Posted by Ethan Clow on July 7, 2011
Recently, a listener wrote in with this email:
Hey Radio Freethinker,
I love your show! I’ve been listening to it for a few months now as a
podcast (since I’m in Ontario).
I’m sure you get plenty of suggestions, but I thought given your
interest in debunking so called ‘alternative health’ methods, I
couldn’t resist sending you this idea.
I’d love to hear something on Biomeridian Stress Testing. I know some
people who are very excited about this test, and suggesting it to
everyone. They found someone performing this “diagnostic” in the back
of a health food store, and started taking their claims (about
allergies, parasites etc…) very seriously (including changing their
children’s diets, and buying natural remedies (conveniently sold in
the same store)). Being a skeptic myself, I find the claims of these
devices suspect to say the least and dangerous at worst, given that
people substitute them for scientific, medically proven tests and
diagnoses. I even spoke with a naturopathic doctor, and she thought it
sounded pretty suspicious. However, they seem to be getting very
Just a thought!
Thanks for the great show!
Thanks for the email Cathy. I started to do some digging to figure out what exactly Biomeridian testing was. It turns out, that’s easier said than done. Fortunately I found a few sources, including a recent article written by Dr. Harriet Hall over at the blog Science Based Medicine.
From what I’ve been able to gather, Biomeridian Stress Testing, or Biomeridian treatments, or meridian treatments as they are occasionally called, is an alternative medical treatment for allergies. It involves using a form of “no touch” acupuncture to cure allergies by strengthening organs and preventing allergic reactions.
How does it “supposedly” work? That I’m not sure about. The websites I could find for companies that offer Biomeridian testing were very vague about exactly what the process involves. (which is a huge red flag) – if a company had a treatment that worked and was effective, they would be very clear on what the process is, how it works and what it does. This is what I found on one website offering Biomeridian treatment:
“our medical office has used sublingual provocative neutralization techniques for treating patients with adverse reactions to inhalants, foods, and chemicals. This technique is described in detail elsewhere, and has been “proven” beyond any reasonable doubt by numerous double-blind studies executed by various investigators in multiple centers and reported in a number of peer-reviewed medical journals.” – source
Another website I looked at made it sound more like acupuncture but with tapping instead of needles. What they called “Energy Meridian Tapping (EMT)” which is apparently “a user-friendly version of the long established meridian tapping modality called TFT (Thought Field Therapy).” - source
Biomeridan testing seems to involve using electronic devices to measure some vaguely described form of “energy” that apparently indicates when someone is ill or not. Some of these treatments use devices designed to measure electrical currents. A complete circuit is made by having the patient hold a metal object and applying the device to another part of the body. Once the current is made the device will ding or dials will flash about and the tester can either make up some results i.e “oh my you’ve got a conductivity of 12.4 that means you need X more treatments…” or they might have some sort of standard system they use, similar to how scientologists use e-meters.
So, if I understand this correctly, it’s some form of acupuncture that relies on a theory called radionics, the idea that illness and health can be detected by the energy emissions of the body. This theory was created by Dr. Albert Abrams in the early 1920′s and its been around in different forms ever since. When all tests failed to find either that the energy that was indicating the illness, or show that the devices that were supposed to cure these energies didn’t work as they are supposed to work or that they are simply measuring electrical resistance, proponents assert that there is a paranormal element that is “integral to radionics, noting that the radiations being measured are similar to those felt by a dowser” and the person operating the machine must have some paranormal powers.
Looking at the different ways this biomeridian treatments are described, they appear to be creating a hodgepodge of various alternative medicines. Harriet Hall mentions this plethora of names and theories in her article on Science Based Medicine:
“The testing procedure was originally known as electroacupuncture according to Voll (EAV), but is now called by many other names including electrodermal screening (EDS), electrodermal testing (EDT), bioelectric functions diagnosis (BFD), bio resonance therapy (BRT), bio-energy regulatory technique (BER), biocybernetic medicine (BM), computerized electrodermal screening (CEDS), computerized electrodermal stress analysis (CEDSA), limbic stress analysis (LSA), meridian energy analysis (MEA), point testing, and many more.” – source
In addition, there are a lot of red flags when looking at this; the constant vagueness when describing the treatments, the use of words like quantum, energy and wellness – and never are those terms defined, they are simply thrown in as adjectives to make the treatment sound more sciencey. Not to mention the easy out these proponents have given themselves. If ever the treatment doesn’t work they can fall back on the claim that there’s something immaterial or even supernatural going on. That also doubles as an excuse as to why these treatments can’t be examined scientifically.
Cathy also mentioned the potential dangers of such a treatment. I was able to dig up a few alarming reports related to biomeridian testing. One was about some naturopaths taking this treatment to Haiti after the earthquake to help people. Despite being well intentioned, this treatment is scientifically implausible to work and could delay or prevent necessary medical treatment.