Is It Safe for You to Trust Your Health to the Holistic Health Practices of Today? – Program 5

By: Dr. Norman Shealy, Dr. Robert Leightman, Dr. Jane Gumprecht, Dr. Paul Reisser, Dr. John Weldon; ©1994
Biofeedback and Chiropractics are widely used, and there is science to back up some of what they are used for. But do some practitioners go too far in what they claim?

Biofeedback, Chiropractic


Today on the John Ankerberg Show, four medical doctors and a Christian theologian will debate the question: Is it safe for people to trust their health to the new unconventional medical therapies? The New England Journal of Medicine reports that one-third of all American adults now seek out and use unconventional medical treatments and holistic health practices. By definition, an unconventional medical therapy is a practice that not in conformity with the standards of the scientific medical community. But if so, how can the public know which therapies are safe? Who has tested the principles upon which each holistic health practice claims it can cure illness? And what about harmful spiritual effects? Haven’t some holistic health treatments incorporated parts of occult belief and practice?

During this series, doctors representing all sides of these issues will discuss the individual holistic health practices by name, and express how they may impact your physical and spiritual well-being.

My guests are: Dr. Norman Shealy, the founder of the holistic health medical association in America. He is a neurosurgeon and former professor of medicine at Harvard university; Dr. Robert Leichtman, a medical doctor, who is also recognized as one of the premier psychics in America; Dr. Jane Gumprecht, a Christian doctor who has warned the public about many holistic health practices; Dr. Paul Reisser, also a Christian doctor, who has written extensively on the medical dangers of unconventional health methods; and finally, Christian theologian Dr. John Weldon, who did his Ph.D. work on the beliefs and practices of the eastern religions. We invite you to join us as we investigate the question: is it safe for you to trust your health to the holistic health practices of today?

Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re glad you’ve joined us this week. We’re talking about a very interesting topic. And the topic is: “Should New Age holistic health techniques be cataloged as quackery or the new wave of medicine?” And we have five doctors on the platform. And we are going to talk a little bit about what happens when some of you folks go to a chiropractor. Some of you go in for biofeedback. How do these work? What’s the basis? Maybe you’d be surprised to find out what the founders actually postulated and how it has evolved down through the years. Very controversial area. And doctors, I’m going to put you on the rack right off the bat here. Norman, take a shot at chiropractic.
Shealy: Chiropractic actually was evolved from osteopathy which was devised by an MD. Andrew Taylor still was a physician, an allopathic physician, who reckoned that there were vertebral mal-alignments that were involved in some illness. And there’s a tremendous amount of physiological evidence to back up the fact that if you get a subluxation, or a joint that is “stuck” actually, which is, I think, the only way I can put it in terms of a joint that’s not moving properly, there are physiological changes that take place. And so adjustments of the spine, especially with spinal pain, I think, are a particularly appropriate thing to do. The problem is, when you start imagining that you might be able to cure cancer by manipulating the spine. And I think that is ignorance.
Ankerberg: What was Palmer’s assumption to start off here?
Shealy: Well, Palmer assumed that the problem was pressure on a nerve that was interfering with the vital force in an organ, and that by manipulating a joint you would relieve that pressure. Now, interestingly, Andrew Taylor still felt that it was interference with blood flow rather than nerve. And both are right to some extent. You certainly can get both of those things happening. But really I think it’s an electrical reflex that short-circuits what happens. And you can find that in the sympathetic nervous system if you look at the temperature of the skin. I don’t believe in thermography because I think it can be fudged too easily. But if you just put a thermometer on areas that are in pain, most of the time the temperature of the skin will be reflexly decreased, because the blood vessels are in spasm. So, when there’s pain, there often is reflex change taking place. So manipulation to me is a reasonable thing to do when there’s a spinal problem sometimes.
Ankerberg: But not the other, like cancer, heart attacks, stuff like that.
Shealy: Yeah, I just don’t think that that has any practical application.
Ankerberg: Add to that, and we’re going to come back to you on the next one.
Reisser: Right. I have no problem with that all. I feel there’s been a movement in the chiropractic profession to attempt to align themselves more directly with the mainstream of the scientific community and how they look at anatomy and physiology. But there’s still some of the old guard out there who are treating everything.
Ankerberg: When you say “everything,” what are some of the things they treat?
Reisser: They’re on the radio claiming to treat kids with earaches, or epilepsy….
Shealy: And as a neurosurgeon I particularly object to trying to treat epilepsy.
Reisser: It’s really inappropriate. And as soon as you say that, everyone is saying well, this is the AMA doctrinal. it has nothing to do with that. It’s simply that anatomically it doesn’t make a bit of sense. But also I should say that people I know and at times refer to in my community are the ones that don’t do that. I mean, there are…
Ankerberg: For both of you, how does a person out there know he’s going to somebody that’s working with scientific basis and someone that’s not?
Shealy: How do you know that when you see a physician?
Ankerberg: Jane?
Gumprecht: Some of the problem is they buy into these other holistic health practices.
Ankerberg: But how can a person tell on a chiropractic level here, are we working with a good one or not?
Reisser: I think….
Ankerberg: Careful now, because it’ll get you in trouble.
Reisser: Well, I think you have to ask right straight ahead, what’s the theory on which you believe this works? That’s number one.
Ankerberg: And basically what should they say?
Reisser: Well, number one is, I think they should be talking in terms of doing a variation or an extension of physical therapy to solve muscular skeletal problems in the spine and not to cure. You know, what’s the extent of their practice? That’s the other thing. What do they claim to cure? I think as soon as they say they’re going to take care of your diabetes or your, you know, some internal problem, that you’re on thin ice.
Shealy: And I agree.
Gumprecht: I think you should also look out if they build a disease. Now, they often on TV will give a whole list of symptoms, and these are symptoms of things that are common to us every day, like muscle spasm or headaches or tingling or this or that, but all of us have all the time periodically. And so you look at this listing and you think, “Oh, I’ve got a terrible disease and I have to go see the chiropractor.” And if you don’t have anything wrong with you to begin with, of course you can be healed. Anybody that would come…
Shealy: Well, I would point out my daughter at age 13 had scoliosis. And the orthopedist wanted to put her in a brace, which I objected to. And a very competent chiropractor who sent me more patients than any MD in town with real disease corrected her scoliosis with manipulations done over a two-year period. And she’s 23 years old now. And I think properly done manipulation in spinal problems can be useful.

