Glacier Peak Holistics Pet Wellness Life Scan Stress Test or How Much BS Can Fit on One Web Page?

Allergies are a common and frustrating problem for many pet dogs. While the details are incredibly complicated and not completely understood, allergies are the result of inappropriate inflammation and other immune system responses to triggers in the environment. These triggers can be anything from flea saliva to food ingredients to pollens or dust. Dogs with allergies likely have a genetic predisposition to such excessive immune reactions, and early environmental exposure may play a role. While there are many therapies available that significantly reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and modulate the abnormal immune response that is the cause of allergies, there is no simple or single cure.

The unpredictability of allergy symptoms, their chronic waxing and waning nature, and the lack of a definitive cure make allergies a popular target for alternative therapies. And just as alternative practitioners ignore much of the science behind vaccines in order to promulgate made-up theories that support their own methods, so many CAVM advocates ignore all that is known about the pathophysiology of allergies and the available diagnostic and treatment interventions and instead make up their own unscientific theories to sell alternative allergy treatments. A reader recently drew my attention to a particularly ridiculous example of this that approaches self-parody: Glacier Peak Holistics Pet Wellness Life Scan Stress Test.

What Is It?
This is actually a relatively difficult question to answer since the company materials about the test are mostly faux-scientific gibberish with a lot of repetition of the meaningless term “energy.” Here’s a sample:

Most allergy-type symptoms are not caused by actual allergies at all…Certain stressors in your pet’s diet are more likely the root source of the allergy symptoms.

Because dogs and cats lack the proper digestive enzymes to digest starchy root vegetables, grains and most fruits, feeding these types of foods can contribute to yeast overgrowth and immune system issues.

Traditional medicine usually prescribes steroids that only mask the allergy symptoms by suppressing the natural function of immune system and can cause damaging, irreversible side effects…Sadly, most pet’s allergy symptoms return stronger than before treatment beginning a vicious cycle that has ZERO lasting benefits.

The Pet Wellness Life Stress Scan, formerly “Healthy Dog and Cat Alternative Sensitivity Assessment”, is the original hair and saliva scan for identifying over 300 stressors in your pet’s diet and environment…The Pet Wellness Life Stress Scan uses biofeedback, which has the ability to read the energetic resonance that emanates from the hair and saliva samples.

Biofeedback energy status analysis measures the body’s bio energetic balance or homeostasis in relation to various food and environmental factors that an animal is exposed to.

The Chinese would call this a balance of yin or yang, with the ultimate goal removing or reducing incompatible energetic disturbances that diminish the body’s Qi or life-force. It is well known in TCM, homeopathy and western holistic medicine, that energetic and spiritual disturbances often precedes physical disturbances…It is a non-invasive energetic analysis seeking to identify and diminish non-harmonic energetic factors.

Using biofeedback analysis, the biofeedback device can identify over 300 food and environmental factors that may disturb an animal’s energy balance.

So, how many woo-woo clichés and warning signs of quackery could you spot? A partial list would include:

  1. Rejection of established scientific knowledge- While allergies aren’t completely understood, the idea that they aren’t really allergies or that they are due to vague “stressors” is nonsense. There is extensive scientific evidence demonstrating the causes and processes of allergic problems in humans and dogs which this company ignores.
  2. Dismissal of science-based medicine as “only symptomatic” and causing more harm than good- While much allergy treatment is symptomatic because a true cure would involve either changing the genetic constitution or past exposure of a dog or eliminating all allergens from the environment, which often is not possible, some treatments do address the closest we can get to the root cause by either eliminating the triggers (limited antigen diets, for example) or desensitizing the immune system to prevent the initial inappropriate reaction to antigens (immunotherapy or “allergy shots”).
  3. Focusing on risks and ignoring benefits from conventional treatment- All treatments that do anything at all have both risks and benefits. Steroids (and the many, many other topical and system allergy medications this website neglects to mention) can have risks, especially when inappropriately used. However, they also can give dogs suffering from allergies relief and a good quality and normal length of life, which they might otherwise not be able to have.
  4. The nonsense about “grains” that has become quite the alternative nutrition fad, and which I’ve addressed many times (e.g. 1, 2).
  5. Vague pseudoscientific language that is actually meaningless as used here: biofeedback, energy, energetic resonance, energetic status analysis, homeostasis, non-harmonic energy factors.
  6. Reference to non-scientific folk beliefs or fundamentally religious concepts that must be taken on faith and cannot be evaluated scientifically- Qi, energy, life-force, spiritual disturbances.
  7. Complete absence of any scientific evidence to support the claims made.
  8. Presence of anecdotes and testimonials in place of reliable evidence

