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Some chiropractors may not know how far back the concept of chronic inflammation extends in chiropractic.
But prior to D.D. Palmer discovering chiropractic in 1895, he was a magnetic healer and his treatment focus was inflammation reduction.
In 1914, he wrote a book containing a chapter on modern-day chronic inflammation that he titled simply, “Inflammation,” in which he stated that inflammation was involved in all chronic conditions. Needless to say he was very much ahead of his time.
So, you might ask, how rampant is chronic inflammation today, and should it be more of a chiropractor’s treatment focus? Well, consider that the condition used to be called “epidemic,” and now the term most frequently seen in the scientific literature is “pandemic.”
Much of the population how exhibits excess levels of arachidonic acid, excess levels of bad omega-6 fatty acids, unhealthy ratios of omega-6s to omega-3s, nutrient deficiencies of EPA and DHA, too much pro-inflammatory prostaglandin PGE2s and too little anti-inflammatory prostaglandin PGE-3s.
While the optimal balance inside cell membranes of omega-6s to omega-3s is generally held to be 2:1, the average patient today is 25:1, and some are testing as bad as 90:1.
Anything over 4:1 is thought to contribute to some if not most of a patient’s musculoskeletal pain, even though they tell us the pain in their back just happened last night from sleeping wrong.
Data always wins
The research is loud and clear that it’s incumbent on chiropractors to test for the kind of chronic inflammatory chemistry that may be the root cause of a patient’s musculoskeletal pain. If you don’t, and the patient has a pro-inflammatory blood imbalance, you’re going to miss the diagnosis and, worst of all, miss a great opportunity to recommend corrective care that could possibly resolve this serious health challenge in as little as 90 days.
Most chronic disease today is linked to inflammation, and the most critical driver of inflammation is an excess of omega-6s and a deficit in omega-3s.
When I discussed this problem with one of the icons in chiropractic technique recently, he was excited to learn how easy it is to measure and manage inflammation. He said if he had a test like this available when he was in practice, every patient would have taken it and would have loved it.
He said, “Data always wins.” By that he meant the more evidence-based, scientific data you can collect on a patient’s condition, the more we can improve their outcome.
There is a simple test that provides new data on how to control the inflammatory balance of cells and support patients in the modulation of pain and chronic inflammation. This is a blood test that’s available to chiropractors, that requires only a drop of blood, and since it’s packaged as an at-home, finger-stick, patient-administered device, it complies with your scope of practice.
With one drop of “non-fasted” blood, the test measures two comprehensive blood values: the omega-3 index and the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, to find out if chronic inflammatory chemistry is present and possibly responsible for some or all of a patient’s presenting complaints.
In addition, this test is FDA approved, has been featured in over 200 studies and has been published in more than 100 peer-reviewed journals, in collaboration with top institutions such as Harvard and Stanford Universities, plus it is endorsed by JAMA.
A systemic problem
No one knew what caused chronic inflammation until 1982, when three scientists discovered the cause and won the Nobel Prize in medicine for their research. (Perhaps D.D. Palmer should have received an honorable mention, as he wrote about the condition some 68 years prior.)
At any rate, thanks to research we now know that chronic inflammation is diet related, and when patients eat too many processed and packaged foods and too little fruits, vegetables and fatty fish, chronic inflammatory chemistry gets released throughout the bloodstream and is stored in cell membranes as the “bad” omega-6 arachidonic acid.
When the findings of the Nobel Prize winners were published, pharmaceutical companies showed no interest in the diet part, but immediately started working on drugs that would block the enzymes that cause it. Their research led to the COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx that caused the deaths of an estimated 60,000 people.
Anti-inflammatory drugs have a single mode of action, which is to block the formation of inflammatory eicosanoids. If patients want to avoid the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, the best way to protect their cells have is to high-levels of anti-inflammatory EPA and DHA.
But if these fatty acids are in short supply, chronic inflammatory chemistry gets triggered. Plus, since the half-life of EPA and DHA is short, patients must have a daily supply in the blood to keep chronic inflammatory chemistry under control.
Because cells are incredibly sensitive to chronic inflammation, it not only triggers pain receptors but also damages tissue at the cellular level, creating neuro-inflammation that disrupts signaling between nerves and the brain, which can impact your chiropractic adjustments.
A patient-administered blood test
The first blood test to measure an omega-3 deficiency was developed by a cardiologist and a PhD, but it required venipuncture and cost around $300. They soon developed a finger-stick version when they learned that fasting blood was not needed and only a drop was required. This reduced the cost to $150, but it was still too expensive to sell to patients.
