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.