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Introduction to NAET and Applied Kinesiology
by Gary F. Zeolla
Note: Be sure to read the Update" at the end of this article, or you will get the wrong impression of the writer's final attitude towards NAET.
I have had allergies dating back to at least high school. Initially they seemed to be limited to hay fever related items. But over time, the number of allergies grew to the point where I seemed to be reacting to just about everything, both foods and environmental items. And these allergies led to the symptoms of fibromyalgia and stiff person syndrome.
But NAET allergy treatments helped me to deal with my allergies and to greatly lessen the symptoms of the health problems they were causing. For these treatments, I went to two different doctors. First I went to Dr. James Winer (Dr. Winer’s Pain Release Clinic), then for the bulk of my treatments I went to Dr. Julie Caryl (2020 Ardmore Blvd., Suite 202 ~ Pittsburgh, PA 15221 ~ (412) 273-3600).
This article will provide details on this alternative method to treating allergies and the health problems they can cause. It will also discuss Applied Kinesiology, the testing method used by NAET practitioners.
Basics of NAET Treatments
NAET stands for “Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques.” The first word refers to the doctor who “invented” NAET in the 1980s: Dr. Devi Nambudripad. Given the difficulty of her last name, most people refer to her as “Dr. Devi.”
Basically, NAET is a combination of chiropractic and acupuncture theories. In the chapter on NAET in her book Allergy Relief, Dr. Sylvia Goldfarb provides details in this regard.
Dr. Goldfarb describes the basic theory behind NAET:
The premise of NAET is that everything, including human beings, consists of energy. Allergies are caused by energy blockages in the body, which occur when the body comes in contact with an allergen and the body’s energy field clashes with that of the allergen. The brain identifies the allergen as a clashing energy field and alerts the immune system, which responds with antibodies…
To understand the theory behind NAET, look upon the body as an energy system that consists of electromagnetic pathways connected to organs and cells. When you encounter something you’re allergic to, the result can be blockages in these pathways (p. 108).
I know this sounds strange to many. And the NAET method for testing and treating for allergies will probably sound even stranger.
Goldfarb describes the testing method:
Generally, the test is performed using the arm. While lying down, you will be asked to extend your arm at a 90-degree angle, palm facing outward. The practitioner will try to establish your strength by pushing the extended arm toward your foot while you resist. Then while you hold the food or other substance being tested in your other hand, the practitioner will push the extended arm again to see if the muscle has become weakened. If your arm is weakened and the practitioner can push it, the chances are great that you are allergic to the substance you are holding. If your arm remains strong, you are most likely not allergic to the substance (p.110).
Again, I know this sounds strange, but the idea is the energy of the substance is clashing with the person’s energy and thus causes the muscle to weaken.
This type of testing is known as “muscle response testing” or “Applied Kinesiology.” It can also be used for other purposes, such as diagnostic testing. In fact, Dr. Winer uses this testing method almost exclusively. Basically, the practitioner will ask a question, such as, “Is the patient suffering from an infection?” If the arm tests strong it is a “no” answer, and if it tests weak it is a “yes” answer.
The treatment for allergies then consists of having the patient hold the substance to be treated for. The practitioner then stimulates points along the spine four times. The practitioner will then stimulate several trigger points in the arms and legs. And that’s it. The arm will be tested again, and it should be “strong” now.
But that’s the easy part; the difficult part is that the person must completely avoid the substance being treated for over the next 25 hours. It takes this long for the energy changes to be made to the body. If a food is being treated for, it cannot be eaten, smelled, or touched for the avoidance period. If the person comes in contact with it, then the treatment will probably have to be repeated. But once the avoidance period is over, there should be permanent elimination of the allergy to the substance. However, serious allergens sometimes require two or more treatments, and sometimes it can take weeks or even months after the treatment for the allergy to fully clear.
One final point that should be mentioned is that Dr. Devi uses the term “allergy” in a rather broad sense. She is not just referring to “classic” allergies that involve a misdirected immune response; she uses the term to refer to anything that someone is abnormally reactive or sensitive to. But whatever the exact mechanism of the reaction, the abnormal reaction can be treated with NAET.
