Electric Health

Steve Fowler, Fowler Associates


May 16, 2003

We run on electricity. So why not connect us up to an outlet?

The application of electric current started as quackery but has evolved over the past century to be an effective way of managing pain and assisting in the recovery from injury.

The following is a good humored look at electric applications to health both quackery and accepted science. You guess which is which.


From the beginning of the discovery of electricity we have been trying to cure disease and pain by applying electric current to all parts of our body.  Some scientists believe that if a person's naturally occurring electric and magnetic fields are disturbed, serious health problems and disease like cancer can develop. Other scientists believe that the application of electric current is beneficial.  They both probably are right.


In the middle 17th century, Ben Franklin's kite experiment established the relationship between lightening and electricity. Christian A. Kratzenstein (1723-1795) was the first to use electricity medically when he replaced "bad" electricity with "good" electricity in such diseases as rheumatism and the plague. The Davis & Kidder magneto machine was patented in 1854 and combined electricity and magnetism and became very popular. It generated an electric current from spinning magnates that resulted in a small shock delivered to surprised and delighted patients suffering from nervous disorders. Shown below is a Macintosh version of this machine. The benefits of this may not be obvious to us now. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Electric Belts

These were very famous during the first part of the 20th century and could be purchased from the Sears catalogue. A weak charge could be produced when the metal links were submerged in a solution made of sulfuric acid, vinegar, and water. Pulvermacher was one on the major distributors of these belts and they produced numerous booklets similar to the one shown, all filled with testimonials by satisfied customers. The two belts shown were made by Mioxrl, the left one, with a genital loop, for the male and the right for the female. Ouch! The picture below is from the 1902 Sears catalogue. Click on the picture for a full size view (caution, 800 kBytes).


"Electric Brushes"

The brushes made by Dr. Scott contained magnates and were used to treat many medical complaints in addition to hair loss. A compass was included in order to demonstrate proof of activity. The Raydo brush worked on batteries while the Wonder Brush generated a shock after the lever on the top was repeatedly pushed.






Electric Insoles, Rings and Plasters:

The pictures above are from the following web site: http://www.collectmedicalantiques.com

And the 1902 Sears Catalog.

Human Grounding

The grounding out of electric fields is a science promoted by many.

Quote from A Paper by Clint Ober (click here for full paper)

From the beginning of time, except for the past few generations, humans lived their entire lives in direct physical contact with the earth; therefore, it is a given that the human body, throughout evolution, was naturally grounded.

In modern times, humans insulate themselves from contact with the earth by wearing synthetic soled shoes and by living in homes that elevate the body above the earth. Consequently, humans are no longer naturally grounded and the body now stores excess body electricity and becomes charged with static electricity and induced weak electric currents from common exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs).

This study provides evidence that loss of natural grounding allows extraneous charge in the body to interfere with and stress the normal bioelectrical functions of the nervous system, which thereby interfere with human sleep and health.

For some, the use of conductive fibers have also made sleep better and pain less. This area of science is still evolving.

Personal Zappers

Recently several companies have begun to sell pain relief units which apply a sharp shock to the area of pain. This is supposed to relieve the pain. Maybe it just diverts our attention. Scotch may be better in this case.

TENS is Considered by Many to be Real Therapy

What is TENS?  

TENS is used by Chiropractors to easy pain and to speed recovery of nerve and muscle damage. TENS units have been sold on TV for muscle toning and weight loss.

TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. The TENS generates electrical impulses that are sent through electrodes placed over nerve centers. The various pulses employed by TENS can block pain signals normally sent to the brain through nerve fibers, thereby interrupting the brain's awareness of pain. The TENS may activate the release of endorphins. These are chemicals in the control system used by the body to suppress pain naturally. It is no longer necessary for many people to endure chronic or constant pain. The use of TENS usually improves pain management significantly. TENS is safe, non-invasive, drug free, non-addictive and has no side effects. The TENS can reduce the need for pain narcotics and drugs.  TENS is a FDA regulated non-narcotic pain relief device. TENS is said to work by two different methods. High frequency TENS, is based on the theory that continuous mild electrical activity blocks the pain signal traveling to the brain. If the pain signal does not get through to the brain, the pain is not "felt". The second way TENS works is by stimulating the body's own natural pain-control mechanism.  Low frequency or short bursts of electrical activity causes the body to release its own pain relieving substances, called endorphins. 


Bone Stimulation

One of the more accepted areas of science of electrical therapy is bone stimulation. It has been shown over the past several decades that the application of small electrical current helps bones to regenerate.

Dr. Robert Becker was one of the founding scientist in this area. If you have not, you should read his book, "The Body Electric."

Where will the science of electric health go? Only time will tell. If you have any stories about electricity or electrostatics being used for health purposes, please email us.