Dr. Asa Andrew sells health and hope at a steep price. Behind the scenes, however, the man’s practice may not match what he preaches. 

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What's more, Dr. Andrew may have anticipated their qualms. At least one former worker claims he was fired for refusing to sign a nondisclosure agreement — including the condition that if the employee ever said anything negative about him in the public domain, the employee agreed to pay a penalty of $75,000. Almost all of Dr. Andrew's employees say they were forced to sign this agreement under threat of dismissal, a testament to the pains he's taken to maintain his reputation.

For that reason, most would speak only on condition of anonymity, fearful that Dr. Andrew would make good on the agreement and draw them into a costly lawsuit none could afford. A few, however, spoke on the record — evidently feeling they couldn't afford to stay silent.

Who is Dr. Asa Andrew? In his book and on his website, he appears as a stout hulk with forearms as thick as ham hocks and a power lifter's bull neck. He puts forth an origin story worthy of a Marvel superhero — a saga that actually begins with superhuman feats.

It starts in the mid-'90s, when Andrew was invited to join The Power Team — a traveling motivational speaking crew whose beefy members would espouse Jesus and abstention from drugs, while engaging in displays of extreme strength. With Christian rock blaring in the background, they'd rip phone books in half, break concrete blocks, bend steel rods and brandish massive metal broadswords.

Dr. Andrew was the smallest guy on the burly team. So he overate to gain size. Before long, he says, he was diabetic. He had "lifestyled his way into this health challenge of diabetes," he wrote. By changing his eating habits, however, and applying his own personal brand of natural medicine, he "lifestyled" his way out, thus curing himself. The rest is history.

Less clear, though, is the medical history that brought the former jock to his current fame. Dr. Andrew is a licensed chiropractor. He is not, however, licensed as a medical doctor — a fact that might surprise the radio listeners who tune in to hear him give medical advice nightly. Or those who see him in scrubs on television. Or those who have read his book, in which he claims to be a "board-certified physician."

According to Candace Blazek, a former staffer whose account is corroborated by other ex-employees, the clinic's staff was never to discuss Dr. Andrew's credentials with inquiring customers. Above all, they were never to refer to him as a chiropractor — a term known around the office as the dreaded "C-word."

"We weren't supposed to answer the question," Blazek says. "We were supposed to avoid the question as best we could, and if we had to, go get his attorney Chris [Schmidt] to answer the question if they demanded it. And if it got to that point, most of the time the patient was not going to get an answer."

If they persist, according to former employees, they are told he's sitting for his medical boards. What they won't be told is where. A bio on The 700 Club website offers a list of his credentials, including a B.S. in psychology from Florida State University and a chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta, Ga. As for his medical degree, though, a cryptic note says only, "Doctor of Medicine including residency 2010."

But at least two staffers, including a former employee who made travel arrangements to the Caribbean for him, assert that his alma mater is the University of Health Sciences in Antigua. According to the state Department of Health, its medical degree does not meet the criteria for licensure in Tennessee (and a number of other states). The Antiguan university declined to verify whether Dr. Andrew is either alumnus or student.

"My credentials are as follows: I have a doctorate and am currently licensed in Tennessee as a chiropractic physician," Dr. Andrew told the Scene in his statement. "I also hold a Diplomate in Nutrition and am currently in the final stages of completing my clinical rotations for my medical degree (MD)." He did not specify where.

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