Dr Robert Becker

Excerpts from Electromedicine: The Other Side of Physiology

Fred N. Lerner, PhD, DAAPM from 1997 revision of a chapter from Innovations in Pain Management: A Practical Guide for Clinicians, a textbook of the American Academy of Pain Management reprinted from Citizens for Alternative Health Care Newsletter

"The application of the correct form of electrical intervention is a powerful tool for treating pain, initiating the endogenous mechanisms for healing, and altering states of consciousness.

"Over 10,000 medical practitioners in the US alone made use of electrotherapeutic modalities until publication of the 1910 Flexner report, which stated that there was no specific basis for electromedicine (at that time). Dr. Flexner's report was originally prepared by the AMA and sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching. Since the Carnegie family was heavily invested in the young pharmaceutical industry it is no wonder their report declared allopathic medicine superior.

"Electricity was first used to treat surface wounds over 300 years ago, when charged gold leaf was found to prevent small-pox scars...in the 1960s Dr. [Robert] Becker demonstrated that an electrical current is the trigger that stimulates healing, growth, and regeneration in all living organisms....

Physiology students in North America are still taught that life is based on a chemical model...it is more helpful to view it on an electrochemical basis. All atoms (the building blocks of all matter, including our bodies) are bonded electrically...a basic foundation necessary tounderstand electromedicine.... Lack of updated education for health care professionals is the main stumbling block to acceptance of the theory and practice of electromedicine."

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): "In 1967. C. Norman Shealy, MD, a neurosurgeon who had been implanting dorsal column stimulators, discovered that devices that transmitted electricity transcutaneously [through the skin] were just as effective without the risks associated with surgery .... Shealy's work renewed interest in electromedicine and resulted in the beginning of modern day TENS. TENS is a commonly used modality for the treatment of a wide variety of acute, chronic, and post-operative pain syndromes. When effective, the ease of use, safety and portability make it a preferred treatment over the long term use of medications, nerve blocks, or surgery for chronic pain...over 250,000 TENS units [are] prescribed annually in the US alone. A disadvantage is the tinkering required for the average pain patient to find the best combination of variables for effective relief. Even after repeated attempts at different parameter combinations, TENS devices may not alter pain results."

Microcurrent Electrical Therapy (MET): "Becker[ 1] and Nordenstrom[ 2] have provided a rational basis for a new and vastly more effective form of electromedical intervention for which Joseph M. Mercola, DO[ 3] and Daniel L. Kirsch, PhD, coined the term microcurrent electrical therapy (1995).... Devices used for bioconductive therapy have come to be known as microcurrent stimulators. They deliver a much more subtle signal - about 1,000 times less current, and 2,500 times longer per pulse - than TENS. The full spectrum ('shotgun') of frequencies within each pulse at this wavelength provides a phenomenally effective therapy."

"Becker (1982) has reasoned that an electrormagnetic field exists that controls all life processes. The earliest concept of such field effects can be traced back to ancient China. Traditional Oriental Medicine is based on the controlling power of ch'i or qi energy, a concept that predates electricity but appears to be analogous...

"When a wound is dry, its bioelectric current flow is shut off...moist wounds resurface up to 40% faster than air-exposed wounds .... Electrical stimulation of the wound tends to increase the amount of growth factor receptors, which increases the amount of collagen formation .... Wounds that were initially contaminated with Pseudomonas and/or Proteus were usually sterile after several days of MET...no significant adverse effects resulting from electrotherapy on wounds have been documented (1990)."

In 1982 the research of N. Chang showed that "microcurrent stimulation [MET] increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) generation by almost 500% [ATP is the cell's main source of energy].... Microcurrent was also shown to enhance amino acid transport and protein synthesis."

