It was by chance, while scouring the internet for any allergy treatments, that I encountered Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) about 10 years ago. I was so taken in by its claims of efficiency in the treatment of food allergies that I decided to give it a go.
About the treatment
According to its developer’s website, ‘NAET® is an innovative, non-invasive, drug free, natural solution that may alleviate sensitivities of all types and intensities. NAET® utilizes a blend of selected energy balancing, testing, and treatment procedures from acupuncture/acupressure, allopathic, chiropractic, nutritional, and kinesiological disciplines of medicine.
One sensitivity is treated at a time with NAET®. If you are not severely immune deficient, you may need just one session for a sensitivity. A person with mild to moderate amount of sensitivities may take about 15-20 office visits to desensitize 15-20 food and environmental substances.
Basic essential nutrients are treated first. Whole food, chemical, environmental, and drug sensitivities are treated after clearing the NAET® Basic 15 mixtures. NAET® can often alleviate adverse reactions to egg, milk, peanuts, penicillin, aspirin, mushrooms, shellfish, latex, grass, ragweed, flowers, perfume, animal dander, animal epithelial, make-up, chemicals, cigarette smoke, pathogens, heat, cold, and other environmental substances.’[i]
About its founder
Devi Nambudripad was a student chiropractor and acupuncturist at the time she developed NAET [in 1983]. Whilst experiencing a reaction to eating carrots she attempted to overcome the reaction through a self-administered acupuncture treatment. After the treatment the reaction to eating carrots did not return. At the time of the acupuncture treatment, a remnant of carrot was on her skin, and Nambudripad concluded from this that the presence of a minute quantity of carrot during the acupuncture treatment was the key to the treatment. She then formulated a hypothesis that contact with a small amount of an allergen during an acupuncture or acupressure session can remove reactions to food and other substances.
She is licensed as a chiropractor and acupuncturist in California. She also identifies herself as an M.D.. Her website states that she received the Doctor of Medicine degree from University of Health Sciences Antigua (UHSA) in January 2002. The California Medical Board does not list an active license, and it does not recognize medical degrees from UHSA as valid, listing it as a “disapproved” school since 1995.[ii]
The theory behind NAET
In her book Say Goodbye to Illness[iii], Nambudripad claims that “most of the causes of common illnesses, like headache, back aches, joint pains, addiction, PMS, indigestion, cough, body aches, and many more are, in fact, undiagnosed allergies.”
The theory of Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) proposes that these allergies can be eliminated by addressing the energy blockages through the use of acupuncture or acupressure. NAET practitioners use a form of applied kinesiology called Neuromuscular Sensitivity Testing (NST or NST-NAET) to diagnose allergies by comparing the strength of a muscle in the presence and absence of a suspected allergen.[iv]
David Villano, a Miami-based journalist whose wife is a medical doctor practising Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET), witnessed a treatment administered by his wife to a female attorney with apparently a very positive outcome and reported it in the Pacific Standard online magazine.[v] You will be forgiven to think that there might be a conflict of interest here.
Several reviews of the available evidence for various alternative techniques in allergy diagnosis have determined that applied kinesiology, the primary diagnostic technique in NAET, is ineffective at diagnosing allergies and advise against its use.[vi]
Dr Stephen Barrett who runs a medical watchdog site states that ‘The NAET muscle-testing procedure is an offshoot of applied kinesiology, a pseudoscientific system based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness. There is no scientific evidence that this is true; and test-to-test variations are due either to suggestibility, muscle fatigue (from repeated testing) or variations in the test technique.’[vii]
He continues ‘NAET clashes with the concepts of anatomy, physiology, pathology, physics, and allergy accepted by the scientific community. The story of its “discovery” is highly implausible. Its core diagnostic approach—muscle testing for “allergies”—is senseless and is virtually certain to diagnose nonexistent problems. Its recommendations for dietary restrictions based on nonexistent food allergies are likely to place the patient at great risk for nutrient deficiency, and, in the case of children, at risk for social problems and the development of eating disorders. I believe that practitioners who use NAET have such poor judgment that they should not be permitted to remain licensed.’[viii]
The bottom line
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) claims are nothing short of miraculous and its critics have certainly a point. However as patients we are desperate. Evidence based medicine, despite winning the rational argument, has let us down by not offering a solution to our ailments. Besides absence of evidence is no evidence of absence. There is only one way to know however costly. Even if NAET success stories are reported, one man’s meat can be another man’s poison. If you are thinking of consulting a NAET practitioner, or any other alternative medicine practitioner for that matter, do your own diligent research. Trust your gut feelings and don’t just rely on testimonials. In my next post, I will report my own experience with NAET in a case study.
[iii] Nambudripad, DS Say Goodbye to Illness. Buena Park, CA: Delta Publishing Co., 1993.