Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quack of the Day: "Dr" Bruce Hagen

If there is one trait most chiropractors share, it is a desire to convince people that traditional allopathic medicine is bad whereas chiropractic "spinal adjustments" and physical adjustments to the spine, neck, and joints can solve almost all health issues.

Some chiropractors even go so far as to suggest spinal manipulation and adjustments can treat common diseases or strengthen the immunity system to prevent a person from ever getting sick which is a subject I have discussed in the past. Other chiropractors will suggest they can treat conditions such as ADHD, ADD, Autism, IBS, allergies, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease, kidney stones, gall stones and even heart attacks!

Truth be told, I have no issue with chiropractors who are honest with their patients and who set the proper expectations for treatment. Many chiropractic treatments are effective for lower back pain and some joint pain (even if they are no better than standard physical therapy or massage), but above all the one thing chiropractic care offers a patient is the power of healing touch. Many studies have found that people respond to the touch of others, and although this is in effect nothing more than a mental placebo, if it helps to reduce stress and pain and allows the person to feel more comfortable I fail to see the harm.

However what I do take issue with is when chiropractors use this knowledge for personal gain and profit.  Rather than actually cure an issue or resolve a complaint, many chiropractors require their patients to return for follow-up adjustments week after week and in some cases up to three or more visits each and every week with no end in sight.  When asked to provide a treatment plan, many chiropractors simply say each case is unique and the patient needs to continue to return for treatments until they feel they are fully healed.  That may take months, and in some cases years.  For a person suffering from chronic pain as is often the case with someone who has fibromyalgia, these treatments can continue for years and even decades.

Contrast this with a traditional medical doctor (MD) who prescribes an antibiotic for an infection.  The doctor doesn't require the patient to come back three times a week to receive treatment, and doesn't tell the patient they need to come back for follow-up visits each week until the infection is 100% cleared up.  What they will do is prescribe the antibiotic and inform the patient to take the complete prescription.  If the infection clears up there is nothing more to do, however if the infection returns or gets worse then and only then should the patient return to the doctor for a follow-up.

Now I ask - which of these two scenarios seems like it is merely connected to profit, and which is in the best interests of the patient?  When a 15 minute adjustment with a chiropractor can cost $65 to $80, and the treatments go on indefinitely (or until the patient realizes it is costing them more for chiropractic treatments in a month than it is for rent or food), it surely doesn't seem like it is in the best interests of the patient.

With all of this being said, I do feel there is a balance between traditional allopathic medicine and chiropractic care.  Some MDs will even suggest their patients visit a chiropractor for specific treatments, and in some cases the two work in harmony with one another.  However the problem begins with chiropractors attempt to convince people that traditional medical doctors aren't needed and that chiropractic care is superior or a more modern way of treating medical conditions.

In the Sioux Falls area, one of the most well known chiropractors is Dr. Bruce Christopher Hagen.  He has been a practicing chiropractor for decades upon decades and has two sons (Bruce Jon Hagen and Mark Palmer Hagen) who are both chiropractors as well.  Bruce Jon Hagen has stated he is a third generation chiropractor which leads me to believe Bruce Christopher Hagen was probably the son of a chiropractor, and there is also another Hagen (Christopher Hagen) who works with or has worked with Bruce Jon Hagen who is also a chiropractor, so needless to say cracking bones runs in the family - and it has been VERY profitable for the Hagen family.

Bruce C. Hagen even thinks so highly of the idea of chiropractic care that he named his own son after Daniel David Palmer (or DD Palmer) who is the founder of chiropractic treatment back in the 1890s.  That is where the "Palmer" within Mark Palmer Hagen originated from, so clearly Bruce Hagen is very fond of chiropractic treatment and the Palmer College of Chiropractic (where he went to school to become a chiropractor).

