The History of Chiropractic

By Dr. John Reizer

The word chiropractic comes from the two Greek words cheiro and praktos which translated into English means the practice done with the hands. Throughout history, human beings have been experimenting with the art of spinal adjusting.

Evidence of spinal adjusting has been found in documents that date back to ancient civilizations such as those found in China, Egypt, and Greece. This information was passed on in secret writings and eventually found its way to the 19th century where health practitioners discovered the same important connections between the nervous system, spinal integrity, and general health disorders.

In 1895, Daniel David Palmer, a magnetic healer residing in Davenport, Iowa who was very knowledgeable in human anatomy and physiology, delivered the first modern day chiropractic adjustment to a deaf janitor named Harvey Lillard.  The adjustment became famous as Mr. Lillard regained most of his hearing. At first, Palmer thought that he had accidentally stumbled on a cure for deafness. This, however, he found not to be the case as other patients with deafness did not respond in the same way as Mr. Lillard. Although this was somewhat frustrating, Palmer was not completely discouraged because in his failure to find a cure for deafness, he began to notice other physiological problems begin to improve in patients to whom he was administering chiropractic adjustments.

Palmer began to slowly make the connection that vertebrae which were out of their proper alignment were not causing a specific malady in the body, but instead were interfering with the body’s natural abilities to process information from the brain. The brain was sending the proper messages for the body to be healthy. The misalignments in the spinal column were distorting these messages and the chemistry of the body began to make mistakes which eventually caused a decline in the health of that person. Palmer rationalized that a correction of these spinal misalignments would restore proper communication between brain and body, thus the biochemistry in the individual would balance out naturally.

Dr. Palmer started his own chiropractic school in Davenport. Later, his son Bartlett Joshua (B.J.) Palmer would take over the school and would oversee the formation of the Palmer College of Chiropractic. B.J. Palmer would go on to perform extensive research in the field of chiropractic and would later author numerous articles and books about the science of chiropractic. He was also the chiropractor who developed many of the spinal analysis and adjusting techniques which are still, for the most part, utilized today.

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