Mercola Group sells together); melatonin; licorice; molecular hydrogen; astaxanthin; n-acetyl cysteine; prebiotics, probiotics, and sporebiotics; saunas; ozone therapy; elderberry extract; spirulina; beta-glucan; lipoic acid; and sulforaphane [29,30].

The letters were accompanied by a chart that detailed the challenged claims [31].

For Additional Information
References
  1. Mercola JM. Health website rankings: Mercola.com is now world’s most visited natural health site. Mercola.com, accessed Feb 1, 2012.
  2. Mercola JM. Milk linked to autism, schizophrenia. Optimal Wellness Center Web site, March 21, 1999.
  3. Williams K and others. Intravenous secretin for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Cochrane Collaboration, 2012
  4. Mercola JM. Single injection of secretin does not treat autism. Originally published in 1999 or 2000..
  5. Joseph Mercola: The physician as entrepreneur. Medical Economics, August 20, 2004, p 37.
  6. Gumpert DE. Old-time sales tricks on the Net. Bloomberg Business, May 22, 2006.
  7. Knibbs K. The most honest man in medicine?The Ringer, Jan 5, 2017.
  8. Smith B. Dr. Mercola: Visionary or quack? Chicago Magazine, Feb 12, 2012.
  9. Barrett S. Dr. Joseph Mercola’s battle with his state licensing board. Casewatch, Sept 1, 2015.
  10. Dr. Mercola’s Natural Health Center home page, accessed Sept 2, 2014.
  11. Buttram H. Vaccine safety and benefits not scientifically proven. Optimal Wellness Center Web site, Jan 15, 2003.
  12. Mercola JM. Is fluoride as safe as you are told. Optimal Wellness Center Web site, Feb 2, 6, and 9, 2002.
  13. Mercola JM. Mammograms don’t save lives. Mercola.com Web site, Oct 1, 2000.
  14. Mercola JM. The dark side of the routine newborn vitamin K shot. Mercola.com, March 27, 2010.
  15. Jones C. Separating fact from fiction in the not-so-normal newborn nursery: Vitamin K shots….. Science-Based Medicine, Dec 6, 2013.
  16. Mercola JM. The experts get it wrong about mercury again! Optimal Wellness Center Web site, Dec 9, 2004.
  17. Mercola JM. Reaching for optimal wellness. Mercola.com, accessed, Aug 31, 2000.
  18. Mercola JM. Reaching for optimal wellness outline. Mercola.com, accessed  Aug 17, 2000.
  19. Mercola JM. Why trust me? Mercola.com Web site, March 19, 2011.
  20. Mercola JM. New plan to help you take back your health freedoms. Mercola.com, Oct 3, 2011.
  21. Mesh A. Dr. Joseph Mercola gives $15,000 to anti-flouride campaign. Williamette Week, May 6, 2013.
  22. Satija N., Sun LH. A major funder of the anti-vaccine movement has made millions selling natural health products. Washington Post, Dec 20, 2019.
  23. BBB reliability report for Mercola Health Resources LLC. Better Business Bureau, Feb 1, 2012.
  24. Walker SJ. Warning letter to Joseph Mercola, D.O., Feb 16, 2005.
  25. MacIntire SJ. Warning letter to Joseph Mercola, D.O., September 21, 2006.
  26. Silverman S. Warning letter to Dr. Joseph Mercola, March 22, 2011.
  27. Tsouderos T. FDA warns doctor: Stop touting camera as disease screening tool. Chicago Tribune, April 26, 2011.
  28. Marketers of indoor tanning systems to pay refunds to consumers: Defendants ran ads claiming that Indoor tanning is safe, Doesn’t increase the risk of skin cancer. FTC news release, April 14, 2016]
  29. Briskin C and others. Request for FDA enforcement regarding unlawful COVID-19 disease claims by Mercola Group, July 21, 2020.
  30. Briskin C and others. Request for FTC enforcement regarding false COVID-19 disease claims by Mercola Group, July 21, 2020.
  31. CSPI and others. Illegal claims pertaining to Mercola Group products. July 2, 2020.


Pamphlets from Chiropractic Communications of America (1986)

Chiropractic Communications of, America Inc., located in Baldwin, Michigan, was incorporated as a for-profit corporation in 1986. Its president was Robert Natzel. Its products included pamphlets and a tabloid newspaper called The Chiropractic Way that could be used to attract patients. The overall message was subluxation-based. The pamphlets included: The Philosophy of Chiropractic Drugs and …

Chiropractic Communications of, America Inc., located in Baldwin, Michigan, was incorporated as a for-profit corporation in 1986. Its president was Robert Natzel. Its products included pamphlets and a tabloid newspaper called The Chiropractic Way that could be used to attract patients. The overall message was subluxation-based. The pamphlets included:

  • The Philosophy of Chiropractic
  • Drugs and Surgery Should Be Your Last Resort
  • Scoliosis: Some Straight Talk
  • The “Slipped Disc” Syndrome
  • Chiropractic Treatment of Sports Related Injuries

Click here to access the full text of these pamphlets.



Chiropractic Pamphlets from the American Chiropractic Association (1970s)

The American Chiropractic Association, which was formed in 1963, is the largest professional organization for chiropractors in the United States. The pamphlets listed here are undated but were published between 1963 and 1980. Chiropractic Contributions Enrich Modern Science Your Kidneys and Your Health Chiropractic Corrects Poliomyelitis How to Conquer Nerve Tension Digestive Defects Are Correctable …

The American Chiropractic Association, which was formed in 1963, is the largest professional organization for chiropractors in the United States. The pamphlets listed here are undated but were published between 1963 and 1980.

  • Chiropractic Contributions Enrich Modern Science
  • Your Kidneys and Your Health
  • Chiropractic Corrects Poliomyelitis
  • How to Conquer Nerve Tension
  • Digestive Defects Are Correctable
  • Save Those Tonsils for Better Health!
  • So You Have An Allergy?
  • Chiropractic for Gastric Ulcers
  • Chiropractic Corrects” Tractor Back” and Other Farm Injuries
  • How to Attain Normal Blood Pressure
  • You Can Control Obesity . . . An Abnormal Condition—with Proper Diet and Essential Normal Nerve Function
  • Constipation Can Cripple You
  • Lumbago

Chiropractic Contributions Enrich Modern Science alleges that chiropractic has made five outstanding contributions to modern science, one of which is that “subluxations occur frequently.”

Your Kidneys and Your Healtasserts that, “Whatever the particular form of kidney disorder which may affect one, your chiropractor has been especially educated and trained to detect its nature and its cause, and to correct that cause, permitting nature to restore normal function.”

Chiropractic Corrects Poliomyelitis states: ” To prevent polio . . . . Periodic chiropractic spinal examination is important for all ages, but especially for children” and “Adjustment of spinal distortion to reduce nerve pressure and irritation and promote nerve reactivation is pre-eminent in the distinctive chiropractic corrective procedure for polio.” The fact that polio vaccination was avail]able was not mentioned.

All but one of the pamphlets includes the message, “If you do not enjoy good health, consult your chiropractor first.”

Click here to read the full text of the eight pamphlets.



A Skeptical Look at Kelly Victory, M.D.

In a recent YouTube video, Kelly Victory, M.D. asserted that (a) COVID-19 is less serious than generally believed, (b) social distancing is not necessary, (c) wearing a mask does more harm than good, and (d) Americans should feel “secure and confident to fully return to your lives, your businesses, schools, and places of worship without …

In a recent YouTube video, Kelly Victory, M.D. asserted that (a) COVID-19 is less serious than generally believed, (b) social distancing is not necessary, (c) wearing a mask does more harm than good, and (d) Americans should feel “secure and confident to fully return to your lives, your businesses, schools, and places of worship without fear and without limitations.” [1] The video had more than 600,000 views before YouTube removed it for violating its community guidelines. This article tells why I believe her advice is dangerous and should be ignored.

Background History

In the video, Dr. Victory introduces herself this way:

I’m a trauma and emergency physician with a specialty in disaster preparedness and response and the management of mass casualty. For the past two decades, I’ve been in public health working with and advising Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, schools, and municipalities; developing plans and training them to respond effectively to the worst ever cases whether that be a hurricane, a flood, an active shooter, or a pandemic.

Victory—whose formal first name is Colleen—was born in 1961 in Ohio. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, studied literature at Oxford University in England, and received a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois [2]. After  obtaining her medical degree in 1990 from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine in 1990, she completed a residency program in trauma and emergency medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center. She became licensed in Colorado in 1993 and Ohio in 1995 and practiced emergency medicine until 1997 when she developed a degenerative spine disease that made it impossible to continue [3]. During the next few years, she co-founded and became managing partner of R.S. Gordon & Associates Inc., a consulting firm that specialized in medicolegal case review and care-quality reviews for hospitals. She was also involved with fundraising and marketing strategies for a number of health care and biotech companies [2]. From 2002 through 2008, she was the chief medical officer for Whole Health Management, which set up in-house health-care clinics for large companies [4]. She now resides in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She is not listed as a staff member of the hospital chain that serves that community.

