We don’t do drugs

Regular readers of the sceptical blogosphere will have heard of the annual Chiropractic Awareness Week and all the trouble that caused last year. As a result of the BCA‘s libel suit against Dr Simon Singh,  far more people now are only too aware of chiropractic!

But there’s another annual event, The Back Show 2009, to be held over the weekend of 03 October at Earls Court in London.

Now, this isn’t specifically a chiropractic event. Indeed, there are all sorts of exhibitors, including a company that teaches swimming, Art of Swimming, a company selling hot tubs, HotSpring Hot Tub, and a company, Primal Lifestyle whose aim is:

…to provide practical solutions facilitating a return to the environment within which the human being evolved to function…


Then there’s physiotherapist Sarah Key, whose method, apparently, is now part of The Prince’s Foundation of Integrated Health. I’m not entirely sure how such an endorsement would be seen as a good thing, but she did develop her method at the personal request of HRH himself.

However, many of the exhibitors are plying their own particular brand of woo, from acupuncture to Bowen technique. And chiropractic, of course.

One of the colleges that trains students in the devilish detail of subluxations will be there: the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic. And some of the four chiropractic trade associations will also be there: the McTimoney Chiropractic Association and the United Chiropractic Association. And of course, the British Chiropractic Association.

In fact, the BCA are so enthusiastic about this event, they are sponsors of it. All these others are ‘supporters’, but presumably all handing over dosh to support this marketing opportunity worthy cause .

Just say no

There are also several chiropractic clinics trying to sucker in new patients clients customers.

One of the them is the Chelsea and Fulham Chiropractic Clinic. Just to pick something at random — let’s choose drugs —  from their website:

First, chiropractors don’t dispense drugs. We rely on natural methods. Muscle relaxants and even the most common over-the-counter pain medications fail on two counts. First, while convenient, they don’t address the underlying cause of your problem. Second, side effects such as addiction, kidney failure, liver damage and even death can result. When properly applied, ice can have an analgesic effect without the side effects associated with pain medications.

And then… there are countless numbers of prescription-strength medications that are used to prevent headache symptoms (i.e., migraine symptoms) or to “arrest” symptoms after they appear.

Of course as chiropractors, we don’t advise either for or against any medications. However, we do want you to be aware that even over-the-counter medications have been known to carry serious risks to your health, and prescription medication literature contains long lists of possible side effects. So before taking any medication, we like to caution you to read the accompanying literature to be aware of just what you are taking.

Those who wish to avoid risky drugs or irreversible surgery will often visit our office first.

One of the BCA’s co-sponsors says:

Treating pain with painkillers and an anti-inflammatory agent does not always correct the causative factors and often overloads the liver, which in modern man is already overworked dealing with environmental factors such as pollution, TV, computers etc. The best way to treat pain is to understand its cause.

Not too keen on proper, evidence and science-based medicine are they? And we all know what many other quacks think of that evil, murderous, corrupt Big Pharma!

All the more surprising, then, that the headline sponsor of the whole affair is Nurofen.

17 thoughts on “We don’t do drugs”

  1. I don’t want to just assume they’re wrong so I have to ask – what affect do TV and computers have on the liver (except for my tendency to eat junk food when using either)?

  2. ROFL with the computers and TV effecting the liver. Should I make a liver shaped aluminum foil hat? That way I can protect my liver both from harmful toxins and UFOs and the CIA’s mind control satellites in one fell swoop!

  3. Michael Kingsford Gray said: “Isn’t Neurophen “Big Pharma”?”

    Emmm…you’d have thought so!

    However, its manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Limited, promotes woo on their nurofen.co.uk website. About homeopathy, they say:

    “Shown to work, for adults, children and plants!

    But does homeopathy work? Well, research shows that a homeopathic effect does exist. Many adults, children, animals and even plants have been successfully treated with homeopathy. And studies at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital have shown homeopathy to be effective in the treatment of hay fever.”

