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ALCAT: Dr Pridgeon writes

Posted 6 March 2010

A letter written by Dr John Pridgeon, dated  February 18th, 2010, was circulated to his email list of clients and placed on the ALCAT South Africa website (www.alcatsa.co.za), where a number of allegations were made regarding the circumstances surrounding the closure of ALCAT South Africa. In the event that this letter was removed from the ALCAT SA website, it is reproduced exactly unedited here. My response can be viewed here.

Open letter explaining ALCAT South

 Africa’s current circumstances 

It is with great sadness, and a sense of deep injustice that I must inform the reader of my forced closure of ALCAT South Africa. The demand placed upon my time and personal financial resources has simply become unsustainable. This is not a decision I have made lightly, or without great reluctance. This effectively means that ALCAT will now be lost to South Africa, at Read the rest

10 comments to ALCAT: Dr Pridgeon writes

  • KP

    I am absolutely horrified that ALCAT SA had to close! I shall not get into the politics of this fiasco, however, I feel it right to claim my course. I have been to Dr. Pridgeon in 2008 & believe that has changed my life positively! Hence the reason for looking for ALCAT two years later, as I would've liked a re-test. But thanks to the single-mindedness of the South African individual, who like most South Africans continue to hold back on making this a first world country! Why, I ask, why is it that people are most afraid of what they don't understand? It is such a pity! Words fail me!

  • Harris

    The "single mindedness of the South African individual" refers to me – I am the one that put a stop to the ALCAT.

    This is not about politics – Dr Pridgeon would like to make people believe this because it takes attention away from studies that show the test does not work. 

    1.
    I was the South African researcher who some years back investigated this test in over 200 patients.

    One group had positive testing foods removed, the other group had positive testing foods reintroduced in their diet (without either group knowing what the results had shown).

    Both groups had a few individuals who claimed that they were better following the test – in other words, a similar amount of people who had positive testing foods removed were better compared with those who had positive foods re-introduced. In other words, no difference! Therefore it was clear that the ALCAT could not tell the difference.

     For the individuals who felt better, they believed the test had worked – as well as the individuals from the group who did not know that I had deliberately given them back the foods that they were supposed to avoid! So even the the individuals who had "good" foods removed and "bad" foods kept in the diet, and who felt that their symptoms had improved, were convinced the test worked.

    However, for the 95% who did not get any benefit, they were convinced the test does not work. So there will always be individuals who feel that a test/medication works even when the vast majority do not benefit.

    2.
    Prof Connie Katelaris (Australia) and Prof Brostoff (UK) both investigated the test and found it useless

    3.
    When I repeated fresh blood tests 2-3 days on a group of patients, many positive/negative testing foods had changed! In other words, today the  test may have shown that you have to avoid celery, three days later it claimed that it was safe. Scary test!

    4.
    This is not a "first world" test – the American, European, British, Australian and other major countries have all warned health professionals from relying on or using this test – for the simple reason that after being on the market for over 20 years, there is still no robust evidence that it has any benefit in the vast majority of individuals using the test.

    Therefore, if you were helped by this test, great! But that does not make it fair to charge the approximately 90-95% who are not. Or does it?

  • KP

    I guess that there are undoubtedly two schools of thought here! No personal attack, as this is not my "war" but someone who is reading various "extracts" that have become way too personal amongst professionals.
    So, thank you for giving me the gist of the story above. I guess that the facts presented are representative of the whole. Yet, I still stand that this works based on the fact that when the "triggered" foods are added into my diet, I break out into hives. Placebo effect? I cannot dispute that after 2 years, perhaps it may be. However, the physical effects prove otherwise.
    Harris, I am neither here to advocate the ALCAT test nor am I here to dispute your findings. I am merely disappointed that something which proved to be theoretically correct, was merely not substantiated. So my question remains, what is the most reliable (and legal) test available in South Africa, which we can use to test both food allergies & delayed food allergies/intolerances?

  • Harris

    There is unfortunately no single test that can test for allergy and intolerances at the same time – very different physiological mechanisms are involved. (Wish there was a single test – hence the attraction of the ALCAT!)

    Even the well-researched tests, e.g., IgE, skin test, CAST test, etc, all have limitations. Hence a proper history taken by a skilled health practitioner is really crucial, and other tests are utilised in order to assist with the diagnosis but they are not always definitive.