Many websites, including her main blog site, describe Victory as board certified in emergency medicine. However, she is not listed in the database of the American Board of Medical Specialties or my 2007 Directory of Medical Specialists. I assume that she achieved certification during the 1990s but her certification is no longer current. If so, it would be misleading to describe herself as board-certified.

Since 2006, Victory has been president of Victory Health, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which provides organizational training for mass-casualty incidents. The company was registered as a for-profit corporation in Ohio from 2004 to 2005 and has been registered as a domestic limited liability company in Colorado since 2007.

In an online biography, Victory says she was “a member of” Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and “served for many years” on a leadership council at Harvard’s public health school. However, The Denver Post has reported that a Harvard spokesperson said that Victory went through a 10-day NPLI program about a dozen years ago and only briefly was a member of the leadership council [5]. She has also been a member of Gov. Mitt Romney’s healthcare policy team.

In 2008, Walgreens announced that it had purchased Whole Health Management, which it described this way:

Whole Health Management is a leading operator of on-site and near-site employer sponsored clinics, health and wellness centers, and pharmacies in the United States. Since 1981, Whole Health has provided comprehensive and integrated occupational health, preventive care, urgent and primary care, physical therapy, fitness programs, health risk and disease management, health coaching and behavioral health counseling to corporate employees and their families. Whole Health clinics deliver significant savings to corporations through lower health care costs, increased productivity, reduced employee sick time, and decreased pharmacy costs. Whole Health currently serves more than 300,000 employees, and in many cases, spouses and dependents, at 69 sites, including many large corporations and Fortune 500 companies [6].

I gather from all this that Dr. Victory was trained in emergency medicine and disaster preparedness, practiced emergency medicine for a few years, and then transitioned into administrative and consulting work. Her main experience—as part of a large team at Whole Health Management for six years— involved administrative supervision of a thriving chain of company clinics. Despite extensive online searching, I have found nothing about her professional activities since 2008. The people I trust most for advice about COVID-19 have extensive training, clinical experience, and research expertise in the fields of infectious disease, epidemiology, immunology, and statistics and are networked with other experts in these fields. She does not fit this description.

False Assertions in the Video

Victory’s 17½-minute video contains at least twelve statements that are false. My comments in bold red type explain why I believe they are false.

  1. “We know that COVID-19 is a mild disease in the vast majority of people; 85% of people who contract COVID-19 have few if any symptoms at all. Another 10% or so actually become ill the way you might with the flu and need to seek medical care, but only a very small number actually require hospitalization. And although any deaths are tragic, only a tiny fraction have died from this infection.” — I don’t believe enough is known to determine what percentages get sick enough to seek medical care and/or die. But—using Victory’s numbers—if taking no precautions means that 15% of the American public will become “ill the way you might with the flu,” that would be 50 million people, and a “tiny percentage” of deaths that would be hundreds of thousands. Moreover, many who do not die would develop serious and perhaps permanent complications. Victory’s numbers seem low because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 40% of Americans have at least one underlying health condition that would put them at risk for severe complications of COVID-19 [7],
  2. “This particular virus doesn’t do well when exposed to warm temperatures or to sunshine. It simply can’t survive for more than a few minutes when the temperatures are above about 70 degrees and certainly not when temperatures are in the mid-80s or higher.” — The recent surge of cases in Southern states make it clear that COVID-19 virus can spread easily in warm climates.
  3. “Outside of New York City this virus has essentially been a nursing home problem. The general public has simply not been impacted the way the media and public health officials have led us to believe. — The share of COVID-19 deaths occurring in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is estimated to be 40-45% [8]. That does not make the “general public” deaths any less serious. 
  4. “Social distancing isn’t even an established health care concept … The whole idea of social distancing was based on a theoretical model explored by a high school student in a science fair some years ago.” — In 2006, a very bright teenager developed a computer simulation with help from her father, who was a senior scientist at Sandia Laboratories’ National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center [9]. Since then, however, the concept has been extensively studied and proven valid [10]. One study of 58 cities, for example, has that each day’s delay in social distancing, added 2.4 days to the length of an outbreak [11].
  5. “Multiple medical organizations have now acknowledged that there is no scientific justification for normal healthy people to be wearing masks.” — When the pandemic became apparent, some organizations caused confusion by advising the general public against mask use so that frontline healthcare workers could obtain respirator (N95) masks that were in short supply. We now know it is possible for infected people to spread the disease before they develop symptoms and that cloth masks also reduce the distance that infectious particles can travel. So there is near-universal agreement among experts that cloth mask use plus social distancing will greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19 [12].
  6. Many masks “are not porous enough to allow carbon dioxide that we exhale to fully dissipate. So in every inhalation we breathe back in more carbon dioxide. — This claim is nonsensical. Masks reduce the spread of infectious droplets that can carry the virus [13], but the materials used are still porous enough to allow passage of gas molecules like carbon dioxide and oxygen, which are about 10,000 times smaller than the virus [14]. If carbon dioxide built up as Victory claims, medical professionals who wear tight-fitting respirator masks would quickly become short of breath. But that simply does not happen.
  7. “Habitual wearing of masks decreases the body’s natural immune response.” — It has been hypothesized that exposure to germs throughout life can bolster immunity. Even if this were proven true, there is no logical reason to believe that mask-wearing would interfere with this because masks are not airtight and are usually worn for short periods of time.
  8. “Children are at virtually no risk.” — The incidence of COVID-19 in children under age 10 is low but not zero. The incidence among children ages 10 to 19 is fairly low, but some have had severe complications. 
  9. “There is a very low risk from exposure to children . . . . We don’t need to be concerned about being in close contact with them. . . . One of the best things we can do is allow children to be out and about, knowing that if they do get exposed, they have virtually no risk of actually becoming ill but they will develop antibodies that will protect them and others from future outbreaks by contributing to the overall immunity of the herd.” — A large study from South Korea has found that “children younger than 10 transmit the coronavirus to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero.” Furthermore, those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do [15].
  10. Referring to hydroxychloroquine: “More and more doctors around the world have been using this drug for patients with COVID-19 and treating those patients early on in their illnesses. So we are gathering a tremendous amount of data that will allow us to say with certainty that it is effective. — Drugs should only be used if the expected benefits outweigh the probable risks. Three recent studies have found no benefit [16], and the the FDA has warned about significant risks, including death [17].
  11. “We know the things that are most useful in assuring that our immune systems are able to operate at peak efficiency. Healthy diet; adequate sleep; regular exercise; exposure to the sun; taking extra vitamin D, and vitamin C, and zinc particularly during cold and flu season.” — Although adequate amounts of these factors help maintain immune function, normal immune function is not sufficient to protect against COVID-19 infection. Taking extra nutrients has not been proven beneficial against respiratory diseases.
  12. It is safe “to fully return to your lives, your businesses, schools, and places of worship without fear and without limitations.” — Victory reasons that if things went back to normal, the pandemic would eventually subside because herd immunity would be achieved. There are several problems with this: (a) it is not yet known whether if infection with the COVID-19 virus makes a person immune to future infection [18], (b) assuming that survivors will be immune, the percentage of the population needed to set up herd immunity is unknown but probably in the neighborhood of 70-90%, and (c) if 70-90% of 330 million people get infected with COVID-19, tens of millions would get very ill, millions would develop serious complications, and millions would die unnecessarily. These numbers are vastly greater than numbers experts now predict with social distancing and mask-wearing. The scientific community believes that herd immunity cannot be safely achieved until a vaccine is available.

Two other commentators have dissected other false assertions in the video [19,20].

Criminal Conviction

In 2012, a local newspaper reported that Victory was sentenced after pleading no contest to disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor). The charge stemmed from an early morning episode during which police said Victory displayed a .38-caliber handgun while arguing with another woman. Victory was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and using a weapon in a prohibited manner. (These charges were withdrawn.) Her sentence called for 24 hours of community service plus six months of unsupervised probation. She already had surrendered her concealed weapons permit and underwent an alcohol evaluation. Victory maintained that she had done nothing wrong. Her attorney said she pleaded no contest to bring an end to the painful legal process [21].

YouTube Removal

YouTub’s “COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy” states that videos can be removed if they spread medical misinformation that contradicts the World Health Organization or local health authorities’ medical information about treatment, prevention, diagnosis, or transmission of COVID-19 [22]. In August 2020, YouTube removed seven copies of the video discussed in this article.

The Bottom Line

Colleen Victory, M.D. (a/k/a Kelley Victory) asserts that (a) concerns about the  COVID0-19 pandemic are overblown, (b) wearing a mask does more harm than good, and (c) it is safe to “fully return to your lives, without fear and without limitations.” Her ideas were being spread primarily through a YouTube video that was filled with false information and poor medical reasoning. Following her advice might kill you. 

