Thanks for all the feedback on this post - see notes at the bottom of post.
I’m passionate about getting what I do and teach accepted by a wider public including the medical community. So I’m pretty strong about saying intuition is great, but not perfect – so let’s be careful what we use it for. Recently I encountered some noticeable resistance and anger to my lecture on muscle checking for supplements and I realized that my short version is easily misunderstood. Thank goodness for people who have the courage to come up to me and say they disagree, because now I’m thinking there might be other students who have misunderstood what I really mean on this subject – hence a blog post because this is a really important topic.
For Accunect to be the future of medicine it needs to integrated into all levels of healthcare. One of the things that means is encouraging people to be responsible about muscle-checking. I’ll admit, one of my pet peeves is people using muscle checking to prescribe herbs and supplements for themselves and others without proper training. But I realize that some people think I am against all supplements. Not true!
I have four years of training in Chinese herbs and I take a few vitamins, minerals, and herbal preparations as a part of my health maintenance. I don’t take a lot of supplements, but I do like to take some. Properly used they can be a great tool for improving health.
So how did I get so misunderstood? I merged too many topics at once. The whole discussion of or not supplements are useful or harmful in a given situation is a topic all by itself. I mixed it up with the ethics of how they are prescribed, and the ethics of intuition and muscle-checking. Let me try to address the subject by answering some basic questions:
Can supplements be super, incredibly useful and healthy?
You bet. We all know someone, maybe ourselves who have been really helped by herbs, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements. Sometimes it can seem like a miracle.
Can supplements be harmful and counterproductive?
Absolutely. Take too much colloidal silver for too long and your skin will turn blue for the rest of your life. Your brain and liver will also turn blue for the rest of your life. I’ve also seen people taking literally handfuls of supplements in terrible health – they started to get better once they scaled back on the number of pills they were taking.
Media and marketing leads us towards the idea that there’s a pill for everything. We get bombarded by ads for drugs and supplements constantly. It's a huge industry and a lot of "health food stores" devote most of their floor space to supplements. But our digestive system is designed to process food, not pills, and at some point you just overstress the digestion by adding more pills. Just because a little might be good doesn't mean that more is better. Interestingly, in some countries the people working the counter in a shop that sells supplements are trained naturopaths, a far different standard than what we have in the US.
So how do you know when they are helpful or harmful?
You could go to school and get a degree as a Naturopathic Doctor. Or you could study to become a certified nutritionist. That would be respecting that tinkering with the chemical balance of the body should not be taken lightly. I know other practitioners who don't have license level training in supplements, but have taken professional training courses in using supplements or supplement ranges - that’s a commitment. To think that all we need to do is muscle check to see if something is good or not is not an acceptable alternative. Look, I do realize that some people use muscle checking for selecting vitamins and herbs for themselves and do it fairly well - they are pretty conservative. But I see way too many people self-prescribing supplements that end up taking way too many pills and stressing their digestion as a result. I also understand that when people don't feel well, they are desperate for something to make them feel better - and this makes them get "yes" answers to too many supplements. But that doesn’t mean I approve of or encourage self-diagnosis using muscle checking. And if I am to work towards more acceptance of Accunect, and more acceptance of intuition in health care, I’ve got to stand for proper standards.
Muscle checking is not a test. It’s a way of checking intuition. Intuition is cool. Intuition is useful. Often intuition is amazing. But it is not perfect. We will never gain acceptance widely as long we imply that our intuition is perfect. But intuition is useful, so this is not a black and white thing. At the risk of making the discussion more complicated, here’s some thoughts on specific questions:
Have I ever used muscle checking when prescribing herbs?
Partially. I have used it to get an intuitive answer about which of several formulas might be better for someone. But this is intuition adding to and refining my professional training. I’ve never given a formula solely on muscle-checking – I’ve made sure that I can justify the prescription based on symptoms, pulse diagnosis, etc. And after the patient has left, I’ve studied the formulas in more depth to understand if and why the “intuitive choice” was actually the best. Often, the "intuitive" formula really was best. Sometimes, the intuitive choice wasn't actually right, but it gave me an insight that helped lead me to selecting a different formula altogether that was a better fit. It's just not as simple as right or wrong.
Have I ever used muscle checking to self-prescribe anything?
Another partial yes. I sometimes use muscle checking to decide to take a supplement or herb on a particular day. But the vitamins and other supplements that are in my cupboard have all been recommended by my naturopathic doctor or by my medical doctor. That’s different than going to the health food store and testing lots of different supplements that I have heard about or read about.
The bottom line:
Intuition can only be used carefully if at all in prescribing anything. Intuition has to be supported by professional training and knowledge. Intuition may provide insight, but the decision to actually prescribe anything should be supported by professional training and knowledge. If you aren’t someone who is trained to prescribe supplements, you shouldn’t start doing so just because you know how to muscle-check to access intuition. If you are trained to give out supplements, make sure you are using muscle-checking to generate insight, not to replace your professional assessment skills and judgement.
Did this discussion help you? Was it too long? Let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Update 14 October 2014
Thanks for all of your emails in reply to this post. We don't have comments turned on, because of all the spam posts that come in if comments are on.
A lot of you really liked the clarity of the explanation and how it gave you a professional way to say no to requests to "check" supplements. A LOT of people reported that they felt like they had been given wrong supplements through muscle checking and thought this was a balanced discussion.
Only one person said that they thought muscle-checking was valid, but qualified that support with the idea that the more "clear" you are, the better your answers. That's kind of true. Some people get reasonably neutral answers much of the time. But since it is always intuition, there's always a chance that you are wrong. The real question is: how do you know when you are being "clear" enough. Even if your answer is "right" there may be other guidelines that you could only know with training. For instance, are there any contraindicated foods, herbs, supplements or medications in combination? If you don't know, you can't advise properly.
Intuition is great, but not reliable:
Here something to think about: how com you never see a headline like “Psychic wins lottery!”?
- Jay Leno