So in the first installment of what I imagine will be an ongoing series on this blog, I present September 2011's Quack of the Month, Devi S. Nambudripad and her NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) system.
In her 1999 book, Say Good-Bye to Allergy-Related Autism, Dr. Nambudripad argues that autistic symptoms are the result of a build-up of allergens in a person's developing brain in his first three years of life. This is not an uncommon line of thought - think of how Ryan's brain interprets wheat gluten as an opiate.
But then she goes too far.
Nambudripad's method for diagnosing and treating "allergy-related autism" is a bit different than just eliminating problem foods from one's diet. Her primary diagnostic method is a form of applied kinesiology: the patient holds various items in his hand and the practitioner pushes on his arm to test muscle resistance. If the arm offers little resistance, she says, the fault lies in the specific substance held in the patient's hand. So if my arm shows weakness when I'm holding a carrot, I must be allergic to the carrot.
As absurd as this sounds, it gets weirder: if the patient is a young child or is somehow incapacitated, a SURROGATE may be used for the muscle test! The practitioner tests the surrogate while the surrogate is touching the patient, and the patient's energy flowing through the surrogate will make the surrogate's arm weak in the presence of whatever the patient is allergic to.
The treatment is derived in a similar fashion. The patient holds a dietary supplement in one hand while the practitioner pulls the other arm, and the degree of muscle weakness shows how many supplements should be taken. The NAET online store has many herbal preparations with names like "Allergy Help Plus" and "Pain Balance and More," each for around $25 per bottle. The average patient, according to the NAET website, requires 15-25 "treatments." Figure that your insurance probably won't cover this sort of thing, and you're looking at a hefty price tag.
Surely, if this were a viable method for treating autism (and pain! menopause! food allergies! eosinophilic esophagitis! heart palpitations! glaucoma in dogs! ulcerative colitis! psychic intuition!!! - seriously, check out the patient testimonials), I'm sure the wider medical community would have picked up on this sometime in the last 12 years, and researchers would have published their findings in journals more reputable than The Journal of NAET, Energetics and Complementary Medicine. Surely there wouldn't be such a long thread about it in the Museum of Hoaxes.
I'm going to call BS on this one.