Ankerberg: Now, let me say a word about chiropractic. We believe that in some specific areas chiropractors can give legitimate help. But there are some chiropractors who are also going beyond the bounds of legitimate practice. Good chiropractic is primarily a form of physical therapy.
Modern chiropractic originated with Daniel D. Palmer in 1895. Palmer was not a medical doctor, but he was involved in what was then called magnetic or psychic healing and had a life-long interest in spiritism. In fact, he said he received his first information concerning the chiropractic method from a spirit guide. This is documented in Daniel D. Palmer’s Text-Book of the Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic, as well as in other books. This occult connection probably explains the early chiropractic theory of Palmer’s known as “innate intelligence.” He believed innate intelligence was a mysterious universal life force or energy that supposedly flowed through the body and was the true power behind chiropractic. Palmer believed this energy could be manipulated to cure disease and properly regulate the physical function of the body.
Some chiropractors continue to hold to this occult theory even today. Others do not. How can you know which chiropractor remains inside the practices of chiropractic and which does not? Our advice, which is based on our reading of scientific medical reports documented in our book, Can You Trust Your Doctor?, is to go only to chiropractors who hold to the scientific and medical definition of subluxation and who restrict their practice to areas in which chiropractic has scientifically demonstrated effectiveness.
For example, the true medical definition of “subluxation” is “an incomplete or partial dislocation.” They’re usually talking of a bone or joint. Now, in speaking of a subluxation as applied to the spinal column, this would mean medically that there was serious damage done to the spine. How so? It would mean that the ligaments on the front and the back of the spine have been partially torn, or the disc has been partially torn or ruptured, or the facet joints have been partially dislocated. In other words, a true medical subluxation in the spine would be a disabling injury which would clearly be seen on an x-ray. A chiropractor should never be used to treat such a serious medical problem.
Chiropractors extend medicine’s legitimate definition of subluxation into a non-scientific theory, by claiming that subluxations “interfere with the flow of nerve impulses to and from systems, organs and tissues of the body, thereby making the body susceptible to disease.” In other words—and listen carefully—for chiropractors, a subluxation really causes or starts the main problem, which is, that the energy flow from the brain throughout the body, through the spinal cord to the different parts of the body, is now blocked or stopped. That blockage of energy—Palmer’s innate intelligence—or today, just the natural energy coming from the brain, supposedly opens up the body to other diseases. If that energy-flow is not restored, chiropractors believe the health of the rest of the body may dramatically decline.
Now, here’s where medical science says this theory of chiropractic subluxation is not true. The reason is this. Everyone agrees that nerves run to the liver, spleen, heart and other organs. But medical science does not agree that nerve energy keeps these organs from disease, nor can manipulation of this energy cure cancer or other serious diseases in these organs.
This is why you should avoid Chiropractors that claim they can treat such things as cancer, nervous breakdowns, amnesia, functional heart conditions, blindness, deafness, pneumonia, etc., all of which lie outside the muscular and skeletal area. Especially avoid those chiropractors who mix legitimate physical therapy with one or more of up to a dozen New Age practices, such as applied kinesiology, iridology, reflexology, crystal healing, rod and pendulum dowsing, psychic diagnosis, kundalini yoga, and Rolfing.
I am especially thankful for the many Christian chiropractors who understand that criticism of those in their profession who still advocate Palmer’s occult view of innate intelligence or promote cures for ailments outside of their specialty, these criticisms are valid. We agree with them that it is important that they continue seeking reform of their profession for the sake of its own credibility. On the other hand, we want to say that properly practiced in a legitimate, conservative and conscientious manner, chiropractic is safe and effective for a limited number of ailments. Most in the medical community agree that chiropractic is basically a physical therapy and that chiropractors do a good job with muscle spasm, back pain and this sort of thing. But beyond that they are getting outside their abilities and expertise.

