Skepticism of Live Blood Analysis & Techniques
Blood Microscopy is often associated with live blood cell analysis using dark field techniques. Proponents of this technique believe it readily provides information without the need to stain dead cells, while skeptics question its validity.
This type of analysis is controversial and misused my many natural healthcare practitioners.
Live Blood Analysis
Presently, dark field blood microscopy is the only way to observe live blood cells. Practitioners take a small amount of blood from a patient, apply the sample to a slide and observe the blood.
Most blood-microscopes come equipped with a camera and video equipment, allowing both the practitioner and patient to view the specimen together.
In addition to red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs) and plasma, blood microscopy is believed to show items within the plasma such as:
- Undigested food particles
Proponents of blood microscopy also claim to observe pleomorphic activity, the condition of major organs, mal-absorption of proteins, lipids and nutrients and immune system disorders.
Others go so far as to claim they can diagnose cancer and even tell if a patient drinks too much or doesn’t exercise.
Commonly used synonyms for live blood analysis include:
- dark-field video analysis,
- nutritional blood analysis
- vital hematology
Traditional observations require dried blood. A small sample is smeared onto a slide, stained and then observed under a microscope. Staining allows transparent components such as erythrocytes and leukocytes to become visible.
In addition, centrifugation can be used to separate components of blood for individual analysis.
Blood Microscopy Observation Techniques
Three common microscopic observation techniques are brightfield, dark field and phase contrast.
Bright Field is the most common and well-known techniques – anyone who has used a compound microscope has employed bright field.
An illumination source placed below the microscope stage causes light rays to disperse in all azimuths and, in conjunction with the microscopes objectifications, results in a magnified image.
Bright field is ideal for inorganic and dead specimens; in addition, stains are often used to reveal cellular structure and details such as transparent components of blood like erythrocytes.
Dark field is a microscopic technique ideal for specimens with similar refractive values to the background. Direct light is blocked using an opaque object or stop causing oblique beams to scatter; rays hit the sample, resulting in a brightly lit image against a purely black background.
Dark field is primarily used for unstained, transparent and opaque objects such as marine organisms, fungus, insects and bacteria.
Dark field does not reveal much information on inner structures, but does provide more surface details compared to other techniques. The primary disadvantage of dark field is the presence of artifacts and image distortions.
Phrase Contrast - With the use of direct and diffracted light, phase contrast allows for the viewing of colorless, transparent objects that do not absorb light without staining.
Phase contrast allows for high-contrast, high-resolution observation of living cells and organisms in their natural state such as bacteria, fungus and erythrocytes; the primary disadvantages are specimens must be thin, halo-effects and phase artifacts.
Phase contrast is valuable in the study of intracellular components and cells grown in cultures. It is an invaluable instrument for hematologists, virologist and microbiologists.
Dr. Gunther Enderlein was first to describe using dark field for live blood analysis in the early 1900s.
Dark field observations can produce artifacts, many of which were interpreted as disease-causing microbes by Enderlein.
He called them protits, symbionts or endobionts – organisms that can only be seen by live blood analysts.
Enderlein and his followers believe that these organisms found in the plasma could transform into pathogenic agents and that their presence could predict future disease.
Today, healthcare practitioners who utilize blood microscopy in-office connect these organisms with the need for vitamins, minerals and enzymes – products often conveniently sold at the office.
Some practitioners will administer the supplement and take another sample during the same visit, showing that the product has already begun to work.
Live cell analysis can reveal traits of the blood samples such as the size and shape of cells. However, claims that blood microscopy can predict RBC coagulation, nutritional deficiencies and diagnose disease remains unproven.
Scientific proof requires reliable results that can be reproduced by independent parties. Presently, dark field blood microscopy fails to meet this minimum standard.
A detailed report on the "Quack Watch" website reveals demonstrations of dark-field blood microscopy and raises questions regarding its validity.
Many who administer live blood analysis tests make dubious health claims and manipulate test results to show a need for and subsequent proof that nutritional and enzymatic supplements are working.
Informal studies of live blood analysis show test results often cannot be replicated.
Additionally, marked differences exist between the edge and center of the blood sample - the position of the microscope lens can result in different conclusions related to the same sample.
Generally, those who employ in-office use of dark field blood analysis tend to be chiropractors, naturopaths and other holistic healthcare practitioners. Not approved by the FDA or covered by insurance, patients are required to pay out-of-pocket.
Infinity, a company that manufactures and holds demonstration on dark field microscopes for live blood analysis, states that practitioners should only use this instrument as an adjunct after taking a medical history and physical exam.
Nutritional recommendations should be reinforced by reviewing blood samples via video with patients, but not made based on the samples.
The company states, “the doctor performing the demonstration never makes analysis, determination or recommendation based on the video demonstration," but that the video is a motivational tool to encourage patients to adopt healthier life choices.
Yet, if the practitioner is not supposed to point out nutritional deficits or make diagnosis based on the sample, merely identifying the basic components of blood has no apparent correlation with supplement and lifestyle recommendations.
Dark field techniques allow for the viewing of live blood samples. Utilized primarily by alternative healthcare practitioners, blood microscopy is not accepted as a valid technique by most doctors, researchers, insurance companies or the FDA.
The misuse of the technique, over zealous encouragement of patients to purchase supplements and the inability to independently repeat results make the diagnostic use of live blood analysis controversial.
See Also: Hematuria - Microscopy of Urine and Observations
More on Leukocytes here
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