The ALCAT allergy test is touted as a test that can help people determine sensitivities to foods and chemicals. But is this test really effective? Find out what the test is supposed to do and learn about why its detractors find that the test is not a valid tool for diagnosing allergies.
ALCAT Test Manufacturer Claims
According to the manufacturers of the ALCAT allergy test, food sensitivities can cause the body to react in an allergic manner whenever foods set off an immune response. Some of the symptoms of food sensitivity can include fatigue, chronic pain, migraines, eczema, skin rashes, sinus congestion, and hyperactivity. Typical allergy tests only test intolerance of food and chemicals through one pathway. The makers of the ALCAT test claim that several pathways are used for allergy testing. The test is said to look for sensitivities for nearly 200 food allergies, food sensitivities, and chemical intolerances.
How the Test Works
This test is supposed to identify food allergies and chemical sensitivities by mixing white blood cells with different allergens and observing them to determine if the white blood cells swell. If a certain level of swelling is achieved, a positive result for a food allergy or chemical sensitivity is recorded. These results are used to help patients determine what has been causing allergic reactions so they can avoid particular foods and chemicals.
Allergy Testing Controversy
Most of the positive accolades for the ALCAT test come from sites sponsored by the ALCAT manufacturer. The positive results that are published rely entirely on anecdotal evidence from patients who have used the test and have seen an improvement in their health since they eliminated foods that were shown to cause allergy or sensitivity. However, there is no evidence that traditional allergy testing could not have identified these allergies and helped patients achieve similar results. Clinical studies do not lend any support to the manufacturer's claims that this test can help people determine if they have food or chemical allergies.
Skin vs. Blood Testing
Skin testing for allergies is preferred over blood testing for several reasons. Blood testing has been shown to either overstimate or underestimate the body's response to allergens. This means that swelling of white blood cells cannot be considered an accurate predictor of someone's allergy or sensitivity to a food or chemical. Blood testing also does not account for different types of proteins in the same foods. This means that ALCAT and other blood allergy tests could show a false positive for some foods.
Weil, Andrew, M.D. "Best Allergy Test." Accessed 29 June 2009.
Surrey Allergy Clinic. "Complementary and Alternative Allergy Tests." Accessed 29 June 2009.
ALCAT Worldwide Manufacturer Web Site. Accessed 29 June 2009.