NAET-A cure for allergies (NOT!)

I have mentioned Dr. Deva Khalsa before, hawking magic water, making unsubstantiated claims about the health value of garlic, and so on. However, I recently ran across an article written by her in the pseudo-journal Integrative Veterinary Care (IVC) which surpasses anything I’ve seen from her before. I would be tempted to put this post in the “Humor” category if it weren’t for the real risk that such nonsense can pose to veterinary patients when their owners believe it.

Khalsa, D. NAET- A cure for the allergy epidemic. Integrative Veterinary Care. 2015;5(4);42-45.

She begins by blaming allergies, which are, of course, a real and serious health problem, on all the usual bogeymen of alternative vets, “over-vaccination, GMO foods, and environmental chemicals and toxins.” This is the sort of claim so deeply rooted in the faith of alternative medicine that it seems self-evident, so naturally no evidence is provided. As it happens, there isn’t any good evidence to support these claims, which are at best unproven hypotheses. If these notions actually turn out to have some validity at some point, of course, it still won’t have anything to do with the dramatic claim that forms the centerpiece of Dr. Khalsa’s article; that allergies can be cured by the simple methods she describes. It seems odd that such simple and effective therapies exist and yet allergies, unlike infectious diseases for which there are simple and effective vaccinations, don’t seem to be going away….

The method she discusses is called NAET- Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique, after the acupuncturist and chiropractor whom made it up, “while searching for solutions to her lifelong allergies, and surviving on the two foods she could safely eat-white rice and broccoli.” NAET is claimed to “reprogram” the immune system to not respond inappropriately to allergens, thus curing the allergy.

The origin myth for this practice is itself both hysterical and reason to doubt the miraculous claims made for it:

One day, after eating a carrot (a known antigen for [Dr. Nambudripad]), she developed an immediate and severe allergic reaction. She quickly needled some of her own acupuncture points, but passed out while still holding onto the carrot. Upon awakening, she reported a great feeling of peace, and discovered she was no longer allergic to carrots.

Somehow, this bizarre epiphany led to a revolutionary method of curing allergies. Once again, we are taught that despite the dramatic and unprecedented improvements in health and longevity that followed the advent of the scientific method, we apparently could achieve greater success if we eschewed scientific research and relied on individual intuition and random revelations of this sort.

The first step in employing the NAET cure is to identify the allergy triggers through applied kinesiology, a form of diagnostic quackery often favored by chiropractors. In humans, this usually involves some variation of asking a patient to resist downward pressure on an extended arm with and without the nearby presence of a suspected allergen. Supposedly, the patient becomes detectably weaker in the mere presence of the offending substance. This, of course, is voodoo which ignores the complex and well-established physiology of allergies, and it is ultimately a kind of “energy medicine” or faith healing practice.

In veterinary medicine, applied kinesiology becomes one step more ridiculous. Since the patient cannot be instructed to resist pressure and fooled into feeling weaker when a potential allergen is nearby, the method often involves bringing the potential allergen near the patient while asking the owner to touch the patient with one hand and resist the pressure on their other arm, acting as a proxy for their pet’s reaction. That anyone with a medical degree could believe that it is possible to diagnose allergies in a dog by waving a jar of wheat over the dog and pushing on their owner’s arm is at once mind boggling and sad.

Once the offending substances are identified, the cure can commence. This simply requires bringing the allergen close to the patient, always held in a glass container, and then applying acupressure to specific points on the back. Even more amazing, this method can be used to cure even life-threatening autoimmune diseases. “As an example, a dog with autoimmune hemolytic anemia can be treated with his own blood in a glass vial.”

It is probably unnecessary to point out that there is no scientific evidence to support the theory or methods of NAET. No controlled research has been conducted on the treatment (nor should it be, since it would be unethical abuse of patients and waste of resources to perform a clinical trial on such voodoo), and numerous groups of allergy treatment specialists warn against the use of applied kinesiology and other bogus allergy diagnostic and treatment methods.

According to Dr. Khalsa, this magical restoration of normal energy flow in the patient, “moves the treatment of allergies out of the world of biology and into the world of physics.” I would be inclined to say instead that this approach moves the treatment of allergies out of the world of medicine and into the world of fantasy.

 

 

 

 

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14 Responses to NAET-A cure for allergies (NOT!)

  1. EL says:

    I’m a vet student and at one of the clinics I did my rotations, there was a practitioner who did this. I was just floored, it was so hard not to laugh. She kept excusing herself by saying, “I know it sounds weird but it really works.” There was a nice combo with homeopathy where some of the ‘allergens’ that were being tested were little vials of water that supposedly contained the ‘essence’ of various allergens. She said that while holding the vial she just had to think of the substance while testing the arm strength of the person holding the dog.

    The consult ended with the client being told that the dog mustn’t come into contact with any of the allergens they had treated that day for the next 24 hours. In order to do this, the “vet” recommended that the dog be left in the car, since it was otherwise impossible for her to avoid both carpet and grass.

  2. skeptvet says:

    So difficult to fathom how anyone can believe this nonsense! Such ignorance not just of science but of why we need science and how unreliable our subjective impressions can be.

  3. v.t. says:

    WT(censored)!

    You’re right, we could all die laughing if it weren’t so terribly tragic.

  4. Beccy Higman says:

    What the hell kind of car was it that didn’t have carpet? Even if the rest of it wasn’t complete junk … which obviously it was.

  5. EL says:

    I think the idea was that the dog’s blankets were in the back of the car (hatchback) and the blankets weren’t one of the things she was “allergic” to.