References
  1. Victory K. Breaking down – COVID-19. Posted to YouTube, July 6, 2020.
  2. Management team. Whole Health Management website, archived Feb 3, 2004. (Click link to Victory’s name).
  3. Kelly Victory. Crain’s Cleveland Business, July 5, 2004.
  4. Kelly Victory. Linkedin page, accessed July 19, 2020.
  5. Wingerter J. Colorado candidate campaigns with doctor who shared coronavirus conspiracy theories. The Denver Post, April 7, 2020.
  6. Walgreens completes acquisitions of worksite health care providers I-trax/CHD Meridian Healthcare and Whole Health Management. Businesswire, May 1, 2008.
  7. Razzaghi H and others. Estimated county-level prevalence of selected underlying medical conditions associated with increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness — United States, 2018. Morbidity snd Mortality Weekly Report 69:945-950, 2020.
  8. Roy H. Nursing home deaths from COVID-19: U.S. historical data. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity web site, July 15, 2020.
  9. Reed O. Social distancing born in ABQ teen’s science project. Albuquerque Journal, May 2, 2020.
  10. Brooks JT and others. Universal masking to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission—The time is now. JAMA, July 14, 2020.
  11. Du Z. Effects of proactive social distancing on COVID-19 outbreaks in 58 cities, China. Emerging Infectious Diseases 26:9, 2020
  12. Chu DK and others. Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 395:1973-1986, 2020.
  13. Tereszcuk T. Fact check: Hypercapnia does NOT occur from constant use of a mask as advised during The COVID-19 outbreak. Lead Stories, May 25, 2020.
  14. Howard J. Face masks against COVID-19: An evidence review. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 10, 2020.
  15. Park YJ. Contact tracing during coronavirus disease outbreak, South Korea, 2020. Emerging Infectious Diseases 26:10, 2020.
  16. Kuperschmidt K. Three big studies dim hopes that hydroxychloroquine can treat or prevent COVID-19. Science & Medicine, June 9, 2020.
  17. FDA cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems: Does not affect FDA-approved uses for malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. FDA news, updated July 1, 2020.
  18. Herd immunity and COVID-19 (coronavirus): What you need to know. Mayo Clinic website, June 6, 2020.
  19. Miller D. Fact check: Dr. Kelly Victory’s ‘COVID Facts’ video includes many claims that are NOT facts. Lead Stories, July 13, 2020.
  20. Dr. Kelly Victory: Another despicable physician spreading disinformation about COVID-19. Respectful Insolence, July 15, 2020.
  21. Stensland M. Victory charges dropped as part of plea deal. Steamboat Pilot & Today, June 15, 2012.
  22. COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy. YouTube, accessed July 25, 2020.


Significant Journal Reports

The links below lead to summaries or full-text versions of important articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals. Please contact us to suggest articles that should be added to this page. Chiropractic Identity and Practices Gliedt JA. Chiropractic identity, role and future: A survey of North American chiropractic students. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 23:4, 2015. Murphy DR …

The links below lead to summaries or full-text versions of important articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals. Please contact us to suggest articles that should be added to this page.

Chiropractic Identity and Practices
Advertising and Marketing
Chiropractic care, cost and effectiveness
Reliability of chiropractic procedures
Education
Immunization and immune function
Spinal manipulation, appropriateness
Spinal manipulation, complications
Spinal manipulation, effectiveness


Misuse of X-Rays in Chiropractic Posture Queen Contests

From the 1920s to the late 1960s, chiropractic organizations used posture pageants to draw media attention to their profession. Except for the emphasis on posture, the earlier ones were similar to other beauty contests of their day. But in 1954, a chiropractor named Clair O’Dell suggested that the contest focus on the straightest spine as …

From the 1920s to the late 1960s, chiropractic organizations used posture pageants to draw media attention to their profession. Except for the emphasis on posture, the earlier ones were similar to other beauty contests of their day. But in 1954, a chiropractor named Clair O’Dell suggested that the contest focus on the straightest spine as demonstrated by x-ray. The main score was for spine and body alignment with other points given for poise, beauty, and personality [1].

During the next few years, the National Chiropractic Association, International Chiropractors Association, and Canadian Chiropractic Association jointly administered a “posture week” project with a  “Posture Queen” contest throughout North America. To nominate a contestant, an individual chiropractor submitted a full-spine x-ray plus the contestant’s photograph. At state finals, judging was based half on spinal structure and half on spinal structure. At the height of their popularity, winners visited presidents, interviewed  on television shows, and were featured in newspapers, Time and Life magazines, and other publications [2].

Full-spine x-rays provide very little useful diagnostic information and expose patients to large amounts of radiation. Only a small percentage of chiropractors still use them. It was improper to expose young women to medically unnecessary radiation so they could compete in beauty contests.

References
  1. Hynes RJR. The most beautiful spines in America: The history of the Posture Queens. Chiropractic History 22(2):65-71, 2002.
  2. Eveland AC. Posture queen visited Walla Walla in 1962. Union Bulletin, Jan 22, 2017.


Victim Case Reports

The number of people harmed by quackery-related activities is unknown. Most such harm is not publicly reported because the victims are either too confused or too embarrassed to step forward. As historian James Harvey Young, Ph.D., noted in The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America: Failure seldom diminishes patient loyalty. When regulatory …

The number of people harmed by quackery-related activities is unknown. Most such harm is not publicly reported because the victims are either too confused or too embarrassed to step forward. As historian James Harvey Young, Ph.D., noted in The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America:

Failure seldom diminishes patient loyalty. When regulatory agencies seek to prosecute quacks, the agencies have a difficult task getting hapless patients to testify in court. Partly this results from the desire to avoid public exposure as a dupe; but often this objection to testifying rests on an inability to realize that deception has taken place. Many quacks do such a good job of exuding sincerity that their explanations seem all too plausible. Even patients faced with death believe in the “kindly” person who says the special remedy would have worked if treatment had only begun a little sooner.

To illustrate quackery’s dangers, this web site will post reports of victims whose stories have become public—either through their direct efforts or through civil suits or criminal prosecutions that have come to our attention. It takes great courage for victims (or their survivors) to admit that they or their loved one made a serious error.

Even when a suit is filed, there may be little or no publicity. The news media often decide that it would be unfair to the defendant to publicize the case until a jury verdict has been rendered. The attorneys instruct their clients not to discuss their case with anyone. Plaintiffs’ attorneys fear that a judge might conclude that publicity interfered with the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Defendants’ attorneys want to minimize publicity that could damage the reputations of their clients. Both sides may also fear that loose talk might hurt their case in other ways. The majority of meritorious cases are settled out of court years later with an agreement not to disclose the terms of the settlement and, in some cases, the details of the case. Such secrecy agreements may prevent the media from learning about the settlement and may make it impossible for the media to get sufficient detail to consider it newsworthy.

