The Cytotoxic Test…and Me

By Ron Hunninghake, M.D.

Almost 17 years ago, I got my first glimpse of “the cytotoxic test.” It was a sheet of paper listing 90 common foods and food additives. After each food, there were four columns of severity, ranging from a mild “I” to a severe “4.”

At that time, as a young family physician, I had absolutely no idea what these numbers meant. I had no concept that foods had anything to do with common medical conditions and symptoms, other than maybe hives or severe throat swelling (anaphylactic reactions.) I was surprised when the patient who showed me this strange list announced that her chronic headaches had lessened significantly once she had eliminated her “reactive foods.”

Food is the most commonly overlooked reactive trigger to commonly occurring symptoms.

Intrigued, but without a model to understand this test, I conveniently forgot about it for several years. Then, in 1987, as a result of consulting at The Center, I had my own cytotoxic test done. My medical paradigm was again challenged as I struggled to assimilate this innocent looking, but quite enigmatic, data .

At that time, I was a big diet pop drinker. I had switched from regular pop to diet in order to cut down on sugar, a step I viewed as quite progressive and beneficial to my health. The cytotoxic results told me I was a “2” to Nutrasweet. It suggested that I stop Nutrasweet (aspartame) for 90 days. But I was consuming up to 64 ounces a day of the stuff! Giveitup?!! No way! Besides, I was healthy … or so I thought.

At that stage in my career, I was up nights delivering babies, making trips to the ER, and answering many middle of the night phone calls. I thought my irritability was simply fatigue and sleep deprivation. The fact that my shoes got tight every afternoon and evening was only mildly disturbing to me. With no explanation, I just blew it off as “getting older” or “too much salt.”

When I finally did try to eliminate diet pop, I was amazed how addicted I was to the stuff. Trying to go even one afternoon with out it was hell! My irritability was accentuated. I felt terribly sluggish. I craved the stuff worse than sugar. And I even felt depressed without it. Consequently, I would eventually succumb to going back on it. (I really knew I was in trouble when I caught myself hiding cans of diet pop around my office!)

Noting all this made me realize that maybe the cytotoxic test could be medically relevant!

Finally, when Lent came around and I was looking for something to give up, I made the fateful decision to give up diet pop. After I got through the first few days of penance, I started feeling better. Less irritability, more mental clarity, less puffiness, fewer cravings overall, and a greater sense of wellbeing and strength. I completely avoided Nutrasweet for the forty-some days of Lent.

Then Easter Sunday rolled around. I celebrated by having two large glasses of Diet Pepsi. Strangely,it tasted funny.  It had an unpleasant, chemical taste. No sooner had I drank the first glass, and I found myself yelling at the kids, for no good reason! Then, when I went to walk up the stairs, I could barely lift one foot after the other! That evening I could barely get my wedding ring off. All of these things were so glaringly obvious to me since none of these symptoms were present during Lent when I was off the aspartame.

Over the last 10 years since I have been practicing here at The Center, time and time again I have seen the power of the cytotoxic test work for our patients. Chronic headaches and migraines … gone or greatly relieved. Unrelenting arthritis .. significantly improved. Colitis and irritable bowel… tamed. These and many other common medical symptoms can be improved through determining the individual patient’s cytotoxic foods, then subjecting the patient to an elimination period. Many of the reactive foods can be reintroduced and successfully rotated on a four day basis without re-triggering old symptoms. Certain foods, and especially chemicals, require permanent elimination.

The cytotoxic test is not a panacea. When combined with a thorough biochemical/nutritional workup and treatment program, it can be dynamite for markedly reducing or eliminating chronic symptom patterns.

One lady had heartburn for 20 years … until she stopped coffee, which was a “3” on her test. I saw a patient recently with a progressive five year history of migraines. She had had none in the month since instituting her cytotoxic results. (We hadn’t even started her biochemical correction program yet!) One little lO-year-old, after missing more than half his school year due to headaches, returned to school for the rest of the year without absentee slips or headaches. Except for the day of his birthday party, when cake and ice cream (wheat, sugar, and milk were on his list) almost triggered a full blown headache. Extra vitamin C and rest staved it off. The success stories go on and on.

No, the cytotoxic test is not the answer to all medically difficult symptom complexes. But it can provide a powerful information piece to the clinical puzzle-one that oftentimes works quickly to begin alleviating long term symptoms. Food is something to which we “expose” ourselves every day. So if there is a daily symptom pattern, its cause should be relatable to a daily trigger. FOOD IS THE MOST COMMONLY OVERLOOKED REACTIVE TRIGGER TO COMMONLY OCCURRING SYMPTOMS.

The cytotoxic testis the easiest way to begin to get a handle on these common adverse food reactions that often contribute to the perpetuation of long term medical symptoms.

Not feeling well? Get your cytotoxic test done, and start to get a handle on things!