Applied Kinesiology (AK) for Food Allergies

Food allergies have been a subject of debate for decades. The difference between true food allergies and food intolerances has been confusing, even in the scientific community. At times even food poisoning has been mistaken for a food allergy. Understanding what the best treatment options might be for a food allergy first requires the determination that it is indeed a food allergy. Food allergies might occur at any time—some people may be more susceptible to developing allergies than others due to their genetic makeup. The number of people affected by food allergies is significant: in the United States alone, up to 7.5 percent of the population may be affected. Alternative medicine, and in particular applied kinesiology, can provide a resource for prevention of food allergies.

Food allergies can be life-threatening when even a tiny speck of the food to which a person is allergic is present—even using utensils that have touched the allergen will cause a severe reaction in some individuals. Determining a way to either prevent them or deal with them can be crucial to healthy living.

Why use Applied Kinesiology (AK) for Food Allergies?

Applied kinesiology (AK) is best used a method of diagnosis in preventive medicine rather than crisis medicine. The theory behind AK is based on the concept that if certain muscle weaknesses are present, it is an indication that there are nutritional deficiency or other health problems in the individual. In the case of food allergies, applied kinesiology can be used to identify the problem foods, and thus eliminate them from the diet. Instead of using traditional medicines that might treat symptoms—other than in the case of a life threatening allergic reaction when a shot of epinephrine will be critical— applied kinesiology (AK) might eliminate the need for medications that can cause long-term harmful side effects.

How Can Applied Kinesiology (AK) Help Food Allergies?

During the practice known as localization, the applied kinesiology practitioner will often have the patient hold a piece of the potentially threatening food substance under the tongue while the muscles are undergoing the various tests. In the case of wheat sensitivity, it is believed, that if the arm is pressed down, the individual allergic to wheat will be unable to resist. It should be noted that some of these tests have not been scientifically proven to be effective in determining the nature of food allergies.

Applied Kinesiology (AK) is practiced in order to help an individual avoid potentially harmful food substances. As a part of a holistic health care plan that includes nutrition counseling, chiropractic, and other alternative forms of treatment, practitioners believe that harmful medicine or possible surgical intervention can be avoided.

What is Applied Kinesiology (AK)?

Kinesiology comes from the Greek word for movement. In its purest form, it involves the scientific study of the muscles and how they relate to the central nervous system. The term, though often used to mean Applied Kinesiology (AK), refers to a different discipline.

Applied Kinesiology emerged when in 1964 an American chiropractor, Dr. George Goodheart, determined that normal and abnormal body function could be evaluated using muscle tests. This principle spawned the expansion of the practice. Eventually nervous, vascular, and lymphatic systems, nutrition, acupuncture, and cerebrospinal fluid reaction were all evaluated using this method. Goodheart’s concept was based on the idea that problematic shifts in muscles and their movement occur when an internal problem triggers that change. He believed that change came not only through the obvious external changes that included physical injury, or brain damage. Other factors, he believed, that might cause muscle changes were internal organs that did not function properly, exposure to toxic substances, nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, or emotional issues.

What Happens at a Session for Applied Kinesiology (AK)?

A practitioner who employs applied kinesiology (AK) will first make a diagnosis using a procedure called manual muscle testing—along with the more traditional methods of diagnosis such as a history of the patient, a physical examination, and any other testing that might be appropriate to the complaint or ailment. This way the internal source of the problem will be determined, and the appropriate treatment can then be prescribed. Applied kinesiology (AK) is more of a method than a treatment—a way to diagnose chronic symptoms that traditional medicine might have overlooked.

During testing, the patient might lie down, or stand, and either be fully clothed, or in a gown. Practitioners will often employ an individual technique. The process is most likely to be painless, as the practitioner will press down on the arm of the patient gently to gauge resistance. When a person can easily push back, the muscles are likely healthy. If not, a practitioner believes that an imbalance exists in a part of the body that is related to the movement of some particular muscle, such as in the leg or arm. With muscle testing based on what is known as the meridian system—according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the meridians are the body channels that conduct qi, or the elemental forces that determine good nutrition, dietary management, and various reflex procedures. This means that a disorder will generate along a particular path in the body, leading the practitioner to be able to determine the location of the problem depending on the muscle tension. That type of muscle testing is known as “localization” and is often used to look for food or chemical sensitivities, or nutritional deficiencies.

What are Food Allergies?

Food allergies are best described as an abnormal reaction to a normal substance. It is a response of the immune system and creates antibodies, immunoglobulin E (IgE), to attack food substances that the immune system has determined is harmful to an individual. A protein or other ingredient in a specific food causes the reaction. When an allergy is present, histamines—massive amounts of chemical substances—are released. These can cause mild to severe symptoms from simple hives to a life-threatening shutdown of the body’s entire system. Symptoms can develop quickly, within a few minutes, or may take hours to reveal themselves.

Anaphylactic shock is the term used to refer to the most severe allergic reaction. This is the stage that is life threatening and will result in:

  • Constriction of airways, and include a swollen throat or a lump in the throat, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Shock, when blood pressure drops drastically
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness

The less severe allergic reactions will include:

  • Tingling mouth
  • Hives, rash, or itching
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts
  • Trouble breathing, or wheezing and nasal congestion
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting

The most common food allergies include:

  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, and crab
  • Tree nuts, such as pecans and walnuts

Young children often also have allergies to cow’s milk and products, wheat, and soybeans. Chocolate is seldom a cause of a food allergy.

What Causes Food Allergies?

A food allergy occurs when a person allergic to a certain substance or food comes into contact with it, even in a minute exposure.

Allergies are rooted in both nature—and nurture, meaning that you are either:

  • Genetically susceptible to an allergic condition
  • Exposed to even a small amount of food that has sensitized your immune system to the food—the first exposure, might bring no symptoms. The second exposure might bring on the undesired allergic reaction.
  • Have eaten the culprit food again, and with the system now sensitized to the allergen, will react negatively.

Genetically speaking, if people in a family are susceptible to allergies, they might not be susceptible to the same allergy—one family member might be allergic to peanuts, while another is allergic to eggs, while another will develop asthma, or hay fever, or some other non-food allergy.

In food allergies, it is not the food itself that is the problem. In fact, it is how a person’s immune system reacts to the protein molecules that are each unique in their structure. An individual’s immune system likewise uniquely responds to that particular protein and determines whether or not an allergic reaction will occur.

A food allergy is determined either through a skin test, blood test, or what is known as a food challenge. This will have occurred either through an individual experienced reaction, or through a controlled challenge by a health care professional. An individual should never perform an experimental food challenge at home without knowing what reaction will occur, as it could be life threatening.

Finding a Specialist

Food allergies can be life-threatening. Making an accurate diagnosis can be crucial. Consulting your primary physician or an allergy specialist is recommended when treating this potentially serious condition. Consulting the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology can provide additional information on food allergies. The International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) offers advanced certificates in Applied Kinesiology for practitioners, as well as the latest research.

Additional Resources

"Common Food Allergy Myths." Robert A. Wood, M.D. from “Food Allergies for Dummies.”

"Food Allergy." U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.

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