A common approach to allergies in natural health care involves checking the pulse. Ostensibly, if the pulse goes up while the food is being tested, the individual is allergic to that food. This is known as the Coca Pulse Test and there is not a lot of research to either support or refute the concept. Back in 1961, research was published in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology (November–December, 1961Volume 32, Issue 6, Pages 514–524) to see if pulse testing is a useful tool for determining allergies.

The subjects of the study were 52 patients with allergies. The researchers did pulse testing on 19 of the 52 patients, checking all of their commonly eaten foods. Of the 19 patients, 13 had asthma, three had chronic utricaria (hives), one had allergic rhinitis and two had migraine headaches. Only six of the asthmatics improved when avoiding foods that increased the pulse; four of them did not. Three of the asthma patients did not experience increased pulse with any of the foods tested. One of the two migraine patients improved when avoided foods with a positive pulse test. One of the patients with hives also improved, one did not and one did not test positive for any foods. The patient with rhinitis did not improve.

The researchers concluded, “The results of our studies would seem to verify the validity of Coca’s claim that, in certain patients, foods can act as pulse-accelerators and that such an effect probably is on an allergic basis. Clinical application of the method is beset with certain drawbacks which greatly limit its usefulness in clinical practice. Its value as a method of diagnosis in food allergy will have to be determined by further investigation and clinical application.”

This is a small study, and by no means indicates that pulse testing is a foolproof method for determining allergies. The results do, however, indicate that pulse testing and food avoidance may have at least some value.