What Is Iridology and How Is Iridology Used with Holistic Health?

Feb 21, 2023 2:58:12 PM | achs What Is Iridology and How Is Iridology Used with Holistic Health?

Iridology gives the holistic health practitioner a tool to analyze the overall constitution or resiliency of a client, which is invaluable when selecting appropriate holistic protocols.

Iridology is based on the theory that it is possible to assess health and sub-health issues by analyzing changes in the structure, texture, and color of the iris and pupil of the eye.

It is important to understand the basis of iridology: Marks and colors in the iris can show various conditions of the body’s tissues and do not indicate abnormalities in the eye or iris itself, which is a separate medical specialization called ophthalmology.

iridology chartThe unique anatomical characteristics of the iris make it exceptionally susceptible to health changes in other parts of the body. The two primary muscle groups found in the eye, the dilator and sphincter muscles, and the complex composition of connective tissue and blood vessels, along with the optic nerve, which is directly linked to the brain via the central and autonomic nervous systems, are all affected by reductions in blood flow and nerve transmission, which can result in visible changes in both the iris and the pupil.

Iridology gives the holistic health practitioner a tool to analyze the overall constitution or resiliency of a client, which is invaluable when selecting appropriate holistic protocols. It also provides an insight into our inherent challenge areas or areas of less vitality, which we each have inherited based on genetics.

For the holistic health practitioner, an iridology reading will help to identify potential causes of problems, not specific symptoms. Before symptoms or pathology develop in the body, iridology may reveal that organs or systems are overstressed, under or over functioning, or predisposed to disease. By predicting areas of lowered resilience, iridology can be used as a preventive tool. Clients can use the information from iridology readings to improve their health and make therapeutic lifestyle changes, avoiding problems before they occur.

Specifically, iridology can help holistic health practitioners to:

  • Reveal basic constitutional strength
  • Provide a holistic view of the body
  • Identify areas of potential inflammation
  • Identify propensity for poor elimination
  • Identify propensity for overacidity (which can lead to pre-arthritic conditions)
  • Identify what areas of the body may explain underlying causes of symptoms
  • Reveal propensity for adverse tissue change, or reduced function or vitality in the body before it manifests as illness
  • Identify inherited propensity for lowered vitality
  • Reveal propensity for an increased need for particular nutrients, and hence propensity for vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Identify whether a client has a propensity to be impacted by stress
  • Identify any propensity for reduced assimilation, elimination, and other digestive and endocrine functions
  • Some iridologists believe it is possible to see healing in the iris, which is very encouraging if you are on a program for health improvement

How Does Iridology Work?

Dr. Bernard Jensen (March 25, 1908-February 22, 200), a renowned[1] proponent of the “nature-cure” approach, and also one of the earlier proponents of iris diagnosis, explained why changes in iris color and texture occur. Jensen said inflammation or irritation of any part of the body transmits through afferent nerves to the autonomic brain centers, which send, in response to this stimulation, a rush of blood to the affected part through efferent nerves, causing swelling and congestion. This effect then transmits through reflex nerve stimulation to the corresponding area in the iris, which, it is said, causes ridges, which run radially from the pupil to the outer edge of the iris. This raises the normal white fibers of the top layer of the iris making them very visible to the naked eye, which explains why, in acute conditions that are characterized by inflammation and irritation, there is visible white in the iris.

Dr. Bill Caradonna from the International Iridology Practitioners Association notes that iris tissue is vascularized connective tissue, not nerve endings. Unlike Jensen, he believes there are not nerve endings that go from the iris to each part of the body. He recounts in his video "Introduction to Iris Structure and Pigment Signs" how he is often asked, “How come the iris shows this information,” and he answers, “We don’t know yet; they will figure it out one day. Correlation over many years gives us information without having to create theory about why it works.”

If chronic congestion exists, blood flow slows to the area and a similar state occurs in the vascular layer of the iris. The accumulation of venous blood and reduced nerve reflex causes a darkening of the corresponding area. If tissue is destroyed or removed through surgery, the iris-related area will turn black because the nerve connection with that area has been severed.

Remember that iris markings show various conditions in the body, and do not indicate abnormalities in eyesight or in the eye itself.

Recent advances in computer-aided biometric analysis where human health can be revealed through measuring and analyzing a number of body characteristics (such as finger and palm prints, face, tongue, breath, and irises) has bought a level of accuracy to iris analysis. This recent advancement has bought a level of legitimacy to iridology, which previously was open to criticism because of the subjective nature of the analysis. Now the effectiveness of iridology does not just depend on the interpreter’s skill.