Individual Case Reports
  • Lorie Atikian (died of malnutrition and pneumonia under naturopathic care)—link to another site
  • Kristie Bedenbauer (killed by chiropractic neck manipulation)—revised 12/17/99
  • Debbie Benson (died of breast cancer while relying on “natural” methods)—posted 10/23/97
  • MB (testimony of a woman whose father died in 1986 after relying on an unlicensed herbalist for cancer treatment—posted 12/27/11
  • Feingold diet victim (could not concentrate and suffered humiliation during childhood)—posted 3/15/04
  • Hanne (cancer patient vitimized by Hulda Clark follower)–link to another site
  • HB (autistic child mistreated by chelation doctor)—posted 11/28/01
  • Lisa Campbell (frightened and upset by an iridologist)—posted 4/19/12
  • Ruth Conrad (face burned off by quack treatment with salve for nonexistent cancer)—posted 2/16/02
  • Paulette Cooper (trouble after writing a book critical of Scientology)—link to another site
  • Children seriously harmed by vitamin A poisoning—posted 12/22/18
  • Lucille Craven (chose bogus “alternative” treatments for her cancer)—posted 2/27/02
  • Tawnya Cummiskey (induced by doctor to buy unnecessary herbal products)—posted 10/18/99
  • Frances Denoon (stroke from chiropractic neck adjustment)—link to another site
  • Penelope Dingle (died of cancer under homeopathic care)—link to Homeowatch
  • Marian Fowden: (Her mother was a lifelong victim of quacks)—posted 2/21/02
  • Dale and Susan Fox (ripped off by Herbalife)—posted 2/14/04
  • Amy C. Hays (how a chiropractor used scare tactics to keep her coming back)—posted 1/4/00
  • Amy Hermanson (died of undiagnosed diabetes under Christian Science care)—link to another site
  • Lori Hoeksema (father with cancer defrauded by James Gary Davidson)—revised 9/15/02
  • Pam Hysong’s husband (sickened by phony cancer cure)—posted 4/18/02
  • J. Kesterson (mistreatment by an unethical chiropractor)—posted 9/15/02
  • Lorrie Kruse (a/k/a Lorrie Hellier) (harmed by Sargenti dental paste)—revised 11/3/13
  • Virginia MacConnell—swindled by immuno-augmentatuive therapy clinic (posted 9/10/18
  • Lisa McPherson (alleged Scientology victim—link to another site
  • Aubakar Tariq Nadama (autistic child killed by chelation therapy)—posted 7/11/07
  • Chuckie Peters (nearly kolled by toxic dosage of vitamin A)—posted 12/19/18
  • Ryan Pitzer (killed by unfounded advice in a book)—posted 3/27/99
  • Robyn (suffered needlessly during the terminal phase of breast cancer)—posted 3/7/02
  • Kelley Smith (how a chiropractor ruined her life)—posted 6/11/01
  • Sheri Spencer (father victimized by a cancer quack)—posted 2/11/05
  • Ezekiel Stephan (died of meningitis after patients failed to seek appropriate medical care)—link to another site
  • Kimberly Strohecker (died of epileptic seizures after chiropractor advised stopping medication)—posted 7/7/03
  • Matthew Swan (died of untreated meningitis under the care of Christian Science practitioners)—posted 9/23/97
  • Scott Tatro (chiropractic neck manipulation made him quadriplegic)—posted 11/17/09
  • Cherry Teresa (scammed by Kevin Trudeau)—link to another site
  • Kim Tinkham (Died of breast cancer after following Robert O. Young’s advice instead of using standard treatment)—posted 12/26/12
  • James Turner (11-year-old child paralyzed by chiropractic neck manipulation)—posted 10/18/01
  • Andrew Twitchell (died of untreated peritonitis under Christian Science care)—link to another site
  • Sean Walsh (died after thermography misled him into believing that his Hodgkin’s disease was controlled by “alternative” methods—link to BBC report
  • Andrew Wantland (died of undiagnosed diabetes under Christian Science care)—link to another site
Multiple Case Reports

Many people ask why Quackwatch doesn’t post case reports about people who die from “medical quackery,” which they define as any form of improperly delivered mainstream care (malpractice). Our focus is on fraud and quackery. Malpractice is the failure to meet mainstream standards of care. Fraud is deliberate misrepresentation. Quackery, as we define it, involves the promotion of methods that are unsubstantiated and lack a scientifically plausible rationale. Although some overlap exists, most cases of malpractice involve negligence rather than fraud or the promotion of bogus methods.

What You Can Do

Individual cases indicate that great harm is being done, but don’t indicate how many people are being harmed. Former National Council Against Health Fraud president William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., has suggested developing a quackery reporting system patterned after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s system in which doctors report cases of communicable disease. This would enable us to keep track of what is being promoted, where the “hot spots” are, and what legal and educational efforts are needed for an effective response.

In the mid-1980s, the American Dietetic Association asked its members to report cases of people harmed by inappropriate nutrition advice from bogus “nutritionists,” health-food store operators, and others. Between 1986 and 1990, the association received more than 500 such reports. Unfortunately, the system contained no mechanism to make the data useful for research or public education. Although the dietitians submitting the reports knew the identity of the victims, the reports contained no identifying information, and no attempt was made to seek the victim’s permission to permit publication or further inquiry.

If you have been victimized and would like Quackwatch to report your experience, please contact us. We are also interested in reports from people who have been smart enough to spot a scam and avoid it.



“Mask Exemption” Cards Are Not Government-Supported

Quacks never sleep. Within days of the first moon landing, they were offering “moon dust” for arthritis. Today their wares include cards for people who live where masks are mandatory but don’t want to wear one. If you are tempted to buy one, you should know two things. The first is that infected individuals can …

Quacks never sleep. Within days of the first moon landing, they were offering “moon dust” for arthritis. Today their wares include cards for people who live where masks are mandatory but don’t want to wear one. If you are tempted to buy one, you should know two things.

The first is that infected individuals can spread the virus before they develop symptoms. Thus, to protect others, a mask should be worn whenever you might come in close contact with other people. The picture to the right shows how masks work. If everyone who can do so would wear a mask, the spread of COVID-19 would be greatly reduced.

The second thing you should know is that  “exemption cards” said to be issued or supported by a U.S. government agency are fake. And so are the reasons for not wearing masks that many of their sellers are spreading.

Cards are circulating online and on social media that say the holder has a disability that prevents wearing a mask and that it’s illegal for any business to ask them to disclose their condition. Variations of the card include the seal of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), one of the federal agencies responsible for enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Such cards are neither issued nor endorsed by DOJ or any other U.S. government agency. The most widely offered cards have been offered by the “Freedom to Breathe Agency,” whose Web site also provides misinformation about masks. The first card below included the DOJ logo and a real number of the ADA Information Hotline.

The New York Times has noted that the “Freedom to Breathe Agency” is not a government agency. Neither is the entity that operates the phone number on the second card.



COVID-19 Schemes, Scams, and Misinformation

Thirty years ago, as AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome came to national attention, John Renner, M.D. observed that most of the quack cancer clinics began offering the same “treatments” for AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome—a tendency he coined “rascal rollover.” Today, dubious pitchmen have “rolled” into COVID-19. Here’s a handy compilation of advice, enforcement actions, …

Thirty years ago, as AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome came to national attention, John Renner, M.D. observed that most of the quack cancer clinics began offering the same “treatments” for AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome—a tendency he coined “rascal rollover.” Today, dubious pitchmen have “rolled” into COVID-19.

Here’s a handy compilation of advice, enforcement actions, and trustworthy information sources related to the coronavirus pandemic. For up-to-date news and scientific developments, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Fraudulent products can be reported to FDA-COVID-19-fraudulent-products@fda.hhs.gov. Other COVID-19 frauds can be reported to FTC Complaint site or the Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721. The FTC publishes a running total of COVID-19-related complaints it receives. To see the latest total, click the most recent date.

Terminology
  • COVID-19, which is short for Coronavirus Disease 2019, is the name of the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).
  • “Asymptomatic” is a medical term that means “no symptoms.”
  • Asymptomatic spread” refers to the fact that people who are infected can transmit the virus before they feel sick.

An article in the International Journal of Biosciences describes how the COVID-19 outbreak developed.

Schemes and Scams
  • Prevention scams: Many individuals and companies are claiming that their dietary supplements, herbal, and/or homeopathic products can prevent disease by “supporting,” “boosting” or “strengthening” the immune system.” Many chiropractors and acupuncturists are making similar claims about their procedures. All such claims should be ignored.
  • Testing Scams: Scammers are selling fake at-home test kits or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money.
  • “Mask exemption” cards. Scammers are selling mask mask exemption cards that claim that the card-holder has a disability that prevents wearing a mask. Such cards may include the seal of a government agency. No such card is government-supported or has any legal significance..

  • Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake vaccines, medicines, tests, and cures for COVID-19. Ignore electronic offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if there is a medical breakthrough, you will not hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or other unsolicited sales pitch.
  • Supply scams: Scammers are claiming they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, health, and medical supplies.  When an order is placed, the scammer takes the money and never delivers the order. To avoid being victimized, check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies. Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items
  • Telemedicine frauds: Scammers are cold-calling people, claiming to offer free telemedicine visits, braces, or medicine in an attempt to get insurance information they can use to submit false insurance claims.
  • Charity scams: Scammers are fraudulently soliciting donations for non-existent charities to help people affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  Scammers often use names that are similar to the names of real charities. Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID-19 before giving. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Do not send money through any of these channels. The (FTC) Web site has additional tips on avoiding charity frauds.
  • Phishing schemes: Scammers, posing as local contact tracers or national and global health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending fake emails or texts to trick the recipient into sharing personal information, including account numbers, Social Security numbers, or login IDs and passwords. Never give your personal or financial information to someone unless you are absolutely sure they are legitimate. Make sure that the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date. Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources.  Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device. If you are eligible for a payment, you will receive a payment directly from the IRS. Do not pay anyone who promises that they can expedite or obtain a payment or a loan for you. If you are eligible for relief, you will not need to make any up-front payment or pay any fee to receive a stimulus payment. You will not be charged any “processing fees.”
  • App scams: Scammers are creating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and steal personal information.
  • Provider scams: Scammers pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19 and demand payment for that treatment.
  • Insurance scams: These include (a) low-cost “corona insurance,” (b) additional Medicare coverage, (c) worthless travel insurance, and (d) fake policy-cancellation notices intended to gather personal information or lead to links that install malware.
  • Investment scams: Scammers are promoting the stock of small companies, which have limited publicly-available information, using false or misleading claims that the companies’ stock will increase dramatically due to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as claims that a company can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
  • Grandparent scams: Scammers pose as panicked grandchildren in trouble, urging you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency – like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country. Resist the urge to act immediately no matter how dramatic the story is. Verify the caller’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call verifiable contacts to check the story. Don’t send money you can’t get back from scammers: cash, gift cards, or money transfers.
  • Taxpayer relief scams: The Internal Revenue Service urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for emails, text messages, websites, and social media attempts that appear to come from the IRS and ask you to verify or provide your financial information so you can get a coronavirus economic impact payment or your tax refund faster. Scammers may use words like “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” They may mail a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it. Suspicious messages that appear to be from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov. For more information go to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page and the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov.
  • Price gouging: Individuals and businesses selling essential goods, like hand sanitizer, for significantly higher prices than in a non-emergency setting.
Misinformation about Masks

Infected individuals can spread the virus before they develop symptoms. Thus, to protect others, a mask should be worn whenever you might come in close contact with other people. This picture illustrates how masks work:

Unfortunately, many incorrect ideas about supposed “dangers” of mask-wearing have been circulating. I have posted one article about this and have another in progress.

