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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Food Allergy Tests You Must Avoid

The Food Allergy Initiative has a page on Unproven Diagnostic Tests that includes some familiar targets of mine, such as Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) and IgG Testing.

These tests should be avoided at all costs. Getting a false diagnosis, whether positive or negative, is bad enough. However, some of these tests involve eating the allergen itself and that can precipitate a reaction. As the page says, in bold face type:

None of these tests is recommended for the diagnosis of food allergies, and those that involve the ingestion or injection of allergens may increase the risk of a reaction.

The other tests they warn you about are:
Body Chemical Analysis
This type of test analyzes a sample of your hair, body fluids, or tissue to diagnose a mineral deficiency or confirm the presence of toxic substances. Either of these supposedly leads to food allergies or other diseases. Again, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

Cytotoxic Testing
In this test, the white blood cells are extracted from a sample of your blood. Then, samples of the white blood cells are applied to slides that contain dried extracts of suspect foods. A technician views the slides under a microscope and analyzes them for changes that supposedly indicate whether you are allergic to any of those foods. AAAAI has concluded that there is no scientific basis for this test.

ELISA/ACT
A sample of your blood is drawn and cultures of the white blood cells are analyzed for their reactions to up to 300 food allergens or other substances. Studies have shown that this test is not effective in diagnosing food or other allergies. Other questionable diagnostic methods that involve white blood cell analysis are the ALCAT and NuTron tests.

Electrodermal Diagnosis
This test uses a galvanometer (an instrument that detects and measures electric currents) to gauge your body’s resistance when you come in contact with a suspect food. Increased resistance to the electric current is supposed to indicate that you are allergic to the food being tested.

Provocation and Neutralization
These tests involve injecting a solution containing a suspect food under your skin or administering it sublingually (as drops under your tongue). Increasing amounts are given in an effort to provoke a reaction. When symptoms appear, you are given increasingly weaker doses of the solution until your symptoms disappear. The last and weakest dose, which supposedly eliminates your symptoms, is called the “neutralizing dose.” This solution may then be provided as a treatment for your food allergy. Provocation tests are not only ineffective, but increase the risk of an allergic reaction. There is no scientific proof that neutralization can prevent or control a reaction.

Pulse Testing
This test is based on the notion that, if you are allergic to a particular food, your pulse (the rate of your heartbeat) will go up after you eat that food. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

What's really scary is that each time I've written about NAET, about as pure quackery as exists in fake medicine today, somebody always comments approvingly.

If you have questions about these or other possibly questionable allergy tests, contact the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).

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