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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don't Get Fooled by Quack Allergy Test

If parents have been thoroughly scared by the constant drumbeat of talk about allergies during Food Allergy Awareness Week, ending today, they might be willing to go to any lengths to help diagnose their childrens' possible allergies.

Some of you parents may want to try the Imupro allergy blood test. Louise Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald listed what the makers claim are the wonders of the test:

People with unexplained bloating, bowel upsets, hives, lethargy and skin problems can take a new blood test that detects intolerance to 272 foods. ...

The importers of the German-designed Imupro test said it was so accurate it could test for sensitivity to individual types of fish, rather than seafood as a whole, and could also differentiate between different types of milk and vegetables.

Managing director Kevin Grundy said tests available in Australia examined whole food groups, such as dairy or wheat, and a positive result meant sufferers had to cut out the whole group.

"But if you like cheese you may only be intolerant to one type and the rest are still on the menu."

Sounds great, right?

Fortunately, Hall also tells us that:
allergy specialists said the $1000 test was "no more useful than reading tea leaves".

True allergy symptoms are caused by the immune system creating what are called IgE antibodies. These symptoms vary from a mild rash to anaphylactic shock.

There are other groups of antibodies, however, and they can also create symptoms. These reactions are sometimes called food intolerances or hypersensitivities. See my Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Allergy page on my website.

The Imupro test doesn't look for IgE sensitivity, which is the goal of most authentic allergy tests. It just looks for Type III IgG antibodies.

Does this do any good? Of course the Imupro websites have "case studies" and testimonies about how wonderful their test is. Here's the Australian site that's mentioned in Hall's article. There's a less thorough U.S. site. There is even an English-language version of the original German company's website.

None of the sites give any medical or scientific references to the use of their product or the use of IgG antibody detection in determining reactions to specific foods, just generalities about allergies. I can't figure out any way this can possibly work and they certainly are providing no assistance.

The scientists Hall quotes say the same thing.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital immunopathologist Roger Garsia said there was no credible evidence that measuring IgG antibodies was useful for diagnosing food allergy or intolerance because these antibodies were common in healthy adults and children.

He said the tests could lead to inappropriate and unnecessary dietary restrictions.

"They shouldn't be purporting to be a reliable diagnostic test and there is a real risk of deciding to unnecessarily restrict food intake on the basis of these tests," he said.

Raymond Mullins, of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, said measuring IgG levels was one of many unorthodox ways of diagnosing and treating food intolerance.

He said while studies had shown alternative tests were "no more useful than reading tea leaves", 50-70 per cent of patients with allergic disease consulted unorthodox practitioners.

In other words, desperate parents frequently turn to quacks for help. Please be smarter than that. While diagnosing allergies and hypersensitivities is often a long and difficult task, none of the alternative therapies are worth anything at all, less alone hundreds or thousands of dollars for useless tests.

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Anonymous said...

Steve, this is a honestly useless article. Apart from the rant on 'useless' tests you should have also read the part of the same article that mentions how there was a lady who es child had seen 'dramatic' improvements by under going the test. Also there seems to be a number of people who are claiming that this test really helped them across number of msg boards. I think results speak for themselves. I have no interest in promoting imupro but I don't think this is a well thought out article.

Anonymous said...

I had migraines for 45 years. Dr.s were of no help except for medicine,( pain killers). I was tested an went on the diet avoiding the foods identified and by Imupro, no more migraines. I can not tell you what a change this was in my life. My outlook on life improved and over all disposition and personality. I had been having numerous aches and pains and morning back aches, they disappeared in about 3 days. I lived it, it works. Yes, it was a big leap of faith to do business with accompany around the world thru the internet but it worked. I have not asked for a renewed prescription to Maxalt or Immutrex for Migraines because I don't need it.

Anonymous said...

I ordered this test for my daughter and it came back she has no allergies or intolerances and yet she has severe anaphylactic allergies to certain foods that came back negative!!

Very disappointed and waste of money

Unknown said...

To Quote from the article and what Dr Roger Garsia said
He said the tests could lead to inappropriate and unnecessary dietary restrictions.
"They shouldn't be purporting to be a reliable diagnostic test and there is a real risk of deciding to unnecessarily restrict food intake on the basis of these tests," he said.

This does not mean that the tests do not have value, just that there may be some false positives, Which is a common failing of many tests in medicine and science (even a pregnancy test can have false positives). I have not yet taken the Imupro test, but I am yet to be convinced by the professionals in the industry and the medias attempts to discredit it. However as a scientists I would love for someone to give a valid reason as to the tests failings, it would save me a bit of money.
For now though I plan to take the test, as I am yet to meet a medical professional who has a decent opinion on how to properly diagnose me. Symptomes: lifelong set of symptomes that fluctuate from mild to unpleasant including stomach upset, bloating gasy, low energy tired, puffy eyes swollen and white tongue, puffy eyes and skin rashes. more recently sore joints and tight muscles, back problems including sciatica and I am only in my early 30s with a healthy diet and physically fit.