What is Iridology?
Iridology is the art and science of analyzing the markings, structure, and pigmentation in the iris (colored portion of the eye). Bernard Jensen, DC popularized iridology in the US and taught that the iris revealed present tissue conditions as well as changes in the iris from healing interventions. However, several studies have refuted this and there has been no photographic proof of the “healing lines” he wrote about. His work was based on early research in Germany that was developed by medical doctors. Modern research from Germany is based on autopsies and other scientific analysis, and points toward iris patterns as constitutional (inherited tendencies) rather than diagnostic of present tissue conditions.
Unfortunately, there are those who use iridology as a diagnostic tool, which detracts from its credibility. Personally, I studied under Steven Horne, author of numerous books and courses in natural healing, a professional member and past president of the American Herbalists Guild and professional member of the International Iridology Practitioner’s Association (IIPA). His Iridology courses can be accessed here.
Steven Horne’s courses are taught from a constitutional perspective, meaning that the iris will tell us where a person tends to be weakest. I think of it like looking at a board and seeing the knothole/s in the board. Put pressure on the board, and it will most likely break at the knothole, since it’s the weakest point. Similarly, when looking at a person’s iris, if they’re taking good care of themselves, none of their tendencies/weaknesses may be manifesting. Alternatively, when someone has taken poor care of themselves, their genetic weaknesses are more likely to be expressing. In general, as a person ages, more of what we see in the iris will point to present tissue conditions. Iris assessment is a great way to find out how to prevent future problems or give us a place to start with what’s presently going on.
More than 20 years ago, I saw an herbalist and had an iris assessment done, and it was so accurate (I was quite ill), I knew I had to learn to do it myself. For many years, it was part of all my new patient appointments. Nowadays, I informally include it as part of a visual assessment, without most patients even being aware.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is whether the iris will change as people improve their health. Though iris signs are mostly constitutional, I have observed some pigment changes in my years of practice.
When I first started practicing, much of my focus was on regaining my own health, and I noticed that each time I did a focused, deep detox, my eyes were noticeably bluer (as opposed to their usual grey-blue). Every time I detoxed, several people would ask if I’d gotten blue contacts.
Approximately 18 ago, a married couple came in for a dual new patient appointment. The wife was concerned because her liver enzymes had been chronically elevated over the last several blood draws with her doctor, and she was interested in doing a detox. I did an iris assessment with each of them, gave them a paper outlining each of their iris signs that included the organ map (shown above), we outlined a plan for both of them and they went on their way. Six months later, they returned to my office, concerned about a dark brown pigment that had appeared in the wife’s right eye over the liver area on the iris map. In talking with them, it became apparent they hadn’t followed any of the recommendations I’d outlined in our previous session, so we talked about the barriers to making changes, came up with some solutions, and they got started. Within 3 months, the brown pigment had completely disappeared! (And of course, she felt much better.) This was fascinating to me, but what I’ve seen over years of reading irises is that in general, if pigments have been present in the iris for a prolonged period of time, even if the original imbalance that triggered these pigments to appear is resolved, they seem to have gelled and become a permanent part of the iris. This may be one reason why photographic proof is so difficult to come by with iris assessment.
In general with iridology, there are three basic eye colors: brown, genetically mixed (AKA biliary) and blue. Any other variation from these colors is due to pigmentation that comes in over top the fibers, which can give the appearance of hazel, green or grey eyes. Note the photos below. A list of some of the different signs depicted in each is listed below each picture.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to do any type of in-depth explanation of iris assessment, but below the iris pictures you’ll find a few of the common signs that are seen in iris assessments and their meaning.
Looks like a string of white or yellow/white pearls in the outermost portion of the iris and indicates a tendency toward lymphatic congestion that can result in chronic sinus/respiratory or allergy symptoms, and can also involve joint and kidney problems. The lymph system is the garbage-removal system in the body, and doesn’t have a pump. It moves when we move, so exercise is beneficial to increasing lymph flow. Bouncing on a mini-trampoline or skin-brushing can also stimulate lymph flow.
Tight Autonomic Nerve Wreath
(Visualized most easily in the 3rd picture above) There is a tendency for tense, tight or spastic bowels with an ANW that is closer than 1/3 the distance between the outer edge of the iris and the pupil. Often I find these people crave chocolate, notice a worsening in constipation with travel or have menstrual cramps that respond to heat. Often there is an increased need for magnesium.
Seen most easily in the brown eye above, they are the concentric circles around the outer edge of the iris that resemble ripples in water. These are indicators of a tendency toward tension or stress or a type A personality.
Seen in the 1st and 3rd eyes as the dark circle at the edge of the iris, which is in the skin zone. This indicates a tendency toward slowly eliminating or toxic skin.
Appear as “spokes” that radiate out from the center of the iris and are easily pictured in the brown eye above. RS are a tendency for a toxic bowel that is allowing for toxins to be absorbed across the lining into the body tissues.
Not technically part of the iris, enlarged pupils can indicate current issues with adrenal burnout, difficulty sleeping and fatigue.
As I said, this article doesn’t list all of the common iris signs and markings, but is just a smattering to give you a little taste. If you’d like to schedule for an iris assessment with me, you can contact the office. Assessments take approximately 15 minutes and are $50. Simply want to do a little more reading and learning? Check out these links:
by Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist