Holford on Applied Kinesiology testing: “there is little doubt that it works”

Holford’s Whole Health Manual is a real joy to read: flicking through it in the library, it provided excellent light relief from the more serious texts I was reading. As well as writing positively about health dowsing, Professor Holford of Teesside University also seems to have had a soft spot for Applied Kinesiology (AK):

While the concepts behind this technique are often hard to grasp there is little doubt that it works and is a useful test in improving the overall function of our bodies. (Holford 1983, 130).

Unfortunately – while Holford has also written in the Whole Health Manual about the utility of intuition – whatever intuition, evidence or knowledge Holford was drawing on appears to have let him down here. As John Garrow has shown, Applied Kinesiology produces results similar to chance when subjected to blind testing.

In other words, AK testing is about as useful as the practitioner guessing. Hopefully, Holford has now abandoned AK testing as a discredited modality (though BANT – a professional body for ‘nutritional therapists’ – still view it as an “allied discipline”). However, Holford does still endorse allergy/intolerance blood tests, despite the House of Lords calling for responsible professionals to stop endorsing such tests.

Here at Holford Watch, we would like to see a move away from intuition and ineffective testing, and towards reliable allergy and intolerance tests supervised by suitably qualified professionals. With this in mind, it is high time that we enhanced NHS provision for those with allergies and intolerances. Allergies may have a substantial disease burden; they can be potentially serious, particularly where there is an anaphylactic reponse: intolerances may have a significant impact on the quality of life. Both allergies and intolerances need evidence-based diagnosis and treatment, rather than unproven or already falsified ‘alternative’ approaches.

At any rate, that’s what my intuition’s telling me.

Holford, P. (1983) The Whole Health Manual, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Thorsons.



Filed under allergies, food intolerance, patrick holford

8 responses to “Holford on Applied Kinesiology testing: “there is little doubt that it works”

  1. jdc325

    Is there anything Holford doesn’t believe in?

  2. Judging by his references to “the myth of the balanced diet”, he doesn’t believe in the nutritional adequacy of the foods that we eat.

  3. anandamide

    “The myth of the balanced diet”?


    Where’s that particular gem? One really does begin to wonder how the human race survived the past 100,000 years without the IoN helping up through the nutritional minefield that is life.

  4. Too many to reproduce as it is littered through books and articles: one example is quoted by David Colquhoun in his discussion of the ASA ruling against Holford.

    You may enjoy some Patrick Holford juvenilia which indicates that he may once have been more trusting in Nature while simultaneously pushing the case for supplements.

  5. Pingback: Patrick Holford and The Whole Health Dowsing Kit « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  6. I have to say that the comments regarding – “As John Garrow has shown, Applied Kinesiology produces results similar to chance when subjected to blind testing.” to be slightly grating. I run (with my partner) the longest running school in the UK. We do NOT advocate dowsing, or any belief system whatsoever. Muscle testing (done/taught properely) will produce exact results. If you can understand a basic electrical circuit, i.e. on or off, then you have got to grips with basic kinesiology!! The easiest persons in the world to explain muscle testing too are mechanics and electricians. If your body is intolerant to say wheat or dairy, you would perform a muscle test and lets just say it is strong (the client holds the (light) pressure from the kinesiologist with no problem, sponginess or shaking (I have witnessed the most diabolical testing when a practioner at a seminar has applied so much pressure they have actually injured someone, probably because they assumed the test would be weak!!!) and then wheat or dairy is placed on the cheek, then repeat the muscle test, it will go weak. And vica versa for nutrition – muscle test performed and you have weak muscle test – have the client hold the nutrition against the cheek and when the relevant one is introduced to the circuit you have a strong muscle test. It is so simply and logical and is not rocket science. THE big problem is mainly, that to perform a muscle test you need to have a clear mind and not assume anything, which a lot of people just cannot do. The other problem is lack of legislation, which obviously can lead to poorly trained practitioners. We will be having a article coming out soon in a national newspaper soon, which will show the benefits of kinesiology when used by an expert and not belief systems, etc. Another thing I find amazing is that people cannot understand we now more than ever need nutrition/supplements when we all no the state of mass produced food/farming practices. The nutrients are just not there like they were in years gone by.

  7. Ratty – interesting to hear about your AK school. Which national paper is the article going to be in? You can e-mail me at holfordwatch at googlemail dot com if you’d rather not say on a public blog…

    I’d be curious to know why you see AK as more plausible than dowsing. Have you conducted blind testing yourselves, to see whether your results are reproducible?

  8. Claire

    These people seem unconvinced of the benefits of AK: http://www.allergy.org.au/content/view/262/1/

    “…Kinesiology (Evidence Level II: inaccurate test)

    Kinesiology is based on the concept that exposure to exogenous toxins or allergens will be reflected in a reduction in muscle strength. Muscle strength is measured before and after exposure to food. “Provocation” to food occurs by having drops of food extracts given under the tongue or by holding a vial of food extracts in one hand. Children are assessed by testing the parent’s strength first and again while holding the child’s hand. The two test results are then subtracted to give the final results. Controlled study has shown that kinesiology results are not reproducible and are no more accurate than guessing. Unfortunately, kinesiology and other unproven diagnostic techniques are used as the basis of unorthodox treatment techniques as well. “

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