Does It Work?
In terms of the test itself, it is pretty easy to recognize the complete lack of validity to it. The concept of energy employed here is vague and mystical with no relationship to the science of allergy medicine. The terms biofeedback and homeostasis have real meanings, but those are unrelated to their use here, which is just a smokescreen intended to make folk beliefs and completely made-up explanations sound scientific. Hair analysis is an old and long-debunked practice, and I have already addressed the bogus use of saliva testing for allergy diagnosis in my respond to Dr. Jean Dodds’ claims about it.

Of course, as is often the case with quack medicine, the promoters try to have their cake and eat it too. In addition to trying to make the test sound scientific, the site clearly implies that the test identifies the cause of allergy symptoms:

More Than an Allergy Test

Certain stressors in your pet’s diet are more likely the root source of the allergy symptoms…

The Pet Wellness Life Stress Scan…is the original hair and saliva scan for identifying over 300 stressors in your pet’s diet and environment.

We can show you what foods and environmental factors are currently impacting your pet’s well-being

However, the company also wants to sound “alternative” and, perhaps, to dodge around legal restrictions on claiming to test for allergies when there is no scientific support for the test they are selling. This leads to the usual empty disclaimers that contradict the clear overall message of the advertisement:

This is not a traditional medical laboratory allergy test…It is complimentary and is in no way meant nor to be inferred as a substitute for traditional allergy testing methods that use blood samples such as the ELISA and antibody testing.  We highly recommend that you consult with your vet if you wish such traditional testing be done for your pet.

The company also can’t legitimately claim to diagnose or recommend treatments for allergies since this requires a licensed veterinarian. Instead, they use a lot of doublespeak to suggest that they can help you solve your dog’s allergy problems without actually saying they offer diagnosis and treatment of allergies:

We have Pet Wellness Coaches standing by to help you understand your results and show you the road map back to balance…Our Wellness Coach will go over the results with you page by page….

Bottom Line
The Glacier Peak Holistics Pet Wellness Life Stress Scan (formerly “Healthy Dog and Cat Alternative Sensitivity Assessment”) is a completely implausible test based on vague, mystical nonsense and pseudoscientific theories that contradict the legitimate scientific evidence regarding the cause and management of allergies. The general concept that hair and saliva testing can identify the causes of allergies is false. The marketing of this test is misleading and contains many of the hallmarks of quack advertising. Dog owners struggling with allergies would be far better spending their time and money consulting a veterinary dermatologist for a science-based approach to helping their canine companions.

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7 Responses to Glacier Peak Holistics Pet Wellness Life Scan Stress Test or How Much BS Can Fit on One Web Page?

  1. v.t. says:

    And don’t forget the “added value” of the bogus supplements they sell that probably make up over half their revenue.

  2. L says:

    It makes me crazy that people believe this crap. They try all kinds of foods and phony baloney supplements, meanwhile the dog is suffering and scratching itself raw.
    They are convinced prescription food has “bad ingredients” and listen to anonymous strangers advising them to feed raw (gag).
    If you suggest they go to a veterinary dermatologist, they say they can’t afford it.
    Unfortunately, that may be the best treatment option for dogs with allergies (imo)
    No, it’s not cheap, but the dog has a serious condition that requires the expertise of a specialist.

