Biological Terrain Assessment Is Nonsense
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
The devices described in this article are used to diagnose nonexistent health problems, and/or select inappropriate treatment. The practitioners who use them are either delusional, dishonest, or both. These devices should be confiscated and the practitioners who use them should be stopped. If you encounter any such device, please report it to the state attorney general, any relevant licensing board, the FDA, the FTC, and any insurance company to which the practitioner submits claims that involve use of the device.
Biological Terrain Assessment (BTA) is a computerized analysis of blood, urine and saliva specimens used to recommend nutritional programs, vitamin and mineral supplements, homeopathic products, and/or herbs. Proponents claim that BTA gives evidence of disease at cellular level which enables one to detect and correct any imbalance before a condition becomes pathological and requires more invasive medical procedures. The devices include the BTA S-2000 and Bioscan 2010.
Med-Tronik, of Friesenheim, Germany, calls its biological terrain determination BEV (bio-electronic method after Professor Vincent). The company's Web site claims that BEV enables "early detection of all illness tendency processes," including "the risk of malignant processes, bacterial infections, polyglobulism, thrombosis, mineral deficiencies, anaemia, diabetes, acute conditions in the liver, gall bladder and pancreas, mycosis, prostatitis, mesenchymal alkalosis and acidosis."
The Grieshaber Group, of Schiltach, Germany, which markets the BTA system, states that it is useful for diagnosing immune-system diseases; allergies and auto-immune diseases; metabolic diseases; environmental/toxicological diseases; heart/circulatory diseases; nervous-system diseases (CFS, MS); chronic diseases and chronic/toxic diseases of the digestive organs; degenerative diseases of the skeletal system; and viral and bacterial infectious inflammatory diseases. Proponents attribute BTA's present status to Robert Greenberg, D.C., of Payson, Arizona, who is said to have extended the work of Professor Janos Kameney of Budapest and French hydrologist Professor Claude Vincent.
Biological Technologies International of Manchester, Massachusetts, a company founded by Greenberg, markets the BTA S-2000 and sponsors seminars for chiropractors and other offbeat practitioners. The company promises to "provide the most advanced instruments and technologies in the world to support predictive and preventative healthcare."  The list price of the device is $13,129, with various lease options available. Company literature states that Greenberg designed the device in 1994 . and that the average practitioner using it charges $150 per test and does 20 to 25 tests per week, thus generating $153,000 to $192,000 per year for the tests alone . According to Greenberg:
- Biological Terrain practitioners clinically monitor the entire internal biochemical environment of the body. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the in-depth elements within the patients chemistry and prescribe the exact forms of treatment to help the patients regain and maintain a healthy internal biochemical environment. Doing so at a chemical level can then, in time, translate vitality and health to every cell, tissue, organ and gland within the patients body.
- The specimens of blood, urine, and saliva are analyzed by a device called a BTA S-2000, which determines the pH, resistivity, and redox values of each of these fluids.
- These factors are the indicators of the nature and processes of the individual's unique biochemistry, including the current status and activities of its enzymes, amino acids and other vital building blocks of life.
- The pH of these fluids can indicate whether the patient's system is too acidic or too alkaline, whether enzymatic activity in the body is occurring properly and if digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals and nutrients are occurring adequately. It can also alert the health-care provider of the presence of damaging environmental or industrial contaminants, substances that can prove very damaging to the body's delicate chemistry.
- The oxidation-reduction values indicate the state of oxygen in the individual's system. Because of the effects of stress, poor air and food quality, and the lack of aerobic exercise typical of most Americans, these values are generally much lower than they should be to sustain a healthy body. If these values remain low for extended periods of time, the body becomes more susceptible to illness, disease, degeneration and premature aging.
- The three redox values that are obtained and studied give the practitioner important information about the electron potential and movement within the body. Such information alerts the health provider of the degree of oxidative damage as well as the potential of vital and life-sustaining chemical reactions.
