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who was b.j. palmer?

B.J. PALMER (1882-1961)


Yesterday, we looked at the life of a visionary healer, DR. ANDREW TAYLOR STILL.  Today we look at B.J. Palmer, the “Developer of Chiropractic“.  B.J. was the son of Chiropractic’s Founder, D.D. Palmer.  And like both his father and A.T. Still, he was a brilliant scientist, clinician, and philosopher, who was truly ahead of his time.  Whereas Dr. Still believed that FASCIAL ADHESIONS were the root of most disease, B.J. believed (and to at least a degree, proved) that a very common cause of disease is NERVE INTERFERENCE due to VERTEBRAL SUBLUXATION.  In fact, B.J. was so adamant about this premise of his philosophy that he coined the saying, “One cause, one cure“.  As far as BJ was concerned, Subluxation was the cause of all sickness and disease, and Chiropractic Adjustments were the solution.  And while he may not have been totally correct, science is today proving him to be more right than most people realize (HERE).

Vertebral Subluxations occur when individual vertebrate are either misaligned or not moving properly in relationship to each other.  Among other problems created by the Subluxation Complex, they irritate nerve function, and interfere with the loop of nerve impulses from the brain to the body and back again via the spinal nerves (kind of like static distorting the music on an old AM radio).  Although much greater technical details are known about the Vertebral Subluxation Complex today, much of what BJ discovered and taught was spot on.   As you can imagine, subtly blocking nerve impulse can cause a whole host of health problems, including to, but not limited to pain.

In order to promote chiropractic in the medically hostile environment of the early 1900’s, BJ was not only a scientist of the highest order, he became an expert at marketing.  During his tenure, Palmer College of Chiropractic actually owned a couple of radio and T.V. stations —- one being the very station where one of America’s greatest presidents, Ronald Regan, got his start in the show business industry as a radio announcer.


In order to understand Dr. B.J.’s 33 Principles of Chiropractic, there a few simple definitions that one must first understand.

  • UNIVERSAL INTELLIGENCE:   Although BJ was not, as far as I can tell, a Christian; he recognized that life was far too complex to have arisen via random chance, and then developed its incredible diversity via random mutations — the thing we today call Darwinistic Evolution.  Instead of calling this “life force” God, he chose to call it Universal Intelligence.  As a Christian, I would attribute things like creation, diversity of life, etc, as the work of God, as accounted in Genesis.

  • INNATE INTELLIGENCE:  Innate Intelligence is the manifestation of Universal Intelligence (God) within our bodies.  We all have an “inborn” or Innate Intelligence that is just simply “there”.  Is it not amazing that even helpless babies innately know how to suckle their mother’s breast?  The body also innately knows how to heal itself when the various interferences to its healing processes are removed.  Just like BJ said, The same power that made the body heals the body.  This is another of BJ’s simple principles of Chiropractic.

  • EDUCATED INTELLIGENCE:  This is our brain power and the things that we learn via both formal and informal education.  Just like numerous other genius’ of his era, BJ did not have significant amounts of formal education.  But, as Dr. Fred Barge always said, “A Degree Doth not a Doctor Make“.   What B.J. lacked in formal education he made up for in other ways.  He had a brilliant mind, the need to figure things out, a love of writing, an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and an almost inhuman drive to advance his belief that Chiropractic was the answer to humanity’s illness.  Unfortunately, the venerable Dr. Tim O’Shea would agree with me that America’s level of Educated Intelligence is diminishing year by year.  I am not sure whether “common sense” would fall under Educated Intelligence or Innate Intelligence in BJ’s scheme of things.

  • VERTEBRAL SUBLUXATION:  Vertebral Subluxations are simply Spinal Vertebrate that have lost both normal alignment and motion in relationship to each other.  This loss of normal spinal structure and function leads to numerous health problems including NERVE INTERFERENCE, SPINAL DEGENERATION, FASCIAL ADHESIONS, & INFLAMMATION, as well as abnormal tone of the body.  And although today’s medical community would vehemently deny it, it also leads to almost every disease process you can imagine (Stick around for tomorrow’s Blog Post).
Principle # 33:  The Law of Demand and Supply: The Law of Demand and Supply is existent in the body in its ideal state; wherein the “clearing house” is the brain, Innate Intelligence the virtuous banker, brain cells “clerks”, and nerve cells “messengers”.

Principle #32: The Principle of Coordination: Coordination is the principle of harmonious action of all the parts of an organism, in fulfilling their offices and purposes.

Principle #31: Subluxations: Interference with nerve transmission in the body is always directly or indirectly due to subluxations in the spinal column.

Principle #30: The Causes of Dis-ease: Interference with the transmission of Innate forces causes incoordination of nerve impulse, which causes dis-ease.

Principle #29: Interference with Transmission of Innate Forces: There can be interference with the transmission of Innate forces.

Principle #28: The Conductors of Innate Forces: The forces of Innate Intelligence operate through or over the nerve system in animal bodies.

Principle #27: The Normality of Innate Intelligence: Innate Intelligence is always normal and its function is always normal.

