South African Pioneers

South African Pioneers of the chiropractic profession; do you recognise them? I would very much like to know their names.

Photograph of South African chiropractic pioneers.

Early Chiropractors

These are the early chiropractors in South Africa.

1963: Can you name the the X's?

Back Row: (L to R) Dr Louis Brugman, Dr Dick Lewis, Dr Pierre van Zyl?, X, Dr Seb Braby, X, X, Dr Dave Heard, Dr Roy Skinner, X.

Middle Row:  Dr Jasper Smit, Dr Josh Haldeman, Dr Brian Peters, Dr Jimmy Ashwin, X, X, X, Dr Basil Peters, X, X, Dr Arthur Cracknell, Dr Len Fisher.

Front Row: Dr Jim Ashwin, Dr Stan Kibur, X, Dr Unity Lewis, Dr Bill Sligting , Dr Joseph Janse, Dr Andries Kleynhans, X, Dr Ian Nairn, Dr Hilton Taylor

How far back does Chiropractic go in South Africa?

The first Chiropractors and Osteopaths set up practice in the 1920's but nobody seems to know who they are. A Mrs Blythe Harrison reports that she fell out of a tree and couldn't walk until miraculously treated by an American spinal adjustor in Durban in the early 1930's, but who was he?

In arbitrary fashion, I suggest we set a date of those who established practices in South Africa, pre 1950 as our veterans.

Today's vibrant chiropractic profession in South Africa which boasts not one but two university level institutions preparing graduates for the nation, owes much to those pioneers.

Chiropractors who made great sacrifices to make it all possible for us today. We owe them much.

But who were these pioneers? What inspired them to take such a leap of faith? Where did they train and where did they practise? Many of you know the answers to these questions, so this page enables you to contribute. Please, tell us their stories, before they are lost for ever.

The art of manipulation goes back thousands of years, pre-dating even Hippocrates and Galen who used manual therapy avidly, knowing the importance of the spine in the management of health. It traces its way through the bonesetters of Europe, but it's well known that the Turkish and Pakistani people and almost certainly many others also used these techniques centuries ago.

Go today for a haircut in Istanbul and you'll probably receive a sitting cervical manipulation once the barber is done.

However, modern Chiropractic was founded by Daniel D Palmer in 1895.

South African Pioneers

South African pioneers of early chiropractors who paved the way in the face of vicious medical opposition for today's vibrant profession.

Dr Josh Haldeman

Dr Josh Haldeman is the father of the world's pre-eminent chiropractor, Dr Scott Haldeman. Dr Scott did his schooling in South Africa, trained in the United States as a chiropractor, went on to study medicine, qualified and practises as a neurologist, and is chiropractic's top researcher, widely respected in both the medical and chiropractic professions.

  • Journey of Scott Haldeman

Dr Jo Janse

Dr Jo Janse, president of then National College of Chiropractic in Chicago, was a regular visitor to South African congresses in the 1950's and 60's where he would be the guest speaker. He paid is own way, required no fee, only wanting a few days in Kruger to see the "bokke;" he was a Dutchman by birth.

Chiropractors like Len Fisher and Brian Peters accompanied him on these safaris.

  • Joseph Janse

Google appears to frown on too many links, so phrases in bold, like Scott Haldeman and Joseph Janse above, and what is chiropractic below, need to be put into the Site Search function in the navigation bar on your left if you want more information.

What is chiropractic?

What is chiropractic is a question you can probably answer; our South African pioneers certainly knew the answer. Read more at the link below.

  • What is Chiropractic?


› South African Pioneers

Have any info about the early pioneers?

Do you have any information about the pre-1950 Chiropractors? Please share it! We owe it to the profession to keep the memory of them alive.

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What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Dr Jasper Smit 
I knew Dr Smit very briefly in 1980 via a family visit to Johannesburg. Does anyone know about Dr Smit's family, I am trying to locate his daughter …

Dr Arthur Cracknell 
I was very interested to find a photograph on here with my dad in it; I am Vanessa Cracknell Mclean, and my father was Dr Arthur Cracknell, one of the …

Dr Ivan George Payne 
Dr Ivan George Payne He together with his twin brother Allan formed the first association of Chiropractors in 1939. In the 1950's Dr Ivan spearheaded …

Early Pioneers 
Front Row: second from L Stan Kibur - 3rd Unity Lewis, Bill Sligting , Joseph Janse , x , x , x , Hilton Taylor (last on R) Middle Row: From L - X, …

Chiropractor Dick Lewis 
My uncle, Richard Lewis was caddy to a wealthy man called Brad. I believe that either Brad or he got hurt playing golf, and they went to a chiropractor …

Chiropractors Dick and Unity Lewis 
I am Derek Lewis, eldest son of Unity and Dick Lewis. I still have my immigration card when I together with my parents returned to South Africa, showing …

Chiropractor Unity Lewis 
My sister, Unity Allsopp was born in Pietermartizburg, South Africa in 1921. Our father Professor Herbert Allsopp was strongly into alternative medicine. …

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.