Chiropractors See Thyroid as Marketing Cash Cow

Why Thyroid Patients Should be Very Skeptical

chiropractor thyroid treatment
Chiropractors are launching cookie-cutter websites as part of a coordinated marketing campaign targeted to thyroid patients. Mary Shomon

Periodically, my inbox is been flooded by all sorts of hyped up emails from chiropractors around the US. They all ask similar questions, such as "Are you Struggling with Thyroid Problems?" Or "Do You Really Need Medication for Your Thyroid Condition?" Or "Do You Know How to Take Control of Your Thyroid Health?"

The emails then go on to say, that if thyroid symptoms aren't resolved, Dr. So-and-So actually has all the answers for "all aspects of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's disease." 

The first step to getting all the answers from Dr. So-and-So is signing up for a special "free" report (the word free is repeated frequently in these emails). The graphic of the free report is usually designed to look like a real book, but it is actually a PDF file. To get the free report, you have to give your email address. This is a way for Dr. So-and-So to capture your email address, so he or she can then continue to email you frequently. (And he or she will.)

So you enter your email address, and you get to a page, featuring Dr. So-and-So's smiling face or video, where you can download Dr. So-and-So's free report, which is a Word file or PDF document. And the report is essentially a long advertisement, where Dr. So-and-So promises to provide the secrets that will help you restore your energy, stop your hair from falling out, lose weight easily, feel great, and resolve each and every thyroid-related symptom.

And how will you do that? It's easy. All you need to do is to find out if you "qualify" for a free program being offered by Dr. So-and-So. And space is really limited for Dr. So-and-So's free "Thyroid Program," so you'd better sign up now.

Sometimes, the pitch is slightly different. You are asked to sign up for a free "Thyroid Consultation and Case Review" by Dr. So-and-So.

So you sign up for the free "Thyroid Program" or the free "Thyroid Consultation and Case Review."

Or, you may even be invited to a free dinner at a local hotel. 

And then what? 

You get to hear Dr. So-and-So talk about how awful it is to feel tired, and to not be able to lose weight, and to lose hair, and for doctors not to listen to you. Dr. So-and-So will tell you how he/she has all the answers to help, and all you have to do is sign up for Dr. So-and-So's full thyroid program.

And what is the "full" program? It typically costs anywhere from several thousand dollars, up to $15,000 -- with cash payment required up front, by credit card, or in installments -- and involves multiple visits to Dr. So-and-So for various tests, and a regimen of herbs, vitamins, and supplements -- provided by Dr. So-and-So.

Let's be clear. I am NOT one of those folks who thinks chiropractors are "quacks." I feel that there is a definite and valued place for chiropractic care in today's healthcare system. I know many people who have greatly benefited from chiropractic treatment for pain and back issues, as well as nutritional guidance. And while chiropractic care has always been controversial -- and frequently is unfairly criticized by the conventional medical world -- there is scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of chiropractic manual treatments for low back pain, neck pain, joint pain, and some types of headaches.

And I also want to note that there are a few well-known thyroid experts who came from the chiropractic world -- like the late Dr. John Lowe. But Dr. Lowe worked with thyroid patients, alongside traditional physicians as well, and for decades was committed to researching and writing about thyroid, metabolic, hormonal and immune system issues. He was editor of Thyroid Science, a journal that looked at cutting-edge studies related to thyroid disease. And Dr. Lowe never sent out gimmicky "You Can Cure Your Thyroid Disease Today!" emails or slapped schlocky cookie-cutter websites up on the Internet.

But I'm concerned about what seems to be a coordinated push by some chiropractors to buy up Internet URLS -- like, or -- and then upload sites that are only slightly modified cookie-cutter copies of each other -- some of them are literally word for word replicas of each other, except for the name of the doctor. And they all offer a "free report," -- again, frequently it's the same cookie cutter report and barely even customized -- followed by the "free consultation" or "free seminar."

So what's going on?

