I Became a “Human Pendulum” to Figure Out My Gut Issues—Here’s What Happened

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When experiencing digestive probs on the reg, most people are willing to try anything. Supplements, dietary changes (which may or may not involve nixing avocados), even stool testing isn't out of the question if you really want to get to the bottom of things, so to speak. It's exactly how I felt, sitting in a well-known functional practitioner's office asking the nurse why—why god why—I was experiencing bloating and an upset stomach on a regular basis. Surely something in my diet wasn't agreeing with me—I just couldn't figure out what.

As she filled up vial after vial of my blood to test for possible food allergies, the nurse started to tell me about how she got to the root of her own digestive issues. "I actually figured out I had a sensitivity to almonds by using a pendulum," she told me. My confusion was written on my face, so she explained: "You can place any food in front of you, and depending on which way a pendulum swings, you can find out if your body agrees with it or not. It's all about the energy." Uhhh... still not clear.

 "We are energetic beings, with energy flowing through our bodies all the time. Certain things disrupt energy and certain things enhance it."

It would be a couple weeks until my blood work came back, and while I was waiting, I couldn't stop wondering if there was something to this pendulum—even if it did seem pretty woo-woo. Trying it at least couldn't hurt, right?

My curiosity led me to Carolyn Harrington, a holistic healer who has been featured in pubs like Forbes and W magazine. "We know with quantum physics that we are energetic beings, with energy flowing through our bodies all the time," Harrington told me when I called her up. "I've been doing this a long time and have seen it work. Certain things disrupt energy and certain things enhance it." She explained that using a pendulum—or even becoming one (more on that later)—can illuminate how the energy of various foods affects your body.

Wondering how it worked out for me? Keep reading to find out—and learn how to try it for yourself.

woman on phone
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Getting my energy read

An expert energy reader, Harrington says she can determine your food sensitivities by looking at your photo, listening to your voice, or touching an article of your clothing. Since we were talking on the phone, we went the voice route. "I have a list of foods in front of me, and I'm getting that processed foods is what's messing with your gut," Harrington told me. "That's the main culprit. And second is sugar. If you stay away from them, this will allow your gut to heal."

I have to admit, I wasn't exactly floored. Processed foods and sugar? Those are bad for everyone... And fair enough, I could cut back on the sugar a bit (hello, 4 p.m. snack attack and post-work glass of wine), but processed foods aren't really a big part of my diet.

But then Harrington said something that actually did make sense to me: "I'm also getting that there is too much fungi in your stomach, so you aren't producing enough hydrochloric acid." This was interesting because I had started taking a probiotic with fungi a couple months before. Harrington's quick fix: Do a shot of apple cider vinegar every day.

human pendulum for food allergies
Photo: Stocksy/Lucas Ottone

How to read your own energy

Not everyone has an experienced energy reader on speed dial, so while I still had Harrington on the phone, I asked her to teach me how to interpret my own energy. "Stand up and close your eyes," she said. Then, she asked me to say out loud, "show me yes" and make note of how my body shifts—this will be how I respond to foods that are good for me. "My body moved a little bit forward," I relayed.

"Okay, good," she replied. "Now, do the same thing saying 'show me no.'" That time, I didn't move an inch. "Hmm, maybe because it's your first time or because we're talking on the phone," Harrington said. "Most people either move backward or to the side. But everyone is different." Still, she encouraged me to try the pendulum exercise with various foods in front of me, especially the ones she recommended I stay away from: sugar and processed foods.

woman in kitchen with coffee
Photo: Stocksy/Lindsay Crandall

How it worked for me

I tried the exercise when I went grocery shopping that night. (Yes, I felt silly, and double yes, I got some weird looks.) Maybe I felt too self-conscious for it to work properly, but I didn't feel my body swaying in either direction while I surveyed the cereal aisle.

Fortunately, I didn't have to rely on my own energy reading because Harrington had already figured out my trouble spots for me. So for two weeks, I dutifully avoided processed foods and sugar—with a few exceptions (oops)—and swapped my probiotic-fungi pill for a shot of ACV. But I felt even sicker than before.

A daily dose of ACV is amazingly beneficial for some people, but it had the opposite effect on me each morning I drank it, without fail. (It did, however, cure my bloating.) The first week, I figured my body was still adjusting to the change. But after two weeks, I just couldn't stomach it anymore—literally.

After two weeks, I just couldn't stomach it anymore—literally.

Back at my doctor's office, the nurse had the results of my blood work: I didn't have any food sensitivities whatsoever. She recommended I take a five-supplement cocktail of l-glutamine, methylcobalamin, oregano oil, zinc, and vitamin D—the first three to bring balance to my gut and the latter two because I wasn't getting enough of them from diet alone. It took me a couple days to work out the best time to take each one, but now, weeks later, I can say the regimen seems to be helping. (It wasn't a magic cure, though—I still experience digestive issues from time to time.)

I remain skeptical of food-related energy work, but I do have to admit that it has worked for many, many people. (Just look up "muscle testing" on YouTube.) If you're curious about whether it will work for you, why not give it a shot? Just stand up, close your eyes, and well, go with your gut.

An unfair reality: Women experience more digestive problems than men. Here's why. Fortunately, there's a way to calm your mind and gut in less than five minutes.

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