Science of Correactology in doubt as Collège Boréal drops training for program
A dozen clinics operating in Ontario, plus one in Québec
Little is known about Correactology as there's no published research to back up the self-described form of alternative medicine, though it's currently being practised in 12 private clinics in Ontario and one in Québec.
A four-year Correactology course had been offered at Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Ont. as a contract training program since 2016, but it's no longer accepting new students.
Some health professionals are now casting their doubts as they begin to hear more about the practice, however the family that invented it says it's a labour of love that's helped countless people live better lives.
Correactology was created in 2002 by Michael and Allan Lapointe, two brothers from Sudbury.
They explain the treatments are originally derived from chiropractic techniques, though there are no other links between the two practices.
The Lapointes' theory, they explain, involves regulating "the density of cells in the body" through light touch.
According to the Lapointes, the human body is divided into eight segments of cells. It's stimulation of those cells that causes — and can help soothe — pain and discomfort, they say.
On their website, they state "the human body has an innate capacity to recover as long as its cellular segments are at their Optimum Operating Density (OOD)."
They're adamant the goal is not to cure diseases, but give patients relief from their symptoms.
A 'pseudo-science' say doctors
Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, a respirologist at Toronto Western Hospital and the deputy editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, doesn't hold back.
"That makes absolutely no sense, to talk about the density of cells not being 'optimal,'" says Stanbrook. "It makes even less sense to put forward the idea that through the manipulation involving touching, one could set the density of cells to an 'optimum level.'
"That is pseudo-science that uses a scientific word that ... doesn't mean what density means."
Though numerous doctors were contacted for this story, most refused to comment, saying they'd never heard of the practice.
Like Stanbrook, Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist based in Montréal, says he can't find any information about Correactology in his database.
Since being registered as a trademark 16 years ago, Correactology has become a family business co-managed by the Lapointe brothers and their parents, Angèle and Louis.
The brothers are neither university-affiliated researchers nor trained physicians, though they say they're currently trying to academically validate their confidential research.
Michael Lapointe says he attended the University of Ottawa as a teen, but dropped out of his bachelor of science program because "knowledge is incredible, but it sometimes stifles creativity."
He says he went on to train with a chiropractor in northwestern Québec, but again felt there was something missing in what he was learning.
"You can't create if you fall within a system," he adds.
He says the brothers developed their own theory based on patient feedback. Since then, he notes, countless people have provided positive testimonials about Correactology online and on social media.
"I understand the point of view [of critics]," says Michael. "I would doubt it as well if I was on their side.
"But when you're building something from nothing, you really want to protect the idea moving forward."
A long list of diseases
On the Correactology website, its founders list 140 "ailments" they claim to help treat. Those include asthma, cancer, sexual difficulties, Parkinson's disease, nosebleeds, ALS and snoring.
Dr. Labos says the promise of simple one-stop shopping for relief from such a wide variety of diseases raises some serious red flags in his mind.
Dr. Stanbrook agrees.
"It's the kind of claim that would be made by someone who wants to offer their services to the broadest range of potential customers possible, and hold that list in potential hope to vulnerable patients suffering theses conditions," says Stanbrook.
Michael Lapointe says such allegations are false. He notes the language used in Correactology and the long list of ailments help patients understand what symptoms they can seek relief for.
In spite of the doubters, things have been looking up for Correactology, according to its founders. They say there are 16 practitioners working in 12 clinics in Ontario, from Timmins to Kitchener to Sturgeon Falls to Barrie. A first Québec-based clinic recently opened up in Gatineau.
France Gélinas, the NDP incumbent candidate for Nickel Belt and her party's health critic, believes alternative medicine can be beneficial and sometimes offer better results than traditional medicine.
"I've heard from many people who told me that [Correactology] helped changed the course of their chronic illness," comments Gélinas, who worked as a nurse for nearly three decades.
"I have yet to hear anyone complain about [the practice]."
Dr. Stanbrook admits that many treatments seen as mainstream nowadays were once considered alternative. But he's adamant that any treatment must be backed by scientific proof before being used on patients.
