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Oct 18

A recent issue of the Daily Express newspaper contained about allergy testing. The full article may be seen here:   http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/204814/Allergy-detection-What-works, (by Jane Symons.)

One of the methods (not Health Kinesiology) challenged in the report apparently concluded: “Dylan was deficient in docosahexaenoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid often abbreviated to DHA), glutamine, niacin, silica, vanadium and sulforaphane.” The author of the article, Jane Symons, then made an unreferenced comment: “There is, however, no recommended intake for DHA, glutamine, silica, vanadium or sulforaphane, which means there is no such thing as a deficiency.” (My emphasis.)

Ms. Symons could use a lesson in scientific methodology.

In the medical world one approach to researching effects is called the “gold standard” of methodology, namely randomized double blind. What this means is that the participants, subjects, are randomly placed in the different treatment groups, such as placebo and drug groups, with neither the subjects nor the researchers knowing which group is which. However, many medical researchers do not have extensive training in scientific methodology. I do.

Depending on the type of data sought there are numerous valid research design options, and choosing an inappropriate one can lead to very misleading conclusions. Consider this example.

Dr Feingold proposed, decades ago, that hyperactive children were reacting to naturally occurring salicylates in food, (or by taking aspirin). He provided evidence, so a larger more elaborate study was needed to verify, or not, his proposal. A “gold standard” study was carried out, by others, in which a group of hyperactive kids were randomly assigned either to a salicylate-free diet or a diet containing salicylates. At the end of the study the entire groups of kids were compared and the conclusion was that there was not a statistically significant difference in the two groups. In other words the conclusion was that salicylates were not a cause of hyperactivity. So what was wrong with that? It was not understood by the researchers that not every kid was a reactor! Only about 10% of the kids reacted to salicylates, but in those kids the effect was obvious to parents and teachers. By lumping all the kids together, both reactors and non-reactors, the real effect was “washed out”. That deficiency in the research design has probably affected many thousands of kids.

Quite often there is simply a binary decision. Either there is an effect or not. So the questions becomes, “Can we demonstrate that a deficiency exists when there is no Recommended Daily Intake?” This is not to determine how much is needed, but only that some is required. There is a simple test we can do. If we can demonstrate that only one single individual requires a specific nutrient, then obviously there is a daily requirement even though that is not yet determined. This is similar to the original description of the platypus: a duck-billed mammal was so unbelievable that unless one specimen was displayed no one would believe it existed.

After massive research, about one minute, I found a perfect example of a required nutrient for which there is no recommended intake. We all accept that it is required, but obviously Jane Symons does not believe it. I urge her to volunteer to be the one subject to prove my point. Is she up to the challenge.

Hypothesis: Some nutrients are required even though there is no recommended intake.
Subject: Any volunteer. Disbelievers preferred.
Human Subject Declaration: Since a human subject is involved then a Form must be provided to the subject for them to give consent, state they understand the research, any possible consequences, and so on. The entire experiment will take only a few minutes. I was once on the Human Subjects Committee at a major American medical school.
Measurement Variables: pulse rate, respiration rate, and muscle tone. Many others could be used, but these three are very simple, inexpensive, and low tech.
Procedure: Seat subject and make baseline measurements of the variables until they stabilize. Any significant change in these measurements after the experimental treatment begins will indicate we have demonstrated the need for this nutrient.
Have the subject place a plastic bag over their head and seal the bag around the neck.
Nutrient Being Evaluated: Oxygen (or more precisely, air).
Expected Result: A drop in each variable to zero.
Conclusion: If the expected result is obtained then we have proved that there is at least one required nutrient for which there has not been established a minimum daily intake and therefore we have also disproved Ms. Symons statement as quoted above. Furthermore, we have demonstrated this even though the subject knows what is being tested and can make any effort they desire to modify their responses. Removal of the bag would also prove the hypothesis, because there would be no reason to do so otherwise! This is a very robust research design.

Well Ms. Symons?

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