The Incredible History of Chiropractic

Where Did It All Begin?

For over 100 years, chiropractic has been helping patients heal naturally and function at a more optimal level.

But one might be wondering, where did it all begin?

The founder of chiropractic was Daniel David Palmer, known as “D.D.” by many.  Mr. Palmer got his start in patient care by practicing magnetic healing in Iowa around 1885.  After completing his study under Paul Caster, D.D. moved to Davenport, IA to open his own practice in the well-known Ryan Building.

His practice, the Palmer Cure & Infirmary, became very successful and after just 7 years was utilizing more than 18 of the rooms to treat patients!  One day, while working in his office, Mr. Palmer happened to notice that the janitor of the building, Harvey Lillard, was working in a curious/abnormal posture.

Harvey Lillard circa 1895

Here is the account from D.D. Palmer himself:

Harvey Lillard could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch.

I made inquiry as to the cause of his deafness and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooping position, he felt something give way in his back and immediately became deaf.

An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if the vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever, and soon the man could hear as before.

There was nothing accidental about this as it was accomplished with an object in view, and the result expected was obtained. There was nothing ‘crude’ about this adjustment; it was specific, so much so that no other Chiropractor has equaled it.

Why Is Chiropractic Different?

D.D. Palmer discovered chiropractic on September 18th, 1895.  Later, with the help of his friend Reverend Samuel Weed, Palmer coined the term chiropractic which comes from the Greek words cheir and praktos – together meaning done by hand.

In 1897 D.D. opened the first chiropractic school, Palmer School and Cure, in Davenport, IA. Here, he began teaching others the art and philosophy of chiropractic. Although D.D. Palmer does not claim to be the first individual to perform work on the spine in the hopes of healing sick or diseased individuals, he did claim to be the first to utilize specific landmarks on the spinal bones to precisely correct misalignments, thereby remove nerve interference and allowing the body’s own Innate Intelligence (vital force) to heal itself.

Other practitioners, including osteopaths and bone setters, had been utilizing manipulation techniques of the spine dating all the way back to 1552 BC, but had never taken the craft to the level of specificity as D.D. Palmer did.

These other practitioners also never acknowledged that specific spinal adjustments were indeed improving brain, spinal cord, and nerve function — they were simply satisfied with decreasing pain through general manipulation (this was a big mistake as research has now fully validated the influence of the spine on the brain and spinal cord system.)

The Developer of Chiropractic

D.D.’s son, B.J. Palmer, was perhaps even more influential to the profession than even his father.  B.J. is known in chiropractic as “the developer.”

B.J. took the newly born healing art to the masses through every medium you could imagine, eventually taking over the school and going so far as to establish the first commercially licensed radio station west of the Mississippi.

The radio station was called WOC, and B.J. used it to further spread the message of chiropractic along with farming, sports and weather reports. WOC is also known for its famous employee Ronald Reagan, who was hired at the time to be a sports announcer.  Reagan later went on to be a successful actor and the 40th President of the United States of America.

For a more visual walk down chiropractic lane, please refer to this video by fellow colleague Dr. Tory Robson:

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