Sunday, July 12, 2020

#2359: David Tucker (and anyone affiliated with the AllergiCare Relief Centers)

AllergiCare Relief Centers are a chain of franchises founded by one David Tucker. Tucker does not appear to have any medical or scientific background, but his centers offer diagnosis of allergies using biofeedback, as well treatment of allergies by laser acupuncture – none of which is remotely based on reality, evidence or science, something the centers actually admit: They claim that what they are doing does not count as medical treatment, but has instead “been developed from an entirely different field of therapeutics using the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the study of human physiology and an in-depth knowledge of allergens.” Though the diagnoises and treatments are bullshit from beginning to end (and the last two claims in their disclaimer obviously false), Tucker and his centers seem to have enjoyed some success, and they have received ample free advertisement from gullible journalists.

Their main device is something called the BAX3000, which according to their website “is the first and only FDA cleared, US patented system for eliminating allergies” – this is, in fact, quite untrue, insofar as the device is a biofeedback machine approved only for biofeedback by the FDA. In reality, of course, the BAX3000 is merely yet another one of an impressive array of quack electronic diagnostic and treatment devices (EAVs), the history of which goes at least back to the 1950s, making various claims based on (basically) measuring galvanic skin conductance – in the current case claiming that they are measuring what patients are allergic to. The treatment, then, is apparently to return the frequencies measured back to the acupuncture points – “homeopathic frequency magic with machines and electricity” might not be too inaccurate a description. 

As you might have expected, virtually anything is a sign of allergies according to the AllergiCare Relief Centers. If you use their “allergy symptom checker” on their website to enter your own symptoms (or, apparently, anything whatsoever), they will invariably find an allergy that they pretend to be able to treat in exchange for a few hundred bucks (the striking exception seeming to be anaphylaxis, something that might of course land them in real trouble if they pretended to be able to handle). There are some examples of “diagnoses” offered by AllergiCare here.

And although they have no systematic studies to back up their claims, they claim to know that their treatments work by anecdotal reports of improvement – i.e. people being exposed to the alleged allergen without an allergic reaction after undergoing AllergiCare’s suggested regime – which shouldn’t be too hard to achieve insofar as the victims patients were never even remotely allergic to the things AllergiCare diagnosed them as allergic to. 

Diagnosis: According to Stephen Barrett, practitioners who use EAVs “are either delusional, dishonest, or both,” which seems more or less accurate.

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