I was carrying out some fieldwork in northern Ontario last summer, which involved trips to Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and North Bay. Each day while staying in Sault Ste Marie, we would drive past a small, squat building with a sign outside announcing the presence of a “Correactology Centre”. I had no idea what that was and made a mental note to look it up. I was surprised that when I googled “correactology” there wasn’t even a Wikipedia page! It didn’t bother me that much as I had assumed that it was some obscure form of alternative therapy. I was correct, but it is a little bit more interesting than that. Unlike many forms of complementary and alternative medicine, correactology (TM) is new. Not only that, but it is Canadian, with the headquarters based in Sudbury, Ontario, and there is also a branch in Ottawa, making this a local matter!
History of Correactology
Correactology is based on esodynamics, an equally obscure practice that was founded by two Quebecois chiropractors in the 1970s. Correactology Health Care Group Inc., the company that owns the trademark for Correactology, was formerly known as the Canadian Institute of Esodynamics Inc. from its creation in September 2002 until November 2008 when it changed to the current name (see Industry Canada listing). Esodynamics was a form of chiropractic that used a “leg test” to find areas of the central nervous system that were malfunctioning. The practitioner would sit at the feet of the patient and manipulate their legs to observe responses in the rest of the body. The corrective treatment for these malfunctions was light, high-speed tapping in the malfunctioning area, performed by placing the thumb or finger of one hand on the area and rapidly striking that hand with the other hand. Correactology, still based at www.esodynamics.com, appears to be a spin-off of this approach which I’ll go into below.
So what is Correactology?
Correactology claims to be an “effective and non-invasive approach to alternative health care“, “individualised” to the patient, which does not use “force, drugs, surgery or instrumentation“. The approach aims to foster “auto-correction” to malfunctions in the body which manifest as pain. Just as esodynamics did, Correactologists use small manipulations of the feet (as opposed to the legs in esodynamics) to elicit responses from the body. These responses can apparently be used to determine where in the central nervous system the problems lie. The Correactologists call this the “La Pointe Provocation/Reaction (LAPPR) test”, named after the brothers who founded and run the organisation, Michael and Allan Lapointe. This diagnostic procedure also allows the practitioner to determine how best to correct the malfunctions in the CNS (known as the “sequence of correction”). Finally, the corrective measures are applied through “a soft manual impulse to the appropriate area”, which again sounds like esodynamics. These manual impulses are supposed to initiate the body’s own auto-correction to the proper “body level position” – the healthy state for the patient’s body. (A few) more details are available here, although they are pretty non-specific about the mechanism.
Up until this point I was fairly unimpressed with this new kid on the woo-block. However, the Correactologists really step up to the plate when they list the ailments that they claim to be able to treat. Within the extensive ailments page, the Correactologists claim “Ailments treated through Correactology® Health Care include… AUTISM…CANCER…EPILEPSY!!!” [emphasis, capitals and excessive exclamation marks are mine…]. Brilliant! Now we’re back on track with completely unsubstantiated and dangerous claims. It’s a shame that the Canadians don’t have anything like the Cancer Act in the UK which forbids anybody from claiming to be able to treat or cure cancer except for under strict conditions.
Does it work?
Clearly in a field that has only existed in its trademarked state for just under three years and with relatively little public interest, there are no clinical trials of Correactology. Given that it traces its ancestry back through chiropractic, we can perhaps infer from studies of that field. I’m not going to review chiropractic in its entirety here, but you can find an excellent and well-referenced review of what can and cannot be treated with this approach on the Wikipedia article. Essentially, chiropractic might be useful for back pain but it poses too many risks to be recommended over conventional treatments. The Correactology site lists 21 testimonials (aka “anecdotes“) for efficacy from satisfied customers. The vast majority were for pain associated with joints, but there was also a smattering of bladder and bowel complaints and allergies.
Correactology is a new name for an old practise. Formerly known as “esodynamics” and based upon chiropractic, there is no evidence for its efficacy. Furthermore, the dangerous claims that are made concerning the ability of the approach to treat cancer are irresponsible. By setting up an Institute of Correactology and a syllabus for a qualification in Correactology, the founders are clearly making a concerted effort to further the discipline. I would suggest that they first see whether it works…
See also a segment on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast from Jan 20th 2010, where Steve Novella calls Correactology “Bullshit-I-pulled-out-of-my-ass-ology”…