Your Friday Dose of Woo: Applied kinesiology, but only more woo-ful

I have an MD and a PhD. While many people find that to be impressive, personally I’ve become so inured of it that I certainly don’t take note of it much anymore. Certainly, I rarely point it out. So, you may ask, why am I pointing it out this time, even going so far as to start a post with it? The answer is simple. If there was one thing I always thought about having both an MD and a PhD, it’s that it should render one more resistant to pseudoscience and woo. I know, I know, maybe I’m being incredibly arrogant or incredibly naive–possibly both–but it was what I thought for a long time, even well into my blogging years. You’d think that delving into the depths of woo on a nearly daily basis for five years would have taught me the error of my thoughts in this, but it didn’t.

Until now. I’ve just encountered a man with a legitimate MD and PhD who has truly gone to the dark side. Meet Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD of the Klinghardt Academy of Neurobiology. Here’s a man who started out seemingly promisingly enough until, well, this:

Dr. Klinghardt studied medicine (1969-1975) and psychology (1975-1979) in Freiburg, Germany, completing his PhD on the involvement of the autonomic nervous system in autoimmune disorders. Several publications followed. Early in his career, he became interested in the sequelae of chronic toxicity (especially lead, mercury, environmental pollutants and electromagnetic fields) for the course of illness. While working in India as a junior physician, he encountered Eastern concepts of disease etiology and blended them with his Western training. This laid the foundation for his 5-level system of Integrative Medicine.

I hate it whenever I see someone refer to “Eastern medicine.” There is no such thing, except as an artificial construct to justify woo compared to science-based medicine. Worse, Klinghardt seems to use a veritable cornucopia of serious woo:

Due to his innovative contributions to Neural Therapy, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology he is regularly invited to teach workshops at the prestigious “Medicine Week” in Baden-Baden, Germany.

That Klinghardt uses homeopathy should tell you all that you need to know about him! After all, homeopathy is the purest form of quackery that exists. Well, maybe reiki and other forms of “energy medicine” give it a good run for its money. After all, when you come right down to it, reiki is nothing more than faith healing based on Eastern mysticism rather than the more common Judeo-Christian religions upon which most faith healing is based in the U.S. and Europe. But, hey, it’s Eastern, and therefore more exotic than the run-of-the-mill faith healers who prowl the U.S.!

So what are these “five levels” of healing of which Klinghardt writes? I’ll get to that in a minute. First, you just have to check out this video, which lays out the fundamental teachings of Dr. Klinghardt:

Who says woo doesn’t pay? This is apparently from a five DVD set being sold on Dr. K’s site called, appropriately enough, The Fundamental Teachings of Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD. It’s only $145, too! Actually, I wouldn’t pay $145 for the DVDs of my five favorite Star Trek movies. In Blu-ray, but apparently Dr. K’s fans will pay nearly $30 per DVD to hear him drone on as you see above.

Whenever I hear someone claiming that the first basis of all chronic disease is “toxicity” and “chronic infections,” I know I’m dealing with a high level woo-meister, particularly when he refers to his model as a “philosophical,” rather than a medical or scientific model. “Toxicity” almost always refers to mystical, magical “toxins,” usually (of course!) from modern life, that are allegedly poisoning us. Rare is it that someone like Klinghardt will actually specify what these “toxins” are, how they make us “toxic,” and how he knows that it is the “toxins” that are causing disease, other than sometimes to invoke vague “heavy metal” toxicity (which would be a great name for a band, by the way). “Chronic infection” almost always means something like “chronic Lyme disease” or vague, unproven parasitic or fungal “infections” that are not. Dr. K also lays on the “functional” causes, which, allegedly, chiropractors and osteopaths deal with.