  3. PL says:

    Love it! Glad I suggested this topic to you. Knew the blog would be great.

    I think some of my personal favorite parts about this “test” is how it was originally marketed as an allergy test and talked nothing about “stressors”, then they removed it from the website for almost a year and now it is back under a new name with a random new claim.

    Also this statement is great: “The information provided by this scan is intended for educational and nutritional purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not intended as conventional veterinary medical advice or to replace the advice or attention of your existing veterinarian. You may wish to consult with a holistic veterinarian before making changes to your pets’ diet, nutritional supplements, or exercise program. The statements on or about this scan have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. To find a holistic veterinarian in your area, visit http://www.ahvma.org.”

    So in summary, what the company is telling it’s consumers is, this test is worthless…

  4. skeptvet says:

    Yes, disclaimers like this are common on sites selling quackery, and they clearly violate the intent of the law even when,possibly, meeting the letter of it. People should be aware that such a disclaimer is essentially an admission that they have no real evidence for their claims.

  5. aimee says:

    Hi skeptvet,

    Thanks for writing this article. Historically, Glacier Peak Holistic marketed the “Glacier Peak Holistic’s Allergy Test”. I found some information that indicated the testing method originally was “applied kinesiology”. From what I understand that “method” became cumbersome and the company then introduced their “biofeedback” testing method. The name was at some point changed to “Healthy Dog Alternative Sensitivity Assessment.”

    When I contacted the company to inquire about the test I was told “Some scientist somewhere has mapped the energetic frequency of each item using quantum physics and programmed them to be recognized by the biofeedback machine”. The “energy imprints” are attached to the pet’s DNA and the “biofeedback” machine “detects” them. I contacted two PhD quantum physicists who confirmed that there isn’t anything in the field to substantiate what the company is claiming.

    The company couldn’t verify what form the energy was in or how it was measured, only saying “It integrates the sciences of mathematics, quantum physics, fractal dynamics, subspace theory, electronics, and computer programming….” This phrasing led me to the EPFX device which has a silver plate incorporated into it for use of “analyzing” hair and fluid samples and is associated with the name William Nelson. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/how-one-mans-invention-is-part-of-a-growing-worldwide-scam-that-snares-the-desperately-ill/

    I have no idea if the company is using this or something similar. The company failed to answer any of my further questions stating it is proprietary.

    I purchased a test kit and instead of sending my dog’s saliva moistened the cotton swabs in the kit with IV solution I got from the vet’s office. Instead of sending hair I used a sterile instrument to shred the end of one of the cotton swabs sent in the test kit. This was all done in a pet free home and I wore gloves to ensure no contamination of the negative control sample took place.

    I received the test results back in a timely manner. The negative control sample was “positive” for 63 food sensitivities, 29 environmental sensitivities and 7 out of 9 probable concerns. The company said my results were “energetically speaking” altered by “bad intent” as my intention was to deceive the company. I replied that my intent was to validate their test and no “bad intent” was present.

    It was soon after the company learned of my negative control sample that the test was taken off the market and now I see they have relaunched under a new name with an added requirement that a legal disclaimer be signed before they will run your test.

    I’ve posted my findings on multiple review sites but my posts were usually deleted.

    You can find one such review here https://smileydog.com/glacier-peak-holistics-or-nutriscan-which-test-is-for-you/

    and see the actual results here: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/hypoallergenic-dog-foods/#comment-2431116930

    Thanks again for writing this article.

  6. skeptvet says:

    Thanks for this! Excellent work demonstrating the unreliability of this nonsense as well. It is, undoubtedly, technically illegal, but there is no interest in enforcing laws against selling lies like this to pet owners, so the best we can do is warn people about unscrupulous companies like this. Well done!

  7. v.t. says:

    Aimee,

    While the whole of the results are obviously a scam, this one is especially priceless:

    Under “Noxious Energy”: Electronics (including everything commonly found in most homes, obviously)

    Nice work, perhaps you could send your investigation summary to the FDA-CVM division 🙂

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