CISRA’s Synergy Health Newsletter

Issue 8. Observations on Food Sensitivities and the Pulse Test (2002)

by J. C. Waterhouse, Ph.D.

Note: You should read Food Allergy/Sensitivity: The Pulse Test and Other Strategies in Issue 5, including the Cautions, before reading this update.

Much of what I discuss below is derived from my further exploration of the use of the pulse test for detection of allergies. This method was originally described by Arthur Coca, M.D. and described in medical publications and a book, The Pulse Test: Easy Allergy Detection (published in 1959, by Lyle Stuart, New York) and used by doctors around the world. I think it interesting to note that Dr. Coca was a prominent immunologist of his day. He was the founder and first editor of the Journal of Immunology, was medical director for 17 years of Lederle Laboratories, a large pharmaceutical company, and taught at several medical schools, including Cornell and Columbia.

To give a brief overview, my recent observations are:

1. The difference between sitting and standing pulse can be quite helpful as an indication of the presence of allergies. I highly recommend you do this test to see if you have obtained an allergy-free state or still have hidden allergies. I had not given much attention to this measurement (discussed in Dr. Coca’s book as “allergic tension”), because the difference for me was always 20-30 beats or more per minute between sitting and standing, and this didn’t seem to improve much over time, despite allergy reduction. But now, due to the things I have learned recently (see below), my allergies have reached a much lower level and I now frequently do reach a zero allergy state in which my sitting and standing pulse are the same.

2. One needs to be careful to take the pulse for an entire minute in exactly the same way. For instance, always use the same hand to take the pulse. I have found the greater tension in my right arm causes my pulse to increase even with the slight activity of pressing my fingers on my wrist to take the pulse. And I have found that bending my arms at the elbow so that my wrists are above my waist increases the pulse about 5 beats per minute. I think these effects may be due to the fibromyalgia lesions near my elbows and the general irritability of tissue due to allergy. Increased tension in my arms increases tension elsewhere and affects the vagal nerve that affects heart rate. Also, it is important to use common sense and not do the pulse test just after climbing the stairs or being very active. Wait a few minutes, if you have been very active, before taking doing the pulse test. I find it easiest to take my pulse by laying my left hand face up on my lap and placing two fingers of my right hand over the outer edge of my wrist about an inch below the area where the base of the thumb connects with the wrist. There is an artery there, between the sinews in the middle of the wrist and the bone on the outer edge of the wrist. Using a gentle pressure of your finger tips, you can feel the beating of your pulse.

3. Doing the pulse test sitting (as Dr. Coca recommends) seems to be more accurate than lying down, but it can be done either way.

4. When using the short cut pulse test, take “control” pulse tests in which you do everything exactly like the short cut test, but without putting any test food on your tongue. Then you can use this control test as a baseline for that particular period of testing foods. In this way you can find out what change in pulse is needed to count it as a reaction on that occasion. I find even a change of 1 or 2 beats per minute can be significant. Some days, particularly when still reacting to a food, the pulse will go up and down a lot. The control tests can let you know that this variability is occurring, so you won’t misinterpret the results as a reaction when it is really an unstable pulse due to a previous food reaction. I experienced this dramatically after I reacted to ostrich patties. The next day, a series of control tests varied from -2 to +8 beats per minute. Without doing the control test, I could easily have mistaken an increase of 6 beats per minute during a food test to a real reaction, when it was probably just the variability on that day. However, a very large reaction may still stand out, as shown by the ostrich test done on that day, which showed an increase of 18 beats per minute.

5. Due to masking that occurs when you are eating a food every day, you may not get a positive pulse test result using the short cut test until 12- 20 hours after stopping the food, particularly if the reaction is a fairly mild one. I often find the highest pulse to be the short cut pulse test done 16 to 36 hours after stopping the food, especially just after a bowel movement when you are passing the allergenic food. Careful observation and food diaries will help you find which symptoms detect the development of reactions at the earliest stage, which may be before the pulse test detects it (for instance, symptoms like slight lip peeling, waking earlier, slightly softer bulkier stools, and many other symptoms that you might observe). This way you can stop the food before the reaction becomes pronounced.

6. Beware of unintentionally slowing or speeding your pulse. I recently discovered that I had been inadvertently slowing my pulse by counting each beat slightly after it occurred. By doing this I found I was reducing my pulse by 10 to 20 beats per minute or more and thus missing food reactions. I have experimented now and no longer do this slowing. To see if this might be a problem for you, try seeing whether you can slow or speed your pulse and then try not to affect it, by listening to the radio or T.V. or something to distract yourself. It may be helpful to avoid looking at the second hand until it is close to being a minute. Also, breath at a normal pace. Slowing your breathing, especially on exhalation, can slow your pulse, and is, in fact, often used as a relaxation method.

7. Of the exotic meats I have tried, elk and venison patties have proved the best so far in terms of a low tendency to cause reactions. In fact, in my case, they are better than chicken in that regard. However, to be on the safe side, I have not eaten them in very large amounts to avoid the development of allergy to them.

8. Due to some of the subtleties of pulse testing that I describe above, I found that I had not detected that I had gradually become allergic to walnut oil. The development of the allergy may be because I had increased my consumption of the walnut oil from 5-10 drops per day to 40 drops.

9. Boiling chicken on the stove reduced the allergen level for me. Baking often causes a sort of frying to occur. The baking causes the chicken to be browned and the fat is altered, and these changes may lead to symptoms. To avoid this, I have even begun boiling the elk and venison patties in a big pot of water. They start out frozen, with paper between the slices, and I find that as they cook, I can gradually remove the paper, or leave that until the end.

10. Temporarily, I had been eating rice and 1-2 ounces of venison or elk per meal for only 3-4 days and then rotating to either chicken or tapioca or sometimes even a fast for a day and a half (36 hours). This short rotation was only needed until my antibiotic associated diarrhea cleared up. An aggressive Lyme Disease treatment with the antibiotic combination of Cedax and Biaxin caused some Klebsiella and Proteus bacteria to grow in my gut and increased my allergies, diarrhea and arthritis (Zithromax may have been a better choice instead of Biaxin). These pathogenic organisms were detected by a test from Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab (phone: 800-522-4762,, I suggest doing Microbiology stool tests, with MIC for any abnormal organisms found). We are treating these organisms with Levaquin, a newer antibiotic related to Cipro, followed by Minocin (the brand name minocycline, which is preferred for the antibiotic protocol in rheumatoid arthritis–some think it may turn out to be a better Lyme treatment due to better cell penetration). The 3-4 day food rotation was able to minimize the symptoms to a large extent and keep my pulse in the normal range most of the time. From what I hear from others, treatment of bacterial and other infections reduces food and chemical allergies and sensitivities, since these organisms may be major contributors to the chronic immune imbalance. I already have begun experiencing a decline in food allergies since changing antibiotics. I plan to write more on this in future newsletters.

11. Be sure to take vitamin and mineral supplements to get all the nutrients you need that might not be in your allergy restricted diet (besides a typical multivitamin, be sure you get enough calcium (1000-1500 mg), magnesium (350-500 mg), Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Iron). It would be wise to consult your physician or other medical professional on nutrition if you are unsure on this subject. If you have blood clotting problems or take warfarin, discuss Vitamin K with your doctor before taking it. Books on nutrition may also be helpful as references.

Written by synergyhn

October 29, 2002 at 3:34 am

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