Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine devoted a good portion of an issue to chiropractic. The first study, which purported to examine whether patients with low back pain benefitted from chiropractic manipulation, randomly assigned 321patients with low back pain to chiropractic manipulation, physiotherapy or nothing more than an educational booklet. After following them for two years, the study concluded that the patients receiving either physio or chiropractic had only marginally better outcomes than those handed the booklet (NE J Med, 1998; 338; 1021-9).
The other story in the same issue purported to show that chiropractic treatment provided no benefit for children with asthma ( N E J Med, 1998; 338: 1013-20).
If only negative studies of orthodox medical procedures received this kind of press coverage! Within a week, both the Lancet and the British Medical Journal not only had got hold of the story but had published their own reviews of the piece (and in two places, in the case of the BMJ). The BMJ concluded, in its headline, that "chiropractic treatment is of limited benefit".
This interests me not only because both journals had to have had advance notice of these studies in order to get reviews of them into their own publications a week later which would seem to contravene the strict rule imposed by all medical journals prohibiting circulation of their scientific papers until publication. I'm also rather worried about the general trend it reflects among the orthodox medical community.
It is all to the good that chiropractic indeed any medicine at all is put to the test. However, the back pain study was strangely selective, attempting to fit chiropractic into the same mould as drug based medicine, where all patients receive the same treatment. Participants were allowed to receive only one type of spinal adjustment, when any chiropractor will tell you that each patient's needs are individual. The researchers also disallowed any patients with sciatica, patients recovering from back surgery or pregnant women, all of whom form a large part of a chiropractor's trade and reported success.
This might seem paranoid of me, but lately there seems to be a renewed concerted effort by the medical powers that be to rubbish alternative medicine without a fair trial. American Drs Stephen J Barrett (a retired shrink) and Ronald E Gots, who describe themselves as "nationally renowned leaders in the fight against quackery", have published a new book Chemical Sensitivity: The Truth about Environmental Illness (Prometheus Books, 1998). It sets as its task the demolition of such"fad diagoses" as candidiasis, multlple chemical sensitivity and toxicity from mercury amalgam, even arguing that many allergies are a figment of the sufferer's imagination. Groups have arisen in Britain and America, composed of high ranking scientists, with the stated aim of discrediting anything they and their little theories cannot explain.
In our sister publication, PROOF!, we wrote recently about the case of Dr Robert Sianaiko, a national authority on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a fairly standard clinical ecologist. Recently, a California administrative judge ruled that by not prescribing Ritalin to a ADHD child and using his own non conventional approach (controlling candida, diet and allergies), Sianaiko was violating California's Standards of Practice.
The precedent of this case has set chilling new parameters in standard practice. The only recognised treatment for multiple chemical sensitivity, ME or candidiasis is psychotherapy as these are diseases which do not exist.
Dr Sianaiko needs support in appealing this decision (Medical Defense Fund, PO Box 1565, Fontania CA 92334, or his website: www.legalfund.org).
It's vital that we declare war on medical fascism.