Also known as the Carroll Method, the Food Intolerance Evaluation (FIE) is a unique method among the many methods of utilizing food choices to improve your overall health. That is because this evaluation specifically identifies the harmful food group(s) and possible combinations of these groups that cause inflammation and stress on the body. These stressors and inflammation can take many forms and are often the root cause of the various illnesses and symptoms that a person experiences.

While you may be saying, “but I don’t have any food allergies”, or “sure, I know all about food allergies, I’ve already been tested, or even I know what my allergies are already”. Well, let me be clear, this is NOT a food allergy test. Actually, why don’t we pause there and review what a food “allergy” is.

A true food “allergy” is a reaction of your immune system. In fact, it can be clearly determined because one specific type of immune cell is responsible for the symptoms you experience during an allergic reaction – IgE or immunoglobulin E. When your body comes into contact with the allergen, IgE cells in your body react to it and tell the immune system to release a set of chemicals, including histamine, that are responsible for the sometimes almost immediate dripping nose, itchy eyes, dry throat, rashes and hives, nausea, diarrhea, labored breathing, and even anaphylactic shock. These symptoms can appear from minutes to within 2 hours of ingesting the offending food.

So, a true food “allergy” is a food that is not tolerated by the body at all – in fact even a little bit can cause some very serious symptoms. This is very different from food sensitivities and food intolerances.

Sidetone: See this lovely article from Mayo Clinic that basically gives the same overview as above:

Now that we’ve cleared up the whole allergy vs. intolerance confusion – we can continue.

As with all things, there is great variability among individuals. So while the Blood Type Diet might work wonders for one individual, it may not have much affect for another. Simply avoiding true IgE allergies or even specific food sensitivities as identified by ALCAT (and IgG markers), or other tests, may not completely resolve your health concerns either. This is because there may be derivatives of your food intolerance in other items you consume. Let me explain:

The FIE is unique in that it identifies your intolerance to a food group – this includes all the derivatives of this food. So while your intolerance may be to potatoes – this doesn’t just mean avoiding potatoes, potato chips and french fries. You must also avoid the derivatives, or things made from or with potato, as well.

For instance, did you know that xantham gum (a common baking thickener used in almost every loaf of bread, pastry and baked good) is derived from potatoes? Or that those wonderful B vitamins that give you a nice burst of energy by helping facilitate your liver functions are often grown on or come from potatoes? This is where you realize the FIE is actually testing for a LOT MORE than just an intolerance to 6 items…the number is exponential. When compared to many other “allergy” tests, for instance ALCAT where you pay by the item tested – that can add up quick – you are getting a lot more for your money with the FIE.

Below is the informative handout that I give all my patients and those with questions regarding who created the FIE, how it works, and what to expect.

Food Intolerance Evaluation


The Food Intolerance Evaluation (FIE) is often referred to as “Carroll Testing”; this is after the creator, Dr. Otis G. Carroll, ND. Dr. Carroll was one of the most notable naturopathic doctors in the last century. He had a successful practice in Spokane, WA from 1908-1963. During this time he also mentored several of the most prominent modern naturopathic doctors, including Dr. Bastyr of Bastyr University, and Dr. Dick – whose work continues on through his daughter Letitia. In addition to the food testing Dr. Carroll’s work was centered on the European nature-cure approach – utilizing hydrotherapy, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and clean eating.

Despite all of Dr. Carroll’s success he could not find a way to restore health to his chronically ill son. In his search for ways to resolve his son’s health issues Dr. Carroll came upon the work of Stanford’s Dr. Abrams – a professor of physiology – who had been experimenting with new techniques in diagnosis. Dr. Carroll modified Abram’s work in order to apply it to food, such that foods or food combinations that are not inherently digestible by a person could be identified.

Not only do these mal-digested foods become a burden for the body, but they also lead to the creation of toxic by-products due to the poor digestion. These toxins then enter the blood stream and become the basis for body wide inflammation and irritation to the organs and tissues of the body. To heal a chronic “dis-ease” in the body, we must identify and remove the cause, usually found at least in part in the diet. In Dr. Carroll’s own words “Health must at all times come from, and be maintained by digested foods.”

