Chiropractor going strong at almost 80

Posted Feb. 24, 2010, at 4:57 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:38 a.m.
(BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS)

CAPTION

Bangor chiropractor Moshe Myerowitz turns 80 years young in March. Myerowitz has also been been a basketball ref and has reached the upper echelons as a senior athlete--competing in race walking and power lifting--to name a few activities. Photographed February 22, 2010 in his Bangor chiropractic office (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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(BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS) CAPTION Bangor chiropractor Moshe Myerowitz turns 80 years young in March. Myerowitz has also been been a basketball ref and has reached the upper echelons as a senior athlete--competing in race walking and power lifting--to name a few activities. Photographed February 22, 2010 in his Bangor chiropractic office (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)

BANGOR, Maine — Dr. Moshe Myerowitz is a strong believer in formative experiences.

The longtime Bangor chiropractor and alternative-medicine specialist was born with a thirst for knowledge that has served him well through his almost 80 years.

“God gives us certain skills,” said the New York City native. “I was born to be a nerd.”

Circumstances put him on his career path fairly early as well.

In 1938, his mother was suffering from a benign uterine tumor, so large that she appeared to be pregnant. When traditional medicine offered no solution, she turned to a chiropractor on the advice of a friend.

“The bleeding stopped and the tumor shrank,” Myerowitz said. “When she died at 86, the tumor was still there. It was the size of an egg and was encased in calcium.”

Young Moshe himself suffered from eye problems and started wearing glasses at age 7. His lenses got progressively thicker, and when Moshe reached age 12, the eye doctor told his mother that he would soon be legally blind. That’s when she turned again to chiropractic for help.

Myerowitz went to the chiropractor four days a week for four months. At the end of that time, he threw away his glasses, not needing them again until age 52, when he got a pair for reading.

The return of his eyesight brought more than the visual world into view.

“That’s when I decided to become a chiropractor,” he said.

Myerowitz, for years a senior athlete and basketball official, looks 20 years younger than his age. So what are his secrets, learned from 58 years as a doctor of chiropractic?

“Eating well, balancing the [body’s chemistry], exercise, very little alcohol and seven or eight hours of sleep a night,” he said. “My blood pressure, my lipids are that of a 20- to 25-year-old.”

To explain chiropractic in simple terms, Myerowtiz compared himself to a soil scientist.

“If you have a patch of land, the soil determines the nature of what’s going to grow there,” he said. “You add nutrients to balance the soil to get the best possible yield.”

The body requires the same kind of attention, Myerowitz added.

“The body grows abnormal cells because the body’s chemistry is out of balance,” he said. “So the idea is to balance the body’s chemistry.”

Myerowitz doesn’t work with previously established diagnoses, but rather with the patient’s symptoms. He added that his practice can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine.

Myerowitz readily admits that he can’t help every patient: “There’s a point of no return,” he said.

Myerowitz sat down recently at the outer Broadway clinic he has called home for 30 years and took a look back at his lengthy career.

After his career epiphany at age 12, Myerowitz earned a spot at a prestigious high school for gifted students. He graduated at age 16, with two years of advanced placement credits. He finished up his undergraduate work at Yeshiva University in New York City and Upper Iowa University in Fayette, then completed a five-year program at the Chiropractic Institute of New York in 3½ years.

“I was socially stunted, so I studied more,” he said. “I did three semesters a year.”

In 1952, at age 22, Myerowitz started his practice. When he opened the door for his first client, the man asked, “Is your father home?”

Chiropractic lacked legitimacy then among the medical establishment, but Myerowitz’s practice grew, eventually including opera singers, ballet dancers and the Fordham University basketball team.

At age 38, he also successfully treated his own life-threatening condition with alternative therapies.

Still, after a divorce at 40, single dad Myerowitz decided to move with his son to Bangor. He bought a house on Broadway, out of which he ran his practice before moving to his current location.

All the while, he has continued to expand his knowledge. His practice now includes nutrition, chiropractic acupuncture, kinesiology, physiotherapy, herbal and homeopathic remedies, and auriculotherapy — a procedure in which stimulation of the auricle of the external ear is used to alleviate health conditions in other parts of the body. Most of these modes of therapy are now accepted by the traditional medical establishment.

Shortly after his arrival in Bangor, two doctors tried to physically remove him from Eastern Maine General Hospital. Thirty-four years later, he got a call from Eastern Maine Medical Center, asking him to speak to a group of medical professionals on alternative care.

“So I’ve gone from being a quack to being the premier provider of alternative care in this area,” he said.

In Bangor, he also rediscovered his athlete within. He was an eight-time national gold medalist race-walker in his age division, and he also won a gold medal at the European championships in 1991.

He established the age 75 Power Lifting Record at the Maine State Power Lifting Championship in 2005. Since retiring from race walking in the early 1990s, the former school basketball player has returned to the sport as an official. He has taken the last two years off to watch his granddaughter play at John Bapst, but plans to officiate again starting next year.

He has also served as chairman of the Bangor Planning Board and received the Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd” Award and the Eastern Area Agency on Aging George Hale Silver Frame Award in the lifelong learner-community supporter-entrepreneur category.

Myerowitz has a chiropractic legacy, too. His son Zev and grandson Daniel practice in Holden. Two other grandsons are training to become chiropractors, and two step-daughters are also chiropractors.

Even at almost 80, Myerowitz is still working on his skills.

“I have to keep up on new developments,” he said. “Every weekend, I’m on the Internet, reading journal studies. In terms of quality of life, I’m out of balance.”

He has no plans to retire.

“I owe my eyesight, my life, to chiropractic,” he said. “So how can I retire?”

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