  6. Art Malernee dvm says:

    I’m a vet student and at one of the clinics I did my rotations, there was a practitioner who did this.>>>
    The practioner will probably next use the fact her clinic did rotation for the vet school to get herself appointed to the state board. Did you at least complain to someone at vet school about what kind of mind they were using to shape your education? I would wait until after the rotation clinic gives you a grade

  7. lorac says:

    Amazing! The ingenuity of quacks and the gullibility of pet owners is just gob-smacking. Unfortunately, one or two of my agility friends are the gullible. There’s nothing that I can say that will put a crack in their belief.

  8. Hayes says:

    NAET does work. My daughter is living proof and also many others are. I am speaking from a human prospective.We tried western medicine for years and all it done was put a band aid on the problem. WE got to the root of the problem and she is now allergy free thanks to NAET. You can call this person a quack but, don’t knock it until you have done your own research.

  9. skeptvet says:

    Unfortunately such stories prove nothing about whether the product “works” or not. As I have pointed out many times, anecdotes like this exist for every therapy ever tried, including things like bloodletting and ritual sacrifice which no one today would recommend. Anecdotes are a test no treatment ever fails. They are inherently misleading, and the unprecedented success of modern science in more than doubling our life expectancy and improving our quality of life tremendously has come about by specifically decreasing our trust in such anecdotes and placing it in controlled research instead. Science works and stories don’t, so the reason to challenge stories like yours is to help people avoid being misled, as we have for thousands of years, by such stories.

    Why We’re Often Wrong
    Testimonials Lie
    The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine
    Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough
    Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)

  10. Amy says:

    Great! Yes it does work …so thankful for such an amazing discovery ..it’s fascinating really ..a woman I met was allergic to shrimp I said I have a cure for that she was defensive said her dad was an allergist …(you know science based medicine ) but then why can’t he cure you ? guess she will never be able to eat shrimp !

  11. Mike says:

    It is certainly laughable…. To those of us with a sufficient amount of common sense & the familiarity with actual biology. HOWEVER. It is also dangerous….. Especially for those pet parents that have a fur baby that is suffering from severe/acute allergies. Those that have tried everything & anything yet have had very little progress & have researched, spent thousands of dollars, leaving them in desperation & their pets still sick & suffering. I’m one of them. My dog is allergic to EVERYTHING under the sun. Everything. Dust, pollens, grasses, food ingredients of every sort, his own dander…..& On & on. You eventually get to a point in where you’ll try anything, anything at all. But the teaching & spreading of this complete & utter nonsense should be criminal, in my humble opinion. It’s malpractice. It’s negligence. It’s INSANITY. It’s like telling a patient to hop on one foot while rubbing their abdomen in a counter clockwise circular motion while they attempt to touch their tongue to the tip of their nose & tell them to expect a full recovery from an auto immune disease….. It’s horrific. “Doctor” Khalsa should be brought up on criminal charges.

  12. Paul says:

    I have a customer that had her chiropractor “diagnose” her dog with this technique. He came up with the dog being allergic ot anything with feathers because of how much her arm was lowered or some nonsense.

    I can’t convince her that 1. It’s crap and 2. Not all animals with feathers are related when it comes to protein sensitivities.

    Then again no one actually wants to do the work of an elimination/challenge diet protocol in order to find out if there is a sensitivity. That’s too hard and too time consuming when some idjit can just tell me by waving a jar over the dog’s head and pushing on an arm.

  13. Lisa Overton says:

    Thank you for this article, I am very glad I stumbled across you. I, like many have an allergic dog who until recently was on a combo of apoquel and pred to manage (successfully) her itching. That is ubtil about 10 weeks ago when on and off she has suffered from intense stomach pain with sickness and finally with heamorragic diarrhoea. She had to come off her meds and our vets played a guessing game of what was wrong with her until we eventually had enough and found a new practice who referred us to a specialist. Because no one really knew what had triggered this new problem, we were advised to try to stay off her meds. I also became manic on internet ‘research’ to the point where i am now afraid about her flea/worm treatment and most of this is down to so-called experts pushing untested and unproven ideas. During these 10 weeks, my poor girl has had every lotion, potion and essential oil, all miricles of course and the only result is that I have discovered that many products, natural included are actually harmful to my dog. Two weeks ago, one week before the specialist, she went back on apoquel because she was so uncomfortable (even her little paw pads had swelled up she was biting so much). She’s now being managed with a combo of apoquel and a steroid spray which isn’t great but she is a lot better. Steroids did mess with her personality and she now has bags more energy not being on it but the only things that have helped are scientifically proven medicines. we don’t know what has caused the tummy problem but according to science it is more likely to do with her allergies than it is long term meds. We need more posts from the vet community that counters all the mumbo jumbo, like the stats for meds with positive outcomes, not just negative, often attached to some book the false scientist wants to promote, Deva is a classic example of this.

    Everyone thinks they are an expert these days and we need to educate ourselves on what is knowledge and what is myth. We were in a natural pet shop last week when a frenchie came in, stomach red raw, apparently it hadn’t responded positively to the colloidal silver they ‘prescribed’ a few weeks ago, instead of telling the owner to go and see a vet, they told her to change her washing powder.

    Complimentary therapies have their place but they do not replace conventional medicine.

    I could go on for pages about all the natural ‘miricles’ we tried when our girl was first diagnosed with allergies when the only option was pred. Nothing we tried worked and everything we didn’t try was because research showed the ‘remedy’ (garlic, aloe) can be harmful to go dogs.

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