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Dangers of Applied
Kinesiology and NAET
By Gary F. Zeolla
I have several articles about Applied Kinesiology and NAET treatments on the Web site. In those articles I talk about these alternative medicine procedures in good terms. But I have since found out that they are faulty, unscientific, dangerous, and maybe even spiritually questionable. I have left the articles about then on the Web site, but have added warnings so people can learn about the procedures while also being warned about the potential problems. In this article, I would like to elaborate on these problems.
Introduction to Applied
I was first introduced to Applied Kinesiology (a.k.a. "muscle testing") in 1999 when I went to an alternative doctor I had been listening to quite frequently on the radio. He had me sit on the exam table, and put my right hand on the thigh of his receptionist sitting beside me. The receptionist then held her right arm out straight. The doctor then repeatedly pushed on her arm. Sometimes she would be able to "resist" and continue to hold her arm out straight. But other times, her arm "weakened" and it dropped down.
I later found out that what was happening was the doctor was asking my body questions as to what the causes of my various health problems were. If the receptionist's arm stayed "strong" and thus she was able to resist him it was a "no" answer. If her arm weakened, and it dropped, it was a "yes" answer.
If this sounds crazy to you, well, that was my first impression. My dad had gone with me to the appointment, and we both came out of his office laughing and asking "What was that?" But despite the apparent silliness of what happened, I continued to go to this doctor. Why? Well I had been "brainwashed" by this doctor by listening to him so much on the radio into thinking that he knew what he was doing.
I would later learn to perform this supposed diagnostic procedure on myself. For years, I would rely on it to tell me what was happening with my body. But it would constantly mislead me. So listening to the "answers" caused me to do things that worsened my health.
For instance, back in January of 2010, I was lifting weights doing squats. On my first rep of a planned triple, I felt pain in my right adductor (inner thigh muscle). I stupidly finished the set. When I racked the weight, my leg really hurt. So I sat down and "tested" myself, asking if I had injured myself. And the testing said that I had not.
Now I should explain, as a result of my fibromyalgia, I often feel pains when I am working out. But most often, I just ignore the pain and it goes away. But I always feared that someday I would genuinely injure myself, ignore it, and make it much worse. But I believed my muscle testing would prevent me from doing that. Well, it didn't. As a result of the test result, I ignored the pain and finished the workout.
I then continued to ignore the pain since my testing was saying I hadn't really injured myself. I put in a deadlift workout three days later. And my leg bothered me some, but not much. So I thought my testing was accurate. But then the next week when I squatted again, the pain really flared up on my first heavy set. And I had no choice but to dump the weight and end the workout. My adductor has bothered me ever since, for over three years now. As a result, I can no longer do heavy squats. And that is one reason why I had to "retire" from powerlifting.
I should mention that in my powerlifting book, I include a chapter on injuries. And in it, I say very strongly that the most important thing to do if you think you've injured yourself in a workout is to STOP! Do not try to finish the workout, and accept that you will have to take it easy for a while. But by ignoring my own advice due to this faulty diagnostic procedure, I ended any hopes of powerlifting again.
Is there any scientific evidence that Applied Kinesiology is reliable? It has been studied with double-blind studies and has been proven to be worthless. The "answers" the practitioner gets under controlled conditions are no better than chance. This is documented in articles referenced in the Wikipedia article on Applied Kinesiology and in an article on Quackwatch: Applied Kinesiology: Phony Muscle-Testing for "Allergies" and "Nutrient Deficiencies."
In my own case, when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in 2001, I took a list of possible contributing causes to fibromyalgia to the radio doctor. He "diagnosed" me as having low thyroid levels but as not having low testosterone levels. But later blood tests showed the exact opposite. That should have awakened me to how faulty this procedure was. But again, I was brainwashed by the radio doctor into trusting the muscle testing over blood tests.
In any case, the radio doctor prescribed supplements to deal with the low thyroid levels, which did nothing. But a change in diet and exercise caused my testosterone levels to normalize, and at the time, that did make a difference I could notice. I discuss this in my Eating Plan book.
Along with the pseudoscientific nature of this practice, there is a spiritual question. In one of my articles on this site, I try to defend it as being compatible with my Christian beliefs. But I now fear I was deluding myself.
