Many of you may have seen the article, Allergic Reaction, by Tara Wohlberg, in the Globe and Mail, Tuesday, July 23, 2002. The article describes an alternative approach to treating allergy sufferers:
"Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) is an offshoot of applied kinesiology. Founded in 1984 by Devi Nambudripad, an acupuncturist, chiropractor, registered nurse and kinesiologist, it is a non-invasive, holistic method of eliminating food and environmental allergies. NAET claims to effectively reverse any allergy, often in one treatment - without pills, side effects, or follow-up visits. It even dares to address anaphylaxis. That pesky peanut allergy could be "cleared," practitioners say, and a child could enjoy the gooey mess of their first peanut-butter sandwich without having an ambulance on standby."
It later goes on to describe the apparent success of one patient's peanut allergic grandchild, who "underwent six NAET treatments, and asked for peanut-butter sandwiches instead of turkey for Christmas dinner last year. He was happily obliged."
Given the life-threatening nature of anaphylaxis, we have grave concerns about patients who may be putting themselves or their children at risk. While holistic approaches might offer alternatives to traditional medicine, NAET's approach has not been embraced by the medical community at large, and is not supported by Anaphylaxis Canada's medical advisory committee.
"There are detractors of NAET, such as retired psychiatrist Stephen Barrett, medical editor of Prometheus Books and author of 47 books. As board chairman of Quackwatch, ranked one of the top three medical Internet sites in 1999, he is keen to expose medical fads, fallacies and quackery. "NAET clashes with the concepts of anatomy, physiology, pathology, physics and allergy accepted by the scientific community. Its core diagnostic approach -- muscle testing for 'allergies' -- is senseless and is virtually certain to diagnose non-existent problems," Dr. Barrett says of this "super nutty practice. And there are no current, bullet-proof statistics that support NAET's claims, though Ms. Gibson and Ms. Carroll both say there are formal studies underway. Dr. Barrett warns that "studies in progress" are a classic feature of quackery."
As shown in a recent study completed by Anaphylaxis Canada*, peanut is one of the most dangerous food allergens, representing a large percentage of food-related fatalities: "20/32 food-induced deaths were due to peanut or tree nut."
In the same study, 30 of the 32 people who died "had either known that they were food allergic, or had felt unwell after eating certain foods� yet [5 of the 32, having experienced only mild symptoms] had never reported symptoms to their physician." Some people feel that their 'mild' reactions do not warrant a trip to an allergist. Unfortunately, in the case of these five people, their self-diagnosis was wrong.
Anaphylaxis Canada strongly recommends that all individuals who could be at risk for an allergic reaction, particularly to peanut, tree nut, shellfish, bee sting, latex or medication, seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified allergist.
How do you know who is qualified? Your provincial college of physicians and surgeons will have a list of certified allergists in your area.
To see Quackwatch's review of NAET, go to www.quackwatch.com and type in 'naet' in the search engine.
*Salter, J, et al, A Study of 32 Food-Induced Anaphylaxis Deaths in Ontario (1986-2000)
Prepared by Laurie Harada, Board of Directors, Anaphylaxis Canada