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Seven Herbalists Speak

  Elisa Adams

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  Jeanne Polcari

  Joan Reardon


  Muscle Testing



Let Your Body Choose: Joan Reardon, Elisa Adams, Jeanne Polcari

You wouldn’t guess, from the outside, that there was anything unusual about The Natural Market, a natural-food store in Groton, Massachusetts. But if you walk in and ask for an herbal or homeopathic remedy, you might be surprised. Joan Reardon or Jeanne Polcari or Elisa Adams will offer to help you find out whether the product you want and the brand you’ve selected are right for you. Your body knows, and if it’s asked correctly it can tell you, by means of a technique called muscle testing.

Joan Reardon has owned and operated The Natural Market for the past twenty-one years. About fifteen years ago, she learned muscle testing from Elisa Adams, who now works at the store. Reardon, a registered nurse, says, “If people come in and they have questions about products, I say, ‘Let’s just do some muscle testing.’ I can’t tell you the response we’ve been getting lately, because it works so well. People feel the energy shift — and when they feel it, there is no doubt that this is the product.”

Although herbs are more popular than homeopathy, Reardon says, “I think homeopathy is coming right up there. It’s just that mainstream people started with herbs. It’s easier to understand what they are — they’re plants. Homeopathy is a little bit difficult to understand for some people, but it’s becoming much more common in just the last two and three years. We use them hand in hand.” Homeopathy can help with acute problems, she explains, and herbs “nourish and build and cleanse.”

Reardon and her colleagues emphasize that not only do individual needs vary, but the quality of herbs varies tremendously from brand to brand. “Quality is extremely important,” she says. “Low-quality products do not test well” — meaning that the responses to them are negative, not that the results are inaccurate.

The Natural Market is near a hospital, and some of Reardon’s colleagues in the medical profession are interested in what she’s doing. One physician, for example, uses herbs in his practice. “Not the muscle testing. I think he would like to, because he believes in it — we muscle test him all the time — but he hasn’t had time to really learn about it,” Reardon says. In some cases, when patients don’t respond to conventional treatment, the doctor refers them to one of the herbalists at The Natural Market for a consultation.

Elisa Adams and Jeanne Polcari are certified herbalists who have been using kinesiology in conjunction with herbs for over a decade. Their consultations entail a methodical evaluation of the body’s energy, to find which systems are working well and which aren’t.

Jeanne Polcari explains that she got involved in muscle testing about 10 years earlier, “wanting to improve my health and looking for a natural way to do it.” She was dissatisfied with treatment that focused on symptomatic relief rather than causes. With muscle testing, she says, “You can test the different body systems to find out what’s really happening.” Like Reardon, Polcari learned muscle testing from Elisa Adams. Polcari subsequently received certification as a natural health professional and as an herbalist.

Muscle testing, she says, is the “sort of thing that when you try it on people once, it’s like a light bulb going on — ‘Do that again’ ” is the usual response. “Once they understand that the body is electrical and it can give you information, and they understand why and how, then they become more open to it." She adds that “a lot of people just know it works — they don’t understand why and how, but they want you to do it anyway, because they’ve always had good results with the answers.”

Elisa Adams also began using muscle testing as a result of a personal experience. One evening in 1985, at a party in her home, she had a bad cold. “I came downstairs and found forty strangers in my parlor. I had to cross through the parlor to get to the kitchen, where I sat and blew my nose for the next three hours, waiting for all the strangers to go away so I could get back to my bedroom.”

One of the guests was Dr. Roger DeHaan, a veterinarian who used muscle testing in his practice to find herbal remedies for animals. During the course of the evening, DeHaan told Adams’s husband about the technique. As a result, Adams says, “my husband was all excited — he had just gotten muscle tested. We’d heard about it, but we’d never seen it. I had read a book maybe six years before then but had never known a real human being who did it.

“I said, ‘Oh, could I get muscle tested?’ Roger said, ‘Do you have the flu?’ — because I looked so terrible. I said, ‘No, I don’t have the flu — I just have a rather bad cold.’”

Using muscle testing, Adams says, DeHaan “found that my thyroid was out, my immune system was out, my adrenals were really out, and I had a vitamin A deficiency.” DeHaan had brought a kit of Nature’s Sunshine herbs in 35mm film canisters that he used for testing. “He took the little film canisters — I was wearing a turtleneck sweater — and he stuck them in my turtleneck sweater until my arm tested strong on each one of these points,” Adams recalls. “And things started clicking. I’d been a master herbalist for three years — I had an herbalist degree, but I was practicing it, you might say, out of books, as opposed to muscle testing to see what the correct herb would be.

“I knew vitamin A had something to do with skin, and I’d had an eczema problem my whole life, and I also knew that vitamin A repairs mucous membrane. So it makes sense, if you have a bad cold — and whenever I’d get a cold, I’d get a very bad cold — that a vitamin A deficiency might have something to do with that. My immune system being weak — well, that made sense too. Why else would I have a cold?”

DeHaan tested her response to a variety of foods, to determine whether she had any unrecognized allergies or sensitivities. “After about an hour and a half he wanted to go home, so he went to take the film canisters out of my turtleneck, and I really had gotten energetically connected with them, and I wanted to jump in the box with them.”