How MET Promotes Healing at Cellular Level: The authors suggest it would be helpful to review the cellular nature of an injury to fully appreciate the importance of Chang's research (Clinical Orthopedics, 171:264-72). They continue: "Becker (1985) has shown that trauma will affect the electrical potential of cells in damaged tissues. Initially the injured site has a much higher resistance than that of surrounding tissue...electricity tends towards the path of least resistance. Therefore endogenous bioelectricity avoids areas of high resistance and takes the easiest path, generally around the injury. The decreased electrical flow through the injured area decreases the cellular capacitance. As a result, healing is actually impaired. This may be one of the reasons for inflammatory reactions: pain, heat, swelling, and redness are characteristics of inflamed tissues. Electricity flows more readily through these hot inflammatory fluids. The correct microcurrent application to an injured site augments the endogenous current flow...microcurrent electrical therapy can be viewed as a catalyst, helpful in initiating and perpetuating the numerous chemical and electrical reactions that occur in the healing process....

"When a muscle experiences trauma it goes into spasm to protect itself. This decreases its blood supply reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach it. The decreased circulation causes an accumulation of metabolic waste products. This causes noxious input that results in pain...Adenosine triphosphate [ATP] is an essential factor in the healing process. Large amounts of ATP, the cell's main energy source, are required to control primary functions such as the movement of vital minerals Like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium into and out of the cell. It also sustains movement of waste products out of the cell. Injured tissues are deficient in ATP.... As MET replenishes ATP, nutrients can again flow into injured cells and waste products can flow out.... ATP also provides the energy tissues require to build new proteins, increase protein synthesis, and increase membrane transport of ions.

"Few practitioners are even aware of the works of Becker or Nordenstrom .... Like Becker, Nordenstrom views bioelectricity as the primary catalyst of the healing process."

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES): CES is "the application of low-level, pulsed electrical currents usually not exceeding 1 milliampere) applied to the head for medical and/or psychological purposes .... CES leaves the user alert while inducing a relaxed state." According to the authors, most of these devices are limited to about 11,000 times less power than the 60 watt light bulb.... "The significance of CES research for treating anxiety has been reconfirmed through meta-analysis conducted at the University of Tulsa...[and at] the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health.... In addition to primary claims for anxiety, depression and insomnia...favorable results have also been reported for labor, epilepsy, glossalgia, hypertension, surgery, spinal cord injuries, chronic pain, arthritis, cerebral atherosclerosis, eczema, dental pain, asthma, ischemic heart disease, stroke, motion sickness, digestive disorders as well as various addictive disorders including cocaine, marijuana, heroin and alcohol abuse."

Quality of Microcurrent Stimulators: "Originally, bioconductive therapy devices were large, expensive, metered units, designed for clinical use only. A good microcurrent device requires more than 10 times the circuitry of a standard TENS. However, in 1982, Electromedical Products International, Inc. (EPII) introduced the first homecare microcurrent stimulator to the market. Their product, called the Alpha-Stim 350, weighed 6 pounds and was about half the size of a shoe box. Using computer technology. EPII has been able to manufacture scaled down versions since 1990 at a cost competitive with high-end TENS.

Instructions for Operating MET Devices: In their booklet, Kirsch and Lerner describe methods of treatment for clinicians to use in the operation of MET devices, methods based on the authors' more than 45 years combined experience in electromedicine. They note, "Microcurrent electrical therapy is a very holistic procedure. It may be necessary to clear the body of any and all electrical 'blocks' in order to achieve the best results."

Correspondence: Citizens for Alternative Health Care P.O. Box 25312 Seattle, Washington 98125-1212 USA 425-827-4405 Website: www.cchoices.com

Editor, Dr. Daniel L. Kirsch, co-author of the booklet reviewed in this article, is a neurobiologist and the founder of EPII, the company that manufactures Alpha-Stim devices.

Nancy Campbell, a CAHC member and an Alpha-Stim sales representative, who has advertised in Choices for several years, supplied me with the booklet from which this review was taken. I was especially impressed with the 133 references to scientific studies supporting the authors' statements but could not include them in this article. So I asked Nancy if the 59-page booklet could be made available to readers who might want a copy. To order: send $5.00 in check or money order to Nancy Campbell, P.O. Box 12608, Mill Creek, Washington 98082.