Customs Enforcements

As of May 4, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents have opened over 315 investigations nationwide; seized over $3.2 million dollars in illicit proceeds; made 11 arrests; executed 21 search warrants; analyzed over 19,000 COVID-19 domain names; and worked alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection to seize 494 shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, unauthorized or prohibited COVID-19 test kits, treatment kits, homeopathic remedies, purported anti-viral products (such as diluted cleaning solutions), and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Other U.S. Federal Civil Actions
Criminal Prosecutions
State and Local Actions
Foreign Actions
Untrustworthy Information Sources (Investigative Reports)
Trustworthy Information Sources


Dr.London is a professor of public health at California State University, Los Angeles, editor of Consumer Health Digest, and a scientific and technical consultant to the Committee on Skeptical Inquiry.



“Functional Neurologist” Reprimanded for Unprofessional Conduct

The College of Chiropractors of British Columbia (CCBC) has disciplined Daniel Sullins, D.C., for conduct associated with his practice of “functional neurology.” [1] Sullins, who had operated North Shore Brain Balancing in North Vancouver, for several years, had described himself as a “board-certified functional neurologist” and had claimed that his “brain balancing” could help people with …

The College of Chiropractors of British Columbia (CCBC) has disciplined Daniel Sullins, D.C., for conduct associated with his practice of “functional neurology.” [1] Sullins, who had operated North Shore Brain Balancing in North Vancouver, for several years, had described himself as a “board-certified functional neurologist” and had claimed that his “brain balancing” could help people with a long list of common symptoms.

A 2011 graduate of Texas-Based Parker College of Chiropractic, he had done business as the Applied Neurology Health Canter in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Canada in 2017. In 2016, that clinic’s Web site stated:

A doctor practicing functional neurology is highly trained in brain based care and the nervous system on a postdoctorate level. This is important to you, the patient, because the brain controls and regulates every action in the body in some way. This type of doctor is especially trained to detect subtle hints at things that are affecting the body in such a way that these subtle, often unnoticed events, may be caught before symptoms appear even.  At Applied Neurology Health Center, we practice only board certified functional neurology dealing with the brain and how it controls the body. . . .

Proper board certified brain care can help with:

ADHD; dyslexia; traumatic brain injury; post stroke rehab; optimized brain function to decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease; short term memory rehab; speech problems; academic grade level acceleration in school; allergies; arthritis; asthma; back pain; bed-wetting; carpal tunnel; chemical or hormonal imbalance; cold and flu; depression; diabetes; digestive problems; ear and upper respiratory infections; fatigue; fibromyalgia; headaches; heart trouble; heartburn; high blood pressure; hyperactivity; infertility; insomnia; irritable bowel syndrome; irritability; menstrual problems; migraines and cervicogenic headaches; muscle tension; neck pain; osteoporosis; rehabilitations of the neuraxis after comas and strokes; rheumatism; SAD (seasonal affective disorder); severe whiplash; sciatica; sleeping problems; sports injuries and performance; stiffness; thyroid related conditions; vertigo; visual disturbance unhelped elsewhere; and many more! [2].

Sullins’s Linkedin account states that his training in “functional neurology” was obtained at the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies in Neurology from 2009 through 2012 [3].

In June 2019, the CCBC announced that it had suspended Sullins’s registration while it investigated several concerns [4]. The suspension was lifted in March 2020. In June 2020, the CCBC announced that Dr. Sullins had entered into a consent agreement in which he acknowledged that he had:

  • advertised treatment of conditions for which there was not acceptable evidence of efficacy contrary to the College’s Efficacy Claims Policy
  • advertised treatment of conditions that are not within the scope of practice for chiropractors in BC
  • failed to practice within the scope of practice for chiropractors in BC
  • failed to maintain records in accordance with College standards
  • failed to cooperate with a College inspection
  • advertised using a Groupon coupon
  • practiced while suspended.

Under the agreement, Sullins was reprimanded, fined CN$200, ordered to pay costs of CN$4,000, and have his practiced monitored for four months [1]. He was also required to work within the legal scope of practice, bring his marketing into line with CCBC standards, and maintain required records [5].

Questionable Theories and Practices

Functional neurology, as mainly practiced by chiropractors, is difficult to summarize because its theories are nebulous and its components vary significantly from practitioner to practitioner. RationalWiki describes it as a “rebranding of chiropractic neurology”  spearheaded by Frederick “Ted” Carrick, D.C. [6] Its primary promoter is the Carrick Institute, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, which offers extensive coursework. Certification is provided primarily through two organizations, the American Chiropractic Neurology Board, and the American College of Functional Neurology.

Proponents claim to be able to treat many conditions by diagnosing dysfunctional areas of the brain and improving their function with spinal manipulations, dietary modification, and various exercises characterized as “brain training.” One such procedure—called blind-spot mapping, brain function testing, brain mapping, or “cortical mapping—is claimed to enable chiropractors to determine whether spinal manipulation can correct brain functions [7].

A recent review concluded that “no acceptable evidence on the effect or benefit of functional neurology in relation to various conditions and purported indications for intervention.” [8] Another recent review advised that (a) changes in “brain function” can occur in response to spinal manipulation but are inconsistent, (b) their relevance is unknown, and (c) it is therefore “premature to promote the use of spinal manipulation as a treatment to improve ‘brain function.’” [9]

References
  1. Action taken against Daniel Sullins. College of Chiropractors of British Columbia, June 29, 2020.
  2. Applied Neurology Health Center home page, archived Oct 24, 2016.
  3. Dr. Daniel Sullins, DC, DACBN. LinkedIn, accessed July 16, 2020.
  4. Action taken against Daniel Sullins. College of Chiropractors of British Columbia, June 18, 2019.
  5. Lindsay B. B.C. Chiropractor who advertised unproven “brain balancing” treatment fined $200. MSN News, July 14, 2020.
  6. Functional neurology. RationalWiki, Dec 12, 2018.
  7. Hall HA. Blind-spot mapping is a worthless procedure. Quackwatch, March 2, 2003.
  8. Meyer A-L, Leboeuf C. Unravelling functional neurology: A review of clinical research articles on the effect or benefit of the functional neurology approach. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 26:30, 2018.
  9. Meyer A-L and others.Unravelling functional neurology: does spinal manipulation have an effect on the brain?—a systematic literature review. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 27:60, 2019.


Licensing Board Actions against Chiropractors

Most of the actions listed below were carried out by chiropractic licensing boards. However, a few involved medical board actions against chiropractor whose marketing suggested that they might be medical doctors and/or whose practice went beyond the chiropractic’s lawful scope. United States J. Mitchell Adolph, DC (2000) Frank J. Amato, DC (2001, 2005) Christine Anderson, …

Most of the actions listed below were carried out by chiropractic licensing boards. However, a few involved medical board actions against chiropractor whose marketing suggested that they might be medical doctors and/or whose practice went beyond the chiropractic’s lawful scope.

United States
Australia
Canada


Chiropractic Antitrust Suit: Index

In 1976, a series of lawsuits was begun against the AMA, other professional organizations, and several individual critics, charging that they had conspired to destroy chiropractic and to illegally deprive chiropractors of access to laboratory, x-ray, and hospital facilities. Most of the defendant groups agreed in out-of-court settlements that their physician members were free to …

In 1976, a series of lawsuits was begun against the AMA, other professional organizations, and several individual critics, charging that they had conspired to destroy chiropractic and to illegally deprive chiropractors of access to laboratory, x-ray, and hospital facilities. Most of the defendant groups agreed in out-of-court settlements that their physician members were free to decide for themselves how to deal with chiropractors.

The American Medical Association (AMA), the American College of Radiology (ACOR), the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery (AAOS), seven other groups, and and four individual defendants chose to defend in court. In January 1981, after an 8-week trial, the jury ruled unanimously in their favor. However, the case was reversed on appeal and the parties agreed to retry it in front of a judge rather than a jury.

