British Columbia

'Brain balancing' B.C. chiropractor suspended amid 3 investigations

Just 18 months after he arrived in B.C., Dan Sullins is already facing three investigations into his "brain balancing" chiropractic practice on the North Shore.

Daniel Sullins' claim to practice 'board certified functional neurology' is dangerous, doctor says

Daniel Sullins was a chiropractor in Texas before moving his practice to North Vancouver. (mybrainscore.com)

Just 18 months after he arrived in B.C., Dan Sullins is already facing three investigations into his "brain balancing" chiropractic practice on the North Shore.

The College of Chiropractors suspended Sullins' registration on Tuesday, stating that the public could be at risk if he continued practising.

He's also attracted the attention of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which says it is very concerned by Sullins' claim of practising something he calls "board certified functional neurology."

"If you look at this, it almost makes you think that this person might be a doctor in neurology, and that is quite frankly dangerous. It's not a credential and it's misleading," college registrar Dr. Heidi Oetter told CBC.

Chiropractors cannot claim to be specialized in anything in B.C., and "board certified functional neurology" is not a recognized chiropractic credential.

Sullins has only been registered as a chiropractor in this province since January 2018. Before that, he practised for six years in Texas, where he had not been the subject of disciplinary action, according to the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

'The brain is the head of the body'

According to Michelle Da Roza, registrar of the College of Chiropractors of B.C., the college first launched an investigation into Sullins because of concerns about his advertising.

Though Da Roza said she couldn't go into specifics, there were questions about whether Sullins was following the college's efficacy claims policy, which states that chiropractors cannot claim to treat a condition when there is a lack of "acceptable evidence" for any benefit.

Da Roza said Sullins also faces a complaint from a member of the public over a separate issue, but said she could not provide any more information.

All three investigations are still underway and none of the allegations against Sullins have been proven. Sullins did not reply to requests for comment.

Nonetheless, the website for Sullins' North Vancouver clinic offers some clues to the college's concerns.

It advertises a treatment called "brain balancing," which is not recognized by the college, and claims that Sullins is trained in "several brain stimulating adjusting techniques."

His website declares: "The brain is the head of the body and controls what happens in the body, so it only makes sense to go to the source and help the brain operate at its peak performance."

Sullins' website includes testimonials claiming he has used chiropractic to treat ADHD, in violation of college policy. (mybrainscore.com)

Patient testimonials on the website suggest he's helped with some conditions that chiropractors in B.C. are specifically banned from claiming to treat, including ADHD and childhood speech disorders.

One note from a former patient suggests Sullins helped treat his erectile dysfunction. Another thanks him for helping with difficulties caused by a traumatic brain injury sustained during military deployment in Afghanistan.

Da Roza said that while erectile dysfunction and brain trauma are not explicitly mentioned in the efficacy claims policy, "chiropractors must not advertise health benefits of their services when there is not acceptable evidence that those benefits can be achieved."

The college has been cracking down on misleading advertising since last fall, following a series of CBC stories revealing that some B.C. chiropractors were defying college policy by posting anti-vaccination material to Facebook.

'Entirely pseudoscientific' claims

Ryan Armstrong, executive director of the non-profit watchdog Bad Science Watch, said he'd like to see the college impose precise restrictions on the scope of practice for chiropractors, making it clear that their focus should be musculoskeletal conditions.

He described Sullins' claims about certification in neurology as "highly deceptive."

"The entire notion of 'brain balancing' is entirely pseudoscientific. I'm not aware of any science recognizing a brain's inherent 'balance,'" Armstrong wrote in a message to CBC.

"Most likely, the concept of 'brain balancing' is entirely a marketing construct and it's a clever one at that," he wrote.

"Those who create novel health ailments and deceive the public into believing that only the unique services offered by that particular clinic can help have placed themselves in an advantageous market condition."
 

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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