Daniel David Palmer established the modern practice of spinal manipulation in the 19th century. He is known as the Father of Chiropractic . Palmer was born on March 7, 1845 in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, to Katherine McVay and Thomas Palmer. When he was twenty, Palmer moved with his family, to the United States where he worked as a beekeeper, farmer, school teacher, and grocery store owner. Palmer had interests in health philosophies and spiritualism.

Magnetic Healing, Palmer’s Precursor to Chiropractic

In 1886, Palmer embarked on a healing practice, opening his first office in the South Putnam Building in Davenport, Iowa. He named the therapy “magnetic healing,” which is a cross between massage and meridian therapy based on the concepts of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Gaining knowledge from reading medical journals and worldwide developments in anatomy and physiology, he resolved inflammation of the nerves and created remedies.

The Nervous System Affects Health

In Palmer’s first ten years of practice, he questioned MDs about the true causes of diseases, and why people have different diseases, given the same environment. He wanted to know how two people borne of the same parents, living in the same house, breathing the same air, and drinking the same water, had significant health differences, one prone to disease, while the other healthy. Palmer theorized that in addition to external factors, the function of the nervous system was an internal factor that affected a person’s health.

Palmer Cures Deafness with Spinal Manipulation

Harvey Lillard

Harvey Lillard

On September 18, 1895, Palmer discovered his health theory about the nervous system when he met Harvey Lillard, the building janitor, who had been deaf for 17 years. Palmer noticed that Lillard had a lump in his back. When asked about the cause of his hearing impairment, Lillard revealed that when he was in a cramped stooping position while exerting himself, he felt something broke in his back. He then instantly lost his hearing.

Palmer discovered in an examination, that a vertebra was not in its normal position. He theorized that the dislocated vertebra blocked the spinal nerves controlling the inner ear, and that if the vertebra was replaced, the nerve pathways will reopen. After half an hour of convincing Lillard that if the vertebra in his back was replaced, he will regain his hearing, Palmer then applied a firm pressure to Lillard’s back with his hands, using the spinous process as a lever. Soon after, Lillard regained his hearing.

Palmer Restores Heart Condition