When D.D. Palmer founded the profession of chiropractic in 1895, he established it as a unique, non-medical approach which offered health and wellness care without drugs and surgery. In 1910, he dedicated his book “The Chiropractor’s Adjuster,” to “all who long to elevate the human race by freeing it from ignorance, traditional prejudice, superstition and the pernicious delusions of the superiority of drug medication and the necessity of surgical mutilation.”
During the more than 100 years of chiropractic’s history, its status as a drug-free and non-invasive health care approach has been key to maintaining its separate and distinct identity.
There is general agreement within the chiropractic profession on this inviolate principle.
In its Position Paper 1, The Association of Chiropractic Colleges states that “chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery.” This statement has won the approval and support of the majority of chiropractic organizations, including the World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), and has been signed by the presidents of all accredited North American chiropractic colleges.
In addition, the World Federation of Chiropractic — an affiliation of several chiropractic organizations around the world — has officially stated that, “for reasons of chiropractic principle, patient welfare and interdisciplinary cooperation the practice of chiropractic does not include the use of prescription drugs…”
The adherence to a strict “no drugs or surgery” axiom is based on more than historic tradition but on the increasing awareness of the dangers inherent in the use of drugs and surgery as practiced today.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, allopathic medicine is responsible for the deaths of 225,000 people each year in the United States alone. That includes 106,000 from prescribed medications, 7,000 from medical errors in hospitals, 20,000 from other hospital errors, and 80,000 from infections acquired while in the hospital (JAMA 2000). In addition, over the counter drugs kill another 16,000 Americans per year (JAMA 1998).
In contrast, chiropractic has been deemed one of the safest of all health disciplines.
The Manga Report, from the University of Ottawa, reviewed all available international evidence on the use of chiropractic for back pain care and concluded: “Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are clearly inadequate. Chiropractic care is greatly superior to medical treatment in terms of scientific validity, safety, cost effectiveness and patient satisfaction.” (“Chiropractic in New Zealand,” Wellington, NZ 1979).
It is therefore the strong position of the WCA that drugs and surgery have no rightful place in the practice of chiropractic and that the use of either drugs or surgery by a doctor of chiropractic should be considered the practice of medicine and beyond the scope of chiropractic.