What's happened is that some chiropractors have recognized that thyroid patients are a lucrative market, and so they've created "thyroid packages" which they are then selling to fellow chiropractors. The packages can include pre-designed and pre-written website templates, ebooks, special reports, video scripts, in-person sales pitch/presentations, guidelines for the ongoing "Thyroid Program" treatments, software to generate Internet advertising, and the opportunity to private label supplements. There is training on how to target, market and sell to thyroid and other chronic disease patients, and how to get those frustrated patients to commit as much as $15,000 or more -- usually in cash or on credit cards, up front -- for these programs.

(Note: After writing this article, the related blog post subsequently received a number of comments by the director one of these chiropractic thyroid programs. He also had a detailed brief posted online that explained how chiropractors are trained how to market online to thyroid and other chronic disease patients, in which it's said, "THESE INTERNET PROGRAMS ARE LITERALLY LIKE SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL!!")

Beyond the concerns raised by such an approach, there are other key issues.

Chiropractors can't prescribe any medications, including thyroid medications, or antithyroid drugs. Also, some of the patients who need medical evaluation and care -- patients who have conditions like thyroid nodules or cancer, Graves' disease, hypothyroidism during pregnancy, congenital thyroid issues, or no thyroid gland at all, for example -- can endanger themselves by going without a physician or without their medication.

Nutrition, supplements and vitamins can work for a subset of patients who may have mild or subclinical thyroid disease, nutritional imbalances (like iodine excess/deficiency) that are causing the thyroid problem, or whose thyroid problems are caused by autoimmune dietary triggers (like celiac disease/gluten intolerance).

But the truth is, the chiropractic programs rarely get patients off thyroid medication. Most thyroid conditions are not "treatable" by the over-the-counter vitamins, herbs, supplements or dietary changes. No matter how many thousands of dollars you spend at a "Thyroid Center," and how many supplements you take, most thyroid conditions still require prescription thyroid treatment. And that is something chiropractors are unable to offer. Which is why their solutions all rely on over-the-counter approaches, and not prescription medications.


As a patient advocate, I can't recommend that you commit many thousands of dollars to a chiropractor-based "thyroid program," given that they are generally extremely expensive, unproven by scientific standards, and, there is a risk if you choose to forego medical supervision or prescription thyroid medication.

But if you did choose to proceed with such a program, here are some thoughts:

  • Get approval from your physician before embarking on any chiropractic approach to thyroid treatment.
  • Insist on getting a firm estimate of all expected costs (including supplements, herbs and vitamins), as well as an anticipated timeframe for the "Thyroid Program" up front. (And if the program is, for example, one year, and at the conclusion of one year, you are not feeling as well as you'd like, what happens then? Do you continue the program indefinitely? At what cost? Do you get a refund if the program doesn't work as promised? Who gets to say whether the program works or not? What conditions apply to any money-back guarantees?)
  • If the program recommends use of animal glandular supplements, find out which supplements they are recommending/using, and where the animal sources are located. (There are concerns about the health hazards of unregulated glandular supplements that are derived from animals of unknown origin.)
  • I strongly recommend that you avoid any programs that insist on you signing a contract or commitment for a full amount, or that requires full payment up front, or a cash payment. If you do choose to participate in a chiropractic program, negotiate a monthly schedule of payments, by check or credit card, so that you have an opportunity to stop payment whenever necessary.
  • Ask to speak with satisfied local patients of the program who can provide genuine and trustworthy testimonials about the "Thyroid Program."
  • Ask if you are required to purchase any recommended supplements from the "Thyroid Center" as part of the program, or if you can should be able to get the supplements online or at other locations.
  • If you are on thyroid hormone, ask if they expect you to stop taking your thyroid medication, and if they have required tests/visits with your regular thyroid practitioner along with your participation in the "Thyroid Program."
  • Stay in communication with your regular practitioners, keep them informed of what you're doing as part of the "Thyroid Program," and do not start or stop your thyroid medications without discussing it ahead of time with your physician.

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