Ankerberg: What about biofeedback?
Shealy: Well, biofeedback, of course, is to me one of the great scientific advances of this century, because you can control blood flow by using feedback from the temperature of the hand. And blood flow is very intimately related to many disorders in the body. Also pain and temperature travel in the same pathway, so by learning to control temperature in the skin, you can learn to control pain, muscle tension. If you have focal muscle spasms, such as torticollis, it’s a perfect treatment for it. Temporomandibular joint problems where you’re grinding your teeth, EMG biofeedback is superb. Biofeedback is the feeding back to the person with sound or images actually what’s taking place physiologically in their body. So I think biofeedback’s a wonderful adjunct and properly used is a great treatment.
Ankerberg: Any dangers?
Shealy: Are there? Well, no.
Gumprecht: Norm, you say in your book that you use biofeedback and autogenic training. That, of course, preceded biofeedback. You also say in your book that autogenic training is essentially self-hypnosis.
Shealy: That’s true. And J. H. Schulz, the great German psychiatrist who wrote the first book on this in 1932, demonstrated that people were capable of healing about 80% of what I would call stress illnesses using self-hypnotic techniques. I think hypnosis, self-hypnosis—all hypnosis properly done is self-hypnosis—and so if you can self-hypnotize yourself to give up smoking, well you’ve done the greatest thing you can possibly do for your health.
Ankerberg: What about these folks that get into an altered state of consciousness via biofeedback?
Shealy: Well, if it’s being done in a psychologist’s or a physician’s office where it’s under good control, I think that that’s fine. After all, an alpha state of consciousness is the state of relaxation. A beta state of consciousness is associated with visual imagery and some people say “creativity.”
Ankerberg: Okay. Quick comment.
Gumprecht: This conditions you to this type of control, like mind control, for example.
Shealy: So does watching television.
Gumprecht: If you enter this, then you can be conditioned at some future time.
Weldon: I think getting involved in altered states of consciousness is dangerous as it’s used in the New Age Movement. Altered states of consciousness have been known throughout human history as a method for establishing contact with the spirit world; a method for becoming possessed by a spirit being. It’s stated in all the texts. Altered states of consciousness were used in many of these techniques. And I think something that is being overlooked here is that the occult foundation, the occult origins of many of these practices. And the concern we have with that is there are so many ways in which an individual can get involved in the occult because there are still remnants of occult philosophy and practice from the person that began these movements. For example, Bernard Jensen is very heavy into Rosicrucianism. That’s a very deep occultic movement stressing development of psychic powers and astral projection. George Goodhard, applied kinesiology, used psychic methods in order to develop his method. Wilhelm Reich was into the spirit world. Samuel Hahnemann of homeopathy was a follower of Swedenborg, one of the most potent mediums of the 17th century. Randolph Stone who founded polarity therapy was a disciple of the Radhasoami Hindu sect, a very strong occult form of Hinduism.
Shealy: And yet, I would like to point out that Herb Benson has demonstrated very effectively, I believe, that many forms of prayer from standard prayers used in almost all Christian churches to using the rosary are very similar in getting people into altered states of consciousness.
Weldon: I would disagree with that, Dr. Shealy, because there’s a difference between the kind of prayer you find that’s biblical and Christian which involves centering on something that cognitive. You do not go off into this blank kind of emptiness that is stressed in the Eastern, the monistic traditions. There is content there. There is a two-way communication. You are not opening yourself up for whatever comes in from the universe.
Ankerberg: I was just going to pull in here on this alpha state that, when Jose Silva was here, that that’s one of the keys of his course that he founded. And, of course, he influenced some people and eventually influenced your buddy Bernie Segal at Yale. But you get into that alpha state. That’s what they teach the people in Silva Mind Control. And on the third day of their course, then he, in the alpha state, shows you how to invite two spirit guides to give you information to help you in other areas.
