D.D. Palmer and Magnetic Healing


Paul Caster posing with crutches and canes that his patients left behind after being treated.

D.D. Palmer started practicing magnetic healing in 1885 in Burlington, Iowa after he studied under Paul Caster, a highly successful magnetic healer who practiced in Ottumwa, Iowa. That same year D.D. moved to Davenport, Iowa and opened his practice in the Ryan building, where the first adjustment on Harvey Lillard would happen ten years later.


He started small with a few rooms, but pretty quickly became quite successful. In a 1905 edition of The Chiropractor, it says, “He rented three rooms in the Ryan block. In a few months he added two more. It was not long before he was using eight rooms. In 1892, his business had so increased that he had use for eighteen rooms. These were on the second and third floor. He exchanged these for twenty on the front half of the fourth floor. Business continued to increase until he occupied the entire floor of forty rooms, making over seventeen years in the same building.”


D.D. in his Ryan Building office. Note the crutches on display in a similar manner to Paul Caster.

In History in the Making, B.J. Palmer writes about his father’s magnetic healing techniques. It says, “His “magnetic treatments” consisted of patient lying on couch, back down – he sitting alone-side, with hands resting above and below, in 15-minute periods, flowing HIS magnetism for that period.” It also says that “He placed one hand OVER the liver (for example), other hand UNDER back, UNDER LIVER.” He was “flowing his MAGNETIC STRENGTH from positive hand to negative hand; flowing MAGNETISM from HIS body INTO AND THRU LIVER.”

You can read about some of the people that D.D. Palmer was helping with those techniques in The Magnetic Cure, a broadside D.D. published starting in 1896 (later called The Chiropractic) that is currently available as a flipbook in our Digital Collection.

If you want to learn more about magnetic healing, D.D., or anything to do with Chiropractic history, visit the archives Monday-Friday 8:30-5, or send us an email!

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