Is it Christian?
I know the theory behind NAET sounds strange to many. And many Christians get uncomfortable with talk about “energy fields” in the body. They associate it with the Chinese concept of “Chi,” and believe it is something mystical and ungodly. And I am sure you could explain NAET in mystical terms.
However, the above quote about NAET from Goldfarb mentions electromagnetism. There is nothing mystical about this. It is well know that computer monitors and other electrical appliances generate electromagnetic fields (EMFs). And there is much debate about the health implications of these fields. But the body is also an electrical system and would generate its own electromagnetic field.
And as far as I understand it, whether electrical or not, all substances would generate some kind of EM field. The earth, of course, has a magnetic north pole. And this is due to the magnetic field that the earth generates. Its field is so strong because the earth is so large. But all objects would generate some similar kind of electromagnetic field as well. And each element would emit a unique EMF. And what is being said here that if someone is allergic to say chocolate, then the particular EMF of chocolate clashes with the EMF of that particular person.
The treatment then is a way to slightly alter the EMF of the person so that it no longer clashes with the EMF of the substance being treated for.
Dr Devi figured out this connection when she first “discovered” NAET. She relates the story in her book Say Goodbye to Illness. She states that she had been allergic to just about all foods, including carrots. But one day she ate a carrot nevertheless. She predictably suffered ill effects from doing so. But without realizing it, a piece of a carrot had gotten stuck in her hair. She then had an acupuncture treatment done while the carrot was still in her hair. And after that, she was no longer allergic to carrots (pp 136-137).
Dr. Devi relates what she figured had happened:
During that semester I was attending a class in electromagnetic field and acupuncture at the Acupuncture College. This helped me to understand the connection between the electromagnetic force of my body and the carrot. In class we were taught that every object on earth, whether living or non-living, possesses a surrounding electromagnetic energy field. Earth has its own energy field. Every object is attracted to Earth. Every object is also attracted to one another. All of these different energies can attract or repel depending upon their energy differences.
I tested the carrot for allergy and determined I was not allergic to it. I sensed that during the treatment, something strange had happened. …My energy and the carrot’s energy were repelling prior to the acupuncture treatment. After the treatment, their energies became similar-no more repulsion!
The repulsive energy between my body and the carrot was presented as an allergy in me. During the acupuncture treatment, my body probably became a powerful charger and was strong enough to change the adverse charge of the carrot to match with my body’s charge. This resulted in removing the allergy to the carrot (Say Goodbye, pp.XXII-XXIII).
As for the asking of questions, how this is explained would depend on one’s view of the nature of the human psyche. This is an area of great debate, but I do believe that the Christian worldview can explain it well, probably better than an atheistic viewpoint.
In the Christian worldview the mind/ soul/ spirit is not to be equated with the brain or body. The mind/ soul/ spirit is distinct from the brain/ body. When a question is asked, the mind is asking the brain the question. The brain knows what is happening in the body. It knows if the body is infected with bacteria for instance. So when the mind asks the brain a question, the brain causes the body to respond in a way so as to reveal what is happening in the body.
Moreover, before declaring NAET “unchristian” it must be asked if the traditional allergy treatments of drugs and shots are “Christian.” For that matter, is the taking of drugs in general Christian?
Drugs are very unnatural substances, created by human beings not God. And when put into the body they can have numerous unwanted “side effects,” which is a nice euphemism for “create new health problems.”
Now some will say that drugs “work,” and that is why they should be used. But it should be noted that drugs generally do not actually cure the underlying problem. They usually just suppress the symptoms. And with the underlying cause not cured, then new symptoms can eventually develop. Moreover, drugs might very well “work” at creating new health problems.
Personally, rather than suppressing symptoms through unnatural substances that can created new health problems, I think it is more “Christian” to find the underlying cause of a health problem and to actually treat that. And if a natural, non-drug method can be used to do so, one which does not create new health problems, then I would say that is much more Christian than drug therapy.
Please note, I am not saying that drugs do not have a place. But in my mind, they should be a last resort, not the first treatment of choice. But NAET is a good first choice for dealing with allergies. That said, there are additional factors of NAET that are worth exploring.
