This information is provided by the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) as part of the Foundations of Functional Nutrition Seminar
Series & Nutritional Therapist Training Program.
Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc.
The Pulse Test
Purpose: A simple 2 ½ minute self-test to determine if a particular food or supplement
causes a stressful reaction.
Note: This test may not be valid if you are taking a drug that controls your
heart rate, such as a calcium-channel blocker or a beta-blocker.
1. Sit down, take a deep breath, and relax.
2. Establish your baseline pulse by counting your heart beat for one full minute and record
your pulse in the “Before” space in the Pulse Test Record below.
3. Put a sample of a food or supplement to evaluate in your mouth (on your tongue). You
may chew but refrain from swallowing. You do need to taste it for approximately 30
Note: The sensory information taste signals from your mouth will inform your central nervous system
(brain) as to the nature of the test substance. If the test substance (food or supplement) is stressful to the
body, you will have a brief reaction that causes your heart to beat faster.
Test only one food at a time. Testing individual ingredients will yield specific information, compared with
testing foods containing multiple ingredients. Testing a banana, for example, yields more specific, and
therefore more valuable, information than testing banana bread.
4. Retake your pulse with the food or supplement still in your mouth. Write down your
“After” pulse on the Pulse Test Record.
Note: An increase of 6 or more is considered the result of a stressful reaction. The greater the degree of
stressfulness or reactivity, the higher the heart rate will be.
5. Discard the tested ingredient (do not swallow) and repeat the procedure to test other foods
or supplements. Repeat the procedure as frequently as you like, as long as you always
return to your normal pulse before testing the next food.
Note: If a reaction occurred, rinse your mouth out with some purified water and spit the water out. Wait
two minutes, then you can retest your pulse to see if it has returned to its baseline. If it hasn’t, wait a couple
more minutes and retest. Continue to retest until you have returned to your normal pulse. Once your pulse
has returned to its normal rate, you can test the next food.
6. Make an appointment to go over the results of this test as soon as possible or bring this
record with you to your next appointment.
Pulse Test Record