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Chiropractors Offering Unproven Laser Treatment For Food Allergies

Evening Edition

An estimated six million American children have food allergies. Those who are highly allergic can get deathly ill if they eat the wrong thing. Some chiropractors claim they can cure allergies through the use of a laser. KPBS Health Reporter Kenny Goldberg tells us about one local kid who got the treatment.

— An estimated six million American children have food allergies. Those who are highly allergic can get deathly ill if they eat the wrong thing.

Some chiropractors claim they can cure allergies through the use of a laser.

Zack Jones was game to try it. He's a happy-go-lucky nine-year-old, with one big exception: he has severe food allergies.

"I’m allergic to milk, all dairy products, eggs, stuff like that. And tree nuts, peanuts, and probably other nuts like walnuts and almonds," Zach explained.

Aired 7/10/12 on KPBS News.

There is no cure for food allergies. But that's not stopping some chiropractors from saying they can completely eliminate food allergies through the use of a laser.

He is so allergic to these foods, that if someone else ate some peanuts and touched him, Zack would have a reaction.

"Well, I would start getting itchy, and then I’ll have like red hives and my skin will get red, and then I’ll have to take some Benedryl, or get a wipe and wipe it off," he said.

Recently, Zack’s mom, Silvia, was exploring some alternative therapies. A chiropractor in Escondido told her about an allergy treatment called Bio-Allergenix.

"And so I asked him what that was, and he told me it was a laser treatment, that eliminated allergies." Silvia Jones recalled. "And I asked him, I had never heard about this before, and I was just curious. And he told me he had a 100% success rate."

So Jones brought Zack in.

"He performed laser treatment on my son," she said. "So my son sat on a chair, and it was just a little pen with a blue light. And he just went over the top of his skull, you know, his different points that they have."

After the therapy, the chiropractor told Jones that in two days, Zack could eat eggs.

Just to be on the safe side, Jones brought Zack into see his allergist.

Zack’s sensitivity to eggs was still off the charts.

Jones was furious. Had Zack eaten eggs, he could have gone into anaphylactic shock.

She filed a complaint with the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Dr. Michael Welch is Zack’s allergist. He’s been treating San Diegans with allergies for more than 30 years.

Even with all of his experience and expertise, Welch would never say he could cure someone.

"There’s no such thing as cure at this point. A lot of exciting things in the pipeline, but nothing that we can call a cure now," Welch said. "It’s just simple avoidance, and treatment of a reaction if it accidentally happens."

Welch said it’s irresponsible and dangerous for chiropractors to claim they can treat or cure food allergies. After all, he wouldn’t try to take care of someone’s back pain.

'Chiropractors and others of that ilk really are not trained in the area of clinical immunology, clinical allergy, clinical pathophysiology of true food allergy. They shouldn’t be treating that kind of stuff,” Welch argued.

The chiropractor who performed the laser procedure on Zack Jones wouldn’t agree to be interviewed. So, we instead turned to chiropractor Brian Stenzler in Pacific Beach.

Dr. Stenzler operates Dream Wellness, with a clinic in Pacific Beach, and one in Del Mar.

He concedes the story about what a chiropractor did to Zach Jones is disturbing.

"People could refer to that as malpractice. I’m not an attorney, I don’t know all the facts," Stenzler admitted. "What I’m saying is, it would not make me very happy if the situation were reversed. It would not happen in my office, that I can assure you. And anytime a chiropractor puts somebody’s health in danger, it makes the rest of our profession look bad."

The controversial use of lasers has prompted the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners to issue a new regulation.

The rule prohibits the use of lasers outside the chiropractic scope of practice, including the laser treatment of allergies.

Zack Jones is still upset about his failed treatment. He’d like to give the chiropractor he saw a piece of his mind.

"I would say to him, it didn’t work. And you lied to my family. And it’s just really disappointing, and you shouldn’t do that again," Zack insisted.

Zack’s mom, Silvia, wouldn’t pull any punches, either.

"It’s just dangerous to do this," Jones said. "You’re putting kids’ lives at risk.

Video by Katie Euphrat

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Avatar for user 'TomW'

TomW | July 10, 2012 at 8:45 a.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

A good report. But I’m disappointed you felt compelled to “turn to” another chiropractor when the chiropractor in question declined to be interviewed. The statement from the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners seemed sufficient if you felt it necessary to “balance” the accusations against the Escondido chiropractor in question.

Years ago I heard a speech from a chiropractor who disdained any modern, western medicine, saying his practice would keep anyone healthy without drugs. When asked what he’d do were his child bitten by a rabid dog, he responded, “nothing” – his child would be healthy enough for his immune system to repel the rabies.

This chiropractor died from complications of diabetes about 15 years later.

This really is a story about separating the quacks from the caring and helpful, regardless of their credentials.

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Avatar for user 'Kompani'

Kompani | July 11, 2012 at 8:49 a.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

I realise that America has a policy of executing people in some states but is it also legal to allow a chiropractor to potentially scar someone for life by using unproven, so called, 'health' fixes? Chiropractors are NOT doctors and do not need the rigorous training MD's have. In short they are people who cling to the periphery of science using the words but not the scientific method.

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Avatar for user 'shubhrajoshi'

shubhrajoshi | October 15, 2012 at 12:49 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Thank Admin, you provide good information about "Laser Treatment For Food Allergies"

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Avatar for user 'g1ggle1'

g1ggle1 | March 21, 2013 at 10:06 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Chiropractors ARE doctors and DO HAVE as rigorous training as medical doctors. Please educate yourself as your statements are not valid. Initially (100 years ago), chiropractors did not have comparable educations. Now they do. The approach is utilizing more supportive and complementary methods than drugs and cut/paste which can mask symptoms and not balance the systems to work as needed to be healthy and disease free. As in any profession, there are those professionals who work outside their scope and are not ethical. Crucifying all of one profession due to an unethical individual is misguided. If a person did not like one dentist, or one medical doctor, would he never try another one?

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