By Randy Southerland
Virginia Beach, Va., chiropractor Dr. Daniel Redwood remembers the moment when he found his purpose in life.
Between sessions at a Palmer College Research Agenda Conference, he was
talking to a Canadian researcher who asked, rhetorically, "How could
you expect researchers to make information intelligible to the general
The researcher and his colleagues just didnt have those skills.
Redwood, however, has spent his life from writing books and articles
to conducting in-depth interviews with some of the biggest names in alternative
healing explaining the sometimes arcane world of health care to
those who want to understand, but often dont.
"I realized in that moment that, basically, I was a translator,"
says Redwood. "A very important part of what I was doing with this
writing for the last 20 years is translating whats coming out of
the research community, both in chiropractic and throughout the CAM (complementary
and alternative medicine) field, and expressing it so regular folks can
The "regular folks" for whom he serves as interpreter range
from interested consumers to medical doctors baffled by chiropractic and
other alternative healing arts.
"Dan is definitely one of those bridge-builders who has worked with
diligence and integrity to develop and further understanding of his field
and what they do in the larger context of health-care services,"
says Dr. Marc Micozzi, executive director of the College of Physicians
of Philadelphia and editor of CAM textbooks that include Redwoods
Micozzi says that Redwood excels in making the principles and practices
of his own profession clear not only to the medical community, but also
to health-care specialties such as physical therapy "which is desperately
in need of enlightenment."
"He hasnt been in the position to do a lot of original research
himself because hes running a busy practice, but he certainly has
the intellectual skills to look at data and understand science and how
it relates to practice," observes Micozzi.
Communicating Through Songs
Redwood has spent his entire life reaching out to people and communicating
ideas in simple and understandable ways. In fact, his career as a communicator
began, not in chiropractic, but as a singer and songwriter. He got his
start during the heady days of the protest movement of the late 1960s
and early 1970s that included songwriting legends Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger.
As a volunteer with the United Farm Workers movement, he helped organize
boycotts of grape and lettuce growers.
"The farm workers movement touched me very deeply and affected
my view of how I wanted to live," recalls Redwood. "These were
primarily Mexican-Americans who were really surviving on the edge economically
and who worked very hard with their whole families in the fields. Yet,
they had a complete absence of cynicism. They were people who had tremendous
hope. They believed that justice was possible, and they were using non-violent
organizing methods in order to achieve those goals."
The reality of the workers movement was brought home to him one
day when he learned that another volunteer organizer a young woman
had been killed on the picket line in Florida.
Early one January morning in 1972, he sat down and composed the words
to "La Lucha Continuara (The Struggle Goes On)," a song that
would become an anthem of the protest movement of that era. It also launched
Redwood on a seven-year career as a folk singer, traveling the country
and performing in coffeehouses, churches, schools and other venues of
an awakening populist ideal.
Redwood never attained the stature of his folk singing idols, and after
a failed attempt to make it big in Los Angeles, he realized that he had
to do something else. He explored a number of options schoolteacher,
magazine writer, medical doctor before finding his calling while
working in a Venice Beach health food store operated by a Los Angeles
College of Chiropractic student.
"What I felt at that point about natural healing, as opposed to conventional
medicine, was that I didnt feel that I could stay true to my conscience
and do the things that would be required of me going through school, internship
and residence," he recalls. "I would be doing too many things
that I didnt think would be in the highest interest of the patient."
In chiropractic, he found the means to be true to his beliefs and to control
his own destiny.
"To me, it was a way of holding on to some very important parts of
my ideals," says Redwood. "Frankly, those of us who go into
chiropractic have at least some streak of the rebel."
In the years since he decided to pack his car and make the trek to Davenport,
Iowa, and Palmer College, he has built a career on doing things his own
way. Along with operating busy practices in Washington, D.C., and now
Virginia Beach, he has devoted considerable amounts of time and talent
to reaching out to the public and other professions.
"What we, as chiropractors and as members of this broader movement,
have the potential to bring to people are not only our techniques, but
our world view," he explains. "People are really hungry for
that. To the degree that we can live it ourselves and share it with them,
we and they will be the better for it. Theres great
diversity within our profession, and I view that as strength. Each of
us, through our experiences, our studies, and our deepest callings, are
drawn to certain philosophies and certain methods."
His views are on display in books such as A Time to Heal: How to Reap
the Benefits of Holistic Health and Contemporary Chiropractic.
He has also taken on the jobs of associate editor and book review editor
of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and he
also serves on the editorial board of Integrative Medicine Consult.
He also writes a column for WebMD and articles for numerous publications
in the alternative health and chiropractic fields. His Web site (drredwood.com)
contains his in-depth interviews with Deepak Chopra, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross,
James Redfield, Andrew Weil and a host of other alternative healing proponents
Hes a regular on the speaking circuit at health care conferences
Today, Redwoods practice and writing keep him busy, and he admits
that he seldom takes out his guitar to perform anymore. Still, the legacy
he created in the protest movement has not been forgotten. In early 2001,
the Smithsonian released an archival CD collection, The Best of Broadside
1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground from the Pages of Broadside
Magazine, featuring the works of Dylan, Phil Ochs and other folk music
legends. Their songs, including the classic "Blowin in the
Wind," were first published in a magazine that tried to nurture the
music of protest, liberation and freedom.
"Out of thousands of songs that were published (in Broadside),
over a 25-year period, they chose 89, and I still am in awe and shock
that my song was one of them," Redwood says. "I am in the company
in that collection of my heroes. These are people whose
music touched me deeply when I was growing up and still does."
He also believes that his work in the protest and workers rights
movements of the 1960s and 1970s has made a difference in America today.
Things have changed for the better for womens rights, racial justice,
the environment and workers rights.
"The social issues we were confronting in those days were far more
black and white than they are today," he believes. "In the struggles
that had a clear right and wrong, in many cases right triumphed
at least partially. So much of what we face now are shades of gray, and
in our society we see changing alliances. We see people who recognize
were in a changed world and are struggling to find ways to bring
the idealism we had in past years into some sort of practical form for
the current era."
Decades ago, Daniel Redwoods songs were a harmonious instrument
in the battle for social change. Today, he is helping to forge a different
kind of change. This is a revolution that goes beyond politics to the
way people live their lives and take care of their bodies and the inherent
harmony that comes from understanding the link between body, mind and
the authors: Randy Southerland is a public relations
specialist at Life University. Inquiries should be addressed to him at