Dr. Tedd Koren

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of healthcare. I’ve suffered, I’ve overcome, I’ve learned, I’ve grown. I’ve accumulated much knowledge as a result.

Dr. Tedd Koren is the most widely read Doctor of Chiropractic in the world today. Since 1987, when he started Koren Publications, over 100 million pieces of his popular scientifically-referenced patient education materials have been distributed throughout the world. Here is his story.

The Early Years - Learning Through Experience

My Upbringing

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and our approach to healthcare those days was that people only went to doctors when they were sick, really sick. Who had money to spend on regular visits? I am the oldest of four boys; the twins, Jeffrey and Jay, were born 22 months later and the youngest, David, was born 8 years after me.

Our grandmother brought with her health methods from the old country. Whenever we had a fever out came the enema bulb. We hid in closets, bathrooms and under beds. “I’m feeling better,” we’d plead. It never worked. But the fever would miraculously disappear and we’d be hydrated as well and then have to go to school the next day (ugh!). She was often there with a mustard plaster to apply to my chest and back whenever I had a bad cough. Her remedies always worked. Her sitting by the bed and talking, feeling our foreheads and holding us surely helped too.

Koren Family -1954
Tedd Bar Mitzvah with Grandma Ida

When the famous Robert Mendelsohn, MD said, “One grandmother is worth two pediatricians,” he was certainly talking about mine.

In the neighborhood, most everyone’s grandparents spoke with Eastern European accents and had the ritual of going to the sweat baths (the schvitzes) in Coney Island every week. It was a tradition. They would join their neighbors and friends, spending time detoxing from the stress of work, kids, family and problems.

The Measles

I was seven when I got the measles. Most everyone in my grade got it. It meant a rash, a few days off from school, reading in bed and orange soda (don’t ask). Today, if a few kids in a neighborhood got measles hysterical reporters would cry “epidemic” and the health department would declare some sort of emergency but it was a normal rite of passage and we’d never get the measles again. No one paid any great notice.

But a week later while the family MD was making a house call for a sick relative, he also checked in on me. Even though I was almost completely recovered, he gave me a penicillin shot. I have no idea why. Shortly thereafter I was covered in red raised blotches. “I think the measles came back,” I told my parents. The MD immediately returned and announced, “He’s allergic to penicillin. He’s OK now but If he gets another shot it may kill him.” I preferred the enema.

The twins also got the measles a year or so later. No big deal. Several years later, David, the youngest got the measles shot. He is the only one of the four of us with asthma. Years later I asked him why he thought that was the case. “It was from the measles shot” he told me. I think he would have preferred a few days of the measles instead of lifelong illness. He later became an MD. Go figure.

Walking Pneumonia

When I was 9, I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. I was taken from our summer home in the wilds of far off New Jersey (it seemed wild and far off) to return to our apartment in Brooklyn to convalesce under the watchful eye of my grandmother. The family doctor made a house call, gave me a shot and struck my sciatic nerve. I still remember the searing pain. He came back two days later to give me another shot. The doctor woke me up and as he was preparing my next injection, grandma ran interference. She said to me, “Teddy, walk for the doctor.” I tried but I fell to the floor. I grabbed a dresser and pulled myself up, paralyzed and in pain on one side from the waist down.

“What did you do to my grandchild?” she screamed at him. He stood there silent. She physically threw him out of our apartment. I think the MD learned a big lesson that day: don’t mess with a Jewish grandmother’s grandchild.

Grandma called Dr. Friedland, the neighborhood chiropractor, who also made house calls. After his first visit, I could walk pain-free. After his second visit my pneumonia disappeared. I liked him. He was warm, friendly and didn’t give me any shots. I felt better each time he came to work on me. I went back to New Jersey to enjoy the rest of the summer.

I was surprised to discover, years later, that chiropractors also helped back pain. But this was part of a larger journey that led me to chiropractic school after college.

My Educational Journey

Chiropractic School

I was supposed to go to medical school and my younger brothers were to follow in my footsteps. But I zigged and they zagged and I went to chiropractic school instead. At the Sherman College of Chiropractic, I rediscovered the ancient natural philosophy of healing and vitalism that was being lost amidst the modern infatuation with drugs and surgery. I especially liked chiropractic’s natural, drug-free procedures of locating and addressing the cause of body malfunction rather than treating symptoms – allowing the body to heal itself, as it was designed to do.

When I entered chiropractic school I unknowingly became a participant in an ancient war. For over 2,500 years there has been a conflict in healthcare philosophies – best expressed as the conflict between empirical and mechanistic healers and often described as expressive versus suppressive healthcare. Chiropractic and various natural approaches are of the empirical school while orthodox (allopathic or Western) medicine is of the mechanist school. Far from being a cause of stress this conflict helped me make sense out of the various ways healthcare is practiced in different professions.

From Educated to Educator

After graduating from Sherman College of Chiropractic (as class valedictorian) I jumped into private practice and professional involvement. I helped found Pennsylvania's only chiropractic college where I taught for nearly two years.

I later hosted a two-hour radio call-in show on commercial radio every week in Philadelphia called “Holistic Hotline.” I met many of the leaders of the natural healing community in the greater Philadelphia area and was exposed to various healing modalities. It was a great education to help me make sense out of the often-confusing world of health choices.

And More To Come...

It's been my unshakeable belief in the wisdom of the body and its power to heal that has guided my choices throughout what you’ve read about above as well as healthcare decisions for my wife and our children. It’s also been at the core of my determination throughout my legal battles (including successfully standing up to the US government) on behalf of the chiropractic profession and the public’s right to freedom of choice in their healthcare. I continue to teach, to lecture and to learn.