Interview with Dan Murphy, D.C.

With this issue’s focus on Seminars & Education Opportunities, The American Chiropractor (TAC) interviews one of the most knowledgeable and respected speakers and educators in the chiropractic profession, Dr. Daniel Murphy.

A 1978 graduate of Western States Chiropractic College, Dr. Murphy began clinical practice in 1978, in Oregon.  Not long after, he became a part-time faculty member at Life Chiropractic College West, a position which has, perhaps, done more to shape his outstanding career than any other.

The Vice President of the International Chiropractic Association (ICA), Dr. Murphy is a 3-time recipient of the ICA Post-graduate Educator of the Year award.

He was awarded the Carl S. Cleveland, Jr., Educator of the year, in 1997, by the International Chiropractic Association of California.

In 2001, he was awarded Chiropractor of the Year, by the ICA of California, and that same year the Pediatric Chiropractor of the Year, given by Chiropractic Pediatric University.  In 2002, he was the top vote receiver for the leadership of the Virtual Chiropractic Association, a survey done by Dynamic Chiropractic.

Just last year, though, in 2003, he was awarded Chiropractor of the Year by Chiropractic Biophysics.  “This award,” says Dr. Murphy, “was most meaningful to me, because Chiropractic Biophysics has more chiropractic research studies published in the scientific literature than any other chiropractic group.”

TAC:  Tell us a little bit about yourself, Dr. Murphy!

Murphy:  I have two children, 17-year-old Danielle and 7-year-old Candiss.  I delivered both children, myself.  Both children are extremely healthy, and have never had an antibiotic or any other type of medical intervention.  Danielle has run my office since she was 15 years old, including phone, billings, paying bills, accounting, and banking.  Her sister, Candiss, helps.

I have written a quarterly column for the American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic for about 12 years or so, which is the reason most of the profession who know who I am.

I have contributed to two books.  I wrote a chapter on pediatric motor vehicle trauma in Pediatric Chiropractic, by Claudia Anrig, DC, and Greg Plaugher, DC.  I contributed to the book Motor Vehicle Collision Injuries by Lawrence Nordhoff, DC.  The second edition of Nordhoff’’s book will be published very soon.

The most important thing I do, though, is to maintain my 11th quarter class at Life Chiropractic College West.  I have been part-time faculty at Life West for about 23 years.  The job at Life West gives me the opportunity to do my best idea and concept integration.  I have a weekly meeting with the President of Life West, Gerald Clum.  Clum is smart and politically astute.  He continually updates me as to the global perspective of chiropractic, which makes both me and my classes unique.  His counsel and perspective are priceless to me.  My job at Life West also gives me free access to the resources of our library.  My knowledge and classes would not be possible without the help of our librarian at Life West, Barbara.  Barbara helps me run down articles and other resources that I use every week.

TAC: What influenced you to seek chiropractic as a career?

Murphy:  Two things influenced my decision to be a chiropractor.  As an asthmatic child, my greatest improvement came not from medicine, but from chiropractic.  I was treated by Ray Serafin, DC, from Pleasanton, and Charles Ward, DC, from Danville.

Then, in high school, my 44-year-old mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She was given a very poor prognosis even with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  Consequently, she declined these medical interventions and consulted a series of alternative healthcare providers.  As the oldest child at home with a drivers license, it fell to me to take my mother around to these alternative providers.

Her nutritional expert, William Kelly, DDS, reminded my mother that cancer is an immune system problem, and that the immune system is controlled by the nervous system, and that she needed regular chiropractic care.  I was a junior in high school, and the year was 1972.  By 1978, I was a practicing chiropractor.

My mother lived another 26 years, never returning to allopathic management.  She died of cancer, but she lived peacefully with cancer for 26 years, only showing symptoms in her last 14 weeks of life.  Her chiropractors were Gary Ellison of Sacramento and Dennis Greenlee of Auburn, CA.  Much of the nutritional approach that my mother used is reviewed in the 2003 book by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, titled Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients.  This is what my mother did, along with chiropractic, and it worked.

