Food Allergy Testing
What is it?
Food allergies are notoriously challenging to assess with laboratory testing, and there are no well-validated blood or skin tests for food allergens in animals. The gold standard in western medicine is a food trial, in which potential food allergens are removed from the diet for two to three months and any change in clinical signs is noted. This can be a very effective diagnostic tool. However, the challenge is to know which foods to avoid. Without this knowledge, food trials can be a time-consuming and frustrating process of guesswork. Applied kinesiology is a technique used to identify stressors which trigger weakness in the nervous system, and it has been an effective solution for the identification of food allergens for our patients.
How does it work and why is it helpful?
Applied kinesiology (AK) in veterinary medicine requires a leap of faith from the typical western mindset. In humans, AK practitioners choose a muscle (such as the deltoid muscle of the arm) and check if the presence of stressors (such as potential allergens) trigger that indicator muscle to weaken compared to its normal strength in the absence of a stressor. This relative muscle weakness is thought to indicate a weakening of the nervous system in response to what is perceived as an overwhelming stressor, one that has created an aberrant internal response in the body. The food stressors do not need to be eaten; the body's energy field detects the energy of the food when it is placed near the body, and that is sufficient to affect the nervous system response. This phenomenon of responsiveness to something that is not being touched is perhaps most easily imagined when we compare it to being near someone who is emotionally angry or upset, even if they haven't talked about it or we haven't even looked at them yet, though this is an imperfect analogy. For animals, the AK practitioner tunes in to the patient's energy field through proximity so they can use themselves as a surrogate tester for the animal. The key takeaway is that AK testing has been extremely helpful in identifying food allergies in our patients and easing their suffering.
Who can benefit from it?
Any animal with symptoms consistent with food allergies, such as: chronic gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, excessive appetite, or difficulty maintaining good body weight; skin allergies, including recurrent skin infections, yeast infections, and itchiness; recurrent ear infections; and anal sac impaction, scooting or excissive licking under the tail.
What should I expect?
Food allergy testing by Applied Kinesiology involves a 30 minute appointment. The animal is tested for allergies to different meats, grains, tubers, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, and a thickener. A printout is then provided which lists which foods to avoid and which foods are safe for that animal. If possible, a short list of commercially available foods will be provided that fit the determined requirements, though in some instances a homemade recipe may be the best solution. Once food allergens are identified, they must be completely avoided. Exposure to a single tidbit of an allergen will trigger inflammation, and the food trial must be started over again. After starting strict avoidance of food allergens, it takes about a month to see improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms, and from two to three months to see improvement in skin symptoms. If there are chronic ear and/or anal sac issues, these are treated at the two months interval when the inflammation should be decreased to see if avoidance of known allergens has enabled the body to now fully resolve these symptoms.