Using this evaluation, Dr. Carroll identified fruit as his son’s primary intolerance. After he removed fruit from his son’s diet his son was finally able to recover his health. Dr. Carroll eventually determined that there were common categories of food intolerance. Most people have an intolerance to at least one of the following categories: potato, fruit, sugar, meat, milk, and egg. Furthermore, he discovered that most people also have an issue with one or more combinations of food – the most common being grain and potato or fruit and sugar. Occasionally, people do have other possible, but more rare, intolerances such as nuts, fish, soy, and mined salt.

The FIE as created by Dr. Carroll is similar in some aspects to the bioelectric testing of Voll (EAV testing), from which many biofeedback mechanisms currently in use have evolved. During this evaluation the blood sample in placed in a specific electric circuit and exposed to various foods in contact with a reagent. Fluctuations in the current then, determine the outcome of the evaluation. If you would like to learn more about this process you can review the writings by or about Abrams such as “The Electronic Reaction of Abrams” among others, which are all available at the library of the National College of Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Present Day:

Although Dr. Carroll used to refer to this as an allergy test, it was not in the least an “allergy” as generally understood today. An allergy is an immune system response against food or food elements in the digestive system or in the blood as if they were foreign proteins, and the body reacts by creating symptoms.

Further, FIE has nothing to do with the blood type diet. This is a method of discerning food sensitivities that was developed by Dr. D’Adamo and his father. It has nothing to do with digestion, per se, but with immune system recognition of food lectins, which are similar to the different blood group immune identifiers on blood cells.

The Carroll method identifies a primary inability of the digestive system to properly digest and metabolize a particular food group and or combination of foods. When this happens, mal-digestion can occur, again causing toxic metabolites to form in the intestines and be absorbed into the blood. These toxic metabolites interfere with normal functions of the body and become a part of the underlying chronic illness picture.

Providers, like me, that use this evaluation do so because it gives you, the patient, the tools/knowledge/power to control your own health. When you are able to resolve an underlying disturbance to your health such as food intolerance, you will need less office visits and reduce your overall health and medical expenses. This is great news for you!!

Much more research needs to be done overall in the field of food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies in order to better under the clinical implications of all these issues, and how each one can be detrimental to a patient’s health when not fully addressed or understood.

If food sensitivities or true allergies are still suspected after an initial visit, we can discuss this kind of testing and determine which type of testing will be right fit for you.

For more information, please call or email me at 608-977-0885 or

In Health,

Dr. Whitney


  1. Bex

    Can your “food sensitivities” improve with age? Can you “grow out of them”? Also, my son took this test when he was 4. We adjusted his diet, removing the offending items for more than a year. There was no significant change in behavior or health. He is now 13. Could his sensitivities have changed over the maturation process? Just how sensitive does one have to be to experience improved health from changing their diet or change in lifestyle?

    • drwhitney

      Your true food intolerances will never change, you are born with them and short of receiving a blood transfusion should not alter in any way as you go through life. Now “food allergies” can be true IgE allergies (needing an epi-pen) or lesser IgG type “food allergies”, and can come at anytime in life, and usually are a result of eating your intolerance(s) which is then disrupting normal responses from your immune system and affecting your digestive system among other things. It sounds like your son had “food sensitivity” or “allergy” testing done, not a true intolerance evaluation via the Carroll Method, as is only available through licensed Naturopathic Doctors who have been trained from or work with the doctors associated with the founding of the Carroll Institute. I have had many patients tell me, “but, I’ve already had food testing done”… only to find out they didn’t actually do the Carroll Method, and once we did it – they got better, and do so very quickly, usually showing significant improvements within a months time.

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  4. Tracey Stirling

    With the new growing research into epigenetics showing that we can turn our genes on and off then wouldn’t it be possible we could resolve food intolerances through changing our DNA?

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      Anything is possible Tracey!

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      Yes, of course. If you have questions please use the message function on the website.

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