So it should come as no surprise to learn that Bruce Hagen has authored a book entitled "How to live to be 100 in Spite of your Doctor".  Now for sake of argument I'm going to assume Hagen is referring to real medical doctors and not all doctors, because that would essentially be suggesting to the readers of the book that they should avoid all doctors including doctors of chiropractic (DC).

Within this book (which Hagen has been promoting everywhere and to anyone who will listen) he offers up such unsubstantiated statements such as "the leading cause of death in America is neither heart disease nor cancer... it's doctor caused illness" (where have we heard that idiocy before), " if it's advertised on TV, it may be bad for you", and my personal favorite "there is more sickness today than ever before".

Now as to the claim about it being advertised on TV it might be bad for you, Hagen might actually have a point.  Kevin Trudeau advertises on TV all the time, and history has shown us he isn't exactly good for us.  I also see a lot of ads for those amazing knives you can buy for $19.99... and I suppose to some degree those could be bad for you if you cut your finger or accidentally stab yourself while trying to demonstrate how to slice through a can of SPAM like they do on television.  However it seems pretty clear that what Hagen is actually referring to is the overabundance of pharmaceuticals advertised on television.  

The thing is, anyone of moderate intelligence knows drugs aren't about to cure everything, and the list of potential side effects are often long.  We already know drugs aren't always the answer and we already know that in some cases there will be side effects that are as bad or even worse than the condition being treated.  That is an accepted risk we take when we decide to take prescription drugs, and hopefully as modern science continues to improve the benefits will continue to increase while the risks and side effects will continue to decrease.

As far as Hagen's statement about more sickness than ever before, it really depends upon how to look at it.  People are living longer these days due in no small part to modern medicine.  We also have a world population of over six billion people which is growing exponentially, so it stands to reason there will be more sickness than ever before because that is merely the law of averages.  There is also more consumption than ever before, more humans than ever before, more 100 year olds than ever before, more ingrown toenails than ever before, and more reruns of Saved By The Bell than ever before... but none of that really matters and aside from fooling those non-critical thinkers that might buy Hagen's book clever statements like this don't mean a thing.

Perhaps more importantly than clever phrases and senseless statements, Hagen would like to offer up some scientific evidence to support his many claims.  Perhaps he would like to parlay his decades of chiropractic experience into a published paper or research study, or perhaps he would like to contribute to a scholarly journal.  Rest assured none of these things will happen however, because in order to print an article in a journal it would need to be peer-reviewed which is scrutiny Hagen would never want to accept.  Therefore it is much easier to write a book, pay a publisher to print it, and sell it to patients and ignorant fools via the Internet for $15 per copy.

Hagen has even went so far as to develop a snappy website to hawk his book, and true to form with so many other anti-mainstream medicine types he offers a few other products such as nutritional charts for sale as well. With all of this being said, I have taken a few observations from looking at his website which make me wonder why all of these chiropractors and anti-mainstream medicine gurus all share the same desire to have websites that look like they were created by a 14 year old using circa-1992 geocities website creation tools.

First of all this could quite possibly be one of the ugliest websites I have ever seen.  The text is choppy, the grammar and text appears to have been written by someone who likely had trouble graduating high school, and the layout could have been improved had they created the site within Microsoft Word.  Add to that the fact that two of his primary links don't even function properly (he linked to instead of the proper URL of, and it really starts making you wonder why anyone would claim to have designed this page.  Of course after looking at the webpage for the actual site designer, it seems more than obvious that this is a low budget operation.

Granted his choice of web designer doesn't have any bearing upon the book itself, but I do find it comical that any self-respected doctor would have such a website to begin with.  Looking at Hagen's "favorite links" section is a veritable "who's who" list of various profit-seeking alternative medicine types which offer various newsletters for sale, supplements, bumper stickers, and postcards.  Ask yourself the last time you saw a real medical doctor with such a website, and then ask yourself the last time your doctor tried to sell you a copy of his or her own book or to get you to spend $48 a year for their monthly newsletter.