The NAET Guide Book and the Avoidance Period
The NAET Guide Book by Dr. Devi is a necessary book for anyone undergoing NAET treatments. The first third of the book provides background information about NAET along with information a person needs to know who is undergoing NAET treatments.
For instance, the book states that you should not exercise or take a shower for the first six hours after a treatment. The reason you’re not supposed to do so is that even through the treatments seem “easy,” there are actually many changes going in the body, and these take energy to occur. And overexertion could cause the treatment to be lost.
Basically, you should try to avoid being overly stimulated during the first six hours, and even taking a hot shower might be too stimulating for some. And overly strong emotions could also cause a treatment to be lost.
The second two-thirds of the book begins with a list 79 foods and nutrients that can be treated with NAET, starting with the 12 “basics.” These include treatments for some of the most commonly eaten foods and the most important nutrients. Most of these are “mixes” containing a variety of related foods and nutrients in each mix.
Yes, in NAET theory one can be allergic to common and necessary nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. And being allergic to one or more of these can have serious health implications. Since most nutrients are widespread in foods, being allergic to one or more of them would mean one would be reactive to a wide range of foods. This would also mean there would be very few foods one could eat during the 25 hour avoidance period.
Moreover, NAET theory states that if one is allergic to a nutrient or a food that contains it, then one’s body is not able to properly absorb and utilize that nutrient. As a result, even with adequate intake one could end up deficient in that nutrient. And a deficiency in any necessary nutrient can have serious health consequences. So the NAET practice is to first treat the allergy to the nutrient then to recommend eating a healthy diet and supplementing with that nutrient to build back up ones levels of the nutrient.
In my case, I ended up being allergic to quite a few nutrients, so I am now taking several supplements, mostly Twinlab products.
That said, after the foods, The NAET Guide Book gives a list of environmental items that can be treated for. Then the bulk of the book gives information on what needs to be avoided for each treatment for the 25 hours after being treated for an item or combination of items.
As indicated, when you are treated for a substance with NAET, you need to completely avoid that substance for the next 25 hours. And this is where the difficulty of the avoidance period comes in. When you are treated for say vitamin C, you cannot eat anything that contains vitamin C. So you would need to avoid basically all fruits and vegetables, their juices, anything fortified with vitamin C, vitamin C supplements, and even milk since it contains a small amount of vitamin C.
But vitamin C is not the worst. That comes with the B vitamins. All of the B vitamins and related compounds like inositol and PABA are treated together. And given how widespread these nutrients are, there are very few foods one can eat during the avoidance period.
But avoiding some non-food items for 25 hours could be even more difficult. When treated for say plastic you cannot touch anything made of plastic for 25 hours. And you really don’t realize how many things are made of plastic in your life until you try to avoid touching it!
However, making things somewhat easier is the Guide Book does mention an “emergency treatment” that could be done if one does come in contact with the substance that is to be avoided. The treatment is very simple and actually sounds a little silly. You just tap the area in-between your mouth and nose for 20-30 seconds and then rub your hands together for the same length of time. In some way this disperses the energy of the avoidance item and keeps the treatment from being lost.
Also, although the average time for the avoidance period is 25 hours, this is just that, an average. The avoidance time is not always 25 hours. It can actually be shorter or longer depending on the severity of an allergy. The more severe the allergy the longer the avoidance time would be. The length of the avoidance time is determined by the aforementioned muscle response testing. This is done by narrowing down the time by asking “yes and no” questions.
The practitioner starts by asking if the avoidance time is 25 hours, if the answer is yes, then that’s it. If its not, then the practitioner asks if it is less than 25 hours, more than 25 hours, etc. until the exact time is narrowed down.
But however long the avoidance time is, it can be difficult to avoid all that is necessary. And in regards to foods, the Guide Book does not give a complete list of foods that are “safe” to eat and ones that need to be avoided. But a book giving the nutrient contents of foods can help greatly in this regard. The best such book I have come across is Food Values of Portions Commonly Used by Jean Pennington. This book is pricey, but I would highly recommend it to anyone undergoing NAET.
