120 years ago today, on September 18, 1895, a significant historical event occurred that would change healthcare forever. Dr. Daniel David Palmer, also known as D.D. Palmer, administered the first spinal adjustment setting the stage for chiropractic to develop into a mainstream accepted form of drug-free healthcare.
Founding of Chiropractic
D.D. Palmer, who lived in Davenport, IA, initially worked as a magnetic healer owning his own clinic called the Palmer Cure and Infirmary. The first adjustment D.D. performed was initiated after he had an encounter with a janitor in his building by the name of Harvey Lillard. D.D. was intrigued by Harvey Lillard because Harvey had lost most of his hearing for about 17 years of his life. Lillard was able to communicate with D.D. to explain how his hearing loss began with a “pop” in his back after working in a bent over position.
This led D.D. to conclude that there must be a connection between the popping of the back and the deafness. He felt Harvey’s spine and realized there was one vertebra out of place. D.D. convinced Harvey to let him work the misaligned vertebra back into place and almost immediately following that adjustment, Harvey experienced an amazing transformation. His hearing began to return; something he never imagined would be possible.
Following the success of this adjustment, D.D. Palmer decided to shift the focus of his practice towards spinal manipulation. Once news spread of his success, people flocked to his office from all over the country. Palmer soon realized spinal adjustments didn’t just help with deafness, but rather they helped with a number of ailments such as the flu, sciatica, stomach issues, headaches, and heart trouble.
In order to better understand the success he was having, Palmer turned to his studies of anatomy and physiology to further research the connection between one’s spine and overall health. He was able to deduce that the body had the power to heal itself through the nervous system. He concluded that if an organ was not functioning correctly, then that must mean it wasn’t receiving proper nerve supply. His adjustments were restoring nerve supply by removing nerve interference.
The term “chiropractic” was then coined from the Greek words “chiro” meaning hand and “practic” meaning practice. D.D. Palmer renamed his clinic the Palmer School and Infirmary of Chiropractic, with the first students accepted in 1898.
Even though chiropractic was beginning to gain popularity and produce successful results, there were those who did not accept it and presented much opposition. D.D. Palmer faced harsh criticism and hostility from the medical community, who didn’t understand and accept chiropractic as a means of legitimate healthcare, despite the success stories. He received so much dissent, he was actually sentenced to 105 days in jail and fined $350 for practicing medicine without a license. However, this did not stop D.D. from adjusting. He did his time and then continued to adjust, wrote two books, and promoted chiropractic till his death in 1913.
Development of Chiropractic
B.J. Palmer took chiropractic to the next level, making it a licensed, accepted form of healthcare. B.J. graduated from his father’s school in 1902 with his wife, Mabel, and the two began changing lives and taking more responsibility of the school. B.J eventually built the Palmer School of Chiropractic.
B.J. was really the marketer of chiropractic. He had his own radio station where he was able to promote and educate thousands on the benefits of chiropractic. He was a brilliant writer and speaker, who traveled the world speaking to numerous audiences about chiropractic. Opposition towards chiropractic was still present and chiropractors were still being jailed, but B.J. worked diligently to increase the acceptance.
He further refined and developed the science behind chiropractic. Separate licensing and regulatory boards for chiropractic were made possible by B.J. Palmer. It was under his leadership that chiropractic actually became the first profession to use the x-ray machine regularly, which improved the accuracy of chiropractic.
Today chiropractic has become a licensed accepted form of healthcare practiced all over the world. It is constantly growing and becoming increasingly popular as it has helped millions achieve remarkable improvement with their health.