Exactly what is happening when this supposed diagnostic procedure is being used? How is a doctor able to "ask" the body what it happening with it? What is answering? Years ago, it was suggested to me by a reader of my Web sites that the "answer" was coming from demonic spirits. I also attended a church service back then where a guest speaker was talking about alternative medicine. He specifically mentioned muscle testing, and said that it was demonic.
But I just brushed these suggestions aside. But now, I wonder. The practice is based on the eastern religious idea of "chi." Chi is, "in Chinese medicine and philosophy, the energy or life force of the universe, believed to flow round the body and to be present in all living things. The manipulation of chi is the basis of acupuncture and Chinese martial arts" (Encarta Dictionary).
Applied Kinesiology is said to tap into this "life force" for its answers. But the Bible does not support the idea of a "life force" evading everything. God is everywhere; that is true. But God is not a "life force." And He cannot be "tapped into" by a physical method. One comes into contact with God through prayer, worship, and reading the Bible.
Introduction to NAET:
NAET stands for "Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques." The first word refers to Dr. Devi Nambudripad, the doctor who "invented" NAET in the 1980s. I describe the treatment process in detail elsewhere on this site. But in short, for the treatments, the patient holds a sample of the allergen being treated for while the practitioner presses along the spine and on acupuncture points around the body.
I underwent NAET treatments by the above mentioned radio doctor and then by a second doctor. The second doctor taught my dad how to perform the treatments, and thus he did several treatments on me. With NAET, you are treated for one allergy at a time, or a group of related items. For instance, I was first treated for grains in general, but then specifically for wheat. Altogether, I probably had over 150 NAET treatments at a cost of well over $2,000.
When I was going to the second doctor, the treatments did seem to be working. The things she was treating me for did seem to cease to bother me. And my health in general seemed to be improving. However, something strange also seemed to be happening. I was becoming sensitive to things I wasn't treated for.
Most specifically, at the time I was attending church on Saturday nights. The church itself was rather large, able to hold probably over 300 people, but on Saturday nights usually only about 20-30 people attended.
When I first started attending this church, I didn't notice any problems when going. But while undergoing these treatments in the spring of 2002, it began bothering me to sit in that church. And by that I mean I would get congested, feel "itchy" and "dirty" all over. The best I can explain the feeling is: think about the last time you got really sweaty and "scummy" from working or working out. When you are done, all you want to do is take off the sweaty clothes and get into the shower. Well, that is how I began feeling going to that church.
The doctor suggested I take a jar with me and "capture" the air in the church, and she would use that to treat me for it. Well, I did that, but it did nothing to help with the problem. Eventually, it got so bad that I had to stop going to church. And over time, I worsened to the point where going anywhere would bother me. So I eventually was forced to live an isolated life, rarely leaving my home. And now, I feel that way almost constantly even in my own home.
As a result, my health has completely deteriorated. I can no longer get even close to a good night's sleep. I simply am too congested and feel too "scummy" to sleep. And that feeling causes my other health problems, like restless leg syndrome, to flare-up, further preventing sleep. I also feel constantly fatigued. It is truly unbearable to always feel like I'm in an allergenic state and to always be tired. And it all started while undergoing these treatments.
Is there any scientific evidence that NAET works? Unfortunately, it has never really been tested. The NAET Web site under "Research" mentions just one article. And that is about NAET treatments for autism, not allergies. But there are many "testimonials." But "testimonials" simply do not prove anything. It is easy for a person to think there is a link between things when there is not. Only a properly conducted scientific study can actually show a connection between a particular practice and a cure.
Meanwhile, the Wikipedia article on NAET quotes a scientific journal as saying, "NAET has to be the most unsubstantiated allergy treatment proposed to date."
Bottom line, there just isn't any evidence that it actually works. And by works, I mean permanently. Most testimonials are written right after treatment. And as with myself, there are many who experience an immediate relief of symptoms but later the symptoms come roaring back.
For instance, while I was going to the radio doctor for treatments, I attended a health seminar he held at a hotel ballroom. I remember talking to a lady there who mentioned about being allergic to soy. I asked her why she didn't get treated for her soy allergy by the radio doctor. She said she had been, but the allergy came back. That should have been a warning to me, but I continued with the treatments nevertheless.