Other Difficulties with NAET
Along with the rigors of the avoidance period, a couple of other things make NAET a difficult treatment procedure. First, it is time-consuming. Allergies need to be treated one at a time, although in most cases, several different related allergens can be grouped together for one treatment. But even with that, if someone has a lot of allergies, then quite a number of treatments might be required. The average for those with serious health problems is about 30-40 treatments, but in my case, it took a total of 84 treatments.
The second difficulty is that NAET is generally not covered by insurance. So it can get expensive to go through the full course of treatments.
Third, although most people experience little or no side effects from the treatments, some people do. But unlike the ongoing side effects of drugs, in the case of NAET these side effects are usually limited to during the avoidance period. However, in some cases one might have a “healing crisis” some time after treatments are compiled. Exactly what side effects one might experience will depend on what ones symptoms are. In some cases, one might experience an exacerbation of one’s symptoms before they lessen.
And finally, NAET most definitely is not a “just go to the doctor and let him do everything” type of treatment. In addition to the treatments themselves, to see full resolution of ones health problems could require various lifestyle changes. Foremost among these might be a change in diet. As the author of the book Creationist Diet, I believe it is important for anyone to follow a healthy diet, but it is even more important for those with serious health problems.
But does it work?
With all these difficulties, is NAET worth it? Does it really work? I can say without a doubt that it does work and that it is worth it. At one point I seemed allergic to just about everything, but NAET enabled me to overcome these allergies. Most obviously was the difference in regards to foods.
My food allergies had become so severe and so numerous that it was to the point where I could barely eat anything. I would even react to just the smell of many foods. Most especially problematic were chicken, eggs, beef, dairy, fish, nuts, peanuts, wheat, oats, spices, soy, green beans, popcorn, and chocolate. But after treatments for these foods I can now eat them without any problems.
And the difference in my health in general has been nothing short of miraculous. Fibromyalgia and Stiff Person Syndrome are both very serious health problems. But NAET, along with various lifestyle changes, greatly lessened the symptoms of both of them. For a discussion of my experiences in undergoing NAET treatments, see my multi-part stiff person syndrome article.
Although it seemed like the NAET treatments had worked initially when I finished them in the spring of 2002, very soon after I finished with the treatments, my health began to get worse. Most especially, my allergies began to come roaring back. Over the next few years, I gradually began to react to just about everything in my environment and many foods. I now feel like I am allergic to just about everything. As a result, I have been forced to live a basically isolated life, with rarely being able to leave my home. But even in my own home I am always coming into contact with things that bother me. And my fatigue has worsened over the years, so that now I can barely function. I barely have the energy to write even this short update.
But the strange part is, going to traditional allergists, blood and skin scratch testing says I have no allergies. So there is nothing they can do for me. All I can figure it the NAET treatments altered my immune system so that I am not testing as being allergic to anything, but I still feel like I am. And when I am in an allergenic state, which I almost always am, I feel just plain terrible. I don't only get the "normal" allergenic reactions of nasal congestion and the like, but I feel "contaminated" like I am covered by dust, sweat, and dirt. And this leads to my other health problems all worsening, especially sleep disturbances.
So basically, my life is now a nightmare, with nowhere to turn. I am only 51 at this writing but feel like I am 80. The only thing that keeps me going is my in God. Bottom line is I retract any recommendations I give for NAET treatments. But I am leaving my articles on NAET on this site just for those who are interested in them. But I wouldn't recommend it. For further details, see Dangers of Applied Kinesiology and NAET.
Godlfarb, Sylvia PhD. Allergy Relief. New York: Avery, 2000.
Nambudripad, Devi, M.D.The NAET Guide Book. Buena Park, CA: Delta Publishers, 2001.
Say Goodbye to Illness. Buena Park, CA: Delta Publishers, 1999.
Pennington. Jean. Food Values of Portions Commonly Used. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins, 1998.
Introduction to NAET and Applied Kinesiology. Copyright © 2002 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 September 21, 2002.
The Update was posted August 15, 2012.
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