Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Allergic to nuts

My loyal readers will no doubt recall that last week, I finally caved in, and decided to see an acupuncturist for my arthritis.

Feeling almost like I was doing something illicit, I called the acupuncturist who was recommended by a couple of friends, and made an appointment.  I had a nice chat over the phone with her assistant, who mentioned that she would be doing some "allergy screening" on me while I was there, just to rule out a dietary cause for my sore joints, and I said that was fine -- briefly wondering how an acupuncturist could test for allergies.  The assistant said she'd send me some literature on their technique, along with a health questionnaire, and I agreed to see them this coming Thursday.

Yesterday, the literature arrived in the mail, and I began to read about NAET -- Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique.

The story is that an Indian physician, Deva Nambudripad, had discovered a revolutionary new way to diagnose and treat allergies, because of experiences she'd had regarding her own health problems.  She'd suffered from devastating physical issues since childhood, she said, sometimes hurting so badly she couldn't get out of bed for weeks at a time.  She lived, she said, on "water and broccoli," the only things she could consume without causing a severe reaction.  She took "thirty aspirin tablets a day."  Finally, having somehow become a trained medical professional despite all this, she decided to give herself an acupuncture treatment while holding a carrot, a food she was violently allergic to.  After the acupuncture treatment, she found she was no longer allergic to carrots.

She then found out she could diagnose allergies merely by seeing how people responded while holding particular food items.  If you were allergic to, say, apples, if you had an apple in your hand, your body would sense the "energy blockage" caused by your attempt to "reject the harmful apple," and this would screw up your energy meridians and cause muscle weakness.  So by having a person clasp her hand while holding an apple in the other hand, she could see if they were allergic to apples.

Then it got even weirder.

It was inconvenient to have lots of apples, potatoes, and cheese around, not to mention slabs of fish and hunks of beef, in order to test your patients.  In short order your office would reek of rotting food, which would cause a different kind of reaction, namely, puking.  So Nambudripad decided to take vials of water, and "charge the water with the energy frequency of the food item."  Now, all you have to do is hold a vial of water that is vibrating with, say, the frequency of a chicken, and try to contract your muscles, and the practitioner can tell if you're allergic to chicken.

I'm reading all this stuff, and thinking, "I actually signed up for this?  This person sounds like a nut."  And I'm beginning to have second thoughts.  And third and fourth ones, too.  And then I got to the part where it said that in order to achieve a cure, you have to have an average of fifty visits.  And also that a responsible practitioner will attempt to do "preventative cures" -- to treat you for allergies you don't even have yet.  (If you are curious, or think I'm making all this up, check out NAET's official website.)

At $100 each, and not, I hardly need to add, covered by health insurance.

That's when I called and cancelled my appointment.

I'm willing to try acupuncture, I really am.  But c'mon, people.  Vials of energy-infused water?  That's worse than homeopathy, because at least the homeopaths say you have to consume the water, while here, all you do is hold a glass vial of it in your hand, and somehow the bad energy frequencies cross through the glass and into your hand.  And I just don't buy the whole story of her health problems being cured miraculously.  For one thing, thirty aspirin tablets a day?  At an average per-tablet dosage, that's 9,000 mg of aspirin a day, which is damn near the lethal dose, according to  The whole thing rings false to me.

So I just can't make myself go through with it.  Not even one appointment.  And it's not just the money.  Several of my coworkers were crowing with delight when I told them about this, and no doubt will be devastated when I tell them that I chickened out.  I think they were enjoying the mental image of me sitting there on the examining table, blindfolded, handling vial after vial of water labeled "quiche" and "bacon cheeseburger" and "refried beans" while the practitioner checks to see if my arm muscles went limp.  If I did exhibit muscle weakness, I suspect it'd be from the mental strain of not making snarky comments.

I'm afraid I can't allow my coworkers that degree of schadenfreude at my expense.  I may try to find a different acupuncturist, but I draw the line at NAET.  For the time being, I'll put up with the stiff joints, which seems like a decent trade-off for keeping my self-respect.


  1. Dude... that wasn't accupuncture. That was serious quackery. You need needles. LOTSA needles. In every corner of your white body. Punctured 50 ways from friday. So many needles that they forget to take them all out and you find one the next day when you shower. YOU NEED the needles. Skip the hoopla. Just go for the fun stuff.

  2. Agree with ^. We can hook you up with a REAL acupuncturist.