Debunk the "pressure test" for allergies please?

I’ve had snake oil salemen try this on me more than once, the most recent one was a Doctor who is also licensed to treat allergies! The first time, was a lady at a health food store trying to sell me expensive “premium” calcium pills. What she did was had me hold my arms out, and pressed down on my left arm telling me not to let her push my arm down, I didn’t. (Guess she assumed I am right handed, when I’m actually pretty well ambidextrious, anyway…) Then she put some calcium tablets in my right hand, and pressed down on my left arm again, and my left arm went down under her pressure. This, she claimed proved I needed more calcium, and went on to “test” me and gave some outrageous figure (three or four times the RDA) as to the amount of calcium pills I needed to take.

Skip forwards years to the Doctor’s office earlier this week, where I went to be safe and get tested for a potential peanut allergy. (I’d rather be safe than sorry, and I’d be delighted to hear I am not allergic to peanuts.) He went into his office area after saying he’d give me a “pressure test”, and got something or other. He had me put my left arm up, and my right arm out to my side. While standing on my right side, he pressed down on my left arm while telling me not to let him push my arm down. I didn’t. Then he put something in my hand that felt like a little glass vial. When he pushed down on my left arm again, the arm went down. (HOW do they get it so the dupe doesn’t notice they are using more torque?! That’s what I want to know. I didn’t feel my arm wrenched, but it went down.) He then began to explain that “your body is weak to peanuts, when I put peanuts in your hand, your arm went down, you are allergic to peanuts” I just blinked, and in a bewildered tone asked could I go take a skin test. He’s made the appointment for me for later this month. What I really wanted to say to him was “What kind of fool do you take me for?!”

Is this a common “placebo” type practice some Doctors use, or did he actually believe this bunk?! :eek: Please post links to sites explaining about this “procedure” and debunking it. I’d dearly love to read about previous charlatans who used this, and how it managed to gain even a little bit of respectability, such that some Doctors use it!

Did you know you could put a dandelion under someone’s chin to see if they like butter? If their chin glows yellow that means they like butter :stuck_out_tongue:

I know there are sites that debunk medical quackery, but I cannot remember their names. My searchfu is failing me today, I don’t know what other name they might call this “test” by, and doing a search for “pressure test” does not bring up the scam I want to read about. Please, I know there are Dopers out there who have the links to sites debunking hoodoo junk science, post them here for me to search at the least?

Everybody knows that’s bunk. This only works with buttercups.

If you cannot supply me with links or information debunking the practice, then please keep your jokes to yourself.


Applied Kinesiology.

Thank you!

My pleasure.

As you wish …

Ah, the old scam version of Applied kinesiology.

Using muscle resistance to diagnose allergies is pure bulls**t.

From Quackwatch on Applied Kinesiology: Muscle-Testing for “Allergies” and “Nutrient Deficiencies”

On a related note, I too lament the continued trivialization of GQ.

Ha! Got the other name for it: Applied Kinesiology. Thank you again! Found this, and this already. ETA: Thank you QtM, you were a hair faster than I! :slight_smile:

How 'bout I don’t think you need a cite b/c this is just crazy nonsense. There is not any way for your body to sense peanut in a jar in order to have a reaction.

nod The reason I didn’t bite his head off in righteous indignation was I was stunned, and saddened. He must have patients that buy into that. :frowning: Now, if he uses it as a placebo to calm some of his more difficult patients I could maybe see that. However, I had a legitimate concern, I got SICK after having peanut butter, gut cramps, “the trots” and for two days just felt ill. (I’ve had bad allergy attacks where I took to bed with a headache before, but this was a doozy, headache, TIRED, “the trots” waterfall down my throat and out my nose, ears hurting, allergies haywire.)

That’s a great idea.


Squink–you’ve been around long enough to realize that an utterly useless reply to a question in GQ in only seven minutes after the OP was posted is really not acceptable, at least not in this forum.

As others have said, it’s getting pretty discouraging. Next time, a formal warning.

samclem GQ moderator

I skimmed the two links, and I’m having trouble understanding this: why does it appear to work?

I’ve heard a theory that the practitioner presses down in a different place when he wants your arm to drop, using basic principles of leverage. And I can imagine that muscle fatigue would set in quickly enough that on the second attempt, one’s arm drops much faster. Are either of these the real explanation for why they can make your arm drop so easily?


I’m thinking that the first time the “tester” isn’t trying very hard.

Can you report him to the state licensing board or the AMA? That is just outrageous.

Is the skin test by the same doctor? I don’t think I’d trust him after that stunt. What if your arm didn’t go down, would he then assume you arn’t allegic to peanuts or does he do another test. Eitherway, I’m pretty sure I’d go somewhere else, I might even attempt to dispute the bill (put the payment on a credit card and dispute that) unless your insurance picked it up.

Consider asking your doctor about RAST testing for common food allergies. It’s a blood test, and much simpler than skin testing.

If the RAST is equivocal, then one can move to more invasive testing.