Conventional, effective Allergy#Treatment|treatments for allergies include Allergy#Pharmacotherapy|pharmacotherapy and Allergy#Immunotherapy|immunotherapy, or alternatively the patient can attempt to avoid the allergen.
BackgroundDevi Nambudripad was a student chiropractor and acupuncturist at the time she developed NAET. Whilst experiencing a reaction to eating carrots she attempted to overcome the reaction through a self-administered acupuncture treatment. After the treatment the reaction to eating carrots did not return. At the time of the acupuncture treatment, a remnant of carrot was on her skin, and Nambudripad concluded from this that the presence of a minute quantity of carrot during the acupuncture treatment was the key to the treatment. She then formulated a hypothesis that contact with a small amount of an allergen during an acupuncture or acupressure session can remove reactions to food and other substances.*NAET is promoted by her Nambudripad's Allergy Research Foundation (NARF) which also publishes its own journal called The Journal of NAET, Energetics & Complementary Medicine.*She is licensed as a chiropractor* and acupuncturist* in California. She also identifies herself as an M.D.. Her website states that she received the Doctor of Medicine degree from University of Health Sciences Antigua (UHSA) in January 2002.* The Medical_Board_of_California|California Medical Board does not list an active license, and it does not recognize medical degrees from University of Health Sciences Antigua|UHSA as valid, listing it as a "disapproved" school since 1995.*
TechniqueNambudripad claims that the central nervous system and associated sensory systems have the ability to detect the "electromagnetic signatures" of all molecules, with the central nervous system either attracting, ignoring or rejecting a particular substance.* Rejection is said to manifest itself as an energy disturbance or blockage in the flow of qi along Meridian_(Chinese_medicine)|meridians. In stark contrast to the conventional understanding of allergies, Nambudripad characterizes an allergy as a condition caused by these "repulsive electromagnetic fields between an individual and the object (allergen)".* Allergens may be any of a wide variety of substances, as well as more abstract notions such as emotions and colors.* The cumulative effects of these energy disturbances are said to give rise to a variety of health disorders, with Nambudripad suggesting that "95 percent of human ailments arise from some sort of allergy".* The theory of NAET proposes that these allergies can be eliminated by addressing the energy blockages through the use of acupuncture or acupressure. NAET practitioners use a form of applied kinesiology called Neuromuscular Sensitivity Testing (NST or NST-NAET) to diagnose allergies by comparing the strength of a muscle in the presence and absence of a suspected allergen.* Practitioners will then aim to remove energy blockages by having the patient hold a glass bottle containing the allergen whilst acupressure or acupuncture techniques are employed. After treatment, patients rest 20 minutes while continuing to hold the jar containing the allergen, after which time the patient will again be tested for an allergic reaction using the muscle strength test. If the NAET practitioner determines the allergy has cleared, the patient is advised to avoid the allergic substance for the following 25 hours. Patients are instructed to return for retesting with NAET between 25 hours and 7 days after the treatment.*
EvidenceSeveral reviews of the available evidence for various alternative techniques in allergy diagnosis have determined that applied kinesiology, the primary diagnostic technique in NAET, is ineffective at diagnosing allergies and advise against its use.* Various medical associations also advise against its use, including the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology,* the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence,* the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,* the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,* the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy* and the Allergy Society of South Africa.*
Independent studies on the treatment phase of NAET have not been performed, with two review articles concluding that "NAET has to be the most unsubstantiated allergy treatment proposed to date"* and that "there have been no studies supporting the use of these techniques".* The Teuber and Porch-Curren review cautions that "there is the potential for an anaphylactic reaction if a patient with severe food allergies seeks such a therapy and tests themselves by oral challenge away from a physician's office after completing the NAET sessions successfully".* The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy has advised against using NAET to treat allergies, criticizing its "lack of scientific rationale" and describing it as a "potentially dangerous technique".*
In a critical appraisal of Nambudripad's techniques Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch writes: