Controversy surrounding iridology has mounted due to the misconception that the alternative therapy can accurately diagnose chronic and potentially fatal diseases. This viral misconception has been propagated by iridologists misusing their practice of the alternative technique.
"Iridology is the study of the iris, or the colored part of the eye. Iridology is not a diagnostic tool; rather it is a screening tool that gives us a glimpse into the genetic road map one is born with," explains Trixie Clark, RN, ND, IIPA certified comprehensive iridologist (CCI) and vice president of the International Iridology Practitioners Association. "We inherit tendencies from our parents and grandparents that can affect our health. With iridology, we can inform someone of these tendencies based on the eye color and various markings that are seen. Again, we cannot diagnose diseases, like cancer or anemia, from the iris."
Although the study of the eye can be traced back to ancient civilizations, clinical iridology was introduced in the late nineteenth century by Ignatz von Peczely, a Hungarian doctor. Von Peczely designed his first iris chart after he noticed a correlation between streaks or markers in a patient's iris and corresponding physical ailments. Since the creation of his iris chart, modern day iridologists use this tool to determine changes in the iris that give clues to physical changes within the body, including inflammation, toxicity, congested lymph nodes and hardening of the arteries. Although iridology cannot reveal specific diseases or ailments, it can alert the patient of potential health issues.
Although the practice of iridology is more common in Germany and the UK, it is gaining interest in North America as more individuals look for alternative health therapies to complement Western medicine. The iridologist's goal is determine which systems in the patient's body are weak and require appropriate treatment before a condition develops into something more serious.
According to Clark, in the hands of an experienced iridologist, clients can find out what predispositions they have to certain health issues and can then go about doing the right things, such as changing lifestyle factors, to stay as healthy as possible. For instance, blue-eyed people tend to have sinus issues, arthritis and skin problems. Following a healthy lifestyle goes a long way in keeping the body functioning optimally and maintaining a state of balance that allows the body to heal itself.
An iridology exam is a painless, non-invasive procedure that includes a health questionnaire on your medical history and lifestyle, and an examination of the iris using an instrument called the iridiscope (a magnifying glass with a light). A special camera called an iridocamera may also be used to take a picture of the iris, which is then downloaded into a computer for analyzing.
As you would with any health care professional, do your research to make sure you choose a qualified iridologist. Clark stresses, "Credible iridologists should have a level of education that indicates they have studied and gained a credential in the field…Anyone who is going to assist someone with health issues needs to be educated, ethical and professional." Look for iridologists that have received certification through The International Iridology Practitioner Association, an organization that sets the standard for iridology practice.
The idea of iridology, like many alternative therapies, faces controversy, and the verdict is mixed. In a number of case studies in which patients with a specific ailment were assessed by a team of trained iridologists, the iridologists were unable to identify the ailment correctly. Further, team members often came up with different answers individually. In contrast, however, other studies report more favorable results and suggest iridology is a holistic health evaluation tool that should only be used in conjunction with Western medicine or other more proven alternative therapies.
Clark cautions that there is no scientific proof that any medical conditions can be diagnosed through iridology. "If someone says they can diagnosis anything, they are not someone you need to be working with in dealing with your health," she warns. "Unfortunately, there are iridologists out there that will tell you they see cancer, parasites, etc. in your iris, but scientific research has proven that you cannot see these things."
Iridology is certainly a form of complementary medicine that you can incorporate into your comprehensive health care. Utilize it as a screening technique and consult with your regular medical provider on any health issues that an iridologist reveals during an iridology exam.
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