In 1987, federal court judge Susan Getzendanner concluded that during the 1960s “there was a lot of material available to the AMA Committee on Quackery that supported its belief that all chiropractic was unscientific and deleterious.” The judge also noted that chiropractors still took too many x-rays. However, she ruled that the AMA had engaged in an illegal boycott. She concluded that the dominant reason for the AMA’s antichiropractic campaign was the belief that chiropractic was not in the best interest of patients. But she ruled that this did not justify attempting to contain and eliminate an entire licensed profession without first demonstrating that a less restrictive campaign could not succeed in protecting the public. Although chiropractors trumpet the antitrust ruling as an endorsement of their effectiveness, the case was decided on narrow legal grounds (restraint of trade) and was not an evaluation of chiropractic methods.

First Trial
Second Trial


Pamphlets from Allen Unruh, D.C., 1984-1990

Allen D. Unruh, D.C. (1948– ) has been a prolific communicator and political activist throughout his chiropractic career. After graduating from National College of Chiropractic in 1970, he began practicing in Elkton, South Dakota and relocated to Sioux Falls, SD in 1976 [1]. His father was a naturopath [2]. In the 1980s, he began marketing educational pamphlets …

Allen D. Unruh, D.C. (1948– ) has been a prolific communicator and political activist throughout his chiropractic career. After graduating from National College of Chiropractic in 1970, he began practicing in Elkton, South Dakota and relocated to Sioux Falls, SD in 1976 [1]. His father was a naturopath [2]. In the 1980s, he began marketing educational pamphlets that chiropractors could use in their offices. Over a 20-year period, at least 60 such pamphlets were published by him; Complete Health Communications (CHC), Inc.; and/or Unruh Publications. In the mid-1980s, CHC also offered educational tapes for chiropractors and a set of 53 editable newspaper columns.

Unlike most pamphleteers of his day, Unruh promoted conservative musculoskeletal care, targeted exercises, and dietary improvement and rarely made subluxation-based claims that chiropractic care improves general health and is effective against from a wide range of diseases. However, his pamphlet on The effects of spinal misalignment asserted:

Few realize that pinched nerves in the spine can  be a contributing or primary cause of almost any ailment. . . .

For instance, misalignment in the neck region can disturb nerve function, resulting in headache, nervousness, insomnia, high blood pressure, chronic tiredness, dizziness, sinus trouble, eye trouble, ear trouble, neuritis, chronic cough, sore throat, stiff neck, pain in the upper arms, or bursitis. Many patients take all kinds of medication for these symptoms, not realizing the cause of the problems is in the neck.

Misalignments in the mid-back can disturb nerve function, resulting in asthma and difficult breathing, functional heart conditions, gallbladder condition s, liver conditions, poor circulation, arthritis, stomach trouble, indigestion, heartburn and dyspepsia and gastritis, kidney trouble, chronic tiredness, skin conditions, and gas pain .

Misalignments in the lower back can cause constipation, colitis, diarrhea, cramps, bladder trouble, menstrual trouble such as painful or irregular periods, change of life symptoms, bed wetting, many knee pains, sciatica, backaches, difficult, painful or too frequent urination, poor circulation in the legs, swollen ankles, weakness in the legs, and leg cramps, or sacro-iliac conditions and pain at the end of the spine on sitting.

A few other pamphlets promoted chiropractic as generally equivalent or superior to medical care. For example:

  • Geriatrics and Chiropractic asserts that “millions have found chiropractic as safe and effective alternative to taking strong medication that their body is sensitive to, especially in later years. Chiropractic adds more years to your life and more life and more life to your years.”
  • IS MEDICINE SCIENTIFIC falsely implies that most drugs are ineffective and asserted that medical practice in America is “full of priests and rituals and beliefs, but the evidence is clear that there is no scientific base.”
  • Chiropractic for medical failure cases asks, “How much would the public health be improved, and the percentage of drug-induced illness be prevented  if only our nation’s sick would consult chiropractors first instead of last?”
  • Maybe you need a second opinion by a Chiropractor advises that “when your doctor’s advice and treatment does not give you the results you want, it may be wise to get a second opinion by a chiropractor.”
  • Chiropractic: the safest healing profession known to man claims that, “The gentle manipulative therapy chiropractors provide has resulted in severe side effects only in the rarest circumstances.”

To access the full text of these pamphlets, descriptions of Unruh’s other materials, and how they were marketed to chiropractors, click here.

References
  1. Meet Dr. Allan Unruh. A. Unruh Chiropractic Clinic Web site, accessed July 10, 2020.
  2. Who’s Who in Chiropractic International, 1980, pp 244-245.


Chiropractic Pamphlets from Barge Chiropractic Clinic (1991)

Fred H. Barge, D.C. (1933-2003) was a prominent chiropractor who had 18 other chiropractors in his extended family. Following graduation from chiropractic school he interned with chiropractic’s developer, B.J. Palmer. He practiced at the Barge Chiropractic Clinic in LaCross, Wisconsin, taught at five chiropractic colleges, served as president of the International Chiropractors Association, and held many …

Fred H. Barge, D.C. (1933-2003) was a prominent chiropractor who had 18 other chiropractors in his extended family. Following graduation from chiropractic school he interned with chiropractic’s developer, B.J. Palmer. He practiced at the Barge Chiropractic Clinic in LaCross, Wisconsin, taught at five chiropractic colleges, served as president of the International Chiropractors Association, and held many other positions in other chiropractic organizations. His colleagues considered him one of the leading spokespeople for chiropractic philosophy and subluxation-based chiropractic. He advocated regular (typically monthly) spinal checkups and adjustments from birth onward. His literary output included nine books, many articles, and a dozen pamphlets. A flyer for his book, One Cause, One Cure stated:

For as long as man has existed on the face of the earth, he has searched for The Cause. The cause of disease, the cause of health, the cause of success of failure … the cause of his problems and as long as chiropractic has existed as a profession it has been accused of being a cult, of embracing a One Cause, One Cure concept of disease. . . .

This book promises to be an enlightenment to all seeking knowledge in health, healing and life. It explains the teachings of Drs. D.D. and B.J. Palmer as revolutionary and revelationary concepts that were bound to engender the wrath of the allopathic medical physician who was still steeped in the heroic medical concepts of the tum of the century. The Palmers spoke of cause not of symptoms, and of the uniting in man of mind, body and spirit.

Here are some excerpts from the pamphlets that Barge’s clinic was marketing in 1991:

  • Chiropractic Care falsely claimed that “chiropractic care works in all disease” and that “regular chiropractic care is your insurance that your body maintains a good state of health.”
  • Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care recommended that pregnant women receive regular chiropractic care “right up to delivery” and that “infants should be checked by a chiropractor as soon as practical after the delivery.”
  • The Senior Years Need Not Be Like This falsely claimed that “chiropractic care benefits most all health problems.”
  • Deterioration, Degeneration and Back Pain claimed that “regular chiropractic spinal care is your best insurance against spinal deterioration.”
  • Immunization: Your Choice or Your Command?  asserted that “a spine chiropractically maintained in youth is the best assurance to a healthy life that you can give a child.”
  • Scoliosis & Curvature claimed that “chiropractic care has often proven to be the most effective means of [spinal] curvature control and correction.”
  • Bed Wetting Explained and Chiropractic’s Approach to That Problem falsely claimed that bedwetting can be caused by “subluxations” of three neck bones.
  • Children Need Chiropractic Care asserted that “simple spinal adjustments can solve a host of childhood problems” and that “once children experience chiropractic benefits they will ask to come again.”
  • The Cause of Disease: The Soil? or the Seed? claimed (nonsensicall)y) that “if the germ theory of disease were correct, there would be no one living things to believe it.”
  • The “Common Cold” Explained asserted that colds are the result of lowered resistance (not the presence of germs) and can be prevented by strengthening the immune system with monthly spinal adjustments.
  • Torticollis: The “Disc Block Subluxation” of the Neck claimed that “little beginnings like a ‘stiff neck’ can lead to life long spinal distortions>”
  • Tortipelvis: The “Slipped Disc” Syndrome stated that “chiropractic methods should be a primary consideration in all cases of backache.”

To read the full text of these pamphlets and book fliers, click here.



Chiropractic Pamphlets from Baxter Healthcare Corporation (1990-1991)

Baxter International Corporation is a large company that markets medical devices and drug products. In the early 1990s, it had a subsidiary that marketed pamphlets that chiropractors could use in their offices. Low Back Pain Back Exercises Stress and Your Back Understanding Common Back Problems Chiropractic Approach to Low Back Pain Chiropractic Approach to your …

Baxter International Corporation is a large company that markets medical devices and drug products. In the early 1990s, it had a subsidiary that marketed pamphlets that chiropractors could use in their offices.

