Chiropractic and Mental Health

Mental Health and Chiropractic

Written by Christopher Kent, D.C., Esq.

The scope of chiropractic is as broad as the scope of influence of the nervous system. Although many chiropractors and those they serve tend to focus on disorders associated with the physical body, it is obvious that abnormal nervous system function may also affect emotional and psychological health.

Chiropractic and mental healthAccording to B.J. Palmer, “D.D. Palmer was the first man to discover that insanity was caused by displaced cervical vertebrae, that by replacing them the patient could be restored to normal condition.” [1] B.J. also described his expert testimony in a case where he stated, “If an atlas is subluxated it makes abnormal the functions of the brain.” In answer to the question, “What is to be done in insanity?” he admonished his reader to “Go back to cause. Adjust that and return that brain to its normal capacity and capability.” [2]

Another pioneer in the field of mental health and chiropractic was Willard Carver, LL.B., D.C.. Carver authored the book, Pyscho-Bio-Physiology, and wrote, “Between the Psychology and the Physiology I have built the Biologic bridge that scientifically connects these two very important departments of human experience.” [3]

In the 1920s, several inpatient mental health facilities were established where chiropractic adjustments were the dominant clinical service provided. Two of these were located in Davenport, Iowa. In 1922, the Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanitarium was established. The facility was later known as Forest Park Sanitarium. North Dakota Judge A. W. Ponath noted that at the North Dakota state mental hospital, the “cure and discharge rate” ranged from 18‑27%, compared to 65% at Forest Park. [4]

Issue 10 2013 08The second facility, Clear View Sanitarium, was established in 1926. In 1951, Clear View was acquired by the Palmer School of Chiropractic. W. Heath Quigley, D.C., who directed the sanitarium, described he clinical protocol: “Each day, each patient was examined with the neurocalometer (NCM). If the clinician interpreted the NCM to indicate nerve impingement, the patient was adjusted.” Quigley reported that the rooms were “sunny and bright,” and that meals included “large servings of fresh vegetables…from a garden.” [5]

Unfortunately, both institutions closed, (Forest Park in 1959 and Clear View in 1961) in large measure because of third party pay issues. Insurance companies often refused to pay the costs of care. Iowa statutes at the time did not provide for licensing specialized hospitals; only full service medical hospitals could be licensed. Clear View was not licensed as a hospital, and functioned legally as a nursing home. [6]

The 1970s saw a renewed interest in chiropractic care and mental health issues. In 1973, Herman S. Schwartz, D.C., edited a book titled “Mental Health and Chiropractic: A Multidisciplinary Approach.” Contributors included Nobel Laureates Rene Dubos and Linus Pauling, and such notables as Scott Haldeman, A.E. Homewood, Joseph Janse, Alexander Lowen, and Thomas Szasz. [7]  In 1949, Dr. Schwartz had published a preliminary report of 350 patients afflicted with a “nervous or mental disorder” and reported that the majority of them showed improvement under chiropractic care. [8] Dr. Schwartz was active in the ACA Council on Mental Health (formerly Council on Psychotherapy), which survived through the ’70s, but no longer exists.

In 1983, Dr. Quigley authored an article describing a four decades period where “treatment of the mentally ill was a highly motivated discipline within the chiropractic profession.” [9] In 1988, P.J. Goff, Ed.D., wrote a review of the theory and practice of “chiropractic treatment for mental illness.” [10]

Interest in this field continues. Blanks, Schuster and Dobson [11] published the results of a retrospective assessment of subluxation‑based chiropractic care on self‑related health, wellness and quality of life. This is, to my knowledge, the largest study of its kind ever undertaken regarding a chiropractic population. After surveying 2,818 respondents in 156 practices, a strong connection was found between persons receiving Network care and self‑reported improvement in health, wellness and quality‑of‑life.

A systematic review was published which examined psychological outcomes in randomised controlled trials of spinal manipulation  The study concluded that “There was some evidence that spinal manipulation improved psychological outcomes compared with verbal interventions…The clinical implications are that physical treatments, such as spinal manipulation have psychological benefits.” [12]

Genthner et al [13] reported on a series of 15 patients with a history of depresFamily-in-shadow-005sion. The Beck Depression Inventory II was used to measure the baseline level of depression and any post‑care changes following orthospinology care. A paired t‑test demonstrated significant improvement in depression test scores.

Other articles addressing mental health issues and chiropractic care have been published, ranging from single case reports to randomized clinical trials. Favorable responses were reported in persons with conditions including addiction [14], depression [15], ADHD [16], autism [17], dyslexia and learning disabilities [18]. Additionally, published papers report changes in general health measures in chiropractic patients using the RAND-36 and Global Well Being Scale(GWBS) [19], changes in domains of health related quality of life among public safety personnel undergoing chiropractic care [20], and chiropractic care in patients with cancer-related traumatic stress symptoms [21].