Another company now offers doctors a cellular inflammation and hand-eye coordination combination test that is still expensive at $99, but the larger problem is the requirement to maintain a minimum supply of tests using an “auto-ship” feature and stocking 14 corrective supplements. Most patients don’t understand the need for a 15-to-30-minute online memory test to treat their back-pain.
Fortunately, chiropractors now have an option to offer a blood test that focuses exclusively on musculoskeletal inflammation that uses the same CLIA-certified lab that conducted the original published research. Best of all, the test only costs $40.
The tests can be purchased whenever doctors need them with no monthly commitment, and there are only two to four corrective supplements required. This price and simplicity of use makes it possible for chiropractors to check every patient for chronic inflammatory chemistry and recommend corrective care if the blood sample determines a need.
How the test works
The science shows that most patients with musculoskeletal pain or who are overweight have some percentage of chronic inflammatory chemistry and this blood test will tell you that percentage. If patients have a test result between 8 and 12 percent they’re considered normal and without chronic inflammatory chemistry. If they’re below 8 percent it indicates the presence of chronic inflammatory chemistry and the further below 8 percent the more severe the condition.
A score below 4 percent indicates the possibility of a chronic disease. A study from Harvard School of Public Health published in Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology found that omega-3 deficiencies cause 96,000 deaths a year, making this the sixth leading cause of preventable death.1,2 The problem is that if you don’t know a patient’s percentage and it’s below 8 percent, you won’t treat for it.
So if patients are leaving your office with chronic inflammatory chemistry, it can trigger a return of symptoms or potentially develop into a chronic disease. On the other hand, if you do know their percentage and act to correct it along with regular chiropractic care, you can normalize the percentage in as little as 90 days.
Implementation is seamless
The program is seamless and easy to implement. Simply review the main complaint and history and, together with an assessment of musculoskeletal pain or excess weight, create a working diagnosis to order chronic inflammatory chemistry blood testing.
Explain to the patient why it’s important to test for chronic inflammatory chemistry and cellular fatty acid imbalance, so you can determine if either is contributing to their complaint(s). Then purchase a chronic inflammation support protocol package and resell it to the patient.
The package includes everything they need to measure and start improving their cellular health, including the two corrective supplements.
The patient leaves the office with the blood test kit and their first set of corrective supplements, an omega-3 fatty acid EPA and DHA and a polyphenol rich green powdered anti-oxidant. Instruct the patient to conduct the blood test, mail it to the lab and begin taking their supplements.
You don’t need the blood test results before having them start the supplements because you’re only recommending baseline amounts to start. The lab report is a three-page graphical representation of the patient’s nutrient deficiencies this is emailed directly to you so you can provide a brief consultation on the results and recommend a course of treatment. You adjust dosages if the test results indicate the need and schedule the patient to be retested in 90 days.
Some offices are earning between $1,000 and $1,500 in profit per case, adding an additional $60,000 to $100,000 a year to the bottom line, but the big prize is not the additional income, but rather the ability to support chronic inflammatory chemistry that can result in better, faster outcomes.
Any way you look at it, if you’re a chiropractor it’s about time to take the advice of our founder, D.D. Palmer, and the 1982 Nobel Prize in medicine seriously.
Donald L. Hayes, DC, is a clinician, educator and author of several books, including The E-Myth Nutritionist with New York Times best-selling author Michael E. Gerber, and is the co-founder of the Greens First line of nutritional products and the EndFlame—Cell Inflammation Blood Test. He can be reached at 866-410-1818 or online at greensfirst.com.
MeyerDC is a family-owned American supplier of chiropractic products. Since our founding in 1948, we’ve supported DCs large and small, new and well established. More than a leading chiropractic supplier, we’re a true advocate for the more holistic approach to health and wellness that DCs practice, because we know their work helps patients to live more balanced, active lives. And so we’ve dedicated our work to supplying DCs with the largest selection of chiropractic products and equipment, the fastest shipping, the benefits of exclusive vendor relationships, and the most helpful customer service in the industry.
1 Dwyer M. “Higher blood omega-3s associated with lower risk of premature death among older adults.” Harvard T.H. Chan. www.hsph.Harvard.edu/news/press-releases/higher-blood-omega-3s-associated-with-lower-risk-of-dying-among-older-adults. Published April 2013. Accessed August 2018.
2 McNamara RK. Membrane Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency as a Preventable Risk Factor for Comorbid Coronary Heart Disease in Major Depressive Disorder. Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology. 2009; https://doi.org/10.1155/2009/362795.