This seems to be the common problem with so many alternative medicine proponents.  On one hand they want everyone to believe how corrupt modern medicine is and that they have all of these miracle cures and treatments that will prolong your life or ease your pain, but in order to obtain this wonderful miracle knowledge, they always expect people to pay money to download a newsletter or buy a book.  Whereas traditional medical techniques and diagnoses can be reality found online in hundreds of locations, most alternative medical knowledge is more often than not only found in a paid format.

So is it really about sharing knowledge, or is it just about profiting from the fear perpetuated by proclaiming modern medicine is a sham and that all drug companies and doctors and government agencies are in on the game?  I think we all know the answer.

At the end of the day, Hagen and his fellow alternative medicine proponents are nothing more than hypocrites.  They complain about drug company profits and about the cost of healthcare while raking in millions a year from their alternatives, and yet throughout all of this alternative medicine has not brought us one single cure or solution to any major medical disorder - EVER.  They complain about the idea of taking a pill to treat a condition while suggesting people take daily supplements for the rest of their lives, and they complain the truth is being hidden from the public while they all seem to have the real answers... for a price.

In fact, even though Hagen professes himself to be in such good health by bragging about how he still works 10 to 16 hours a day, how he plays tennis and golf several times a week, and how he has a full head of hair at age 77, Hagen actually has relied upon the services of traditional medical doctors and has even taken prescription drugs.  He will be quick to tell people that for 50 years of his life he didn't have to take any prescriptions, but the same would be true for most 77 year olds.  If you actually add up the number of time the typical 77 year old person has ever taken medications, it likely would be a mere fraction of their life, not to mention the fact that up until 30 or so years ago prescriptions were very limited outside of standard antibiotics and some pain medications - so even if someone wanted to take a drug for a specific symptom it may not have been available.

The bottom line is although Hagen may offer some good generalized advice within his book, it does not in any way suggest simply by leading a certain lifestyle or by taking some vitamins that a person will live to be 100.  There are so many factors that go into health from genetic traits to environmental exposure to mere chance that nobody can guarantee health throughout their lives.  Mr. Hagen may very well live to be 100 and if so more power to him, but the reality is he may also die around his 80th birthday and if that is the case his life expectancy would be nothing more than average.

I'm not suggesting that Hagen is a bad guy, in fact I'm sure his heart is in the right place, but I do hope that people are intelligent enough to consider all factors that go into health and life expectancy.  If they find that chiropractic care or some supplements is all that is necessary to keep them feeling well then so be it, but if they find (like Hagen, and like our very own Mr. Hubbs) that there are times in which they need to seek the assistance of a traditional medical doctor, I hope that books like this do not convince them otherwise, as that would be a disservice to their health, their lives, and those who may care about them.

You see - it is quite possible to offer medical advice without having to charge for it, although if you want to send me $19.95 as a thank-you gift I surely won't protest.


  1. This is the most amazing article I have read in a long time.
    Great job! MD's rule.

  2. if you go to

    you will see his idiotic ideas that pregnant women should give vaccines a miss too!

  3. There seems to be a direct link between vaccine deniers and Chiropractors. I guess if you ignore science in one area of your life, you are bound to ignore it elsewhere.

    In short - this doesn't shock me in the slightest.

  4. Greetings from Hawaii -
    Trying to print your Dr. Ralph Hagen story, neither Print or PrintPreview work: Print simply does nothing, PrintPreview only shows spinning blue donut, then page whites out, have to close Internet Explorer (9), also using Win7Ulitmate, on dual-quad 64 with oodles of memory & storage, HP8000 printer.
    No problems printing any other WebSite. Is there something about this article, or you don't want us to print any of your stories?
    Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of my question, and aloha!

    1. Well it isn't anything I've done but it might be a blogger limitation. I'd try from a different system but if that fails perhaps you can just copy and paste the text itself.


All comments are moderated and comments from obvious sockpuppet accounts as well as spam accounts that do not add anything of value to the discussion will not be published.