The experiences of my mother are the primary reason I am a chiropractor.  My classes reflect the message I learned from my mother’s case:  You can improve the function of the immune system with chiropractic and nutrition.  I have the best reference to support this approach that one has ever seen.  I, primarily, teach my subluxation neuro-immunology class through Chiropractic Biophysics (307-789-2088).  I, primarily, teach my nutritional neuro-immunology class through Erchonia Laser (480-633-3129) and through Nutri-West Nutrition (307-358-5066).

TAC:  Who were some of your early mentors as you began practicing?

Murphy:  My clinical abilities were influenced by many, including Daniel Beeson, DC, who gave me my first job as a chiropractor.  Beeson is a master adjuster and superior communicator.  I watched Beeson do more than 10,000 spinal adjustments before I graduated from chiropractic college.  Also, Dr. Vern Weber is a great adjuster and teacher, who spent countless hours with me helping me to become a good adjustor, as did Dr. Steve DeShaw, who is a master adjuster as well as a master communicator.  I worked for DeShaw for a year, learning as much as I could about patient management.

Don Harrison, DC, and I were partners for nearly 3 years.  I believe that Harrison knows more about spinal biomechanics than any other chiropractor.  I learned as much as I could from Harrison regarding spinal biomechanics and the correction of gravitational postural distortions.

Richard Stonebrink, DC, taught diplomate post-graduate orthopedic classes, and I attended his seminars one weekend per month for 6 years.  Stonebrink was the complete package of intelligence, education, clinical experience, and ability to treat and adjust patients.  He was the primary influence on my patient management style.  I passed my diplomate examinations in chiropractic orthopedics in 1985.

I completed neurology diplomate class with Ted Carrick, DC.  Carrick is so smart that he pulls the entire class up.  The basis of my current teaching on the subluxation complex and neuro-immunology is possible because of the information I learned from Carrick.

TAC:  Anyone who has heard you speak is amazed by your vast knowledge and comprehension in a variety of areas.  How’d you get to be so smart???

Murphy:  I am not that smart.  I am the product of good education and a lot of clinical experience.  I work very hard at what I do.  In reality, I do not know very much about anything, but I know a little about many different topics.  Consequently, my value to our profession is that of an idea integrator, a dot connector.  I have the unique ability to understand and teach how concepts that appear to be unrelated are, in fact, interrelated.  I am quite good at seeing the whole picture and integrating concepts, from science to politics.

I read more than most, and I can quickly integrate what I learn into my classes.  I want to be part of the solution in improving healthcare and in advancing the scientific principles of chiropractic.

TAC:  If you had to pick a list of seminars a chiropractor should attend every year (in an ideal world), which ones would you recommend?

Murphy:  Egotistically, I believe that my classes are the most important, and that every chiropractor should attend my classes.  Some chiropractors attend a class of mine once every year.  Some chiropractors have attended my classes more that 60 different times.

Other than my classes, I believe that the best information on spinal biomechanics and postural corrections are the series of classes offered Chiropractic Biophysics.  I learned so much in both orthopedic and neurology diplomate classes that I recommend them to everyone.

Nutritionally, I have learned the most from Michael Schmidt and David Seamen.  I am a fan of upper cervical chiropractic, especially the work of Roy Sweat.  My favorite speakers on chiropractic pediatrics are Joan Fallon and Claudia Anrig.  All chiropractors should take a class from Malik Slosberg from Life West.  The best laser class is from Rick Amy from Erchonia Lasers.  The best documentation seminars for personal injury and workers compensation classes art the Bullet Proof Seminars from Myologic.  There are so many other excellent classes that I will suffer the wrath of those I fail to mention.  Sorry.

TAC:  Can you share with us the topics about which you normally speak?

Murphy:  In my day, I was quite an athlete.  I have, therefore, had an interest in trauma.  Whiplash trauma has always been an emphasis in my practice.  I have taught classes in whiplash trauma since the 1970’s.  I teach a whiplash overview class for the International Chiropractic Association (800-423-4690) and, for 18 years, I have coordinated a 10-module year-long certification class in spinal trauma.  The certification is also through the ICA, leading to the initials CCST for Certified Chiropractic Spinal Trauma.  Nearly 1500 chiropractors have graduated from the program.  This year, it is being given in Chicago.  Next year it will move to Dallas.  I teach 7 of the 10 modules.  The other modules are taught by the best people I could find in documentation, radiology and law.  Next year, a new module will be added on low impact collisions, taught by Charles Davis, DC.  Davis teaches the same class for college credit at the University of California, Riverside.