- The nine values are then analyzed and plotted by the instrument's computer software onto a report that contains graphs and charts. The data are then assessed by the practitioner and used as a teaching guide to share with the patient.
- Although the testing procedure does not diagnose any specific pathology or disease states, it does serve as an analytical guide post that tremendously aids in the overall evaluation of the patient.
- Most Biological Terrain practitioners also incorporate many other forms of objective and subjective examinations and evaluations that, coupled with BTA S-2000 data, provide a deeper understanding of the biochemistry that is being affected or compromised.
- This, in turn, enables the practitioner to formulate a very accurate diagnosis and precise treatment protocol.
The above tests reflect the kinds of crude measurements made on body fluids many years ago. Except for pH, which can help in evaluating a few medical problems, they are vastly inferior to the sophisticated biochemical measurements available today. Nor would BTA provide anything not revealed in standard blood and urine analysis. Resistivity, for example, reflects the total amount of charged particles (ions) in the fluid measured. Although measurement of various individual ions is important, the total has no diagnostic significance. And redox values make little sense, because they would be affected by various fuel molecules and metabolites and would not necessarily relate to anything important inside the cells. For these reasons—and more—I believe that the above rationale is nonsensical and that BTA has no legitimate diagnostic value.
In the Spring of 2001, the FDA notified Grieshaber that its BTA 2000 device and related kits lacked FDA approval and could not be legally marketed in the United States . The FDA also sent warnings about the Bioscan 2010 to BioEclectic Research, of Santa Rosa, California , and Natural Health Consultants, of Vallejo, California .
The North Carolina Institute of Technology used the BioScan 2010 as part of a vaguely described "cell optimization" program for cancer patients that the operators claimed would provide "a high quality of life and, in most cases, to extend your life indefinitely." 
The Institute of Bio-Terrain Sciences , of Tustin, California, promotes the Integra Bio-Terrain System "designed around key bio-marker tests especially selected to objectively and quickly identify hidden biological terrain imbalances" without having to spend thiousands of dollars on machinery and software. Its 2002 schedule lists 18 3-day seminares in major cities throughout the United States. A recent brochure sent to chiropractors promised that the system—which relies on 17 "specialized urine and saliva tests"—could help them improve patient retention, expand into a thriving wellness practice, create a new revenue source, and reduce the probability of patients questioning the validity of reccomendations for supplements. The brochure also stated that the the system would enable pracitioners to detect "metabolic blockages caused by acidic system, enzyme/HDL weakness, leaky gut syndrome, high oxidative stress, chronic infections, excessive sympathetic stress, adrenal exhaustion, high toxic load," and other conditions. The seminars are taught by a acupuncturist/homeopath who is said to have "developed the Integra Bio-Terrain program through years of study in Nutrition, Acupuncture, Dark Field Microscopy, Vegatesting, and many other techniques." .
The ability of quacks to pile nonsense on top of nonsense and market it never ceases to amaze me.
- Biological Technologies Industries. Promotional folder distributed in 1998.
- Biological Technologies Industries. The 10 most frequently asked questions about Biological Terrain Assessment and the BTA S-2000. Undates flyer, distributed in 1998.
- Biological Technologies Industries. If you seek meaningful results for your patient and a revenue generator for you practice consider the benefits of owning the BTA S-2000 for only $249.95 per month. Undated flyer, distributed in 1998.
- Spears LD. Warning letter to company director Gehrhard F.P. Braun, April 25, 2001.
- Spears LD. Warning letter to company CEO Scott Moyer, April 25, 2001.
- Spears LD. Warning letter to Gerald T. Wolke, RPh, June 7, 2001.
- Welcome message. North Carolina Institute of Technology Web site, accessed March 2002.
- Institute of Bio-Terrain Sciences. Integra Bio-Terrain Seminars. Brochure distributed in February 2002.
This article was revised on April 9, 2002.