Metabolic typing

Metabolic typing

Metabolic typing is the term for a diet based upon the concept of metabolic type. Proponents claim that each person has a unique metabolism, and that therefore the nutrients which are appropriate for one person may be inappropriate for a second, and detrimental for a third. Metabolic typing claims to use common visible symptoms related to the skin, eyes, and other superficial parts of the body to assess different aspects of a person's metabolism and categorize them into broad metabolic types. In addition, some proponents of metabolic typing use tests such as hair analysis to determine a person's "metabolic type".[1]

A number of somewhat different "metabolic typing" diet plans are currently marketed. The validity and effectiveness of metabolic typing have not been established.[2]


Metabolic typing was introduced by William Donald Kelley, a dentist, in the 1960s. Kelley advocated basing dietary choices on the activity of one's sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. In 1970, Kelley was convicted of practicing medicine without a license, as he had diagnosed a patient with lung cancer based on a fingerstick blood test and prescribed nutritional therapy. He continued to promote a metabolic typing diet through the 1980s.[3] The practice has been further developed by others including Harold Kristol and William Wolcott.

"Metabolic therapy", including administration of laetrile, was promoted for cancer patients by John Richardson in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s, until his arrest for violating the California Cancer Law and revocation of his license by the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance.[4]


Although metabolic typing diets have been promoted to patients with cancer, along with anyone suffering from symptoms that have yet to be diagnosed, as every branch of alternative medicine, metabolic typing has come under fire by certain people in the traditional medical field.

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website notes that "...retrospective reviews of the Gerson, Kelley, and Contreras metabolic therapies show no evidence of efficacy."[5]

Some metabolic typing companies use a battery of blood and urine tests performed by reputable laboratories, but interpret the results in an unconventional and medically questionable fashion.[2] During a 1985 investigation into one such firm, an investigator sent 2 separate samples of his own blood and urine for analysis. He received 2 drastically different "metabolic typing" reports and dietary plans. Both plans involved the purchase of dietary supplements costing several dollars per day.[2]


  1. ^ The Metabolic Typing Diet, Wolcott and Fahey, p.118-119
  2. ^ a b c Nutrabalance, a metabolic typing firm, described by Quackwatch. Accessed April 27, 2007.
  3. ^ "Questionable Cancer Therapies: Kelley/Gonzalez Metabolic Therapy". Quackwatch. Retrieved April 27, 2007. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Benjamin (February 17, 2004). "The Rise and Fall of Laetrile". Quackwatch. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  5. ^ Metabolic Therapies: Information sheet from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Accessed April 27, 2007.

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