Someone receiving a chiropractic adjustment
Someone receiving a chiropractic adjustment
Photo: Aleksander Chaibi (Wikimedia Commons)

Chiropractors in Canada and elsewhere are being told to stop advertising their services as a treatment for covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

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In Canada, organizations such as the College of Chiropractors of Ontario have sent dozens of warning letters to clinics and practitioners in the area, following complaints by the nonprofit advocacy group Bad Science Watch. The complaints highlighted advertisements on social media from chiropractors claiming that they could boost the immune system to ward off the coronavirus or otherwise help people recover faster from it.

“As soon as there is public fear to exploit, these practitioners are really quick to get on message and promote this type of misinformation for their own profit,” Ryan Armstrong, head of Bad Science Watch, told CBC.

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While chiropractic is primarily perceived and marketed as a way to diagnose and treat muscle and joint-related health problems through spinal adjustments, the field has a long history of promoting kooky ideas that it can treat any kind of malady. With little to no supporting evidence, some chiropractors have advertised it as a way to treat everything from autism to ear infections; others have performed potentially dangerous (and sometimes fatal) spinal manipulations on newborn children.

The problem of chiropractors turning into coronavirus scammers isn’t just isolated to Canada either. Late last week, the World Federation of Chiropractic issued covid-19 related advice to chiropractors, which included a warning to stay away from claiming they could treat it.

“There is no credible scientific evidence that chiropractic spinal adjustment/manipulation confers or boosts immunity,” the WFC said in its guidance. “Chiropractors should refrain from any communication that suggests spinal adjustment/manipulation may protect patients from contracting COVID-19 or will enhance their recovery. Doing otherwise is potentially dangerous to public health.”

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Of course, chiropractic is only the latest flavor of pseudoscience to try making money off the coronavirus. Homeopaths and other alternative medicine practitioners have sold their own forms of snake oil as a cure for the virus, which has led to crackdowns by the Food and Drug Administration and various state authorities. In both New York and Missouri, for instance, televangelist Jim Bakker was sued for advertising colloidal silver as a coronavirus treatment.

Science writer at Gizmodo and pug aficionado elsewhere

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