    In your instance, I am not saying that it was a placebo response, but that the ALCAT may have fortunately included one of the foods affecting you. It may have been simply that urticaria waxes and wanes, hence in spite of you avoiding the foods that the ALCAT predicted, that it is back, i.e., your uticaria waned and the trigger in fact was not identified. How easy is it to find the trigger in "chronic urticaria"? Actually very difficult even in the best expert of hands – for it may not be a food but a chemical, or even an "internal mechanism", e.g., auto-antibody to yourself. Even copper in an intra-uterine device has been shown to have been a cause of chronic urticaria! Chronic urticaria is one of the most difficult of conditions to deal with by any and every health practitioner. Where are you based, possibly I can suggest a local health practitioner who has some experience in dealing with this condition? I must stress, special tests, e.g., blood or skin tests, are not always helpful in chronic urticaria.

  • FP

    Can someone explain to me please? I did read all that was said regarding ALCAT and wow im bit confused.
    I did the test August/July 2009. Before the test i had the following health problems : 2 to 3 times a year bronhgitus,flu,colds,high blood pressure,migranes,stomach problems and so on and so on and that was as long as i remember.I train 5 days a week ate healthy still had the problems and couldnt lose weight.
    Now after the test and i tested for the whole thing food,chemicals and preservitaves, i looked at it and followed the test results to the number.
    The results is the following: From August 2009 i never experienced any of the above mentioned health problems and i lost 21kg my doctor says my blood pressure is the best his seen in years im healthy as a horse where i was always as sick as a dog. ALCAT is the best thing that ever happend to me and i treid everything else and it cost me a fortune you have no idea how much im saving in medical bills.
    So please (and im not trying be funny or anything) just explain to me ,if i understand all the above correctly that ALCAT doesnt work, how is that the ALCAT test improved my health and life is such a huge way if it doesnt work?
    Thank You 

  • Harris

    @FP: In clinical practice, doctors often hear from individuals othat they had experienced major improvement after receiving drugs/medicines/tests which have been shown to actually NOT work in the majority of individuals with the same condition. This has even been documented to occur with "sugar pills". This does not mean that the individual is lying. However the claim is insufficient proof for generalisation of the claims to other users of that product. 

    In my research on the ALCAT, a few people claimed dramatic improvement in their illness thanks to the ALCAT. However, a similar percentage (in single digits) of  individuals given a false ALCAT result (i.e. asked to eat the foods that they were positive to, and to avoid an equivalent number of negative testing foods) also claimed dramatic improvement.  

    Based on this it was clear that one cannot claim that the ALCAT is of benefit to the majority of users of the test. This is borne out by many patients who approach me after an ALCAT implimented diet claiming to be no better off – and some individuals even worse off because the ALCAT allowed back foods that the individual was clearly allergic to.  

  • Paul White

    I had been dignosed with Chrones disease by 2 different Specialists and then I took the Alcat test and 7 years later I have made 100% recovery with nothing but Alcat . I have been retested and I am now clear from this so called uncureable disease — would the good Dr Harris like to explain ???

  • Harris

    Could this be simply a coincidence, i.e., you improved at the same time you started with the diet? Is it possible that you test showed you were affected by say, 20 foods, but in fact you can tolerate all but one and that the test by pure chance identified the correct one? Who knows – but for certain, there is too little robust research evidence in support of this test and that in my study of over 200 patients, it performed very poorly.

  • Phumlile Nkomo

    Is there a reason why people are not given the opportunity do do the test, amidst warnings? Where does the right of the individual come to play? I smoke cigarettes and still buy them with the warning sign, however no one has made it their life’s passion to see cigarettes illegalized in South Africa. I believe that the onslaught against the Alcat test is suspicious at best. Who does it hurt if I chose to do it and change my life according to it. Freedom of choice has been violated here.

    • Harris

      @Phumlile
      So if someone was selling you a car without an engine, and did not warn you that there is no engine, this is ok?

      The ALCAT test does NOT warn you that there is no evidence that it works, that all experts throughout the world have published position statements that it does not work, and that the risk of using the results of this test may result in an inappropriate and nutritionally deficient diet. If ALCAT explicitly stated this in their adverts, website or promotional material, then consumers are fully informed and can make an informed decision. But the ALCAT gives no warnings. Freedom of choice requires a person to be fully informed in order to make the right choice. Hiding this information could be construed as fraud.

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