Principle #26: Comparison of Universal and Innate Forces: In order to carry on the universal cycle of life, Universal forces are destructive, and Innate forces constructive, as regards structural matter.

Principle #25: The Character of Innate Forces: The forces of Innate Intelligence never injure or destroy the structures in which they work.

Principle #24: The Limits of Adaptation: Innate Intelligence adapts forces and matter for the body as long as it can do so without breaking a universal law, or Innate Intelligence is limited by the limitations of matter.

Principle #23: The Function of Innate Intelligence: The function of Innate Intelligence is to adapt universal forces and matter for use in the body, so that all parts of the body will have co-ordinated action for mutual benefit.

Principle #22: The Amount of Innate intelligence: There is 100% of Innate Intelligence in every “living thing,” the requisite amount, proportional to its organization.

Principle #21: The Mission of Innate Intelligence: The mission of Innate Intelligence is to maintain the material of the body of a “living thing” in active organization.

Principle #20: Innate Intelligence: A “living thing” has an inborn intelligence within its body, called Innate Intelligence.

Principle #19: Organic Matter: The material of the body of a “living thing” is organized matter.

Principle #18: Evidence of Life: The signs of life are evidence of the intelligence of life.

Principle #17: Cause and Effect: Every effect has a cause and every cause has effects.

Principle #16  Intelligence in both Organic and Inorganic Matter: Universal Intelligence gives force to both organic and inorganic matter.

Principle #15: No Motion without the Effort of Force: Matter can have no motion without the application of force by intelligence.

Principle #14: Universal Life: Force is manifested by motion in matter; all matter has motion, therefore there is universal life in all matter.

Principle #13: The Function of Matter: The function of matter is to express force.

Principle #12: Interference with Transmission of Universal Forces: There can be interference with transmission of universal forces.

Principle #11: The Character of Universal Forces: The forces of Universal Intelligence are manifested by physical laws; are unswerving and unadapted, and have no solicitude for the structures in which they work.

Principle #10: The Function of Force: The function of force is to unite intelligence and matter.

Principle #9: The Amount of Force Created by Intelligence: The amount of force created by intelligence is always 100%.

Principle #8: The Function of Intelligence: The function of intelligence is to create force.

Principle #7: The amount of Intelligence in Matter: The amount of intelligence for any given amount of matter is always 100%, and is always proportional to its requirements.

Principle#6: The Principle of Time: There is no process that does not require time.

Principle#5: The Perfection of the Triune: In order to have 100% Life, there must be, 100% Intelligence, 100% Force, 100% Matter.

Principle#4: The Triune of Life: Life is a triunity having three necessary united factors, namely, Intelligence, Force and Matter.

Principle #3: The Union of Intelligence and Matter: Life is necessarily the union of intelligence and matter.

Principle #2: The Chiropractic Meaning of Life: The expression of Universal Intelligence through matter is the Chiropractic meaning of life.

Principle #1: The Major Premise: A Universal Intelligence is in all matter and continually gives to it all its properties and actions, thus maintaining it in existence.


BJ’s Work Simplified to Seven Concepts

  • Life is intelligently designed and able to heal, adapt, and function in Balance, Harmony, and Ease.
  • Your Innate Life Energy (the inborn power source that makes you alive) uses your brain and nerve system to send its life-giving messages (mental impulses) to coordinate / organize / direct all the functions of life…so you can live at EASE and adapt better to stress in your environment.
  • Every cell in your body needs a clear neurological connection to the brain in order to function optimally.   A reduction OR partial LOSS of this vital brain-to-body connection diminishes the flow of life-giving messages…this state of LESS life energy in the body is called subluxation.
  • The results of an incomplete connection to your life energy are: incomplete adaptation, disharmony, imbalance, DIS-ease, and altered cellular function.
  • Every single Symptom, Sickness, Syndrome, Disorder, Dysfunction, and Disease known to man results from Altered Cellular Function, LOSS of Coordination & Organization, and a Decreased Ability to fully Adapt to Stress.
  • Because of the intimate relationship between the SPINE and NERVE SYSTEM, the spine must maintain proper alignment and balance for the nerves to maintain proper tone and function. A Specific Scientific Chiropractic Adjustment can improve spinal function AND restore your brain-to-body neurological CONNECTION.
  • The natural result of maintaining a clear connection between brain & body is: LIFE more at EASE.  We expect MORE coordination, balance, harmony, cellular homeostasis, healing & improved health, optimal function, and an on-going movement toward wellness and wholeness.
Do I buy into 100% of what Dr. Palmer was selling as far as his philosophy is concerned?  Certainly not.  I would never for one moment say that Vertebral Subluxation is the one and only reason that people get sick.  I also think that in many ways, BJ had gone beyond philosophy and was was essentially creating his own dogma / religion.  However, not only was the man unarguably and brilliantly ahead of his time as far as understanding health, sickness, and disease, as far as their relationship to Spinal Health is concerned; tomorrow, I am going to show you just how far ahead of his time he really was.  Come back tomorrow to learn why both B.J. Palmer and A.T. Still were closer to the truth than you might believe. 

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