My answer to your questions is “yes” and “yes”.
Meridian Stress Assessment is a bogus practice used to measure the energy associated with acupuncture meridians. These meridians are alleged energy pathways that pass through organs and tissue in the body. The energy that is being assessed here is not the type that is associated with normal bodily function such as electromagnetic forces, visible light, or monochromatic radiation. This is a form of energy known in eastern religions and New Age circles as a “universal life force energy” which supposedly permeates the universe and everything in it. There is no scientific support for the existence of this energy which is why all practices based upon it – such as Meridian Stress Assessment – are considered to be pseudoscientific.
In the practice you mention, devices are used to measure these energy readings at specific points on the hands and feet. These machines are commonly referred to as EAV devices, or electroacupuncture according to Voll. (Reinhold Voll is the West German Physician and acupuncturist who invented the first EAV) and are used to determine “allergies,” detect “nutrient deficiencies,” diagnose “parasites” and organ “weaknesses,” and locate alleged problems in teeth that contain amalgam (“silver”) fillings.
EAV machines are also used in a host of other practices such as bio resonance therapy (BRT), bio-energy regulatory technique (BER), biocybernetic medicine (BM), computerized electrodermal screening (CEDS), computerized electrodermal stress analysis (CDCSA), electrodermal testng (EDT), limbic stress assessment (LSA), and meridian energy analysis (MEA), or point testing.
The devices are registered with the FDA as “devices that use resistance measurements to diagnose and treat various diseases” as Class III devices, which require FDA approval prior to marketing.
“A few companies have obtained 510(k) clearance (not approval) by telling the FDA that their devices will be used for biofeedback or to measure skin resistance, but this does not entitle them to market the devices for other purposes,” writes Stephen Barrett, MD, of Quackwatch.
(I personally came across a website that made this claim.)
However, this is not true. “EAV devices are not biofeedback devices. Biofeedback is a relaxation technique that uses an electronic device that continuously signals pulse rate, muscle tension, or other body function by tone or visual signal. In biofeedback, the signal originates and is influenced by the patient. In EAV, the signal is influenced by how hard the operator presses the probe against the patient’s skin. (Pressure makes the electric current flow more easily between the device to the patient’s skin.)”
Apparently, some practitioners (not specifically those at the website above) were using biofeedback codes to bilk insurance companies for payment, according to Barrett.
EAV devices have since been banned by the FDA and although the agency has warned or prosecuted a few marketers, their efforts to rid the country of these quack devices has been woefully inadequate.
“No systematic effort has been made to drive them from the marketplace, and the FDA’s inattention to this area is disgraceful,” Barrett writes. “As a result, these bogus devices are being used by many chiropractors, acupuncturists, dentists, ‘holistic’ physicians, veterinarians, self-styled ‘nutritionists,’ and various unlicensed individuals. The most common use is for prescribing homeopathic products.”
Using these devices for diagnostic purposes is very dangerous, not least of which is because “the transmittal of false or misleading health information can cause emotional harm, a false sense of security, or a false set of beliefs that can lead to unwise decisions.”
Anyone encountering a practitioner who uses Meridian Stress Testing should be more than just wary – they should walk away and not look back.
Send your New Age questions to firstname.lastname@example.org