Perhaps my favorite one is “interference fields,” in which, according to Dr. K, any structure in the body can become “electrically active,” whatever that means. Of course, nearly your entire body is “electrically active,” given that nerves bring what are in essence electrochemical signals to all parts of the body and cells maintain an electrochemical gradient. It’s calle the resting potential, and it’s usually in the range of around -60 mV. Cells have special protein pumps that pump sodium ions in and potassium ions out to produce the gradient using ATP for energy. (Those of you who took biology and biochemistry will remember the Nernst equation to calculate equilibrium potentials.) Consequently, I can’t figure out what Dr. K is talking about when he says that any structure can become “electrically active,” because pretty much every cell in the body is electrochemically active. He give the example of abnormal pacemakers in the heart, which is a real world problem that can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, but the examples of diseases and conditions where abnormal electrical activity is the cause are relatively small: epilepsy, GI motility, and other problems of that type. Of course, it’s not surprising that if your body can become “electrically active” that Dr. K would claim that electromagnetic fields are a major cause of chronic disease.

But what are these “five levels” of healing of which Dr. K makes such a big deal. He explains them here. They include:

  1. The lowest level is the physical body.
  2. The second level is the energy body or “body electric.”
  3. The next higher body, the mental body or mental field.
  4. The fourth level is a level beyond the mind and beyond language.
  5. The fifth level is the “spirit body.”

Not surprisingly, we boring, unenlightened science-based physicians just treat the lowest level of all, the mere physical body. Dr. K, as you might imagine, claims to go much beyond that, into the realm of pure woo. For example, check out this description of the third level. Yes, I wanted to know what on earth he meant by going to a level “beyond the mind and beyond language” (level 4). Now I know, but I had to read about level 3 first, unfortunately:

The next higher body, the mental body or mental field, extends theoretically into infinity squared, and the higher two levels extend beyond that. Beliefs, attitudes and thoughts form and organize this level. There is an individual mental field and a consensus field (consensus reality). Every emotion (2nd level) is preceded by a perception and a thought or chain of thoughts. Thoughts trigger emotions and other energy body changes, which in turn trigger change in the physical body. We are all surrounded by our own mental field, which in turn interrelates with the field of our human species. A mental field can be healthy and can be sick.

Infinity squared? Does this guy know just how meaningless such a phrase is? Doesn’t he know that infinity squared is just infinity? It doesn’t even really sound all that “science-y,” and anyone who’s taken freshman physics would laugh at such pretentious twaddle. In fact, I’ll do Dr. K one better! I’ll take my mental body to infinity cubed. So there! (Speaking of cubed, I wonder if I wait long enough whether Dr. K will go into Time Cube territory. Almost. the fourth level is even more fun:

The fourth level is a level beyond the mind and beyond language. It is the home of near-death experiences, past-lives, archetypes, spirit possession, ecstatic states, karma and the expression of unresolved trans-generational family issues. The highest level at which an interaction between physician and client is possible is the fourth level. This level is the “dream body or intuitive body”. Healing on this level often leads to instant disappearance of the associated unresolved conflicts on the third level.

Uh-oh. That last line about eliminating “unresolved conflicts” sure sounds dangerously close to Hamer territory. I’m talking about the German New Medicine and its offshoots like Biologie Totale, wherein cancer is viewed not as a disease but a normal response to unresolved psychic conflicts designed to resolve the conflict. I didn’t see any more explicit invocations of concepts associated with this quackery, but it sure sounds suspiciously as though Dr. K is at least flirting with Hamer time.

Can you guess what first brought Dr. K to my attention? No, he wasn’t featured on, although he’d be right at home there. Rather, he was featured on that uber-quackery site that is almost as nutty as Mike Adams’ quackfest, namely Joe Mercola’s website, in an article entitled Radical New Treatment May Help Cancer Without Drugs. Whenever I see anything about cancer on Mercola’s website, I stand up and take notice, given Mercola’s previous track record with quacks like Tullio Simoncini, he of “all cancer is white” and “all cancer is a fungus” fame. He didn’t disappoint with Dr. Klinghardt, although, oddly enough, there’s nary a mention of cancer in his interview with Dr. Klinghardt:

