Chiropractic—is There a Scientific Basis?

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Since its founding in 1895, there have been many questions about how and why Chiropractic works, or if its results are just the placebo effect. Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP of Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd., discusses a recent paper that examines Chiropractic’s research agenda.

The Vertebral Subluxation Research Agenda is an exciting challenge to all health care disciplines to examine their underlying principles, tenets, and philosophy.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Chiropractor and Naturopath Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP notes that in its 118-year existence, there have been continual debates about Chiropractic’s clinical application. Many of the debates center around Chiropractic’s concept of the existence of the vertebral subluxation (misalignments of the spine causing interference with nerve function and its effect on health). Those supporting the concept of the vertebral subluxation want to focus research efforts on answering questions such as: what exactly is the vertebral subluxation, how can it be measured, and how does it affect the body? These questions, which examine the founding principles and tenets of the Chiropractic profession, have led to a proposal to develop a Research Agenda. Its purpose is to study the vertebral subluxation in order to understand its symptoms, clinical manifestations, and proper patient care.

Dr. Matthew McCoy, DC, MPH of Life University, College of Chiropractic in Marietta, Georgia and Dr. Christopher Kent, DC, JD, president of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, have joined together in publishing Vertebral Subluxation Research: An Agenda to Explore the Epidemiology of Vertebral Subluxation and the Clinical Outcomes Related to Management. They call for defining the current state of the science, art, and literature base to determine what is known and not known about five areas of research. Research studies will focus on operational models, measurement, epidemiology, clinical strategies, and health outcomes regarding the vertebral subluxation.

The ambitious research project has five research objectives: what evidence is there 1) that vertebral subluxations exist? 2) that vertebral subluxations can be reliably measured? 3) that vertebral subluxations lead to adverse health outcomes? 4) that vertebral subluxations can be reduced and/or corrected? and 5) that reducing/correcting vertebral subluxations leads to improved health?

Many Chiropractors pursue a vitalistic health care model. Their basic tenets are: 1) the body is a self-regulating, self-maintaining organism, 2) the nervous system controls and coordinates all functions of the body, 3) the spine and vertebrae house and protect the nervous system, 4) vertebral subluxations can occur and interfere with the function of the nervous system, and 5) reducing and/or correcting vertebral subluxations allows the nervous system to function better and allows the fullest expression of life.

Most Chiropractors maintain that vertebral subluxations are the result of stress overload, whether physical, chemical, or emotional. This is further complicated by most people’s poor health behaviors concerning food choices, lack of exercise, and stressful lifestyles, along with an ever-increasingly polluted environment. These factors cause a cascade of health problems by overloading the nervous system and its effect on the immune and endocrine systems, leading to evermore complex health problems.

Past research efforts have focused on caring for neck and back pain, headaches, and musculoskeletal disorders, but rarely on the other positive health benefits of an optimally functioning nervous system. The research agenda seeks to validate the benefits of Chiropractic care and position the profession as a vitalistic, scientific, evidence-informed clinical practice. It is working to define the current state of the art and literature base to determine what is known and not known about each of the five research objectives.

The initial phase of the research agenda has three goals which span the next 20 years. The first goal is to identify, develop, train and support the development of the next generation of subluxation centered Chiropractic researchers. The second goal is to interpret the nature of the vertebral subluxation, and the third goal is to increase the utilization of vertebral subluxation screening and management.

The Vertebral Subluxation Research Agenda is an exciting challenge to all health care disciplines to examine their underlying principles, tenets, and philosophy.

Using the latest research findings, Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. uses a comprehensive package of Chiropractic care, decompression traction therapy, active therapeutic movement training, cold laser therapy, and nutrition for the natural treatment of neurological conditions, neck and back pain, and other health conditions without drugs or surgery. Additional information about Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and other forms of natural health care has been provided by Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. at

About: Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP
Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP attended the University of Wisconsin—Superior where he majored in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in art photography. While attending the University of Minnesota—Minneapolis, he assisted in research on ribosomal proteins. Completing his Chiropractic studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, he graduated Cum Laude (with high honors) in 1983. He started Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1983. In 1996, Dr. Moellendorf was awarded his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Trinity School of Natural Health. In 2001, he received Chiropractic’s most prestigious award, the honorary Legion of Chiropractic Philosophers degree, for his thesis “The Workings of Innate Intelligence in Obsessive/Compulsive and Addictive Behaviors.” This paper was chosen for publishing in the book Philosophic Contemplations vol. 2 in 2002. In June of 2012, Dr. Moellendorf authored his first book titled Healthcare’s Best Kept Secret which can be ordered on Amazon. Dr. Moellendorf can be contacted by phone (920) 493-2126, fax (920) 743-1145, email jgmoellendorf(at)itol(dot)com, his website at, or send a carrier pigeon to 44.84722N and 87.36416W.

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