Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Attention Edina, MN: Potential Scam Warning

Personally, I run the other way while holding tight to my wallet when I hear the words Holistic Health Fair.

But the one to be held in Edina, MN on June 2 sends chills down my spine.

According to their press release:

Wilson Chiropractic Center, in business for 43 years, offers family healthcare and specializes in allergy elimination. Using a method called Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique, or NAET, the doctors at Wilson Chiropractic Center are able to treat chronic allergic reactions, including severe environmental allergies and peanut allergies, even lactose intolerance and pet allergies. Allergic reactions occur when our immune systems are exposed to allergens and then become over-reactive to them. "We utilize chiropractic care and a form of acupuncture to -- in essence -- rewire the nervous system so that the immune system can properly handle allergens the way it was meant to," Dr. Burke said. "It's important to understand that antihistamines and other allergy medications just suppress the symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause of the reaction." He added that antihistamines can also lead to digestive problems and other serious side effects.

If that paragraph wasn't enough warning that standard medical science is on holiday, perhaps an earlier post of mine will shake some sense into you: Beware Allergy Scam - Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET).

In it I quoted from Quackwatch:
NAET is a bizarre system of diagnosis and treatment based on the notion that allergies are caused by "energy blockage" that can be diagnosed with muscle-testing and permanently cured with acupressure and/or acupuncture treatments. Its developer, Devi S. Nambudripad, DC, LAc, RN, PhD, is described on her Web site as an acupuncturist, chiropractor, kinesiologist, and registered nurse who practices in Buena Park, California. [my note: since this was written she also claims an M.D. from an Antigua diploma mill]


The Bottom Line
NAET clashes with the concepts of anatomy, physiology, pathology, physics, and allergy accepted by the scientific community. The story of its "discovery" is highly implausible. Its core diagnostic approach -- muscle testing for "allergies" -- is senseless and is virtually certain to diagnose nonexistent problems. Its recommendations for dietary restrictions based on nonexistent food allergies are likely to place the patient at great risk for nutrient deficiency, and, in the case of children, at risk for social problems and the development of eating disorders. I believe that practitioners who use NAET have such poor judgment that they should not be permitted to remain licensed. If you encounter a practitioner who relies on the strategies described in this article, please ask the state attorney general to investigate.

Not even other chiropractors are willing to put their faith in this "technique."

I found the following on the website of American Specialty Health, which bills itself as:
The nation’s leading provider of:
Chiropractic • Acupuncture • Naturopathy
Dietetics • Fitness Clubs • Personal Trainers
Massage Therapy • Vitamins and Minerals
Tobacco Cessation • Weight Management

Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) is considered to be scientifically implausible, does not meet professionally accepted standards, and lacks research and literature for efficacy and/or utility. Use of this technique/procedure shall be cause for failure to meet ASHA criteria for network participation.

A belief, theory, or mechanism of health and disease is said to be implausible if it requires the existence of forces, mechanisms, or biological processes that are not known to exist within the existing framework of scientific knowledge.


Evidence and Research:
Based on the review conducted, ASHA is unaware of any published studies on the efficacy of this specific treatment.

Non-specific harm (labeling). Harm caused to a patient by the transmittal of false or misleading information that may cause emotional harm, a false sense of security, a false sense of vulnerability, dependency, or otherwise create in the patient a set of beliefs about their health that is manifestly untrue.

Indirect harm (substitution). Harm caused to a patient by substituting a specific diagnostic or therapeutic procedure whose safety, therapeutic effectiveness, or diagnostic utility is either unknown or is known to be unsafe, ineffective, of no diagnostic utility, for a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure of known safety, effectiveness, or diagnostic utility.

Don't put your allergies - or, heaven forfend, your children's allergies! - into the care of those who invent their own worlds of medicine.