TAC:  Tell us about your relationship with Myo-Logic and how it came about?

Murphy:  Harold McCoy, DC, from Myo-Logic has attended more then 60 of my classes, mostly on whiplash and spinal trauma.  McCoy put together a measurement outcome documentation system for chiropractors using the AMA Guidelines.  I have been using his system since about 1992.  It makes our court cases bullet proof.  It’s the best system for documenting impairment.

TAC:  More recently, you’ve been working with Nutri-West on your own line of nutritional supplements.  Can you tell us more about how this came about and why?

Murphy:  Nutri-West is a nutrition company, owned by the White family of Wyoming.  I met with Paul White, DC, from Nutri-West, last August.  He sat in on one of my classes.  He and his biochemists collected the references for the metabolic pathways I was reviewing in class, and he put together nutrition products consistent with those references.  I was the primary collector of the references they used to put together their omega-3 fatty acid products for both children and adults.  I also gave them the references to put together the fatty acid double bond protective co-factors, which should be taken by all who take omega-3 supplements.  Because Nutri-West followed the references I supplied them, they have a very unique omega-3 product and supportive co-factors, distinct from other omega-3 products that are available.

I also supplied some of the references for their fibromyalgia and their blood glucose nutritional products.  These are also very good products that work quite well.

TAC:  What is the most important advice you could offer a practicing chiropractor today?

Murphy:  That would be similar to what I tell my 11th quarter senior class at Life West in our last hour together:

1) Keep your overhead low.

2) Do a multiple doctor office to share the overhead and to have a fresh perspective on difficult cases.  This also lets each doctor take some time off.

3) Do a weekly patient education class.  Call it an exercise class and teach biomechanically sound exercises.  But also stress chiropractic for health and not just for aches and pains.  Talk about lifelong chiropractic care for wellness. Stress chiropractic for both children and the elderly.

4) Chiropractic works best with innate nutrition.  Tell patients of the dangers of trans fats, excess omega-6 fats, reduced omega-3 fats, excitotoxins, and refined carbohydrates.

5) Join a national and state organization to help protect your practice rights.  If you do not belong to a national and state organization, you are part of the problem.  The solution is to join, so that our politically astute leaders can use our money to protect our practice rights.

6) Do not allow the government or insurance companies or their representatives to decide what chiropractic is appropriate for.

7) Learn constantly, take seminars throughout your career, and at least read everything I recommend.*

8) Get out of debt.  Take the Whitehall seminar.

9) Know the major chiropractic premise and the references that support it:  The immune system is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.  The sympathetic nervous system is influenced by spinal mechanics as we live, exist and function in a gravity environment. Chiropractic spinal adjustments inhibit the sympathetic nervous system, which improves immunity.

10) The nervous system will not work optimally unless the omega-6 and omega-3 fats are balanced.

TAC:  What are your future goals for yourself and the chiropractic profession?

Murphy:  In the future, I will continue to raise my daughters to view health and the world as differently as I do.  Danielle is already there, and I could not be happier or more proud.  Candiss is only seven, but I believe already on her way.

I will continue to learn more and do a better and better job on my classes.  I want to improve my understanding of how chiropractic works and what we can do to make chiropractic more effective.  I want to change the health attitude of the world.

I will not retire.  When I am too old to effectively travel, I hope to obtain a full-time position at a chiropractic college (ideally at Life West), and stay there until I am no longer an asset.  I would like to see my daughter, Danielle, turn 100 years of age, which means I have to make it to 132 years.

I am extremely happy with the direction and support of the International Chiropractic Association (ICA).  I will continue to serve them and to recruit new members to the organization.

*Dr. Murphy’s recommended reading materials are available through the Life Chiropractic College West Bookstore in Hayward, CA; phone (510) 780-4500.

Our sincere thanks to Dr. Murphy!  To contact Dr. Murphy, visit his website at TAC

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