Over 38 years ago, my first chiropractor explained that everything we experience is processed through our nervous system. When our perception of the world is distorted by nerve interference, it compromises our ability to respond appropriately. He noted that in addition to damaging our physical health, it could result in impaired psychological and emotional function as well. Finally, he opined that when this happened to a significant number of people in a society, a sick society would result.

In response to my question, “So what do you do?” he answered, “I locate and correct the cause of that interference.

Chris Kent DCChristopher Kent is a chiropractor and an attorney. He is the owner of On Purpose, LLC, and president of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation. A 1973 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, he is a Diplomate and Fellow of the ICA College of Chiropractic Imaging. Dr. Kent is known within the chiropractic profession for his dedication to integrating the science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic for doctors and students of chiropractic. He was awarded Life University’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Dr. Kent is former chair of the United Nations NGO Health Committee, the first chiropractor elected to that office.

To learn more about the On Purpose program and what it can do for you, visit For information concerning the online Advanced Subluxation Training course, visit



  1. Palmer BJ: History Repeats. The Palmer School of Chiropractic. Davenport, IA. 1951. Quoting from The Chiropractor Vol. 1, No. 7, June 1905.
  2. Palmer BJ: The Science of Chiropractic. Volume 2. The Palmer School of Chiropractic. Davenport, IA. 1920. P. 41.
  3. Carver W: Psycho-Bio-Physiology. Book Department. Carver Chiropractic College. Oklahoma City. 1920.
  4. Editorial in The Times. Westminster, MD. 1/31/36. P. 16. Quoted by Keating.
  5. Quigley WH: Clear View Sanitarium ‑‑ Part 5. Dynamic Chiropractic. April 11, 1990. Vol. 8, No. 8.
  6. Quigley WH: Clear View Sanitarium ‑‑ The final years. Dynamic Chiropractic. June 19, 1992. Vol. 10, No. 13.
  7. Schwartz HS (ed): Mental Health and Chiropractic: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Sessions Publishers. New York, 1973.
  8. Schwartz, HS: Preliminary analysis 350 mental patients’ records treated by chiropractors. Journal of National Chiropractic Association (Nov. 1949), pp. 12‑15.
  9. Quigley WH: Pioneering mental health: institutional psychiatric care in chiropractic. Chiropractic History 1983;3(1):69‑73.
  10. Goff P: Chiropractic treatment of mental illness: a review of theory and practice. Research Forum 1988;4(1):4‑10.
  11. Blanks RHI, Schuster TL, Dobson M: “A retrospective assessment of Network care using a survey of self‑reported health, wellness and quality of life.” Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research 1997;1(4):15.
  12. Williams NH, Hendry M, Lewis R, et al: Psychological response in spinal manipulation (PRISM): A systematic review or psychological outcomes in randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2007;15, 271-283.
  13. Genthner GC, Friedman HL, Studley CF: “Improvement in depression following reduction of upper cervical vertebral subluxation using orthospinology technique.” Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. November 7, 2005.
  14. Holder JM, Duncan Robert C, Gissen M, Miller M, Blum K. Increasing retention rates among the chemically dependent in residential treatment: Auriculotherapy and (in a separate study) subluxation-based chiropractic care. Journal of Molecular Psychiatry. Vol 6, Supplement No. 1. March 2001.
  1. Desaulniers AMJ: Effect of subluxation-based chiropractic care on quality of life in a patient with major depression. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. April 23, 2008.
  1. Lovett L, Blum CL: Behavioral and learning changes secondary to chiropractic care to reduce subluxations in a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A case study. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. October 4, 2006.
  1. Khorshid KA, Sweat RW, Zemba DA, Zemba BN: Clinical efficacy of upper cervical versus full spine chiropractic care on children with autism: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. March 9, 2006.
  1. Pauli Y: The effects of chiropractic care on individuals suffering from learning disabilities and dyslexia: A review of the literature. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. January 15, 2007.
  1. Blanks RHI, Dobson M: A study regarding measures of general health status in patients using the Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique: A follow up study. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research 1999;3(2):1.
  1. McAllister W, Boone WR: Changes in physical state and self-perceptions in domains of health related quality of life among public safety personnel undergoing chiropractic care. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. August 6, 2007.
  1. Monti DA, Stoner ME, Zivin G, Schlesinger M: Short term correlates of the Neuro Emotional Technique for cancer-related traumatic stress symptoms: A pilot case series . J Cancer Surviv 2007;1:161-166.