Medical Evidence and Chiropractic
The scientific validity of chiropractic.
In 1921 there were no medical research journals. Research was published in papers, similar to a newsletter within the profession. One such publication was the Medical Times. In 1921 a medical doctor, Henry Winsor, published a study he conducted at the University of Pennsylvania titled, Sympathetic Segmental Disturbances: The evidences of the Association, in Dissected Cadavers, of Visceral Disease with Vertebral Deformities of the Same Sympathetic Segments.
In his study, Dr. Winsor studied 50 cadavers to “determine whether any connection existed between minor curvatures of the spine, on the one hand, and diseased organs on the other.”
The study showed that, “in 50 cadavers with disease in 139 organs, there was found a curve of the vertebrae, belonging to the same sympathetic segments of the diseased organs 128 times, leaving an apparent discrepancy of 10, in which the vertebrae in curve belonged to an adjacent segment to that which should supply the diseased organs with sympathetic filaments.” Or in simpler terms, where the spine was out of place, the nerves originating from, or adjacent to that part of the spine went to organs that contained disease and dysfunction. The correlation of 139 out if 139 = 100%.
These diseases were many! From cancer of the larynx to prostate issues. They all reflected disturbance with the nerves in areas where the spine was out of place. These misalignments are what doctors of chiropractic call subluxations. Dr. Winsor goes even further and states, “Irritation of the sympathetic [nervous] system and disease in the organs supplied by the same sympathetic nerves as the vertebrae affected.”
Along with these “curvatures” in the spine Winsor also noted what was called at the time, bony exudates. We now know these as bone spurs – A stage or complication of arthritis. Many people think that this is all just a part of the aging process. However, Dr. Winsor noted that it “The disease appears to precede old and to cause it [old age]. The spine becomes stiff first and old age follows. Therefore, we can say a man is as old as his spine, [with] the arteries becoming hardened later from constant vaso-motor spasm, following sympathetic [nerve] irritation.”
This was so ground-breaking, and in fact still is, that Dr. Winsor went even further to test test the theory. He anesthetized 22 cats, and caused direct pressure on the same vertebra in each one. All had the same result; Their abdominal aorta ceased to pulsate. But, when the pressure was removed, function was restored! Winsor postulated that treating a human spine would have similar effects since the spine and nervous system of a cat does not differ greatly.
The key points from Dr. Winsor’s study:
- Misalignments in the spine adversely affect the sympathetic nervous system.
- This system controls the blood supply to the organs, or the viscera.
- Visceral diseases can be traced back to the areas of the spinal levels of sympathetic involvement 100% of the time.
- Prolonged changes in the spine causes an increase in sympathetic stimulation thereby reducing blood flow to the organs.
- Spinal disease is the precursor and cause of old age. A person is as old as their spine.
- Distortions in the spine causing dysfunction in the sympathetic nervous system can be corrected by reversing the distortion. What we call an adjustment.
The big idea of Dr. Winsor’s study is that disease and aging are related to the health and function of the spine, and that the spine sets the health and tone of the central nervous system. Even Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine (460-370 BC), described manipulative procedures in his monumental work known as the Corpus Hippocrateum. He wrote, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.”
Medical evidence DOES support chiropractic!