Live Blood Analysis (LBA) is a diagnostic tool used by some SCAM practitioners (e. g. chiropractors, naturopaths, medics). It marks a new era of scientific discovery, at least this is what its proponents claim. LBA sounds impressive, looks impressive, commands impressive revenue – but, once we investigate a little closer, it turns out to be rather unimpressive.
The principle of LBA is fairly simple: a drop of blood is taken from your fingertip, put on a glass plate and viewed via a dark field microscope on a video screen. Despite the claims made for it, LBA is by no means new; using his lately developed microscope, Antony van Leeuwenhoek observed in 1686 that living blood cells changed shape during circulation. Ever since, doctors, scientists and others have studied blood samples in this and many other ways.
New, however, is what today’s SCAM practitioners claim to be able to do with LBA. Proponents believe that the method provides information about the state of the immune system, possible vitamin deficiencies, amount of toxicity, pH and mineral imbalance, areas of concern and weaknesses, fungus and yeast infections, as well as just about everything else you can imagine.
LBA is based on assumptions that are not plausible and on a misinterpretation of phenomena that are well-understood (some of them were the subject of research I did some 4 decades ago). What is more, the reliability of LBA as a diagnostic tool has never been verified. The results of the only two studies suggest that the method is not reliable:
BACKGROUND: Dark field microscopy according to Enderlin claims to be able to detect forthcoming or beginning cancer at an early stage through minute abnormalities in the blood. In Germany and the USA, this method is used by an increasing number of physicians and health practitioners (non-medically qualified complementary practitioners), because this easy test seems to give important information about patients’ health status.
OBJECTIVE: Can dark field microscopy reliably detect cancer?
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the course of a prospective study on iridology, blood samples were drawn for dark field microscopy in 110 patients. A health practitioner with several years of training in the field carried out the examination without prior information about the patients.
RESULTS: Out of 12 patients with present tumor metastasis as confirmed by radiological methods (CT, MRI or ultra-sound) 3 were correctly identified. Analysis of sensitivity (0.25), specificity (0.64), positive (0.09) and negative (0.85) predictive values revealed unsatisfactory results.
CONCLUSION: Dark field micoroscopy does not seem to reliably detect the presence of cancer. Clinical use of the method can therefore not be recommended until future studies are conducted.
CONTEXT: In 1925, the German zoologist Günther Enderlein, PhD, published a concept of microbial life cycles. His observations of live blood using darkfield microscopy revealed structures and phenomena that had not yet been described. Although very little research has been conducted to explain the phenomena Dr. Enderlein observed, the diagnostic test is still used in complementary and alternative medicine.
OBJECTIVE: To test the interobserver reliability and test-retest reliability of 2 experienced darkfield specialists who had undergone comparable training in Enderlein blood analysis.
SETTING: Inpatient clinic for internal medicine and geriatrics.
METHODS: Both observers assessed 48 capillary blood samples from 24 patients with diabetes. The observers were mutually blind and assessed their findings according to a specific item randomization list that allowed observers to specify whether Enderlein structures were visible or not.
RESULTS: The interobserver reliability for the visibility of various structures was kappa = .35 (95% CI: .27-.43), the test-retest reliability was kappa = .44 (95% CI: .36-.53).
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study indicates that Enderlein darkfield analysis is very difficult to standardize and that the reliability of the diagnostic test is low.
So what?, some might think. It might be a SCAM, but it is a harmless one!
LBA is likely to produce false-positive and false-negative diagnoses.
A false-positive diagnosis is a condition which the patient does not truly have. This means she will receive treatments that are not necessary, potentially harmful and financially wasteful.
A false-negative diagnosis would mean that the patient is told she is healthy, while in fact she is not. This can cost valuable time to start an effective therapy and, in extreme cases, it would hasten the death of that patient.
The conclusion is thus clear: LBA is an ineffective, potentially dangerous diagnostic method for exploiting gullible consumers. My advice is to avoid practitioners who employ this technique.