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Alphabiotics from the neck up
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Part of “Pseudoscience A to Z”, a series of brief articles in the OSSCI newsletter about topics that have not been subjected to much critical thinking by their promoters.

Alphabiotics. Whew, this one’s a poser. There is a semi-official website but it’s rather maddening. Rarely have I read so much and received so little. One of the first things you are hit with is the phrase “WHEN WE COME OUT OF AN INAPPROPRIATE STRESS STATE A DYNAMIC SHIFT HAPPENS”, and below we are presented with an animated stick figure which goes from erect (balanced), to looking as if it’s gone a few rounds with Lennox Lewis (unbalanced). We are then informed that “RE-BOOTING THE BRAIN IS MUCH LIKE RE-BOOTING A COMPUTER.” I would experiment with that, but I am afraid of getting a “hard boot” if I ask any ladies to show me their Control, Alt, and Delete buttons.

It does give us the name of the perpetrator, one Dr. V. B. Chrane, a former chiropractor who invented Alphabiotics in the 1920s.

Seriously, this site is worth reading if only for seeing how little information can be dished out in so many pages, while using as many New Age catch phrases as possible. Clicking on subject headings such as “What it is…” or “How it’s done…” reveal nothing but more ramblings about how wonderful the whole process is.

But not to worry. We are assured that it is helpful “…because the cold light of science has overwhelmingly confirmed its value.” Well, that’s better than the warm hands of a trained medical professional I guess.

Some aspects of the practice can be found in the contents of a lawsuit heard in the Washington State Court of Appeals involving a former chiropractor charged with unprofessional conduct. It seems that Alphabiotics is an outgrowth of chiropractic, but manipulates only the neck. A technique used is known as the condyle lift, and even to this non-physician the procedure sounds rather frightening. For the uninitiated, and those who took high school biology far too long ago, the condyle is the point at the base of the skull which articulates with the vertebral column. Imagine lifting the skull away from your patient’s neck, turning it sharply… on second thought, I would rather not imagine it.

Here is what the commission had to say; “The Commission finds that the Chrane condyle lift is a useful but potentially dangerous chiropractic adjustment, and that one of the significant risks of the Crane condyle lift is dissection of vertebral arteries and resulting stroke. . . .” There you have it folks, it’s dangerous, and is being done by people with little or no real medical training.

The commission also discovered that Alphabiotics is claimed as a religion by its adherents, as the “Alphabiotic New Life Church”, and they have claimed that this gives them the right to give treatment as part of the free exercise of religion. Patients were given forms to sign which seemed to be only a standard medical form, but was actually a church membership form. Significantly, the commission found that “Free exercise of religion includes both the freedom to believe and the freedom to act. While the former is absolute, the latter is not. An individual’s conduct is subject to regulation for society’s protection.…”

Wise words.

The core beliefs of Alphabiotics are still somewhat of a mystery however. I don’t know how many people have ever taken such training, but if there were many I would expect someone to spill the beans and write up a more informative diatribe than anything I have been able to turn up so far. The web seems singularly devoid of details. Maybe I should take a course myself just to find out, but my astrologer tells me that this isn’t a good time and my homeopath said it doesn’t work. There’s some expert advice for you!

6 responses to “Alphabiotics from the neck up”

  1. Adam says:

    “one of the significant risks of the Crane condyle lift is dissection of vertebral arteries.”

    I’d love this commission to prove how cervical rotation of anywhere from 15-30 degrees combined with cervical distraction could possible result in vertebral artery dissection. This is laughable.

    • shadeydave says:

      We didn’t mention how far the neck would be twisted. My guess is, if the practitioner is required to do a sharp adjustment, it’s almost impossible to gauge exact angles. A slight miscalculation, and you have a lawsuit on your hands. Just google “Crane condyle lift is dissection of vertebral arteries” and look at some of the first entries that come up. Apparently the courts don’t think this is ‘laughable’.

      • Adam says:

        You didn’t mention how far the neck would be rotated, I am. The alphabiotic technique done appropriately includes 15-30 degrees of rotation combined with distraction. Keep in mind normal rotation for the population is the range of 70-90 degrees. Put another way one can actively “twist” (proper term is “rotate”) their neck more than the practitioner is just by using their own neck musculature.

        “My guess is,…..”

        There is no need to guess, one can both read about and view the technique being performed online.

        Googling what you suggested brings up nothing to contradict what I am saying and brings up very little overall. I’d encourage you to put that phrase in google.

  2. David Bailey says:

    “- Virgil Chrane is not a former Chiropractor.”

    If not, he certainly had a very close association with the practice, as noted here:

    http://www.upcspine.com/PDF/Chrane.pdf

    There are many other sites which show a close association, and other which list him as ‘D.C.’

    “- The legal case to which this article refers involved a chiropractor who was not a member of Alphabiotics International. Therefore it is impossible to know what he was offering his clients.”

    My research doesn’t indicate that Alphabiotics International is in any way the only governing body for the practice. There are others, and since it is not a legally recognized profession there can be no such claim by AI, therefore the point is not really relevant.

    “- Alphabiotics is not a church or religion, despite the chiropractor using this as a legal defense (in the aforementioned legal case).”

    Then I will accept the change to “some adherents”.

    “- Alphabiotics does use its language cautiously, perhaps this gives the impression of being a bit ‘wishy washy’.”

    Why do they speak cautiously? Medical researchers will be cautious when testing and evaluating a new drug or treatment, but once it is accepted the literature will detail the methodology and effects. Medical schools do not speak cautiously about what the training is or how it works.

    “- The process is a form of stress relief and nothing more.”

