I wrote this post a few months ago in Ubud but never got round to publishing it. It, and its conclusion next week, will be the last of the “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it” series, at least for the time being.
My trip to the applied kinesiologist inspired a rage inside that surprised me. I felt furious, and I couldn’t say for sure why. Was it because he gave me a diagnosis I didn’t want to hear? Or was it because I was mad at him for giving me a prescription based on something so seemingly ludicrous?
If I knew for sure that applied kinesiology (AK) was a quack job then the latter would be easy to go with, but I don’t know that so I’m left with a lingering “what if?”. What if there is something to what he said?
What is applied kinesiology?
Applied kinesiology (different to simple kinesiology, which studies human movement) is based on the idea that every organ dysfunction is related to a weakness in its corresponding muscle. AK practitioners use this basis to diagnose and treat illness. As with nearly everything I’ve tried so far, some people swear by it, and others think it absurd. According to some studies, its accuracy is no better than guesswork and different practitioners often report different diagnoses.
I chose a kinesiologist who had a background as a chiropractor, which meant a certain level of medical knowledge in the western tradition. He came with high praise and although my research had done little to inspire hope, I was curious enough to try.
When I arrived, he asked for my medical history and what I wanted to work on. My main health issues are that I tend to pick up colds easy, my stomach is really sensitive and I get tired more easily than seems reasonable. He immediately said it was likely I had had food allergies and that he could test me for them that day. Great, I thought. I’ve always wondered if I’m intolerant/allergic to something, so to know for sure would be golden information. The problem lay in knowing “for sure”.
When the therapist got round to testing my systems, he was surprised by my muscle responses. He had expected a weak digestive system, but the only things that tested weak were my adrenals. I saw this as good news, but he said that because of my symptoms, it was possible that my adrenals were simply in overdrive, overriding the responses from my other systems. His theory was that this could be due to some severe food allergies that had been stressing my system for years. He predicted that if I eliminated the foods that were causing the allergies, the adrenals would relax and other symptoms like stomach cramps may kick in for a time before dissipating completely.
It was around about then that my anger and annoyance started to rise. What he was telling me sounded pretty serious, speaking of extreme stress on my physiology. It made me sound much sicker than I thought I was. He also said he’d never seen a case like mine before, so I knew all of this was conjecture. I could see the story forming in his head and, while based on experience, it also seemed like a dangerous tale to tell. If I was a hypochondriac, or simply more gullible, it would be the perfect hook to attach to. Plus all of this had been garnered from simply pushing against my limbs in various ways while I tried to resist.
Even without hypochondria, the story still affected me. Despite finding the methods hard to fathom, I couldn’t completely rule out the chance he may be right. I’ve had suspected IBS for years. My doctors at home put it down to stress and possible food intolerances. I’ve ruled out more serious conditions and been tested negative for coeliac disease, but I’ve never definitively worked out what causes my symptoms.
When it came to the allergy testing, the method seemed even more flimsy. I held up my arm while the therapist silently read down a list of foods while testing the resistance of my arm to each one. I’d read about allergy testing by AK and had expected to hold each allergen as I was tested, but he deemed that unnecessary. It was over in less than five minutes. Had I been resisting enough? Was my arm getting more tired as the process went on? My mind was alive with possible errors, and those doubts got louder when I heard the results. I even made him test me again.
And the results…
According to the therapist, I am intolerant to gluten, dairy and jack fruit. To make it worse, gluten, in his book but seemingly not the rest of the world’s, also includes brown and white rice. Items such as coffee, eggs and almonds, which I have reacted to in the past showed up negative. I was free to eat them as much as I liked. I had annoyingly mentioned my allergy to jackfruit before the testing so was unable to use it as a test (he tested me positive for it).
The idea that I was intolerant to gluten was surprising as I knew I wasn’t coeliac. He said that one didn’t equal the other, and when I thought about my suspected intolerance to eggs, I realized it may have been the toast or butter I was reacting to. His ideas weren’t easily written off. The only way to know for sure is to experiment.
As I’m already two-weeks into a six-week Ayurvedic diet, this isn’t a huge hardship. It just means adding rice and oats to my current list of restrictions. I’m happy to do it as once done, I can slowly re-introduce the foods and hopefully know once and for all my reactions.
However, even if I do turn out to be intolerant to gluten and dairy, I’m reluctant to believe that the muscle testing revealed it. They are two of the most common food allergies so it could have been a lucky guess / his own pre-conceptions influencing his reading. I know for sure he wasn’t 100 per cent accurate as he missed almonds, which I react to in the same way as jack fruit
The basic premise of applied kinesiology is something I struggle to remain open-minded about. I don’t know enough about physiology to cast aspersions on the basic theory, but even if the relationship between muscles and organs is valid, I am unsure that testing their strength yields reliable results. Moreover, I am skeptical of the accuracy of therapists’ diagnoses and their ability to separate their own expectations/influence from their reading. There may be something in it, but I’ve, as yet, no reason to believe it, and plenty to question it.
Next week, I’m going to see a naturopath who also uses AK to diagnose allergies. I’ll let you know how it goes.
How about you? Have you tried applied kinesiology? What did you think? Good/bad results? I’d love to know.
This is part of the Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it series. While in Ubud, I tried more than 20 different therapies – mental. physical and spiritual – from acupuncture to holographic kinetics and sound healing. Next week, I’ll publish an up-to-date summary of the series, where I’m at now, and what I plan to do with the rest of the stories.
As I’m not going to be writing up all my experiences on the blog straight away, I’ll let you know that when the naturopath used AK to test my allergies, I showed up allergic to even more things, including red wine (not white wine), white sugar, coffee and eggs, as well as dairy and gluten. She, however, said rice was okay. I tested fine for jack fruit but allergic to almonds. As you can see, the results were not consistent.