Complementary medicine is not only surviving, but Congress just unanimously ordered the Veterans Health Administration (VA) to explore and learn how to use holistic medicine, including chiropractic, in healthcare for America’s veterans.
A Brief History
D.D. Palmer changed the face of future healthcare when he pressed a lump on his deaf janitor’s back, resulting in the Eureka instant when the janitor shouted, “I can hear!” Chiropractic was born and evolved into the holistic practice of healing it is today. Soon after its founding, it was met with opposition as the medical establishment of the day tried to invalidate the methodology and destroy it.
In 1799, just a few years before the birth of the American medical Association (AMA), George Washington, the most famous man in the world, fell ill from exposure (he had stayed out in severely cold weather) and couldn’t breathe. Doctors bled president Washington of over 35% of his blood… to no avail. With their treatment failing, one doctor recommended a tracheotomy, but the “experienced” doctor refused, saying it was not approved. He insisted that this was the “science based” medicine of the time.
They’d gotten their education by practicing with an older doctor, or a week at a medical school. They had no idea what caused illness or how to treat it, except broken bones, but they were the only ones licensed to cure what ailed you.
State of Medicine in 1847
By the mid-nineteenth century there was still no order or medical standard. Traveling “snake oil” salesmen traveled town to town selling self-made medicines that frequently did more harm than good. The doctors of the day treated patients with a variety of archaic techniques including bleeding, leeches, giving mercury, purges, and emetics. All of which would be considered severe malpractice today, but at the time, they claimed to be science-based treatments.
Three doctors created an exclusive doctors' club to share information, and later the AMA was created with a goal of establishing standards. There was a need for it, but it accomplished more by refusing entry to any “non-regular,” one who used natural healing other than the accepted means of the select group.
The AMA saw the threat chiropractic presented and began asserting that it was not science-based, and an invalid therapy. They began synthesizing natural herbs into drugs, and selling them at great profit. The AMA hired a German teacher named Abraham Flexner to tour and test medical schools across the nation. Flexner inspected all of the schools, claimed that too many schools were creating too many doctors, and closed all but around 50 schools. The remaining institutions would remain licensed only if they followed the “allopathic” rules of no natural products, restricted admittance to men, and implemented only the “cure-all” pill system which created the big pharma stranglehold that exists to this day.
The major drug companies arose from the culture that sprang up in the wake of the Flexner Report, focusing on drugs that could be patented and owned exclusively. Natural products could not, so this had the effect of strangling out alternative means of healthcare, except for chiropractic – because it worked.
The AMA set out to put an end to chiropractic, once and for all. For decades they assaulted the modality until 1987, when the federal courts found the “AMA and its members” guilty of conspiring to create a healthcare monopoly. Specifically, they were found guilty of the following actions:
- Systematic defamation of Naturopathic, chiropractic, and osteopathic physicians
- Publishing and distribution of propaganda specifically intended to ruin other healthcare professionals' reputations
- Forcing MDs to refuse collaboration with naturopathic, chiropractic, and osteopathic physicians in the co-management of patients
- Denying hospital access to naturopathic, chiropractic, and osteopathic physicians.
Fishbein and the AMA
Dr. Morris Fishbein, (1889-1976) became the head of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1924, a position that he used to enrich himself and rail against competing therapies. He decided which drugs could be sold to the public based only on how much advertising money he could extort from drug manufacturers, whom he required to place expensive ads in JAMA
Fishbein formed a department of investigation to hunt down doctors still using natural remedies. He authored and published books on quackery, and even went so far as to accuse chiropractic practitioners of belonging to a cult.
The poison spread by the AMA about alternative medicine and chiropractic still reeks, but the air is slowly getting cleaner. Chiropractic has been relegated to only 10% of healthcare, but the times are changing as it has proved able to stand up to a constant barrage of misinformation.
The Lamb Bill
On May 21st 2019, by unanimous consent, the U.S. House passed the Whole Veteran Act (H.R.2359 – 116th Congress), which would require the VA to study what alternative health services it offers now and determine how much it would cost to expand those services.
“We believe that the future of health care is going to involve a mix of old and new methods of treatment,” Rep. Conor Lamb said in a floor speech supporting the bill. “It turns out that not all doctors think that the best way to deal with chronic pain or [post-traumatic stress disorder] or depression is to simply hand out more pills.” (source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
In the right combination, holistic treatments can be safer, more affordable than traditional medicine, and effective he said. The goal is to give veterans more control over managing their own healthcare by letting them choose which treatments work best for them.
Under the legislation, the VA would study therapies including massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, tai chi, and other holistic treatments.
Though the bill didn’t specifically reference medical integration, the integration and collaboration of different disciplines has finally been recognized as the answer to healthcare. Even the bickering politicians see it as the proper method of aligning healthcare for American Veterans.
Now it’s up to the Senate to address the matter, come up with their own version of the legislation, get it through the reconciliation process, and then send it on to the president.
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