Coca's Pulse Tests are extraordinarily useful and simple tools for at-home allergy detection. My clients have succeeded at using this approach without supervision. Coca's test works on this simple principle: pulse elevations are caused by any allergic reaction. If you know what your normal range of pulse rates are, you can isolate an offending food or substance and eliminate it. Success with Coca's Pulse Test requires only motivation and a little perseverance, because in order to test for food allergies, the diet must be restricted for a few days and your pulse must be accurately taken at specific intervals during the testing period.

The test is based on measurement of the resting pulse rate, something most people have no difficulty learning how to do. The resting rate is how fast the heart beats after a person has been sitting still, comfortably relaxing for three to five minutes. When a person is active the heart beats faster than the resting rate. One measure of aerobic fitness is how quickly the heart is able to return to its resting rate. Well-trained athletes' hearts can adjust from working very hard to a resting rate in only a minute or so; those who are deconditioned can take three to five minutes for their heart to slow from even mild exertion to its stable, resting pace. Those who cannot readily find their own pulse on their wrist or throat can inexpensively purchase a digital watch that gives a pulse reading; this kind of watch is used by athletes to make sure their training pulse is in an acceptable range.

Preparatory to doing Coca's Pulse Test it is necessary to as much as possible eliminate allergic food reactions. This requires the application of discipline for a few days before testing begins. Allergic reactions can go on for several days after a food has been eaten and if you are having a reaction to something eaten many hours or several days previously, it may obscure a reaction to a food just eaten.

1. Stop smoking entirely for at least five days before you do a cigarette test; allergies to cigarettes can take five days to clear. Besides, you shouldn't smoke, anyway!

2. For the first three days, count your resting pulse immediately after awakening in the morning (for one entire minute), and record the reading.

3. During the first three days, take your resting pulse half an hour and again one hour after each meal. It if has elevated more than 12 beats above the resting rate you found upon arising that morning, you may assume that some food at the meal you just ate was an allergen. Temporarily, eliminate from your diet all the foods eaten at the previous meal until you can check them one-by-one a few days later. At the end of these first three days you may not have many foods left that you can eat. That is okay and to be expected; it is time to begin adding foods back to the diet.

4. Most people who are allergic to foods are allergic to one or more of the following: corn, wheat, milk and cheese, yogurt, meat, alcohol, tobacco. It would be very wise to eliminate these foods too for the first three days, until they are tested.

After three days on this regimen, you can assume that many of your usual allergic food reactions have ceased or at least diminished significantly and that you probably can get reasonably accurate testing results on individual foods. A good indicator of having problems with food allergies in general can also show up during these initial days. If you have eliminated a large number of foods and your resting pulse upon awakening has slowed down by several beats, you can assume you are allergic to foods you were eating.

I would not be at all surprised that by the end of the third day you were only eating a very few fruits and vegetables and had eliminated everything else. A more effective variant of the testing procedure calls for a three or four day water fast to clear all allergies with absolute certainty, and then to introduce foods one at a time as described below.

On the fourth and subsequent few days, take your resting pulse upon arising and then eat a modest quantity of a single food: for example, eat a slice of bread, or a medium sized glass of milk, or an orange, or two tablespoons sugar in dissolved in water, or a few dried prunes, or a peach, or an egg, or a medium-sized potato, or a cup of black coffee without sweetener, or a few ounces of meat, or a stick of celery, or half a cup of raw cabbage, or an onion, or a date, or a few hazelnuts, etc. Count the pulse one half hour later and again one hour after eating the test item.

If any food raises the resting pulse over 12 beats per minute above your morning resting pulse, that food should be eliminated; you are certainly allergic to it or can't digest that much of it. If your pulse has not returned to its morning resting rate one hour later, you are still having an allergic reaction to the food you ate previously and cannot get a decent result on another food until either your pulse slows again or until the next morning. You may, however, continue to eat other foods that you know do not provoke allergic reactions. Because reactions to a food may not clear for many hours, it is wise to eat only small quantities of individual foods if you wish to test many of them in a single day. If a food causes no acceleration of pulse (at least 6 beats above your estimated normal maximal) that food can be tentatively labeled non-allergenic.

After a few days of testing one food an hour, you will become weary of the routine and wish to eat more normally. It may also occur that you cannot test more than one or two foods a day from the very first day because allergic reactions do not clear quickly enough. No problem, the testing period can go on at a lower level of intensity for many weeks, trying one new food each morning upon arising. As you eliminate allergens from your diet one by one, your resting pulse should drop somewhat and it should be easier to discern allergic reactions. After you have worked through all the items in your normal dietary, it would be wise to retest the foods a second time, breaking your fast with one different test item each morning. This second testing round may reveal a few more allergic reactions that were obscured by other allergic reactions the first time through.