I didn’t realize that they taught acupuncture and homeopathy in German medical schools in the 1970s. Somehow, I doubt they taught much about acupuncture, although, given the German roots of homeopathy, it wouldn’t surprise me if homeopathy was taught there. Hilariously, Klinghardt calls homeopathy “science” at one point in this video. He also invokes evolution to claim that it used to be the “strongest” who were selected for, but now what’s selected for are genes that produce the most robust “detoxification” response to get rid of those nasty alt-med toxins. One particularly amusing part of the second half of the video occurs when Klinghardt answers the criticism that there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of AK or ART by invoking a review of retrospective studies that concluded that there is “worldwide” agreement that AK is reproducible science. No surprise at all, Klinghardt neglects to mention that the article was written by the creator of AK, George J Goodheart Jr., and published in a chiropractic journal and completely fails to address the criticism, but, hey, he sure sounds like he knew what he was talking about when he did it. Maybe the German accent has something to do with it.

In any case, Dr. Klinghardt seems to be particularly known for two types of woo, autonomic resonance testing (ART) and something called “neural therapy.” ART is described thusly:

ART Definition: When a substance is placed over an area of your body that contains this identical substance, a stress signal is elicited, which makes a strong indicator muscle go weak.

In other words, ART is nothing more than a gussied up version of that quackery known as applied kinesiology. In fact, Dr. Mercola admits as much:

Muscle testing was initially developed in the US by a chiropractor, Dr. George Goodheart, who developed applied kinesiology. Dr. Klinghardt has since taken it to an entirely different level, to where ART can be used to understand and gauge how different interventions can influence a person’s pathology.

Conventional medicine does not have the tools to determine the root of a health problem, which makes ART that much more valuable. And contrary to popular belief, the ART method of muscle testing is not based on psychic abilities or some flimsy methodology of using your body as a pendulum.

Rather, it is a true diagnostic system that is based in physiology, the function of your autonomic nervous system, with repeatable experiments to back it up. In the video above, you’ll hear him give several examples of the methodology that distinguishes ART from other muscle testing techniques.

AK, if you recall, is the idea that every disease or organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness. By testing muscle strength, according to AK, there is specific muscle weakness due to substances, foods, etc. Chiropractors will test specific muscle groups after exposure to various foods or substances, either by having the patient put them in his mouth or by merely holding them over various muscle groups. It’s total woo, of course. Basically, there’s no reproducibility, no scientific validity, no standards, and no scientific plausibility, as the Quackwatch article on AK demonstrates.

In reality, Klinghardt’s ART is nothing more than AK tarted up with a lot of different forms of woo and surrounded by “science-y” sounding terms like invoking the autonomic nervous system. Klinghardt postulates three laws of ART. (What is it with woo-meisters and “laws”?) They are:

  1. The First Law of ART – the law of resonance between two identical substances (this law has been most clearly identified by the research of Y.Omura, MD): if a substance is held in the energy field of a person and the indicator muscle weakens, the identical substance is in the body (resonance between two identical substances). If the substance is only in a particular organ, ganglion or other structure, the test substance has to be held exactly over this area. A variation of this test is the most common A.R.T. test: the examiner finds a structure that therapy-localizes (while holding it, the indicator muscle weakens). The indicator-muscle becomes strong, when the resonating substance is placed anywhere on the patient.
  2. The Second Law of ART – 2-Pointing: if the examiner therapy-localizes more than one structure, ganglion etc. during the A.R.T. body scan or examination, two structures (or more) may be affected by the same toxin or infection, or one structure may affect one or more others. If the indicator muscle weakens while holding one of these structures but strengthens while holding another (which weakened when held alone), there is a) either a cause/effect relationship between the two or b) they are both affected by the s toxin/infection . The 2nd law of A.R.T. is therefore really a variation of the 1st law.
  3. The Third Law of ART- Resonance between the examiner and the patient: the examiner’s body acts exactly like any other substance held into the energy field of the patient. If the doctor is toxic with the same substance that is causing the patient’s illness or that is stored in one or more of the patient’s tissues, the test will be affected as outlined in the 1st and 2nd law of ART. Therefore, the 3rd law is really a variation of the 1st law also (but overlooked in any other school of kinesiology).

