New Gonstead book review


Gonstead book review
Gonstead book review

Gonstead book review.

This Gonstead book review starts with my own story. As a student at Chiropractic college in the mid 1980’s, I was in awe of the unique natural approach to health as taught there. The Chiropractic principles that we each are self-healing, have our own inner doctor and that a free flowing nervous system is critical to optimum health were refreshing and enlightening to me, a former pre-med student.

But nothing peaked my interest more than the stories I was hearing of a Chiropractor who had built a world-wide following of patients seeking his sometimes miraculous care, worked 7 days a week seeing hundreds of patients weekly, built a monstrous sized clinic, and all done in an obscure tiny town called Mount Horeb, WI. Those who knew this DC personally told me he also wore wildly colorful shoes, knew spinal anatomy like the back of his hand, and claimed his only hobby was “helping people”.

This man was Dr Clarence Gonstead, already deceased by the time I learned of him. But the stories of this Chiropractor and his accomplishments seemed larger than life.

I was told he had to build both a hotel and airport next to his clinic to accommodate patients who came from far and wide, and that he himself had an airplane and when time permitted, would fly it to house calls. Some said he owned a huge silver Cadillac limousine, reportedly rejected by Elvis, and used it to pick up patients at the airport.

Rumors circulated that patients were referred to him by the Mayo Clinic, that he helped many patients thought hopeless by other doctors such as paraplegics, those with infertility, and even some who were labeled terminally ill. Members of the Green Bay Packers football team were reported seen seeking care from him, among other celebrities including Billy Graham who offered to introduce Chiropractic and the Gonstead Method to his large audiences nation wide. Clarence declined stating “We’re not ready for that yet.”

And then there were some zainy stories circulating such as his diet consisting mainly of Summer Sausage, cheese and doughnuts eaten in the clinic’s darkroom between patients, adjusting patients until 11 PM, then making local house calls, and even barn calls on animals until 2 AM, and starting all over again at 6 AM, this done 6 days weekly! His Norwegian descent enabled some strange expressions like “Hoopensocker!” when he felt he made an excellent adjustment.

Some of my fellow students would laugh about all this, but I was mesmerized and enamored by it and wanted to know more.

Seeking out Chiropractors who had worked and learned from him, I was told that although his ultra-success levels were real, Clarence Gonstead was surprisingly a very humble and simple man, with an incredible ability to focus his attention on each patient, diligently finding the specific cause of their impaired healing, and then specifically and accurately adjusting that source in their spine. One doctor quoted his response to the question “How is it that you have so many patients?”, Clarence said “I only have one patient at a time and it’s the one directly in front of me.”  This to me was inspiration to learn more about what sounded like a rare and incredible healer.

I’ll never forget this story -a DC from Canada told of having a young boy patient with undescended testes, already scheduled for surgery. A quick call to Dr Gonstead for advice revealed that undescended testes are often the consequence of an EX ilium subluxation (twisted pelvic bone for you non DCs). Adjusting the boy that way resulted in a quick recovery and years later that patient returned to introduce his wife and several children!

I was thrilled to learn that his wife Elvira was still living in Mount Horeb. Looking up her phone number and nervously calling to introduce myself; I heard “Come right over to my home immediately!” she demanded. Elvira and Clarence had built a unique home in the Frank Lloyd Wright style of architecture close to the clinic. Walking up to that impressive door and anxiously knocking, I was greeted by a delightful and warmly welcoming lady who led me through a narrow labyrinth between piles of papers, boxes, and other relics of her long life with Clarence. Entering the living room, the furniture there was also loaded and covered with her memorabilia, but she guided us to sit next to her on the only available space – chiropractic adjusting equipment! I found her sharp minded and willing to answer our many questions, but sadly she continually strayed the conversation to her lingering frustration and disgust with those who bought the famous clinic whom she claimed mistreated her and Clarence.

Her stories of Clarence, the clinic, his practice, and his life were extremely interesting, and revealed that yes, Clarence Gonstead was indeed a rare and unique healer of many, and that most of the legends are true regarding not only his extreme success as a Chiropractor, but his simple yet odd-at-times lifestyle.

She shared a rarely heard story about the time she and Clarence traveled to Africa. Apparently, they visited a small remote village and encountered a local Chief ailing with digestive issues. Clarence applied his skills and the Chief was grateful. A few hours later, when their tour bus arrived at the next remote village, Elvira claims that the natives were kneeling, bowing, and exclaiming Clarence as “Great White Healer!”

Now as my 34th year as a Chiropractor approaches, I’m still excited to both share and hear Gonstead stories. I hope this Gonstead book review will inspire you also. The new book about Gonstead has further enlightened me to be certain that the Gonstead Clinic was once the “Mayo Clinic” equivalent in Chiropractic and it still is operating as the “Rock of Gibraltar” for specific full-spine, hands-on spinal adjusting using and teaching The Gonstead Method.

The author Matthew Amman has done an excellent job investigating many more details of this incredible man in the new biography Gonstead: The Adjustor. It is available at, or by calling the Gonstead Clinical Studies Society office at 1-831-476-1873. All proceeds from book sales go directly to Chiropractic research.


Categories: Gonstead Clinic


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