  • Low Back Pain
  • Back Exercises
  • Stress and Your Back
  • Understanding Common Back Problems
  • Chiropractic Approach to Low Back Pain
  • Chiropractic Approach to your Headache

The chiropractic pamphlets stated that the primary method of treatment is spinal adjustment that can relieve pressure on nerves and correct faulty structural relationships that cause pain and that they may also use heat, cold, light, massage, movement, exercise, electrical stimulation, acupuncture, ultrasound, postural realignment, traction, ice compression, trigger point therapy, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or visualization. The other four pamphlets provide general medical information about causes and treatment of back pain but say nothing about chiropractic. Despite extensive searching, I can find no information online about Baxter’s involvement with chiropractors. To see the chiropractic pamphlets, click here.



Chiropractic Pamphlets from G.T. Press (1965-1987)

Golden Touch, Inc., of Blue Springs, Missouri, published pamphlets that could be displayed in chiropractic offices or distributed monthly to selected patients through G.T.’s “Direct Patient Motivation Mailing Plan.” Between 1965 and 1987, at  least 75 were published: Allergy • Amazing Stomach • Arm and Shoulder Pain (2 brochures) • Arthritis • Arthritis: The Number …

Golden Touch, Inc., of Blue Springs, Missouri, published pamphlets that could be displayed in chiropractic offices or distributed monthly to selected patients through G.T.’s “Direct Patient Motivation Mailing Plan.” Between 1965 and 1987, at  least 75 were published:

Allergy • Amazing Stomach • Arm and Shoulder Pain (2 brochures) • Arthritis • Arthritis: The Number One Crippler ( 2 versions) • B-A-C-K-A-C-H-E • Back Pain • Backache • Children and Chiropractic (2 versions) • Chiropractic Family Plan • Chiropractic Insurance Coverage • Chiropractic Medicare and You • Chiropractic Nerve Chart • Common Headache • Disc Problems: How Not to Have Them • Education of a Chiropractor • Emphysema – America’s No. 2 Killer • Feminine Facts • Head and Neck • Health Is Within You Now • High Blood Pressure • How Chiropractic Heals (2 versions) • How Old is Old? • How to Lift • How to Prevent Back Pain • Is Asthma Serious? • Just Plain Tired – Are You? • Low Back Pain • Mama . . . My Bed’s Wet • Medical Research Proves Chiropractic • Migraine Headache (3 versions) • Nerves – Just Nerves • Nutrition & Exercise • Osteoporosis & Your Health • Pain • Pathways to Health • Patient Testimonial Blanks • Peace of Mind • Peace of Mind • Periodic Health Care • Pinched Nerves • Pinched Nerves: The Great Imposter • Prostate Facts for Men • Sciatic Nerve • Sciatic Pain • Sciatica • Scoliosis: What Is It? • Sinus Trouble • Sports Injuries • The Amazing Story behind Chiropractic • The Education of a Chiropractor • The Last Hope • The Master Builder • The Road Back to Health • The Story of Your Amazing Liver • The Story. of Your Amazing Stomach • The Wonderful Kidney • To the New Chiropractic Patient (2 versions) • What Shall Man Live By? • What to Do in Case of an Auto Accident • What Urinalysis Tells Your Chiropractor • What You Should Know about Whiplash Neck Injury • What’s Your Health Problem • Whiplash Neck Injuries (2 versions) • Why Are Medical Doctors Are Trying to Steal Chiropractic? • Why You May Need X-ray • Your 100 Year Heart • Your Case Analysis • Your Progress Report

Most of these pamphlets can be read by clicking here.

Examples of Far-Fetched Claims
  • Many of the pamphlets said that misaligned vertebrae (“subluxations”) are the “ROOT CAUSE of disease” and that chiropractic adjustments can restore health by correcting them.
  • “How Chiropractic Heals” characterized subluxations as “Health’s Worst Enemy.
  • “The Education of a Chiropractor” (1966) falsely claimed that “Today’s chiropractor is the best trained doctor the world has ever known.”
  • “To the New Chiropractic Patient” (1973) falsely described chiropractic as “the most modern, effective, and fastest-growing  health profession in the world.”
  • “Nerves – Just Nerves” contains this chart which falsely suggests that spinal misalignments cause more than 75 ailments that chiropractors can help.

 



FDA Attacks Claims for Reflexology Device (1976)

In the mid-1970s, I received a brochure for the Rowe Reflex-O-Sage Hand & Foot Roller, which was developed and marketed by Lowell V. Rowe (1920-1997), a chiropractor who practiced in  Hot Springs, Arkansas. The brochure claimed that rolling the device on the hand or foot would relieve many ailments: Reflexology, upon which the device was …

In the mid-1970s, I received a brochure for the Rowe Reflex-O-Sage Hand & Foot Roller, which was developed and marketed by Lowell V. Rowe (1920-1997), a chiropractor who practiced in  Hot Springs, Arkansas. The brochure claimed that rolling the device on the hand or foot would relieve many ailments:

Reflexology, upon which the device was based, is a pseudoscience whose proponents claim that each body part is “represented” on the hands and feet and that pressing on specific areas on the hands or feet can have therapeutic effects in other parts of the body.

The brochure was accompanied by an article in which Rowe outlined a plan to donate money to chiropractic colleges. The device retailed for $11.95. If 5,000 or 6,000 chiropractors averaged 5 sales per month, he would donate $3 per sale which total about  a million dollars annually. The article also contained this disclaimer:

I am not suggesting that doctors or the colleges endorse this product. As the brochure points out, Rowe Reflex-O-Sage was designed for massage therapy or sub-clinical conditions. We make no clinical claims that would take away from your professional image. Nor is it contrary to F. D. A. regulations. Rowe Reflex-O- Sage is responsible for all contents of the Brochure.

It turned out, however, that the FDA saw things differently. On May 20, 1976, Rowe’s company issued this notice:

URGENT: DEVICE LABELING RECALL

The U. S. Food & Drug Administration has alleged that the labeling and literature accompanying the Rowe Reflex-O-Sage Device is false and misleading as to health claims, and fails to bear adequate directions for the use of the device. Consequently, pursuant to the request of the FDA, we are recalling all Reflex-O-Sage literature and labeling.

Please fill out the enclosed card if you are a purchaser or distributor of the Reflex-O-Sage device, and return it by· means of the enclosed return envelope. If you have in your possession any Reflex-O-Sage labeling or literature, please return it immediately by means of the enclosed envelope so that it might be destroyed.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the U. S. Food & Drug Administration and the Arkansas Department of Health. We appreciate your assistance.

Melinda Bacon
Director of Sales

 

I received no further mail about this device and can find no information about it by searching with Google. So it looks like its marketing was short-lived.



Quackery-Related Depositions

This page provides convenient access to depositions in quackery-related lawsuits and regulatory actions. Some include admissions that severely dimish the credibility of the deponents. Alvin Arzt, DDS (dental malpractice suit, 10/19/95) Robert C. Atkins, MD (false advertising case, 6/25/80) Kenneth Bock, MD (chelation case, 2/27/04) Tim Bolen (Cavitat case, 4/12/06) Jerry E. Bouquot, DDS Disciplinary …

This page provides convenient access to depositions in quackery-related lawsuits and regulatory actions. Some include admissions that severely dimish the credibility of the deponents.



A Skeptical Look at Deborah E. Banker, M.D.

Deborah Ellen Banker, M.D. (1952-2007), was an ophthalmologist who died of breast cancer [1] during a period when the Medical Board of California was questioning her fitness to practice. The DrBanker.com Web site, which has been maintained by one of her long-time associates, describes her this way: In The Field of Ophthalmology and Regenerative Nutrition …

Deborah Ellen Banker, M.D. (1952-2007), was an ophthalmologist who died of breast cancer [1] during a period when the Medical Board of California was questioning her fitness to practice. The DrBanker.com Web site, which has been maintained by one of her long-time associates, describes her this way:

In The Field of Ophthalmology and Regenerative Nutrition For The Eyes, Dr. Banker recognized that the health of the entire body, as well as nutrition and attitude, has a great deal to do with vision, energy of the body and the aging process. Dr. Banker’s non-invasive approach to vision improvement combines techniques of Western, Oriental and Holistic medicine. Dr. Banker’s approach to Non Surgical, Alternative Eye Care integrates modern medicinal understanding of optics, refraction and anatomy along with ancient techniques such as Yoga, Chinese Acupressure, Tai Chi, Ayurveda, Tibetan eye exercises, Japanese Shiatsu, Chinese Medicinal Herbal Eye Care Supplements, and more—along with classic Western Orthoptics and Holistic Ophthalmology. Dr. Banker’s associates work with people both on an individual basis and in group sessions and classes offered several times per year. Dr. Banker’s personally trained associates will guide you through Self Help Vision Improvement exercises for your body and eyes originating from all over the world, such as Bates, Ballet, Kinesiology, Polarity Therapy, Reflexology, Auricular Therapy, Energy Healing, Anti-Aging Techniques, Manual Energy Transfer, Massage and more. Called a “Modern Galileo” by the National Health Federation, Dr. Banker lectured throughout the country crusading for Electromagnetic Medicine and Natural Vision Improvement [2].

