Good Vibrations

New treatments tackle arthritis, allergies, and other ailments by tapping our bodies' own energy

| January/February 2001 Issue

Many people with arthritis pound pain relievers just to get through the day. Regular dosing is also a way of life for those with allergies, who depend on antihistamines, steroids, and allergy shots.

Now, alternative healers say they’ve developed treatments that can cure these stubborn ailments—and many others—without drugs. But first, you have to be willing to suspend everything you know about medical science and start thinking in terms of chi, the Chinese term for a life force that flows through the human body.

As Diane Olson Rutter explains in Catalyst (July 2000), one of these alternative treatments, Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (or NAET) helps diagnose suspected allergens by employing a form of "muscle response testing," or applied kinesiology. The patient holds a small vial of a suspected allergen. If the arm muscles weaken in response to the "molecular vibration" from the vial, the patient is deemed allergic to that substance. Once an allergy is identified, the cure involves a form of acupressure and an austere diet of chicken, rice, and vegetables.

Rutter, who submitted herself to the treatment, initially had her doubts. "I can’t contain the skepticism (mixed with embarrassment) that overtakes me every time I’m handed a vial and my arm is pushed down. I feel like a New Age slot machine," she tells her acupuncturist. While practitioners can’t produce a pile of studies to assuage the skeptics, they can produce satisfied patients like Kristy Theurer, who told Rutter that NAET cured her of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Of course, it will take more than anecdotal evidence to bring NAET into the medical mainstream. Andrew Saxon, chief immunologist at UCLA Medical Center, calls the treatment "bullshit": "There is no way I am ever going to believe that you can cure allergies by sticking needles in someone while they hold little vials of nothing."

Rutter herself gives NAET a mixed review. While some of the treatments had no effect, she credits others with curing an intolerance to wheat and milk she believes was causing fatigue and headaches. "Do I think it’s a miracle cure? No," she writes. "Will I go back for more? Yes. So far my positive experiences still outweigh the negative."