My father was experiencing pain in the middle and index finger of his right hand. His doctor said it was likely arthritis and recommended Tylenol and hot and cold compresses. My father followed instructions but the pain grew worse until he couldn’t bend his fingers. He went to a hand specialist. Tests were negative and the diagnosis was the same: arthritic joints due to aging.
I suggested my dad visit the applied kinesiologist I’d been seeing for several years to treat my headaches and allergies. My father was resistant. He was a traditionalist committed to western medicine and he viewed alternative healing modes as quackery. I offered to pay the $150 fee and take him to lunch afterwards at his favorite deli. He agreed.
The session lasted 45 minutes. My father lied on a massage table while the kinesiologist put him through a series of diagnostic muscle tests. Muscle testing involves touching neurological points on the body and asking the patient to resist pressure pushing down on his arm. Each neurological point links to a specific organ, gland or system in the body. If the patient can resist the arm pressure, the organ or system is strong. If they can’t resist, this indicates a problem or energy blockage. An applied kinesiologist perceives the patient’s energy pathways (called “meridians” in Chinese Medicine) to search for imbalances. Muscle testing yields causes of imbalance and options for treatment.
In my father’s case, he exhibited weakness in his peripheral nervous system. The applied kinesiologist put several vials of known pollutants on my father’s abdomen and did more muscle testing. The applied kinesiologist diagnosed a lead poisoning probably caused by diet and tap water. (My dad ate a lot of fish, a known source of lead and he made his coffee with tap water.) The practitioner recommended zinc, selenium and a chemical detox supplement as an effective way to remove lead from my dad’s body.
Afterwards, my father was dubious of the encounter. “All the guy did was touch different places on my chest. What the hell was that?” I told him to take the supplements and see what happens. A week later, my father left me an excited voicemail message. “My finger pain is gone. I don’t know what that witch doctor did, but it worked.”
Over the years I’ve recommended applied kinesiology to many friends. This included a neighbor who broke out in a rash every time she lied in the sun. The applied kinesiologist diagnosed intestinal parasites and prescribed black walnut and an herb called wormwood. My friend’s rash vanished and she declared herself a “reborn sun worshipper.” Another friend experienced tingling in her wrists and feared she had carpal tunnel syndrome. The applied kinesiologist concluded she had metal fillings in her teeth that were leaching mercury into her system. My friend had her metal fillings replaced with resin composite fillings. The tingling in her arms immediately went away.
The concept of applied kinesiology was developed by Michigan chiropractor George Goodheart in the early 1960s. He taught other chiropractors and in 1976 the “International College of Applied Kinesiology” (ICAK) was born. ICAK teaches and regulates the practice of applied kinesiology. The methodology is used primarily by chiropractors though practitioners of all modes of medicine now use muscle testing as a means of diagnosis.
In 1980, Dr. Goodheart was appointed as the first chiropractic physician to serve on the US Olympic team at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. He was appointed by Irving Dardik, a vascular surgeon and chairman of the US Olympic Medical Committee. Dr. Dardik experienced the power of applied kinesiology firsthand when Dr. Goodheart was able to cure him of a cramping hamstring leg muscle that other doctors could not heal. Dr. Dardik was so impressed, he told Dr. Goodheart “you have the job.”
Criticism of applied kinesiology is common. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states the practice has “no evidence of diagnostic validity.” The American Cancer Society adds, “scientific evidence does not support the claim that applied kinesiology can diagnose or treat cancer or other illness.” The primary criticism is that applied kinesiology relies on the subjective assessment of muscle response by the practitioner. Most traditional doctors view applied kinesiology as quackery, though some alternative doctors like Andrew Weil see validity in the method.
A few months ago my friend experienced pain around his solar plexus. His doctor gave him a series of tests (blood and urine, cat scan, x-rays). He was given a clean bill of health but the abdominal pain remained. I recommended an applied kinesiologist who immediately diagnosed a hiatal hernia caused by an inability to digest fats and protein. The applied kinesiologist used chiropractic methods to reset my friend’s ileocecal valve then prescribed digestive enzymes to be taken before meals. Four days later my friend’s abdominal pain went away. Applied Kinesiology might be viewed as magical thinking but I remain a believer.