Shealy: Well, but there’s also a technique that Carl Jung introduced in which he also had what he called the synthesis of opposites in which he uses one’s animus anima to help you integrate the personality. So you can distort anything if you choose to.
Weldon: Carl Jung was an occultist who had spirit guides. That’s why he has an occult psychology. And that again, is the bottom line of New Age medicine. It is an occult system that often helps people to develop an occult world view, and occult world views are consequentially not scientific!
Ankerberg: Dr. Weldon, is all biofeedback all bad then?
Weldon: Biofeedback can be used for I would say something that is either good or evil. Biofeedback can get people into altered states of consciousness and establish spirit contact. Elmer Green in his book Beyond Biofeedback uses it for occult purposes.
Ankerberg: And who’s Elmer Green?
Weldon: He is one of the leaders in the…
Ankerberg: The Menninger Clinic.
Weldon: Yeah.
Gumprecht: Jung himself used a medium to explore the subconscious. It was his cousin. So it ties in with what you said.
Weldon: Even Dolores Krieger in Therapeutic Touch, she learned the technique from Dora Kunz, who was a psychic and president of the Theosophical Society. Now, these are all systems with very definite beliefs about God, about man, about healing, about disease, etc. And they’re often very anti-Christian beliefs.
Ankerberg: Let me ask Bob. Bob, I’ve left you out of a couple of programs here and I’m coming to you in the next one in a heavy way. But let me ask you a question. If you’ve got a person that comes from the Judeo-Christian background, okay, a Christian [or] Orthodox Jew, and they come to you, would you think it right to involve them in some of these techniques that disagree with their world view?
Leichtman: I think as a physician or a therapist you really can’t be effective if you oppose a person’s belief system. You’ve challenged their faith. I find I often see people with severe anxiety and one of the things I encourage them to do is ask them, “Do you pray?” And they say, “Of course”—usually. And I say, “For heaven sakes, why don’t you try using the 23rd Psalm as a way of quieting yourself down?” And I don’t just say “Do this,” I lead them through it to make sure they’re doing it correctly and that they understand what those words mean. And this, of course, “Ah! It alters their consciousness!” but I think in a very healthy way. I find that if I get them to do this in an effective way, it’s very therapeutic for their anxiety. It helps them center themselves. When I talk to them, I take whatever belief system they have, if they’re Jewish or Christian or whatever, and encourage them to make better use of their religious tools. If they’re Catholic, I tell them, “You look like the type that would be comforted by praying to the Holy Mother, and why don’t you do more devotions this way?” And I will help them figure out what to do. I find these things are very effective. But if you tell a Jew to pray to the Holy Mother, they would be offended. And I think I would be stupid to try to offend their belief system by doing things like that.
Ankerberg: One final word, John. Do you think that a person that believes in Jesus Christ should participate in some of these New Age techniques?
Weldon: Absolutely not. Because, number one, they’re occult systems. They are developed by occultists in the main. Number two, they can get people involved in an occult worldview, and that’s something that God has very clearly warned against in the Scripture. Scripture says to test the spirits, [1 John 4:1] not invite them into our lives and let them possess us and speak out of us. Paul says “We wage war against spiritual forces and wickedness in the heavenly places.” [Eph. 6:4]
And God specifically warns in Deuteronomy to have nothing whatsoever to do with mediums, with spiritists, with those who contact the dead. [Deut. 18] And Dr. Shealy is listening to a being through his diagnostician called “Genesis.” I’d like Dr. Shealy, to answer the question who he thinks Genesis really is when everything Genesis says, point for point, lines up with what comes through mediums and spiritists that are having demons speak through them.
Ankerberg: Okay. We’re going to pursue that in depth next week. So I hope that you’ll join us. We still missed a couple here, especially chromotherapy and Rolfing and a couple of others that we’ll bring up. So I hope that you’ll join us.

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