Food allergy/intolerance testing

Allergy warningI often get asked if I can use muscle testing on someone to see what foods they might be allergic to, or what supplements are suitable for them. I’m aware that there are a number of practitioners who routinely do this as a way of diagnosing food allergies or intolerances or prescribing the ‘right’ supplements for a patient.

I don’t do this.

Muscle testing for allergies has been studied scientifically and it doesn’t work particularly well. See here and here. That’s not reliable enough for me to feel comfortable using it on patients in the clinic.

On a related note, I talked to a patient today who had taken her son off dozens of different foods as a result of a hair analysis allergy test. This is also not a very reliable test. This study used 9 subjects with a diagnosed fish allergy and another 9 without a fish allergy- they sent hair samples to 5 different commercial laboratories who did hair analysis on them. None of the laboratories picked up the fish allergy. To further test these laboratories some of them were sent duplicate samples (i.e. the same persons hair sample was sent to them under two different names). There was no consistency in the analysis of the duplicate samples.

In a nutshell- I don’t think there’s enough evidence for hair testing or muscle testing to be used to diagnose food allergies or intolerances. ┬áIt’s a shame because these are real problems which seem to be on the rise and which definitely affect the health of lots of people- it would be fantastic to have a cheap, simple and reliable test which can give us accurate diagnostic information for these patients.

But the simple truth of the matter is that we don’t.

And if anyone tells you differently they might just be trying to sell you something.