An ‘intuitive healer’ who did not have a chiropractic or acupuncture license is in legal trouble for performing spinal manipulation and other techniques on a patient.

A Wisconsin case has recently surfaced involving an alleged injury from an intuitive healer who did not have licensure in either medicine, chiropractic, or acupuncture, yet used spinal manipulation:

May has severe, chronic spinal disease in her neck, her medical records show. She can walk because two years ago she had urgent surgery to remove discs that were compressing her cervical spinal cord, making it swell with fluid. She also has spinal osteoporosis – weak, brittle vertebrae. Spinal manipulation – commonly known as chiropractic adjustment – can be dangerous for patients with spinal nerve damage or osteoporosis, states the Mayo Clinic website, which offers comprehensive information on hundreds of diseases.

But before May knew she had spinal disease, she spent almost a year in the care of a Milwaukee man named Sik Kin Wu. And May says she paid Wu, a self-described "intuitive healer," to adjust her neck – not once or twice, but 11 times during a year.

Wu, a Shorewood, Wis., restaurant owner with a history of federal tax fraud, says he can tell what’s wrong with people by looking at them. He acknowledged he isn’t licensed to provide health care in the United States, instead providing a certificate stating he completed a four-month acupuncture and Chinese massage program in Shanghai.

But a Journal Sentinel investigation found Wu has used spinal manipulation – considered the work of a chiropractor or, in some cases, a physical therapist or credentialed massage therapist – on May and many others for years. By his own account, Wu also charges $350 to put his hand in people’s vaginas and rectums to "heal" conditions such as ovarian cysts and erectile dysfunction.

Individuals who are not licensed chiropractors should not be performing spinal manipulation.  In addition, chiropractors and acupuncturists sometimes confuse the boundaries by crossing into therapies outside their scope of practice.  It is important to understand licensing laws governing chiropractic, acupucture, massage therapy, and naturopathic medicine so as to remain legally safe in practice.
Other news – an integrative practice advertises a whole bunch of therapies:

Arizona’s premier naturopathic practice, Phoenix Integrative Medicine, starts a unique approach with 5 minute "Consult n Coffee" for $5 along with Free B-12 injections for new patients.

The premier naturopathic doctor in Arizona has initiated a new approach to patient care. For a mere $5, Dr. Andrea O’Connor of Phoenix Integrative Medicine will provide coffee and 5 minutes of her expertise on a variety of topics ranging from weight loss, hormone replacement, antiaging, and natural pain management.

In addition, patients who sign up for consultations on Phoenix Integrative Medicine’s newly redesigned website will receive a Free B-12 injection. The website, at , allows patients to book their own appointments online.

Dr. O’Connor’s practice focuses on multiple areas of medicine including weight loss, hormone replacement, antiaging, aesthetics, and natural pain management.

For over a dozen years, Phoenix Integrative Medicine has been assisting patients with physician supervised weight loss clinic Phoenix which includes the HCG diet Phoenix AZ and others. Dr. O’Connor offers the HCG both sublingual and by injection. One of the keys to maintaining weight loss, and preventing patients from gaining it all back as statistically most do, is the follow up doctor visits and the individualized nutritional support provided.

Dr. O’Connor is an expert in bioidentical hormone replacement. Bioidentical hormones are natural hormones, not synthetic. They match the molecular structure of the hormones that are produced by one’s body exactly and are not made in a lab. This may increase patient’s energy, vitality, sex drive, improve mood, decrease hot flashes, and reduce chance of osteoporosis.

In addition to bioidentical hormone replacement, Dr. O’Connor provides patients antiaging treatments with testosterone injections along with B12 injections.

"We do some simple blood work to establish a baseline. Then with individualized hormone replacements by mouth, cream, or injection, patients are able to look and feel younger. My patients start noticing the benefits within a week, and it changes their outlook on life routinely," says clinic director Dr. Andrea O’Connor.

Phoenix Integrative Medicine believes in natural pain management. With a compassionate, knowledgeable approach, Dr. O’Connor consults with patients who have debilitating qualifying conditions that benefit from medical marijuana. After studying the medical benefits of marijuana extensively, she has earned the respect of her patients and colleagues by providing her expertise to qualifying patients and writing certifications for an Arizona medical marijuana card.

The office obtains medical records for its patients at no charge, takes photo ID’s along with scanning documents, and assists completely with the online medical marijuana card application to the state. Walk in visits are allowed Wednesday through Friday 10am to 3pm.

With services for hormone replacement, antiaging, weight loss, and natural pain management, Phoenix Integrative Medicine offers comprehensive wellness medicine in Arizona.  

We express no opinion concerning the legality of these practices.  It is worth noting that practices involving weight loss and HCG diets can raise legal questions, many of which are addressed elsewhere in this blog or on in our law firm website.  Scope of practice is also an important legal concern as is standard of care when using therapies such as bioidentical hormonies.  Informed consent forms must be specific and targeted to be legally compliant.  Medical marijuana laws can vary by state and consumers should be aware of local laws governing access to medical marijuana (cannabis) in their jurisdiction.
A former colleague of mine from Harvard, Dr. Robert Saper, addresses the efficacy of neti pots for help with colds and sinus infections:

Robert Saper, director of integrative medicine in Boston Medical Center’s Department of Family Medicine, says that a neti pot is one of the few traditional therapies that has found its way into modern medical practice. Several studies have been conducted on neti pots, and overall findings are positive. Saper says there’s good evidence that they can help people with chronic sinus infections find relief and reduce their dependence on medications. There’s some evidence that they also ease symptoms of colds and allergies.

