Applied kinesiology, or muscle testing, is a method developed in 1964 for the purpose of diagnosing medical conditions, detecting energy imbalances, elucidating nutritional deficiencies and allergies, and determining prescribed therapies. Kinesiology is a form of alternative or naturopathic medicine. According to the handbook Applied Kinesiology Muscle Response in Diagnostic Therapy and Preventive Medicine, the practitioner of kinesiology claims to evaluate five body systems—nervous, lymphatic, vascular, cerebrospinal, and “meridian.”
The primary diagnostic procedure in kinesiology is the muscle test. In a typical session, a patient is asked to hold his arm parallel to the floor for the test. The practitioner will then pull or push the arm down while checking the degree of muscle resistance by the patient while the patient holds certain foods, vitamins, herbs, supplements, etc., in his other hand. Supposedly, if the patient is holding or thinking about something bad or negative, there will be weakness in his arm, and his resistance will be less. The arm will be easily pushed downward or will give way suddenly. Conversely, if the patient is holding or thinking about something good or positive, the resistance will be greater because the patient is stronger while holding the item.
George J. Goodheart invented applied kinesiology in 1964. He combined elements of psychic philosophy, Chinese Taoism, and ancient Eastern practices with D. D. Palmer’s chiropractic theory. He combined the concept of “innate intelligence” with the Eastern religious concept of energy, ch’i, and the concept that muscles can indicate the condition of body organs via the ch’i’s meridians. He is reported to have developed a series of elaborate charts showing the relationship between certain organs and zones of the body as well as to specific nutrients and herbs. According to Goodheart, the information on the charts was at least partly derived through psychic powers. Goodheart is said to have been involved with the occult.
Proponents of kinesiology claim to be able to diagnose disease, discover areas of weakness, pinpoint chemical imbalances, detect allergies, discern nutritive values of foods, and find toxic influences and reactions using Goodheart’s methods. Kinesiologists have also branched out into other areas, claiming to be able to detect whether someone is telling the truth, has a personality disorder or emotional problem, and whether someone or something is inherently good or evil. Information related to past lives can supposedly be discovered using these methods. Some have even claimed the ability to communicate with plants or other forces of nature. Behavioral kinesiology, an extension of applied kinesiology, uses muscle testing for determining basically everything in one’s life, such as music selections, paint colors, dietary choices, and relationship decisions. Touch for Health, a layperson’s version of applied kinesiology, moves even more deeply into the psychic realm. Its claim is that life energy can be regulated and manipulated by mental power alone. This is the New Age practice of visualization. Touch for Health incorporates the belief that "we are one with the universe" and that mental power enables us to tap into the life force that surrounds and permeates us.
Credible scientific studies of applied kinesiology conducted by major universities and written up in respected, peer-reviewed medical journals scarcely exist. This is possibly due to the fact that few scientists or licensed medical doctors take its claims seriously. One double-blind study was conducted to evaluate the claims of applied kinesiology and was published in the June 1988 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study specifically tested three experienced kinesiologists who evaluated athletes for four nutrients: thiamine, zinc, vitamin A and ascorbic acid. The results obtained by the three practitioners were assessed for reliability as compared to each other’s findings, standard laboratory tests assaying for nutrient status, and computerized testing of the actual strength of muscle contraction. Statistically speaking, the results were dismal for applied kinesiology. The testers did not agree with each other, failed to discern true nutrient differences, and could not even truly judge real differences in muscle strength. The abstract concludes that "the results of this study indicated that the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing."
In another double-blind study published in the March 1981 issue of the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, pages 321-323, kinesiology failed to distinguish a test substance from a placebo. Many studies have shown that kinesiology results are not reproducible. One large review of kinesiology studies published in Chiropractic and Osteopathy concluded that "the few studies evaluating unique AK procedures either refute or cannot support the validity of AK procedures as diagnostic tests. The evidence to date does not support the use of [manual muscle testing] for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions." In short, no study has ever shown any legitimate physical model showing how it works based on the known and accepted laws of physical anatomy. No government- or university-sponsored scientific studies are currently available that demonstrate that applied kinesiology is safe, effective or accurate.
According to a recent Time/CNN poll, about 30 percent of Americans have resorted to some form of "unconventional therapy," "half of them within the past year." This trend is giving the New Age movement its best opportunity for converting our culture. Many holistic health modalities, including applied kinesiology, incorporate pantheistic/occult philosophy, and spiritual experience that can entice an unsuspecting and vulnerable patient. This can lead to perverted thinking about God that is directly contrary to what the Bible teaches.
While it is true that applied kinesiology is not directly addressed in the Bible, we are called upon to exercise wisdom and prudence in regard to those specific issues about which the Bible is silent. While life forces or ch’i has not been proven by science, they are a well-recognized feature of paganism. The manifestation of these life forces, whether in ancient paganism, modern occultism, or parapsychological research, has invariably been accompanied by altered states of consciousness, psychic phenomena, and contact with spirits. Those who have delved into such forces are usually completely involved in the pagan/occult world. Association with and participation in such practices are specifically prohibited in the Bible (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:1; Isaiah 8:19).
Kinesiologists believe in an inner power, an “innate intelligence,” which is said to be connected to the "universal intelligence"(God) through our nervous systems. This theory operates within the context of pantheism: all reality is God. God is impersonal but conscious energy; therefore, all reality is a manifestation of spiritual energy. And if this energy can be released, man will be both healed and mystically enlightened to his true divinity. The actual manifestations of this energy (e.g., healings) have convinced many that New Age pantheism must be true (which provides a motive for satanic forces to manifest such healings).
The Bible teaches that God is personal, that He desires an intimate relationship with us (John 1:12; 14:6; 3:16), that He loves us, and that He acts or intervenes on behalf of those who call upon His name. Throughout the Bible are records that God enters into individual covenants, responds to specific prayers of individuals, and delivers specific messages. In turn, we are called to develop a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That relationship is dependent on God’s grace, not on any works that we do (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The biblical worldview of God is that while God is certainly omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-16), He is also transcendent and not part of the creation, (Acts 17:24-25; 1 Kings 8:27). A belief in God’s omnipresence is not synonymous with the belief that God is in everything and everything is in God. God is clearly not in everything and does not approve of everything. There is undoubtedly a realm of darkness, idolatry, and the demonic that we are instructed to avoid (Ephesians 5:11; 1 Peter 5:8). As followers of Christ, we are called to walk in the light, distinct in how we live (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
Given the disparity between these biblical teachings and the underlying New Age philosophies of applied kinesiology, kinesiology cannot be considered to be consistent with the Bible. For Christians, Colossians 2:8 provides the best advice concerning applied kinesiology and all other pseudoscientific practices that incorporate New Age philosophies: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."