Food Allergy vs. Food
A food allergy is a problem with the immune system. The immune system is “attacking” the allergen as if it were a pathogen. A food intolerance is a problem with the digestive system. The person body does not have the proper enzymes to digest the food. So if you are having a problem with wheat, it might be a food allergy. Only a skin stretch test by an immunologist could confirm this. Or you could be gluten intolerant (a.k.a. have Celica Disease). A blood test or colonoscopy would confirm this.
So a food allergy and a food intolerance are two completely different things, involving completely different body systems and requiring completely different diagnostic tests for confirmation. The fact that NAET lumps the two together is one sign that it is quackery. There is no way the same treatment could cure both.
Like Applied Kinesiology, NAET is based on the idea of "chi." The idea behind it is to adjust the "life energy" in the body, the same principle as acupuncture. But adjusting life energy is an eastern religious concept and has no Biblical backing.
As with Applied Kinesiology, I brushed off any suggestions that NAET was unchristian while I was undergoing the treatments. But now that my health has totally deteriorated, I wonder. Could I have subjected myself to something demonic, and that is why I now doing so bad health-wise? I really don't know, but it does frighten me.
Not Getting Proven Treatments:
Back in the winter of 2000-01, I went to a traditional allergist. He tested me via skin scratch tests for a variety of environmental items like dust and pollen, along with a variety of foods. I tested positive for over half of the items he tested me for. He recommended that I take an allergy medication and undergo allergy shots (a.k.a. immunology) for the environmental allergies.
As for the food allergies, he recommended I eliminate the foods from my diet. But then one by one, try re-introducing them into my diet by eating a lot of the food over a few days. That way, I could see if eating the food worsened my health.
That was sound advice. And I should have taken it. If I had, I might have avoided all of the problems that I have developed since then. Unlike NAET, allergy shots have a proven track record, having been used successfully for decades. Moreover, the allergy shots and medication would have been covered by insurance, so I would have saved a lot of money.
But the radio doctor I was listening to was constantly degrading the use of drugs. And that made me not to want to take any. And of course, he promoted his NAET treatments as a much better way of treating allergies than allergy shots. And again, having been "brainwashed" by listening to him so much, instead of listening to the traditional allergist, I underwent the long series of expensive NAET treatments.
Now what is really strange, I have since gone back to two different traditional allergists. The first tested me for allergies via a RAST blood test while the second again used skin scratch tests. And much to my surprise, both types of tests came back completely negative. According to them, I am not allergic to anything. As a result, the allergists said there was nothing they could do for me.
But then, why do I feel like I am allergic to just about everything? All I can figure is the NAET treatments altered my physiology in such a way that I am no longer testing positive by traditional allergy testing but in fact, I am severally allergic. So having been deluded into undergoing NAET treatments prevented me from getting treatments that probably would have actually worked, and now have left me unable to get that help.
Applied Kinesiology and NAET treatments really screwed my life up. Don't fall for them. Applied Kinesiology simply is not a reliable diagnostic procedure. If you have health problems, get them diagnosed by blood tests and other proven methods. And if you have allergies, try allergy shots, not some unproven and potentially dangerous alternative treatment like NAET.
Update: Repenting of AK and NAET
The above article was written in February 2013. It is now May 2014, and I am doing considerably better than indicated above. The first step in turning things around was to REPENT of my involvement with AK and NAET. And yes, I do believe it is a sin that needs to be repented of. The reason it is a sin is to turn to a completely unscientific and illogical treatment method for health problems is an act of desperation, and that is a denial of trust in the LORD. I discuss this further in an article posted on my Christian Web site about how I turned things around emotionally and spiritually (see Steps to Being Emotionally and Spiritually Uplifted). But here, I will refer the reader to my article Regaining Muscular Bodyweight and Strength for other detail on how I turned things around physically.
For a related article, see
Alternative Medicine Experiences.
Dangers of Applied Kinesiology and NAET . Copyright © 2013 by Gary F. Zeolla.
Disclaimer: The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet, exercise, or health improvement program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.
The above article was posted on this site February 8, 2013.
The update ws posted May 22, 2014.
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