Course Review: Manipulation and Pharmacology.

I already briefly discussed my third new course, Clinical Nutrition, here. My other two new classes this semester will be discussed today.

Manipulation - this class is an introduction to chiropractic medicine. We won't be doing an adjustments or forceful techniques this year... that will all come next year. We are only introduced to minor movements and are taught a lot of palpation techniques (aka feeling muscles, bones, etc in order to determine correct position and/or functioning). Before a chiropractor (or a naturopathic doctor) were to ever manipulate a muscle or bone, he or she would first need to preform a lot of assessments in order to determine the abnormality. Manipulation 1 (the course I am taking now) basically teaches all of those required assessments.

So far... I enjoy it because it is slow paced and there is a lot of interaction with the teaching assistants (TA)... there are only 10 students per TA. This week we learned to assess the correct movement and positioning of the lumbar (aka lower) spine's disc and spinous processes (the boney sticky-outy parts). I am happy to report that I have an abnormal lower spine :D But no worries, 90% of the public have abnormal lumbar spines.

Pharmacology - even though I am studying naturopathic medicine (using natural therapies to treat), I still have to all about pharmaceutical drugs. There are two main reasons why we learn about drugs: first, because the majority of our patients will be on prescription drugs for whatever reason and thus as part of their health care team, we have to be able to monitor them for signs of toxicity, for drug interactions, of side effects, etc. We need to be able to give them some guidance on the prescription drugs even though we did not prescribe them.

Second, we need to know about pharmacology in order to be wary of drug interactions with our natural prescriptions (do the herbs, foods, or supplements interact with the patient's drug prescriptions?). A simple example is that of grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice, as harmless as it may seem, can be fatal. Grapefruit juice interacts with many drugs rendering them functionless or increasing their concentration, thus potentially killing a patient who relies on a particular medication for life. These are the types of interactions we learn in pharmacology.

We also learn a lot of substance clearance, dosage, and metabolism in the body, which is useful to know when we prescribe a particular supplement: we need to know how the body removes the supplement (clearance), how the supplement will be acted on in the body (metabolism), and how much the body needs to see an effect (dosage).

So far... I am finding pharmacology to be a tad dry, but I am hoping it will eventually become more interesting. The subject itself is intriguing, I just need the classes and lecturing-style to boost it up a bit!


  1. Hi my crooked spined oldest child :(

    Pharmacology will get more interesting for sure, that whole business is quite fascinating.

    Your comment on grapefruit juice is bang on. Cholesterol lowering meds interact badly with grapefruits!

    I'm anxious to know more about manipulation - is this class going to explore massaging as well?


  2. Fascinating fact about the lower spine. If 90% of folks have an abnormality, though, it strikes me that maybe we should reconsider our definition of "normal"! Did your professor ever mention why so many people have unusual spines?

  3. Momma - no, massage is considered a treatment and all treatment-related care is saved until third year. Just diagnosis-type stuff this year!

    Blue Prince - the reason why so many people have crocked lumbar spines is because they have poor posture. I don't think the definition of "normal" should be changed, but that our lifestyle should be examined a bit more. Why are we all sitting? How are we sitting? Should chairs be redesigned? Should proper posture be taught in high school/university?


Thanks for your comment!