The technical term for a neti pot is “saline nasal irrigation,’’ and Ellen Weinberg, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Cambridge Health Alliance, points out that it’s just one of the ways you can flush out nasal passages. Some people balk at pouring liquid in their nose, and they can opt to buy saline squirt bottles or drops at a pharmacy, or create their own system using a bulb syringe.

Neti pots are often sold in yoga studios and schools that teach Ayurveda.
Alterernative cancer care builds in Georgia:

Illinois-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America – known for a holistic approach to care and less conventional therapies – began work on the 260,000-square-foot, 50-bed cancer hospital in Newnan last month.

Right now, hundreds of patients from the Southeast travel long distances to one of the company’s other four hospitals in the Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Tulsa, Okla., areas, said Tim Birdsall, vice president of integrative medicine….

Two-thirds of Cancer Treatment Centers patients typically coming from out of state, Dawson said. The Newnan site was picked, in part, because it’s close to a major airport, he said.

The hospital will spur local development, such as hotels, and give a boost to local businesses, Newnan Mayor Keith Brady said.


Michael H. Cohen


Michael H. Cohen is a thought leader in health care law, pioneering legal strategies and solutions for business law clients in traditional and emerging healthcare. wellness, and lifestyle markets.  Mr. Cohen represents a broad range of healthcare providers and entities, including: medical and osteopathic doctors; physician groups and clinical facilities; integrative medicine centers; psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, registered and advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, dentists and other allied health professionals; complementary and alternative medicine practitioners such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, somatic bodyworkers, energy healers, hypnotherapists and medical intuitives, naturopathic physicians and practitioners of homeopathy; life coaches; dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors; cosmetics manufacturers; HCG and weight loss centers; medical device manufacturers; telemedicine and telehealth business; healthcare educational institutions, health insurance organizations, and medical spas;  and many other enterprises.

As a corporate and regulatory attorney who has also handled litigation matters, Mr. Cohen represents conscious business leaders in a transformational era. Clients seek Mr. Cohen’s specialized expertise on business structure and entity formation (corporations, partnerships, LLCs); credentialing, licensing, and scope of practice concerns; professional disciplinary matters before state medical, psychology, chiropractic, and other boards); employment contracts and independent contractor agreements; dispute resolution; e-commerce; intellectual property issues; informed consent and malpractice liability issues; HIPAA and confidentiality and privacy issues; Stark, self-referral, anti-kickback, patient brokering, and fee-splitting questions; dietary supplement labeling; medical device approval and other FDA matters; insurance reimbursement and Medicare issues; website disclaimers and review of marketing materials; advice on concierge medicine and retail boutique medicine; telemedicine, telepsychiatry and telehealth; and other legal and regulatory advice in the business law and health law arenas.  Mr. Cohen is also highly sought after for special legal counsel by other attorneys and law firms in the areas of complementary/integrative medicine, aesthetic and cosmetic medicine, medical board discipline, medical spa liability, and medical malpractice liability malpractice  (negligence) involving CAM practices or telemedicine, tele-health and online health services.

Mr. Cohen graduated from Columbia University (BA), Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley (JD); the Haas School of Management at the University of California, Berkeley (MBA); and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa (MFA).  In law school, he served as an editor of the California Law Review.  He also attended the Medical Institute for Law Faculty at the Cleveland Clinic. Following law school, he served as judicial clerk for the Honorable Thomas P. Griesa, United States District Judge in the federal Southern District of New York. Mr. Cohen was an associate in the Corporate Department at the Wall Street law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, focusing on banking, securities law, and mergers & acquisitions. He was on the faculty of several law schools, teaching civil procedure, conflicts of laws, constitutional law, criminal law, health law, and insurance law.  He served as Director of Legal Programs at the Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), and then the Harvard Medical School Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies and Harvard Medical School Osher Institute. He was also Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, with a joint appointment as Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. While at Harvard, Mr. Cohen was Principal Investigator on two grants, Legal and Social Barriers to Alternative Therapies (National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health) and Pediatric Use of Complementary Therapies by Parents: Ethical and Policy Choices (Greenwall Foundation), and Co-Investigator on several other funded projects, including Models of Integrative Care in an Academic Health Center. Among his activities, Mr. Cohen pioneered the course, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Health Law and Policy” at the Harvard School of Public Health. He also was awarded a Fortieth Anniversary Senior Fellowship at the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School.

Mr. Cohen has published over 100 articles, and books, including: Creative Writing for Lawyers (Citadel Press, 1990); Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998); Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (University of Michigan Press, 2000); Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health and Healing in Human Transformation (University of Michigan Press, 2003); Legal Issues in Integrative Medicine (NAF Press, 2005); and Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion (University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

Following a successful academic career, Mr. Cohen returned to the practice of law. In addition to his professional activities, Mr. Cohen received certification as a Registered Yoga Teacher. Whether advising start-ups or established companies, he brings his entrepreneurial spirit and caring insight to cutting-edge legal and regulatory challenges.

Mr. Cohen is admitted to practice in California, Massachusetts New York, and Washington, D.C.  To speak with an experienced business and health care law attorney about your legal concerns, contact our attorneys today.