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"MMT [Manual Muscle Testing] is synonymous with Applied Kinesiology (AK) and other forms of 'energy medicine', used for a variety of purposes by alternative practitioners – osteopathic, chiropractic, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and athletic training professionals. The patient holds out one arm and the practitioner pushes it down. The first time they do this, the arm moves down quickly; the second time, however, usually after the 'intervention', the arm appears to better resist. The patient sees this as suddenly being imbued with increased strength. Chiropractors, osteopaths and kinesiologists may use this test to 'prove' that their treatment increased their patient's strength. An investigation into the 'Methods and Styles of Manual Muscle Testing by AK Practitioners' showed that practitioners did not clearly differentiate between examiner - or patient-started muscle testing, and that the tests lacked reliability. The study concluded, "the evidence to date does not support the use of MMT for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions". Even an investigation published in the Chiropractic and Manual Therapies journal backed this conclusion...If 'energy medicine' does work, someone will have to re-write all of our physics books, for its most basic propositions run completely contrary to everything we know about physics. When it comes to thinking up new scams, or recycling old ones, most of which target seniors, patients with chronic pain and gullible people, the imagination of alternative practitioners seems boundless. So once again, as far as most 'Complementary and Alternative Medicine' interventions are concerned, my advice is to ask for the evidence before parting with your cash, and make sure that evidence comes from an independent and credible source, and not from those who will profit from your gullibility." Loretta Marron, BSc, Chief Executive Officer of the Friends of Science in Medicine, Information to Pharmacists (July 2012)
"As none of the papers included adequate statistical analyses, no valid conclusions could be drawn concerning their report of findings." Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (May 1990)
The results suggested that its use as a diagnostic tool was no more useful than random guessing. German study reported in Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies [FACT] (2000)
The authors conclude that AK cannot be recommended for diagnosing nutritional intolerance. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies [FACT] (June 2002)
"AK has been tested thoroughly, and has always been found useless." James Randi (An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural)
"There is little doubt that the muscle movements detected by AK are unconsciously triggered (Hyman 1999), but there is scant evidence that they are triggered by amazing databases of truths. In short, AK practitioners are deluding themselves and mistaking ideomotor action for access to hidden truths." (The Skeptic's Dictionary)
Article by William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., National Council Against Health Fraud (December 2000)
"Applied kinesiology has been suggested for many conditions. But high quality research is limited, and applied kinesiology has not been shown to be effective for the diagnosis or treatment of any disease." Intelihealth (2002)
A look at the tricks of Applied Kinesiology. The Skeptic Zone Podcast (12th May 2010) [9:59min video segment]
"Without putting to fine a point on it, AK is utter nonsense — as close as we get in CAM to pure magical thinking. It is based upon no legitimate biological, physiological, or medical principles or evidence." Steven Novella, MD, NeuroLogica (7th December 2007)
"AK is used by 37.6% of chiropractors in the US, according to the American Chiropractic Association. It is also an integral part of NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique), a quack treatment for allergies and chemical sensitivities that was invented by an acupuncturist and is practiced by an estimated 8,500 licensed medical providers." Harriet Hall MD, Science Based Medicine (7th February 2012)
“Applied Kinesiology (AK) is not established as clinically effective, is not professionally recognized, poses a health and safety risk through Substitution Harm and Labeling Effects, and is considered to be scientifically implausible.” American Speciality Health Clinical Guideline (Revised 27th October 2009) [pdf]
The results of this study indicated that the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing. Journal of the American Dietetic Association (June 1988)
Applied Kinesiology does not conform to known facts about the causes or treatment of disease. Controlled studies have found no difference between the results with test substances and with placebos. Differences from one test to another may be due to suggestibility, distraction, variations in the amount of force or leverage involved, and/or muscle fatigue.
What thought process is going on in people who casually accept the impossible as true? Take, for example, a recent news report of a Canadian man who apparently has suffered from pain for years. The reporting in the article, not surprisingly, is horrific. There isn’t a hint of journalistic skepticism, no consultation with a medical expert, and not even a token attempt at balance…The core of the story is that Eric Bertrand, who has suffered muscle pain for years despite treatment from real doctors, was finally pressured by his family to consult an alternative practitioner….Bertrand consulted Ottawa practitioner, Tony Brunelle, who is a chiropractor…Brunelle used a technique known as applied kinesiology to diagnose Bertrand’s problem…
Bertrand was told to keep an outstretched arm held strong while answering questions about various organs in his body. He was to reply that the organ in question was healthy and if Brunelle couldn’t easily budge the arm that would prove it. When the doctor asked about Bertrand’s liver, the arm slid down with ease. He repeated the process, listing different liver ailments until the arm once again slid down.
Diagnosis: liver parasite.
…This is a good description of applied kinesiology, which was developed by a chiropractor. The idea is that the body is all connected in some vague way by magical life energy (the kind of vitalistic force that traditional chiropractors believe in), so that when there is a problem with one part of the body (like the liver) then the muscle that corresponds to that organ through this mysterious energy connection will be weak. Not only that, just thinking about your unhealthy organ will make your muscles generally weak (the whole “mind-body” thing), or (as in this case) falsely stating that the organ in question is healthy will significantly weaken your muscles…I have no idea how accurate this report is, but even if we accept the report what can we make of that? Since Bertrand was treated for his apparent underlying condition, he may have been on the mend in any case. Chronic pain is also tricky, and often has a huge psychological component. Chronic pain medications also have an effect, and we have no idea from the article what other variables were changed recently. But all of those variables aside, we often see similarly profound subjective effects from pure faith healing. People with chronic conditions walk out of the faith-healer’s tent feeling much better. I have personally seen this myself. There are physiological and psychological mechanisms for this – the release of endorphins, for example. Essentially this is just a placebo effect, and tends to be short lived. In cases that I have seen the recipients of the faith healing were impressed by their reduction in symptoms (even though objectively they were no different), but paid for their short term pain reduction with later worsening. The power of self deception is well documented, and pain is particularly subject to psychological factors. Even an improvement in mood from the offer of a treatment is enough to reduce the experience of pain…This irresponsible article will now drive more people to consult pseudoscientists for their medical conditions, and to believe in magic.” Steven Novella, MD, Neurologica blog (25th June 2012)
"When AK is disentangled from standard orthopedic muscle testing, the few studies evaluating unique AK procedures either refute or cannot support the validity of AK procedures as diagnostic tests. The evidence to date does not support the use of MMT for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions." Chiropractic and Osteopathy (23rd August 2007)
The working hypothesis of this study was the assumption that the reliability of Applied Kinesiology (AK) would not exceed random chance. The outcome confirmed the hypothesis. Clinical research report published in the Journal of Dental Research (October 2005)