In this select interview, we asked best selling author, Gerald Celente why chiropractors are ideal for offering vitamin and weight management counseling. Particularly why they are better suited than dieticians or pharmacists to fill this newly emerging role. Mr. Celente, who has appeared on Oprah Winfrey and in numerous national interviews for his accurate predictions outlined in his best selling book, Trends 2000, answers these questions and more.
This interview is a follow-up to a revealing new report by Mr. Celente, “The New Millennium Chiropractor,” that can be found in our January/February edition in edited form, or the complete version may be purchased from the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER). Once again, Chiropractic Economics is proud to be the only publication to bring this exhaustively researched information to the chiropractic profession.
Mr. Celente, prior to writing the New Millennium Chiropractor report, what was your own experience with chiropractic?
I’ve known about chiropractors for 25 years, and I’ve always known what they were about. Some of my best friends are chiropractors. We have a staff member who’s a chiropractor. My impressions are built over a lot of years of first-hand experience.
You report, “polls show that the pharmacist is the most trusted profession in the United States.” With lawyers being arguably the most distrusted profession, where in this continuum, do you feel the public views chiropractors?
Somewhere in the middle. People tend to vote with their experience, and as in every business or profession, there are some good ones and some bad ones, but chiropractors got a bad rap from the medical establishment, as shown by the Wilk vs. AMA case. As far as the public sees chiropractic, I suggest the overall reputation is good.
You say, “Of all health professions, the chiropractic profession is in the ideal situation to formalize weight management as a professional specialty to help people lose and gain weight.” Why do you feel chiropractors have the advantage over dieticians?
Because a lot of chiropractic adjustments and issues with patients are weight-related. Let’s take a chronic problem a patient might have. No matter what the chiropractor does, if a person is severely overweight, the adjustment is only going to work for the short term. Long term it’s a chronic problem that’s going to become exasperated by weight. Because a lot of what the chiropractor does is also weight related, it makes it a perfect combination. It really isn’t good judgment to treat someone who has a chronic weight problem and not address the weight problem.
Data shows 71% of the adult population is overweight; one-third are obese. When a patient carrying 40, 50 or 60 pounds extra says their back is killing them, they are going to have other problems bothering them as well. It’s a natural of all the health professionals, a lot of what chiropractic does and the efficacy of what they do bears upon the patient’s weight issue.
With chiropractors spending a lot of time directly with patients, is it better to hire a nutritionist or dietitian?
No; because nutritionists and dietitians aren’t necessarily well versed in the holistic aspects of medicine and the chiropractor knows the person from a lot of different viewpoints. They may hire a nutritionist as an adjunct, but as far as being a vitamin counselor and being the professional who knows the patient in so many different ways, there’s nobody who can do that better than the assisting physician.
When I go to get my my teeth cleaned, I have gum problems from many years ago from botched surgery, I had to go to a dentist who also cleans my teeth. I’d rather have him do it than a dental assistant because when he’s doing it, he’s looking and discovering other things as well. It’s the same as dealing with a physician. When you’re going through the process, physicians are learning more about your problems, strengths and weaknesses. In the give and take, he or she is getting a much wider perspective of who you are and what you are. What your lifestyle is and how it’s affecting you. Particularly when you’re looking at dietitians from the American Dietetic Association, we question how much they really do know relative to the latest health trends.
In what way, if any, do you think chiropractors can apply your concepts of “previewing” and “pollution”?
Well, in the sense that with so many outside sources affecting our immune systems, pollution, foods that we are eating, what we are drinking (the contamination), the chiropractor really has a role of expanding his or her profession far beyond what people think of them as “snap my neck or crack my back.” Due to the training chiropractors do in nutrition as a holistic practitioner, they can assist the patient in understanding the environmental effects on their life as well. For instance, a heavy business traveler patient who happens to fly a lot, is likely aware you’re not breathing good air on airplanes. You should say, “I suggest more of these vitamins or supplements before a trip. Do this kind of breathing exercise. Clean out your lungs.”
A chiropractor can play a role of helping a person in today’s stressful polluted environment and live a healthier life by taking a more holistic view. As well as appreciating the complementary aspects of medicine in terms that sometimes the chiropractor may not be the proper physician to go to, if alternative treatment isn’t working. Though it’s usually the reverse. A lot of people used to go to chiropractors as a physician of last resort. It may also work the other way around.
With so many people now embracing chiropractic, it may also be wise for chiropractors to say, “Look, we’ve reached the point where we’ve tried all these things, maybe you should consider surgery and try some type of drug or pharmaceutical therapy in combination. So it’s a very open role. It’s not protecting a turf role and chiropractic can play that role very well.
What aspect of your report do you want chiropractors to embrace?
That their window of opportunity is very small and that if they don’t become known as vitamin counselors or known for their skills helping people control their diet, it’s going to be lost to somebody else. This is already happening in the pharmaceutical field. Pharmacists are now becoming a term we coined several years ago, “vitamin counselors.”
A person is only equipped to be a vitamin counselor by knowing all aspects of you as a person in terms of lifestyle, job, home life, eating habits, etc. It is not something someone can do very effectively on an outside basis. Chiropractors risk losing an affiliation with a hot growing trend that continues to increase as more and more people seek better health, and in fact, want to age in a healthier manner than their parents did. The other end is they are also losing what they had unique to them; being known as masters of complementary and alternative medicine. Now the medical establishment is moving in that direction. Being a diet or vitamin counselor particularly at a time when there is no respected profession that people can go to for sound diet and vitamin advice is a great opportunity. Especially when the quick-fix diet drugs have failed miserably. But if chiropractic doesn’t take it, some other profession will. Every minute chiropractors waste, they are losing opportunity.
How do you rate the odds of success for chiropractors taking the market?
My experience is although the medical establishment is slow, once they do move, it is in a forceful and strong mass. It appears to me at this time the chiropractic profession is going to lose out, and their market share is going to shrink. Right now the American public doesn’t know where to go for vitamin or diet advice. They go to their regular physician. What are they going to do? Give them some pills. So few really have the knowledge about vitamins.
The market opportunity exists right now, but opportunity comes only at a fleeting moment. I want to make this very clear, while there are some very forward-thinking people in chiropractic, the mind-set of the profession seems to be going slowly and even backwards. They are not moving ahead with the speed, clarity, efficiency and effectiveness they need. I say my experience with them has been reactionary.
What tip can a chiropractor implement when they have finished reading this?
They really need to develop a protocol with new patients. Do an in-depth analysis of their lifestyle and really get to the nuts and bolts of who they are and how they eat. Put them on a sound vitamin regime and then treat them. If your car is leaking oil and you have a mechanic who feeds it a lot of oil rather than fixing the problem, that car is not going to last. Many chiropractic practices deal with musculoskeletal problems, but if a patient is not healthy in terms of diet and weight, they are like that mechanic pouring oil in the leaking engine without fixing the leak. The focus should be to develop their own programs.
It was our hope in developing this trend forecast that the chiropractic profession would establish a protocol in both vitamin counseling and weight management. For this program to have worked effectively and really given a boost to the chiropractic profession, it requires gaining the strength of the young chiropractors. The medical profession’s younger doctors understand the consumer desire for nutrition, health, fitness and vitamin counseling as well as the pharmacists do. They’re responding now as a profession more so than the chiropractors.
What is your vision of the chiropractic profession in the year 2050?
That’s a tough one. It’s a little too far for us to look at. I can say it will be exactly as they envision it in terms that if their future vision is limited by what they are doing now, then that’s what they’ll be doing in 50 years. As it looks now, chiropractors won’t be much different than they are today, and their core will be a lot smaller if they don’t make some dramatic changes.
Our way of tracking trends is that current events form future trends. There’s a new report about how many fewer medical students there are now due to the difficulty of earning a good living and cost pressures combined with the cost of education. Young people are going into more profitable professions. The same will hold true with chiropractic if they continue to lose market share and struggle under changing economic conditions.
The demographics for the chiropractor in the next 50 years are excellent because society is aging quite rapidly. As we age, our chronic problems also increase. Health, fitness and nutrition, in terms of emotional, spiritual and physical are going to be the consumer products of the first decades of the new millennium. These are going to replace what consumerism was in the last half of the 20th Century. The demand will be there for the service. Whether or not chiropractic has the vision, the understanding, the desire and the organization to take advantage of that is entirely in their hands. I say with all certainty that the future and strength of the individual chiropractors depends upon the strength and unity of the associations and professional organizations. If the associations and organizations are weak, the same thing will filter down to the chiropractors individually.