After DeHaan left with his film canisters, Adams says, “I went in the kitchen and got my own copies of each of the herbs he had suggested and took them with water, and a half hour later I blew my nose for the first time. All of a sudden it clicked with me — I’d gone an hour and a half being muscle tested without asking for a single Kleenex — just by wearing the herbs in my turtleneck. I had been a master herbalist for three years and had been selling herbs for five, and it was at that moment that I believed in the power of herbs.”

Then, Adams says, “I got a square of an old rag, and I put three of this and six of this and six of this and two of this into it.” Using a rubber band, she secured the corners to make a little bag, then tied a loop of string to it and hung it around her neck.

“As I put it on, it fell right over my immune system, my thymus gland, and I said, ‘Oh, this is what American Indians did three hundred years ago, and everybody thought it was hokey.’ Although the Indians may not have perceived it in terms of a particular gland, she says, “they were trying to get powerful energy right over their immune system—they knew it made them feel more powerful, and it gave them more energy, and they could probably handle stress better wearing a medicine bag.

“I wore my medicine bag for the rest of the night and woke up the next day with no cold. And I got extremely excited, because it had really focused for me exactly which herbs I needed. Roger had a whole boxful of stuff from which he selected exactly the things I needed to get my system back online, and instead of having another five to seven days of a lousy cold, it was gone.

Adams went on to study muscle testing with DeHaan, which allowed her to begin doing for others what he had done for her. “It really enabled me to fine-tune what I was doing for each person, rather than saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got arthritis — well, this is our arthritis program,’ or ‘Oh, you’ve got asthma — this is our asthma program.’”

In the ensuing fifteen years, Adams has gone on to teach the technique to many, and it has now become standard procedure at The Natural Market. To illustrate this, Joan Reardon tells a story about a customer who came in for St. John’s Wort. “It was the first time she was going to use St. John’s Wort. We have at least five or six choices, so she wanted to know what I thought was better. I said, ‘Well, they’re all good — do you want to do some muscle testing?’ She said, ‘What’s that?’ and I said, ‘I’ll show you.’ We brought all the products here, and first we tested polarity, and she said, ‘I don’t believe that.’ ”

Reardon helped the woman test each brand. “I said, ‘How does this feel?’ and she said, ‘Yeah, this feels strong.’ With other brands, she said, ‘Yeah, my arm is wobbly.’ When your arm wobbles, you feel weak, and when it’s strong, there’s just no doubt — the energy in your body is strong. She just took that bottle and held it like this against her chest and went to the cash register. I would have sold her a Nature’s Sunshine, because that’s my favorite company, but she tested strong on a Nature’s Way. This happens every day. So we don’t make choices for people anymore — we say, ‘Let your body choose.’ ”

Chinese medicine recognizes five constitutional types: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. “One of my favorite things to do,” Elisa Adams says, “is to try to assess what constitutional type a person is, what their genetic imbalances are going to tend to be on the basis of their constitutional type, and suggest they get on at least one Chinese herb to maintain their body system and to balance the energy. I call it the acupuncture system in a bottle.

“The Chinese,” she continues, “have a take on health that you don’t find in American medicine. We tend to be more focus-approached — for instance, with a cardiovascular disease, the doctor is just going to look at your heart system — he’s not going to look at your heart in relation to your respiratory, your immune, your digestive, your liver, etcetera. For the Chinese, there’s no one isolated system — they look at each system as it relates to other systems.

“For instance, one of the Chinese constitutional types is called metal, and many metal people have a really hard time losing weight. They have edema and weak thyroids. So they can’t lose water, and they can’t lose calories. They become, in essence, a water balloon — which is difficult for any kind of exercise program, because they’re carting around all this extra fluid and weight.

“Through muscle testing, I would test the different parts of the body. Let’s say their adrenals are down, their kidneys are down, their immune system is down, their thyroid is down, their nervous system might be down, and their skin would test 280 percent on a scale of 100. Without muscle testing, you couldn’t get that kind of data.

“The significance of the skin being at 280 is that now you find out where the rest of the energy is going. For these people, genetically, their skin wants to become dominant. It wants to take the leading role. Frequently they don’t urinate very much — the skin is an avenue of elimination. Respiratory systems also have a role in elimination. 

"So if you’re a metal and you have trouble losing weight — not all metals do, but for those who do — what you’re apt to find is that the skin has decided it’s doing all the elimination. These people are constipated — their colon’s not working well. They have edema — their kidneys aren’t working well. They have all kinds of respiratory problems, including potentially chronic bronchitis and asthma, and head stuff, too — allergies — and then they wonder why they have excessive skin.

“The skin has said, ‘I’m taking all the energy, I’m doing all the work — you guys don’t need the energy.’ No matter how much you try to support these other systems, you’ve got an inner programming that’s out of balance. A Chinese herbal combination called ALC tweaks the body, right at the hypothalamus / pituitary level, to say, ‘No, skin, you’re not doing this anymore.’ That’s what can happen to your adrenals, your kidneys, your lungs, and everything else when you have your body out of balance. That’s what I learned by studying Chinese perception.”


Update (2009): Jeanne Polcari and Elisa Adams no longer work at The Natural Market.

Joan Reardon

The Natural Market

148 Main Street

Groton, MA 01450