Posted by: Chris Maloney | April 29, 2016

Applied Kinesiology, Muscle Testing, What Does It Really Do?

Typically what I have seen is that a practitioner will prescribe Standard Process using a method called applied kinesiology or arm testing. The practitioner will had a patient a bottle, tell them to hold their arm out, and then push down on the arm while calling out an amount of capsules. When the arm is strongest, that’s the number of capsules the patient needs.

Now, kinesiology is a very legitimate science. Applied kinesiology should be that science applied widely, but it’s come to mean only muscle-testing as a diagnostic tool. Again, testing muscles for strength and weakness is completely valid when assessing a strain or sprain. But it’s not as accurate a tool for diagnosis of supplement needs.

Let me say that I was a big fan of muscle testing as a diagnostic tool when I first encountered it. It seemed to work, and you could see a great many patients very quickly. Then I got an urinary tract infection and my applied kinesiology doc told me I had a kidney stone. I explained that the symptoms didn’t match a kidney stone, the onset didn’t match a kidney stone, and my urinalysis didn’t match a kidney stone. He was adamant that my arm strength trumped any other test. I left him, treated myself for a urinary tract infection, and never looked back.

When I researched muscle testing, I found that when the supplement was applied to the tongue of the patient, the test could be validated. At least it matched the blood tests when muscle testing was done for allergens. But evidently along the way someone thought that opening up the bottles was unhygienic and much more expensive. Which brought on the current model of someone holding the closed supplement bottle in their hands while being tested.

We’ve known for years that different practitioners have different results. Different practitioners can’t even agree on the strength or weakness of the muscles themselves. So it’s likely that different practitioners would come up with different results with supplements. But when blinded to what is being tested, practitioners cannot consistently use muscle testing to determine whether something is good or harmful to the patient. In the most recent study, the two female testers did test significantly higher than chance, but only for male patients. This odd result was dismissed by the researchers, who had already concluded that there was nothing there to test before they began.

Most practitioners engage in an open test with patients, in which both the practitioner and the patient are participants. So in combination the practitioner may be finding how many capsules the patient is willing to take or pay for rather than how many the patient needs. But since the patient is involved, the muscle test also tests likely compliance which does directly correlate with end results. Despite not being an accurate double-blind test, muscle testing may well tell a practitioner how successful his or her treatment will be.

It is this collaboration, a non-verbal discussion between the patient and the practitioner, which everyone should acknowledge is going on in clinical practice. As a patient returns for future visits, muscle testing may become increasingly accurate. The patient’s body now knows the product it will be ingesting and the patient herself has a better sense of what she can tolerate. Rather than disregarding muscle testing for diagnosis, doubting practitioners may well get a better sense of their patients’ compliance by having them stick out an arm and pressing down on it.





  1. […] Most practitioners use muscle testing to prescribe, which is complicated in its results (separate post here). More appropriate blood testing is not commonly […]

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