Dr. Daniel Redwood: A Translator Of Ideas

Dr. Daniel Redwood:
A Translator Of Ideas

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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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 public?"

The researcher and his colleagues just didn’t 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 don’t.

"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 what’s 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 understand it."

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 Redwood’s articles.

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 hasn’t been in the position to do a lot of original research himself because he’s 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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."

Sharing Knowledge

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. There’s 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 .

He’s a regular on the speaking circuit at health care conferences and seminars.

Today, Redwood’s 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 women’s rights, racial justice, the environment and worker’s 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 we’re 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 Redwood’s 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 spirit.

About the authors: Randy Southerland is a public relations specialist at Life University. Inquiries should be addressed to him at rsouther@life.edu.

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