The Web site describes Banker’s “electromedicine” this way:

For more than 100 years, electromagnetic medicine has been used to treat various diseases of the body with great success, especially those for which there have been no cures. But little is known to the general public. Electromagnetic medicine dates back as far as 1882 to the work done with batteries by Dr. S.E. Morrill M.D.

Dr. Banker has incorporated twenty years of scientific research on the human electromagnetic field into her specialty of regenerative medicine for the eyes. This knowledge led to the creation of her patented SEEDS machine. Dr. Banker employs electromagnetic medicine or microcurrent stimulation as an integral part of her unique treatment program along with other traditional healing methods and alternative modalities. She uses a microcurrent stimulating device she invented, SEEDS (subtle electromagnetic energy device system), to stimulate energy and life force into damaged or traumatized nerve cells and tissue. In many cases, the nonfunctioning nerve is swollen, not dead, and can be reactivated.

We see tremendous results using the SEEDS system on degenerative eye diseases such as Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Vascular Retinal Disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Glaucoma and Blindness. Besides improving many forms of progressive blindness, the SEEDS machine helps to reset the autonomic nervous system, boosts the immune system, has brought people out of comas and helps reverse many types of degenerative eye diseases. Dr. Banker has thousands of case studies showing miraculous improvements with diseases formerly considered incurable. Some of the “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation” (TENS) devices currently used in the medical treatment of neurological eye diseases are the SEEDS System, the Electro-Acuscope 80, the Micro Stim 100 and other microcurrent systems [3].

Although she claimed to have done research, I was unable to locate any research reports published under her name in a scientific journal or elsewhere. Nor could I locate any details about the SEEDS device.

Her 286-page book Self-Help Vision Care [4] contains hundreds of recommendations for exercises, dietary systems, dietary supplements, Bach flower remedies, and herbal products, not just for eye problems but for dozens of other ailments. Most of the recommendations were useless but physically harmless, but her recommended dosage of vitamin A (25,000 to 50,000 IU per day) was high enough to cause liver toxicity and some of her dietary suggestions could led to dietary inadequacy.

Her acupressure recommendations illustrate her extreme departure from rational medical care. The chart below from page 6-5 of the book is followed by a 3-page table that says which points should be pressed or “shaken” to treat astigmatism, blurry vision, cataract, colds, color blindness, conjunctivitis, diabetes, dizziness, dry eyes, excessive tearing, facial paralysis, facial paralysis, farsightedness, glaucoma, headache, infantile convulsions, insomnia, jaw spasm – grinding teeth, macular degeneration, nearsightedness, night blindness, optic atrophy, pain/swelling, retinitis pigmentosa, sinusitis, tooth problems, twitching eyelids, and several other conditions.

To use the book, she recommends that you try what seems to suit your needs and personality and “check your vision before and after your exercises or methods, to see which ones improve your eyes the fastest and stick with these the most, but do all of them periodically.” A more appropriate title for the book would be Delusional Medicine: A Handbook for People Who Are Clueless.

People who wanted more guidance could order Banker’s Self Help Vision Care Kit—which included a workbook, five tapes, a vision game, and laminated charts—or could purchase phone consultations, self-improvement classes, or a week of treatment (approximately 30 hours) at the Malibu Life Center, which cost $4,000 in 2002 [5].

Medical Board Actions

Dr. Banker received her premedical training at the University of Colorado and obtained her medical degree in 1978 from the University of North Dakota. She completed a residency program in ophthalmology at the University of California, Irvine, but did not become board-certified. She had additional training in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. She became licensed in Colorado in 1988 and practiced there, but failed to renew her license in 1997. In 1998, the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners charged her with unprofessional conduct and summarily suspended her license. The board was concerned that she was (a) practicing after her medical license had lapsed, (b) treating macular degeneration patients with electrotherapy, massage, and other nonstandard modalities, and (c) prescribing controlled substances after her narcotics license had expired. A few months later, the matter was settled with an agreement under which she was not found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct but would never apply for reinstatement of her Colorado license.

After leaving Colorado, she began practicing in California, which had licensed her since 1989. However, based on what had happened in Colorado, the California Medical Board wanted her competence evaluated. In 2000, she signed a stipulation under which she was reprimanded, was assessed $2,000, and agreed to complete the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education (PACE) Program at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. However, she did not complete the program and told the board:

  • She could not afford the cost of the program because her income was low and the Internal Revenue Services, to which she owed $100,000, had seized money that she was saving to pay for the program.
  • She could not study adequately for the assessment because her vision was impaired.
  • She was concerned that she would not pass the tests given to PACE participants because they were based on Western medicine while most of her medical practice is grounded in alternative medicine.
  • She did not want to undergo a physical and mental examination at PACE because her physical and mental states were never at issue in either the Colorado or California disciplinary action.

In 2006, after additional proceedings, the board placed her on probation for a minimum of two years and indicated that failure to complete the PACE program within a year would be considered a violation of her probation. She was also ordered to pay $$6,706.75 for prosecution costs and was banned from practicing medicine from home [6]. It would be interesting to know whether or not PACE’s examiners would have judged her mentally competent to return to practice, but she appears to have died before they could do so.

Current Promotion

Banker’s methods and products are now promoted by John Monroe, of Boulder, Colorado, who describes himself as a “Natural Vision Educator.” In a recent podcast, he said:

I met Dr. Banker back in the early ’90s like ’91, and I started working with her full time in 1993, so I’ve been doing this over 20 years now. She developed the Self-Help Vision Care Kit. It’s basically used for improving nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, which is trouble reading small print. We also use it for amblyopia, lazy eye. It’s also used to help get more energy and blood circulation to the eye which can help with eye diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa. We also work with glaucoma and cataracts.

We’ve had people who are children, adults, seniors. People in their 80s and 90s work with this. We also use attitude changes, lifestyle changes, environmental changes. We also go into diet, nutrition, supplements, herbs, vitamins, Chinese herbal medicines that we’ve been using for years. We’ve helped reverse eye problems and halt the progression of them. If we catch these problems in early stages, the eye diseases and things, it’s a lot easier to reverse them. And then, depending on how strong your prescription is on your glasses and contacts and bifocals and readers, that determines how long it will take to eliminate your need for the glasses.

Among other things, Monroe claimed that exercise can strengthen and improve circulation in the muscles that control the eye, which can help improve such problems as macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and diabetic retinopathy [7]. DrBanker.com still markets Banker’s book, herbal products, supplements, and “Natural Vision Improvement Workshops.”

Potential Danger

The idea that exercise can improve vision was popularized in the early 1900s by William Horatio Bates and thoroughly debunked by the scientific community [8]. Banker wrote that Bates was correct but said that other techniques she had added improved on what he advised [4]. I believe that for most people, following her advice would be a waste of time, money, or both. But for those with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it could prove dangerous. In the most serious form (called wet AMD), blood vessels behind the retina grow and leak fluid, which distorts the retina, causes scarring, and interferes with central vision. If detected early, the growth and leakage can usually be controlled by periodic injections into the eye of a drug that stops the abnormal blood growth [9]. If not treated, most of the person’s vision will be lost. The earlier that treatment is started, the better the outcome will be, which means that delaying treatment by pursuing ineffective methods—in some cases, even for a few days—can have serious consequences.

Dr. Banker was only 55 when she died of breast cancer. It would be interesting to know whether her negative feelings about standard medical care influenced her survival time.

References
  1. Obituary: Deborah Banker. The Malibu Times, May 30, 2007.
  2. Deborah E. Banker, M.D.: ophthalmologist / general practitioner, internationally known lecturer in health and vision improvement. DrBanker.com Home page, accessed November 30, 2019.
  3. Research. DrBanker.com, accessed June 26, 2020.
  4. Banker DE. Self Help Vision Care: The Best Preventive Eye Care of Western, Oriental and Wholistic Medicine. Printed by Malibu Life Center Foundation, Malibu, California, March 1994.
  5. Products. DrBanker.com, archived Dec 9, 2002.
  6. Decision after nonadoption. In the matter of the accusation against Deborah Ellen Banker, M.D. before the Medical Board of California, Case No. 16-1999-95260, Dec 14, 2005. (Includes all the previous regulatory documents to which the article refers.)
  7. Monroe J. Healthy eyes and ears. Aging Info Radio podcast, Jan 17, 2016.
  8. Pollack P. The Bates system. In Pollack P. The Truth about Eye Exercises, Chiulton Co., Philadelphia, 1956.
  9. Barak Y and others. The past, present, and future of exudative age-related macular degeneration treatment. Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology 19:43-51, 2012.