A research study published in January 2013 in the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics was able to show a correlation between structural and textural changes in the pupil and collarette and stomach and intestinal disorders using the basis of biometric advances in iris recognition.[2] Features of both the pupil and collarette were quantitatively defined and calculated for iris diagnostic applications. Results showed that issues such as inflammation usually leads to pupil contraction and gastro-duodenal bleeding actually enlarges the pupil. This is possibly one of the first research studies to show such promising results with the potential to catapult iridology into the limelight with more conceivable clinical applications.

Of course, not everyone has access to advanced biometric computerized techniques and research labs, and while the iris provides an accurate record of the real cause of physical disorders, the accuracy of the analysis depends on how skillfully the signs are read. There is also iridology software[3] available now that can assist the analysis, but it is still vital to study the technique of reading and of course learn the skill of analysis. Reading an iris is a bit like finding one species of tree in a mixed forest—when you know the leaf shape and size, the rest is easy.

Incorporating Iridology Into a Holistic Health Practice

lymphatic example eye

You will be amazed at how eager people are to have their eyes read. But, you must carefully explain your analysis (particularly as an inexperienced iridology practitioner), because it is easy to get carried away with your own excitement. Always word your analysis in terms of systems and supportive wellness protocols. If you predict disease in an area, the worry and fear you cause can manifest illness by itself! Plus, you may not diagnose disease; it is outside the scope of the holistic health professional or any other unlicensed healthcare professional.

For example, if coloration in the iris indicates an overacid condition in the body, which can enable arthritis to develop, it would not be appropriate to say to your client, "I see that you have arthritis," "I see you are going to get arthritis," or even, "I see that you may get arthritis."

Instead, you would ask, "Is there a history of arthritis in your family?" If the answer is yes, you could say something like: "I can see that your system has a tendency toward overacidity, which is very common. I would recommend an alkalizing diet to address this before it leads to any problems. I can work with you to create an eating plan."

Use the knowledge from your examination and analysis to develop protocols, which gently introduce holistic practices to your client. For example, you could say something like, "It is important to rebalance the body gradually and not to take drastic action. Let's talk about ways we can introduce more healthful habits into your lifestyle."

Standard Precautions

It is very important to remember that iridology is complementary to any healthcare program. It does not replace the need for healthcare from a licensed healthcare professional. Never guess at the cause of an ailment. Always refer to a primary care physician for a complete diagnosis.

An annual physical is very important. Scheduling physicals around your birthday each year will ensure you do not forget, as many life-threatening illnesses can be addressed with early intervention. Your primary care physician can also identify problems that may be assisted by natural health methods and lifestyle changes. Always remember to tell your healthcare professional of any herbs, essential oils, or dietary supplements you are using.

To Learn More About Iridology

If you’re interested in learning more about iridology for personal use or as an adjunct to your holistic health practice, the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) offers NAT 203: Historical Modalities I: Iridology Online, a 3-credit course exploring the theories of iridology, from historical to modern day, including the modern controversies and conflicting information from the fields of identification. It also covers techniques and skills to learn to read an iris, and you develop skills to analyze. This course credits to the ACHS Certificate in Iridology Consulting Program—the nation's only accredited and International Iridology Practitioners Association (IIPA) sanctioned iridology program. To learn more about the IIPA, visit http://www.iridologyassn.org/iipa2/home.aspx

For more information about studying iridology with the American College of Healthcare Sciences, (800) 487-8839, email admissions@achs.edu, or request more information at http://info.achs.edu/Request-Information-From-ACHS


[1] I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Bernard Jensen, and to this day I recall his vivid blue eyes with a perfect “silk” iris, one of the few I was lucky to see while working as a naturopath in New Zealand.

[2] Lin, M., Zhang, D., Li, N., Cai, Y., Zuo, W., & Wang, K. (2013). Iris-Based Medical Analysis by Geometric. IEEE JOURNAL OF BIOMEDICAL AND HEALTH INFORMATICS, 17(1).

[3] Eric Rodriguez, ACHS's 2007 Outstanding Graduate, recommends and uses this http://www.irisdiagnosis.org/new/en/ir5.html Read more about Eric at https://www.achs.edu/alumni/in-action/achs-pleased-announce-dr-mark-dykowski-and-eric-rodriguez-2007-famous-alumni-and-ou  and at https://www.achs.edu/blog/2007/06/04/achs-military-graduates-eric-rodriguez-and-mark-dykowski-represent-achs-annual-detc-

Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Written By: Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Dorene is the Founding President of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 45 years of clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene is a founding member of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and served as its chair until 2023. Dorene is also involved in the distance education community and has served as a volunteer, committee member, and standards evaluator for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and has led ACHS Study Abroad programs to India, Indonesia, Greece, and Hawaii!