    Then why doesn’t it just say that in those simple terms? Why does it talk in flowery prose such as “Alphabiotics is considered by many to be a breakthrough discovery in the evolution of consciousness; a significant step forward in the technology of human potential; a real way for people to find joy, inner peace, and meaning in life and living. It was introduced as a thoroughly proven, reality based, non-temporal, hands-on helping profession in 1971.”

    “- There have been reported some extraordinary personal changes as a result of undergoing the process, but the claim these are supernatural or mystical is conjecture.”

    Have these “extraordinary personal changes” been written up in a peer-reviewed medical journal? If it is so wonderful and effective it would be nice of alphabioticists to bring this new treatment to more people and help ease the stress and suffering in the world. And where did I claim that it was supernatural? I merely said that it was pseudoscience. So is homeopathy, but there is no supernatural quality implied, just a complete lack of scientific understanding. However alphabiotics, I suspect, does stray into the supernatural, as evidenced by these claims from the web site of Alphabiotics International:

    “We serve God by helping others, …

    Quantum physics is now confirming what spiritually aware people have known for hundreds of years:

    – That beyond energy and matter is a Supreme Intelligence;
    – That a part of that Supreme Intelligence manifests in human beings;

    Alphabioticists accept the fact that there is more to life than what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch; that there is a Higher Power that created us, sustains us, heals us, helps us, and wants the best for us. That is the Power, alphabioticists believe we all must recognize and work with!”

    No serious person could claim that the idea of a god is anything other than supernatural, and to claim that such an entity can effect changes in our world moves your interpretation of alphabiotics firmly into the supernatural realm.

    • Tristram Brown says:

      Dear David, thanks for your reply. I will address your points as best I can.

      David wrote: “If not, he certainly had a very close association with the practice, as noted here http://www.upcspine.com/PDF/Chrane.pdf

      Tristram’s reply: That article is misleading for it reviews a process called the Chrane Condyle Lift which was created by Virgil Chrane Sr. (not to be confused with Virgil Chrane Jr. the founder of Alphabiotics). The Condyle Lift is unrelated to Developmental Alphabiotics.

      David wrote: “My research doesn’t indicate that Alphabiotics International is in any way the only governing body for the practice. There are others, and since it is not a legally recognized profession there can be no such claim by AI, therefore the point is not really relevant.”

      Tristram’s reply: I would love to see your ‘research’ on the matter perhaps you could post some of it here?. I can only speak for Alphabiotics International. Whether other people claim to be offering the same service or not, does not in any way mean they are offering the same service. I’m not sure what a legally recognized profession is, perhaps you could clarify?

      David wrote: “Why do they speak cautiously? Medical researchers will be cautious when testing and evaluating a new drug or treatment, but once it is accepted the literature will detail the methodology and effects. Medical schools do not speak cautiously about what the training is or how it works.”

      Tristram’s reply: The use of cautious wording reflects a difficulty to convey using language what is beyond the mind’s ability to comprehend. This is hoped to be improved in time.

      David wrote: “Why does it talk in flowery prose such as “Alphabiotics is considered by many to be a breakthrough discovery in the evolution of consciousness; a significant step forward in the technology of human potential; a real way for people to find joy, inner peace, and meaning in life and living. It was introduced as a thoroughly proven, reality based, non-temporal, hands-on helping profession in 1971.”

      Tristram’s reply: That the prose seems flowery is obviously your opinion. The claims made in that sentence are fairly accurate based on my experience.

      David Wrote: “Have these “extraordinary personal changes” been written up in a peer-reviewed medical journal? If it is so wonderful and effective it would be nice of alphabioticists to bring this new treatment to more people and help ease the stress and suffering in the world. And where did I claim that it was supernatural? I merely said that it was pseudoscience. So is homeopathy, but there is no supernatural quality implied, just a complete lack of scientific understanding. However alphabiotics, I suspect, does stray into the supernatural, as evidenced by these claims from the web site of Alphabiotics International:

      Tristram’s reply: Alphabiotics is not a medical procedure, nor is a therapy. It has been not been written up in any peer reviewed medical journals to the best of my knowledge. I’m not sure why this would ever happen as Alphabiotics is not a medical service, treatment or health process of any description. I am a confused that you say “If it is so wonderful and effective it would be nice of alphabioticists to bring this new treatment to more people and help ease the stress and suffering in the world.” because Alphabiotics is readily available now. We welcome people to receive the service.

      David wrote: No serious person could claim that the idea of a god is anything other than supernatural, and to claim that such an entity can effect changes in our world moves your interpretation of alphabiotics firmly into the supernatural realm.

      Tristram’s reply: What is meant by ‘a serious person’? References to God may or may not represent ‘supernatural’ but that is unanswerable. Being unable to perceive God, does not negate God.

      Kind regards

      Tristram Brown

  3. I am a Developmental Alphabioticist and have been for about 10 years. I am also a journalism graduate and more recently have undertaken a Masters Degree in Psychology.

    I am not writing this reply to try and change anyone’s personal beliefs; rather to point out inaccuracies contained within the article above.

    – Virgil Chrane is not a former Chiropractor.
    – The legal case to which this article refers involved a chiropractor who was not a member of Alphabiotics International. Therefore it is impossible to know what he was offering his clients.
    – Alphabiotics is not a church or religion, despite the chiropractor using this as a legal defense (in the aforementioned legal case).
    – Alphabiotics does use its language cautiously, perhaps this gives the impression of being a bit ‘wishy washy’.
    – The process is a form of stress relief and nothing more.
    – There have been reported some extraordinary personal changes as a result of undergoing the process, but the claim these are supernatural or mystical is conjecture.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

    Kind regards

    Tristram Brown
    alphabiotic@hotmail.com

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