In 1950, a chiropractor from America named Bernard Jensen began teaching students about the necessity of using natural foods to detoxify the body. He developed a method by which the color of the iris was used to indicate the presence of different toxins. American iridology was born. However, iridology, or the study of disease using the color of the iris and certain color and thickness of lines across the eyeball originated in Europe, when a physician from Hungary and a Swedish pastor both noticed iris markings in connection with disease. The physician-Ignatz von Peczely accidentally injured an owl as a child, breaking its leg. While nursing the owl back to health, the young von Peczely noticed that the thick black mark that appeared in the owl's eye after the injury began to lessen as the owl healed. He never forgot it, and as an adult practicing his profession, he recoded that patients with bone fractures experienced the same black mark across the iris. The Swedish pastor-Nils Liljequist-was exposed to malaria as a young man and while recieveing the treatment of quinine and iodine noticed that his blue eyes began to grow darker as the drugs built up in his system. He grew up to study homeopathic medicine and recorded similar reactions in clients who came to him for detoxification purposes. It has been said that the eyes are the mirror to the soul. The famous Greek physician Hippocrates believed that they were also the mirror to the body-specifically for the purpose of determining various ailments. He too recorded the presence of black marks across the iris of fractured bones in his patients, and a change in the color of the eye of patients coming down with diseases. Unfortunately, iridology cannot be used to determine a specific disease. Practitioners of iridology use it to help patients as a preventative measure understand basic health problems in order to refer them to specialists if needed. The belief is that if a disease is detected in the very early stages it can be prevented from spreading further. The colored part of the eye-the iris-is studied for these markings and color changes by isolating the iris and taking pictures of it with a very strong lens. The process takes about an hour and is painless. The photos are then blown up and gone over with a magnifying glass by the iridologist and used to determine and identify potential ailments. Most of these ailments are believed to be hereditary, and the patients predisposition to toxicity and disease is determined not only by the photos but with an extensive interview of family medical history. This holistic concept is well accepted by other disciplines of alternative medicine, as it is a fact that all parts of the body are related, especially when used to warn the body of an impending degenerative disease. Under this theory, the color changes in the eyes at the very onset of the degenerative disease are used by the body to indicate an upcoming health problem, and to warn the body to seek preventative measures. The concept is not far fetched at all-take the example of chiropractors using the process of correcting the spinal alignment to help internal organs. Even conventional physicians check the eyes for signs of sickness. (Blood vessel size is an indication of the level of cholesterol.) There is, however, some criticism toward iridology as practitioners (especially in the United States) are often not fully or thoroughly trained, as the courses offered are usually no more than two to three days in length and are put on by marketing companies who offer "certification" as an iridologist to their distributors. The result is the potential for over diagnosis with the distributor pushing their products through their "specialist." This tendency toward American consumerism and over marketing has given iridology a black eye (no pun intended) as a reputable form of medicine. When seeking an iridologist, find one who has been certified by the Institute for Applied Iridology or by the International Iridology Research Association in Solana Beach, CA.