I love how Klinghardt “expands” upon AK in order to make the physician able to induce the “allergic” state in the patient through resonance, meaning that the physician has to be “pure.” Kind of like a priest, I’m guessing. In any case, how are these laws applied. Klinghardt is more than happy to explain:

In ART the body is stressed with different modalities:

  • Electromagnetically (placing substances in the field)
  • Psychologically (APN)
  • Structurally (pushing on a teacher area, squeezing an organ or gland, stressing a joint etc.)
  • Bio-chemically (giving a medication orally, i.v. or via other route)

The ART practitioner then assesses the organism’s response to the stressor usually by muscle testing.

But how is this done. You’ll like this:

Then the practitioner assesses the organism’s response to the stressor by one of several means:

  1. The muscle test
  2. Arm length test
  3. Bi-digital O-ring test
  4. Applied Kinesiology (multiple muscles)
  5. EAV (electro acupuncture according to Dr. Voll)
  6. HRV (heat rate variability)
  7. Kirlian photography
  8. VAS (Nogier pulse)
  9. Other types of biofeedback equipment

Kirlian photography? Heh. Heh heh. Hahahahahahahaha! That’s nothing more than “aura” photography! Klinghardt even invokes “Biophoton” woo:

The coherent field of the low intensity light emissions inside the cell is the central regulating agency in the cell. The coupling and interference of the individual fields forms a common shared field in which the entire organism us embedded and orchestrates all the functions of life.

This field is a holographic field of standing waves which are capable- with the help of a broad spectrum of frequencies, polarizations, degrees of coherence and squeezing of the waves-to communicate signals to any place in the organism in close interplay with all material structures etc. The involved physical structures such as microtubulin are designed as antennae for the reception or broadcasting or these signals.

The central storage container and sender of this coherent biophoton emission in the cell is the DNA. The spiral shape of the DNA is an ideal light storage arrangement, because through rhythmic contractions it can store and emit light. The DNA works together with a hierarchy of other light active molecules and forms the network of the “light metabolism”.

Personally, I like this example of an Advanced Biophoton Analyzer better. It at least had more flamboyant language. If you’re going to go woo, go woo. On the other hand, I will give Dr. K props for the bit about spiral shape of the DNA storing and emitting light through rhythmic contractions as part of the body’s “light metabolism.” (I thought light metabolism meant that you didn’t eat anything too heavy.) That is some primo, grade A woo there, yes indeed.

Actually, go woo is exactly what Klinghardt does. The rest of his website is full of only the finest bits of woo, including something he calls neural therapy, in which he advocates detoxification and various other forms of dubious therapies. He also advocates something called applied psycho-neurobiology, in which people “choose from the audience representatives for their ancestors which are placed within the circle of participants in a specific order. Through a series of healing interventions memories, thoughts and feelings of the represented real people are brought to light. The circle and the specific groupings of representatives function spontaneously and powerfully as a healing tool for the client and her/his family.”

That’s right. Your ancestors heal you through people living today. What more could you ask for?

Many are the times I’ve pointed out that having an MD is not the same thing as being a scientists. Most MDs, in fact, are not scientists, and the susceptibility of physicians to pseudoscience, such as “intelligent design” creationism is evidence of that. After all, it is a physician, Dr. Michael Egnor, who has embarrassed me for my profession more than just about anyone else by being the Energizer Bunny of creationism and being the inspiration for me to postulate the “vindication of all kooks” corollary to the principle of crank magnetism. But Dr. Egnor doesn’t have a PhD, too. Dr. Klinghardt does. But he does have what we science-based medical doctors have a hard time gathering, namely testimonials and some really awesome protocols to “detoxify”! Unfortunately for Dr. Klinghardt, one of his testimonials is this one:

“One of the most brilliant and gifted medical pioneers of our times.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola

That should tell you all you need to know about Dr. Klinghardt. Maybe next he’ll get Mike Adams’ endorsement. Oh, wait. He already did, and it turns out that he’s into amalgam woo and “detoxification” of mercury from amalgams to treat dental problems.

Never mind. And I take back what I said about people with MDs and PhDs being more resistant to woo.