History of Chiropractic
Even though the actual “birth” of chiropractic took place in 1895, ancient healers understood the important role the health of the spine plays in overall health. Hippocrates advocated knowledge of the workings of the spine “for this is the requisite for many diseases.” And Herodotus, a contemporary of Hippocrates became widely known for curing illness by corrective exercises targeting spinal alignment, and if the patient was unable to exercise, Herodotus manipulated their spine. Aristotle was critical of these practices, since they were tonic-free, and stated of Herodotus’ techniques “He made old men young and thus prolonged their lives too greatly.”
It was Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer who developed the philosophy of chiropractic which serves as its foundation today. D. D. Palmer was born in Ontario, Canada in 1845, and moved to the U.S. 20 years later. After the Civil War he taught school, raised bees and sold sweet raspberries along Iowa and Illinois river towns along the Mississippi. In 1885 Palmer discovered magnetic healing, and two years later he opened the Palmer Cure and Infirmary in Davenport, Iowa.
Palmer’s chance encounter with Harvey Lillard, a local janitor, started him on his journey of chiropractic discovery. Lillard was deaf, but had possessed normal hearing all of his life, until he found after straightening up from a stooped, cramped position, he could no longer hear. Palmer theorized that the two events were connected. He examined Lillard’s spine and found one of the vertebra was not in its normal position. Palmer convinced Lillard to allow him to manipulate his spine back into line, and after doing so, Lillard’s hearing was restored.
Soon many other patients came to Palmer with a variety of ailments, including flu, sciatica, head and stomach complaints, epilepsy and heart trouble, and Palmer found that these conditions responded well to his adjustments, which he called “hand treatments.” Later he created the term chiropractic from the Greek “Chiro” (hand) and practic (practice), and called his clinic The Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic, and in 1989 he accepted his first students.
Because Palmer decried the use of drugs, vaccination and surgery as potentially dangerous, he endured numerous attacks from the medical community, including a brief jail sentence and fine for “practicing medicine without a license”.
To this day, even though modern chiropractic has grown and developed extensively since Palmer’s time, his discoveries still serve as the cornerstone of chiropractic philosophy, and millions of patients have benefited from this safe, natural and effective drug-free approach.
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