    This link is not to some peer reviewed reputable scientific article, but to a BBC story!

    On chiropractic, they claim:

    …chiropractic therapy can also help conditions such as:

    * Hip problems
    * Head, neck, chest pain
    * Headaches and migraines
    * Wrist, ankle, knee, elbow problems
    * Asthma
    * Menstrual disorders
    * Indigestion and constipation


    Of course, it’ll come as no surprise that the link on the page is to the British Chiropractic Association.

    So, are Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare Big Pharma or Big Quacka?

  4. Of course some medicines have side effects and some are serious!

    But do you really think the chiropractors put those warnings there just in case someone forgets to read the information leaflet that comes with every proper medicine? Is this a public service chiropractors are providing free of charge?

    No, they’re there to plant the idea in a customer’s head that they should eschew conventional medicine in favour of their brand of woo.

  5. Do most people read those little leaflets which come with packs of Neurofen etc? I’d be very surprised if they do, most people just neck ’em and wait for the effect to kick in. I dont know the stats but it would interesting to know the proportion of the public who are aware of NSAID risk. It seems rather desperate to criticise any health care provider for informing the public of evidence informed levels of risk. You mention in your blog that chiropractors are “not too keen on proper, evidence and science-based medicine”, but these risk factors come from large and methodologically strong “science-based” studies, you cant complain on the one hand that chiropractic is not evidence based and on the other complain when they use good evidence as part of their patient management/education.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the much publicised risk of VBI damage via cervical manipulation (1 in 1 – 2,000,000) is far less than the risk of death due to NSAID use (15.3 deaths per 100,000 in Spain, according to the link i posted above).



  6. @Ostepodder

    Yes in this one point you are correct. NSAID do have side effects and can cause harm. However you are missing the whole point, and that is that Chiropractic therapy is made up rubbish that does not work. Can you provide some robust evidence that it is proven to work and how it might help say Asthma as claimed above?

  7. @cvb

    Im not missing any point at all. I made the point i intended to make and it wasnt related to whether or not asthma can be “cured” by chiropractic. I was purely saying that their highlighting the risk of NSAID use was appropriate.
    I dont have any evidence for chiropractic working for asthma since as you well know, there isnt any (so why ask?). Chiropractic seems to work for low back pain and there’s a fair bit of evidence out there of fair quality.
    Dont twist what im saying about one thing and apply it to something else just to shit stir. If you want an open conversation about evidence and efficacy of manual therapy then lets do it, if you just want to stand there pointing and shouting then talk to someone else.

  8. It seems that Nuerofen is a recent sponsor – the Back Show promo for earlier in the year stated that the main sponsor was a company called AmatsuHealth – japanese medicine.

    Rumour has it that they pulled out and the event organisers fell on nurofen’s offer of £££££ in order to save the show.

    The BCA and other chiro organisers do not arrange the funding sponsors so it seems a tad petty to ridicule them for decisions they had no control over.

  9. AmatsuHealth is still a sponsor but the contradiction is still there: many chiropractors appear to eschew conventional medicine and drugs, but have chosen to sit alongside a major pharmaceutical company at this show. I have no idea how they square that, but that’s their problem.

  10. Lady says to pharmacist: “Why does my prescription medication have 40 side effects?”
    Pharmacist replies: “Cause that’s all we’ve documented so far.” Prescription drugs, surgery, pain killers, etc, just numb your pain and don’t do anything to fix the problem, yet they are responsible for 106,000 deaths per year.

    Records form insurance and court cases have constantly shown that
    chiropractic is the safest portal of entry health care available to the
    public today. Although no healthcare procedures are 100% safe, chiropractic
    stands on its record of safety and effectiveness unmatched in

  11. There are well-established reporting systems (for both patients and health professionals) for pharmaceuticals so that side effects can be monitored to ensure public safety. Which is much more than can be said about chiropractic.

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