Dr. Labos adds there needs to be better monitoring to ensure that all treatments are scientifically backed before they're offered to the public.
A spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), David Jensen, says his ministry hadn't heard of Correactology until recently.
In an email, he notes Ontario's Regulated Health Professions Act "governs regulated professions and ensures that regulated health professionals do not carry out practices beyond their knowledge, skills and judgement."
Both the College of Chiropractors of Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario say they have no affiliation with Correactology.
Jensen added the MOHLTC "has no plans to investigate Correactology practitioners at this time."
The Québec College of Physicians (QCP) is tasked with regulating healthcare providers in that province.
When contacted for comment on the recent opening of a Correactology clinic in Gatineau, the QCP noted it was "unaware of this practice." The QCP has since started looking into it.
"We're currently investigating what kind of techniques are being employed with this practice," stated QCP spokesperson Leslie Labranche. "We will then be able to take a position on Correactology."
Boréal has 'moved on'
Correactology took a step into the grey zone between private business and public health in 2016, when Sudbury's Collège Boréal entered into a contract with the Lapointe family to offer a four-year Correactology program through the school.
The courses were never taught at the college, all taking place at the Canadian Institute of Correactology in Sudbury.
Brian Vaillancourt, Collège Boréal's vice president of business development, says the course was originally approved prior to the installation of a new management team at the college in 2017.
"The program itself doesn't fit in our product mix anymore, so when there was a management change ... it didn't fit in our vision anymore," Vaillancourt tells the CBC.
As a contract training program, it didn't have to be approved by the Ministry of Education like most post-secondary courses.
"I couldn't really comment on the practice or the medicine itself. I wouldn't have the expertise. It was a business decision [to remove the program] on my end," says Vaillancourt.
Total cost for the four-year program exceeded $50,000 per student. The course handbook promises that "full body corrections are accomplished without the use of force, drugs, surgery or instrumentation."
Before registering, prospective students must sign a confidentiality agreement to keep Correactology techniques secret. All that information is protected by the company's copyright and trademark rights.
Until mid-May, a link on the practice's website linked users directly to the course description on Boréal's website.
"To present this as a program as a curriculum that very much resembles other health profession curriculums is being a willing party of what seemed to be a practice that seem to have deceptive elements to it," says Stanbrook.
"It's troubling to me that an institution like Collège Boréal would be willing to do that."
Vaillancourt says Boréal's role henceforth will only be to offer student support services and follow-ups to those still enrolled in the program.
"We've moved on, while honouring our contract obligations to the students in the system," says Vaillancourt.
Michael Lapointe admits there hasn't been any scientific research done on the practice, other than the work done within his own family.
Lapointe repeats he and his brother want to ensure their trade secrets are protected.
But he knows he's going to have to open the books up to the world of science to shed Correactology of the label of "pseudo-science."
He states the brothers are in talks to "collaborate with professors at local universities to validate their clinical findings."
"Basically that will either just disprove or prove that our research has some substance, period," says Lapointe.
"We have to kind of challenge our critics and say, 'Listen, we're ready to get to the table and show you we're stronger than placebo', because we believe we are, and then move through the appropriate channels to do so."
Angèle Lapointe, the mother of the two co-founders, is also the academic director of the Canadian Institute of Correactology.
She says the high price of the program was in place to counterbalance the low number of students and to pay teachers' salaries.
She adds there are 11 teachers for the course, all trained by the Institute.
And even with the college program shutting down, the founders of Correactology are convinced the future is bright.
They hope to continue expanding with clinic throughout Ontario and Québec. Without revealing who, they say they have plans to partner with other colleges or universities.
In the meantime, they'll continue teaching students at their headquarters in Sudbury and seeking scientific validation.
"You're changing a system that's already established, you're changing a way of thinking, and to do that, you have to be prepared for people coming at you and saying, 'This is crazy thought, this is witchcraft, this can't exist,'" says Michael.
"We're still in our infancy and we still have a lot of learn, but I think we're doing an amazing job for the populace, and we're still here after 20 years. That should tell you something."
With files from Joël Ashak, Justine Cohendet and Daniel Aubin of Radio-Canada.