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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Evolution of Health Care in the 20th Century: Dr. Harlan Sparer traces the roots of the modern health care system.

Nov 01, 2015 04:57PM ● By Dr. Harlan Sparer

1895 was an important year: the first movie was made and the first automobile patent granted. Chiropractic, naturopathy and osteopathy were established, joining homeopathy to compete in the Healthcare arena with traditional medicine. Medicine in 1895 offered leeches, calomel (mercury chloride), arsenic, trepanation (boring a hole in the skull to cure headaches and brain issues), dung therapy, sulfur and pitch fumigation, human flesh and bone elixirs and more.

Chiropractic is the science, art and philosophy of aligning the vertebrae of the spine to remove nerve pressure and restore nerve function. Naturopathy is the philosophy, art and science that aims to bring the human being the highest possible level of health by teaching one to properly manage his or her lifestyle. Osteopathy is the science considering the structure and function of the human mechanism, so it can recover from displacements and consequent disease by adjusting them. Homeopathy is the treatment of disease by minute doses of a natural substance that in a healthy person would produce symptoms of the same disease in its undiluted form.

These alternatives to medicine gradually became increasingly popular due to their effectiveness and non-invasiveness. This created an extreme loss of market share in the healthcare marketplace. The American Medical Association (AMA) responded in 1908 by enlisting Andrew Carnegie’s help to produce the Flexner Report. The results were integrated into operating principles which were accomplished by the 1930s.

This resulted in closure of non-AMA-sanctioned schools relating to health care; licensure of doctors of “modern” medicine; outlawing of chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy and naturopathy; closure of any and all schools not practicing modern medicine; integration of modern medicine into hospitals; exclusion of any and all non-modern medicine from hospitals; and virtual removal of African-Americans from the profession of modern medicine.

This had a startling effect on health care, both in the marketplace and for the average person. The availability of health care decreased, while the cost increased. Non-modern medical health care became relatively unavailable as providers were arrested and jailed for violating new legislation. The medical lobby became extremely powerful with the support of emerging pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Harlan SparerDr. Harlan Sparer is a DNFT chiropractor practicing in Tempe. He can be reached at 480-245-7894 or [email protected]. For more information, visit or

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