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A Herbalists Take: Muscle Testing is Bullshit


I have worked in the natural products world, as both a retailer and a wholesaler, for around a decade now, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people perform this strange little ritual when they come in to buy a supplement. You may have seen it before, or you might even be one of the people who engages in this behavior.

Here’s what happens. A customer will go around looking at different products. Bottles of vitamins, capsules, tablets, liquid herbal extracts, you name it. They will pick up one of these products and hold it in front of themselves, close their eyes, and move the product up and down in front of their body. If the person moves away from the product, then the product is not a good choice for their body, but if they move toward the product then this means the product is a good choice for them.

This is bullshit.

Sorry if you don’t like it folks, but this is a lot of new age hippie bullshit. Yes, I am an herbalist and I am calling this out as new age hippie bullshit.

What I can’t stand most about this procedure is that it reinforces the idea that exists in the mainstream medical community, that all of this is just a bunch of woo, quackery, or any other slanderous term that they want to throw at us. When people hear about this behavior, they associate all of natural healing with this type of new age bullshit. Sadly, the art and science of herbal medicine goes right out the window when these people are engaged in this magical discerning behavior.

There are other forms of this technique you might have seen. One of them goes like this: You put your thumb and middle fingers together around each other and ask a question, if you pull your fingers apart then the answer is “no”, but if they stay together the answer is “yes”. This is also bullshit.

This behavior essentially comes down to what is this persons subconscious desire? Do they like this product better or worse than the other one they tested. Maybe she (and I say she because it is almost always a woman who is engaged in this behavior) likes the packaging of one more than the other, so she subconsciously moves toward the product instead of away.

This activity almost always coincides with some other new age bullshit that allows you to contact God and ask direct questions about your life. Um…this already exists and has existed for a long time. It’s called prayer and meditation. The new age people are simply building a new spirituality on the ancient ideas, except instead of prayer or meditation, they are calling it “Theta Healing” or “Angel Healing” or some other made up name and charging you per session. Yeah, some of them are actually charging for this “service”. I guess it is no different than the priest sending around the collection plate at church, but that’s a different subject for a different day.

To sum up: I would simply issue this challenge to anyone who thinks this is a real thing and they have the ability to discern which product will be best for their body and which will be detrimental. I didn’t come up with this challenge; if I remember correctly I heard this from one of Ed Smith’s audio lectures, (or it could have been Michael Tierra, forgive me if I don’t remember correctly, it was several years ago when I heard this).

So here is the challenge to these folks. I will line up 20 bottles of liquid in amber glass bottles (no labels), 10 rows of 2 different liquids. Go down the line, holding 2 at a time, and use your magic powers to discern which liquid you have to drink. One bottle contains delicious organic apple juice. And the other bottle contains battery acid. Wearing a blindfold, go down the line and pick out the apple juice from the battery acid. Here’s the catch: you have to drink every bottle that “your body tells you” is the apple juice. Sound like a fair proposal? Does this sound like a challenge any rational person would take?

To sum up, I will say this. There is no magic way to quickly determine which product is best for your body and which products are not. This takes time, research, knowledge. If you yourself are not familiar with the various brands of herbal extracts and supplements that are out there, then you should work with someone in the field. Seek out the help of a knowledgeable herbalist, someone who relies on traditional knowledge and contemporary science. Someone who will ask you questions about your lifestyle and your wellness goals, and the two of you can come up with a strategy that will be best for your personal needs.

And guess what? Even then, the products that you decide on might not be the only answer. You have to try the herbs and see how they impact you. Every human body is different and we are incredibly intricate organisms. You should report back to your herbalist and let him or her know whether your herbs and/or supplements are having a noticeable effect. Are you feeling better or worse? Or are you feeling no different at all? This is a process that will take time and patience. It’s not something you can magically determine in less than 30 seconds standing in the aisles of your local health food store. To do so, reduces the complexity of what we are doing down to a parlor trick. It is disrespectful to the craft and those who practice it. It also is setting us back as we try to establish legitimacy in the minds of the public.

So, if you ever see someone engaged in this activity, feel free to issue them the apple juice challenge and see how they respond.

Categories: Blog

2 thoughts on “A Herbalists Take: Muscle Testing is Bullshit

  1. I 100% agree. This muscle testing business is complete nonsense, and the fact that colleges and universities are now exploiting consumer stupidity, kinesiology is now offered as a serious form of healthcare. Ridiculous.

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