UPDATE: December 2008
ASHA has changed its link and the document contained in that link. They have sanitized the language used. It now reads:

ASHA clinical committees have determined that Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET®) is not established as clinically effective, is not professionally recognized, poses a health and safety risk through Substitution Harm and Labeling Effects, and is considered to be scientifically implausible. ...

Evidence and Research:
Based on the review conducted, ASHA is unaware of any published studies on the efficacy of this specific treatment.

Here's a scientific view from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA): Unorthodox Techniques for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergy, Asthma and Immune Disorders:
Allergy elimination techniques (also known as advanced allergy elimination and Nambudripad's allergy elimination in some countries)
Use: Treatment of food, inhalant and chemical sensitivity / allergy.

Method: This treatment is based on the concept that “allergen” is perceived by the brain as a threat to the body’s well being. Exposure to allergen disrupts the flow of nervous energies from the brain to the body via “meridians”, resulting in symptoms. The technique seeks to “re-programme” the brain by applying acupressure applied to both sides of the spinal column (where energy flowing along meridians intersects with nerve roots) while the patient is in direct contact or close proximity to purported allergen.

Evidence: No evidence

Comment: This technique combines concepts of kinesiology, reflexology, acupuncture and radionics. Proponents claim to be able to cure almost any allergy or sensitivity. This approach lacks scientific rationale or published evidence of efficacy. It is also a potentially dangerous technique if used for to treat dangerous food, drug or venom allergy. The only proven “allergy elimination” techniques are those of conventional injectable (add WEB LINK) and sublingual/oral immunotherapy (add WEB LINK) for treatment of allergic respiratory disease and stinging insect allergy. At this point in time, proven standardised methods for curing food allergy have not been established, but research is ongoing.

And on another site I find this:
Others in the medical community state it has placebo effects at best. A recent review: Teuber, Suzanne S.; Porch-Curren, Cristina (2003). "Unproved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to food allergy and intolerance." Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 3 (3): 217–221.  concludes that “there have been no studies supporting the use of these techniques, and several have refuted their utility. A beneficial placebo effect may be responsible for the perceived clinical effectiveness in many cases of food intolerance.” There is a distinct lack of studies of NAET, another review of complementary allergy tests: Morris, A. (2006). "COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE ALLERGY TESTS". Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology 19 (1).  goes so far as to state that "NAET has to be the most unsubstantiated allergy treatment proposed to date."
The most unsubstantiated allergy treatment proposed to date. Consider that the next time somebody proposes anecdotal evidence in its favor.

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Anonymous said...

Acupuncture itself has also been considered scientifically implausible in the West for a period of time, yet it works for millions of people and animals around the world, including people in the US. I mention animals because it takes the "placebo affect" theory out of it. NAET uses acupuncture as it's foundation. The fact that acupuncture works is not under contest any more in the scientific world. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate it's effectiveness. The question has become "why does it work?". There is currently research going on to help explain in Western terms and scientific models how it works. Anyone who is interested in allergy elimination should consider NAET as an option. It doesn't work for everyone, but nothing out there in Western medicine or alternative medicine works 100% of the time in 100% of the cases. Acupuncture often has higher success rates then many of the Western alternatives. Don't let ignorance or fear make your decisions for you. In all cases, do research before you decide on a practitioner or a therapy so that you know you are getting a qualified person practicing something they are trained in.

Steve Carper said...

I'm certainly not going to object to anyone saying that they should do research first. It's one of my tenets.

However, I'm pretty sure that if people do research on NAET they'll run screaming from it. Better before than after.

I do have to point out that whatever one thinks of acupuncture, the fact that another treatment uses it as its foundation means exactly nothing. The world is filled with junk pseudoscience and medical quackery that uses more legitimate notions as a foundation and then takes them into cloud-coocooland.

NAET is, in my opinion, quackery based on nothingness. I've added more opinions from the scientific literature to the post, part of my contribution to researching the subject.

My advice to everyone is to ignore NAET, unless somebody actually is so unwise as to propose using it.