1. Robert O. Becker, MD, author of The Body Electric (1985): Kirsch & Lerner wrote: "Since then [early 1900s], arguably the greatest development in the field of electromedicine was when Becker (1981) electrically induced limb regeneration in frogs and rats as a model to study bioelectrical forces as a controlling morphogenetic."

2. Bjorn Nordenstrom, MD, former Chairman of the Nobel Assembly, author of Biologically Closed Electric Circuits (1983). Kirsch & Lerner wrote: "Dr. Bjorn Nordenstrom (1984, 1989) reversed terminal cancer in most of his patients as clinical proof of his theories.... Nordenstrom's theory is that the mechanical blood circulation system is closely integrated anatomically and physiologically with a bioelectrical system."

3. Joseph M. Mercola, DO, is a medical columnist for the Townsend Letter.


By Daniel Kirsch



by Robert O. Becker

Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1990

The author of The Body,Electric and other books on the subject has recently published this well-written book on the promise of electromedicine and the perils of electropollution. It is an accessible account of the history of medicine, a critique of

Becker reports on his original research in Chapter 2 toward an understanding of growth, healing, and regeneration. He observed that the control system that regulates the healing process can not be entirely understood based on the conventional model of life. By studying the current of injury following limb amputation in the salamander and the frog, Becker refuted the widely accepted idea that the electric current was merely a by-product of injured cells. He proposed instead that the control system of healing and regeneration was electrical.

Critics may say that an electric potential correlated with the healing process is just an accompanying feature of the unknown mechanism of the control system. Alternative explanations of the healing process go back to the discarded ideas of Reichen bach's "od", Reich's "orgone energy", or the "morphogenetic field", which purportedly include mechanisms other than electromagnetic.

Becker argues that the simplest electrical field has a high degree of organizational complexity and as a consequence contains the bioinformation necessary in the control system of healing. The case is made for an analog type of informational transm ission system being used for injury repair. The brain may thus act as a hybrid computer, with a very important analog part that operates by means of DC electrical currents.

One of the most important of Becker's observations is that for electricity to produce an effect upon cells, there must be not only the right amount of electricity of the right polarity, but also cells that are sensitive to DC electrical currents. H e discovered that not all cells of all organisms show the same response. In the salamander, all of the cells of the body will de-differentiate if exposed to appropriate negative electrical currents. In the frog, only certain cells have this capability. T his is also what enables humans to heal bone fractures. In the same manner we are not able to, as opposed to the salamander, regrow an amputated limb.

The electromagnetic concept of life developed by the author enables him to see a relationship to acupuncture, homeopathy, and psychic healing and to put forth a possible mechanism. Becker found that about 25 percent of the acupuncture points on the human forearm existed in the sense that they had specific, reproducible, and significant electrical parameters found in all subjects tested. Metallic acupuncture needles inserted in such a point would produce sufficient electrical disturbance to block t he pain and/or affect the body through a cellular-communication system. However, much more research needs to be done to clarify the physical basis of the different types of what has been called "energy medicine". In this respect the author did not mentio n any alternative possible explanations of energy medicine.

In Chapter 7, Becker links human behavior to natural geomagnetic variations. The author does not consider other possible geophysical influences such as variations in gravity or tectonic stress fields. Sensitivity to all possible geophysical influen ces must be taken into account since these may interact. Can sensitivity to geomagnetic field variations alone explain the wide variety of field-dowsing capabilities, a talent which is well documented, but hardly understood?

In the latter chapters of the book, Becker makes a strong case that use of electromagnetic energy for power and communications has radially changed the natural magnetic and electric environment of the earth. He was one of the first scientists in ou r times to conduct experiments in this direction. It is indeed possible that this unnatural environment is producing harmful biological effects including promotion of degenerative diseases. However, in spite of his alarming views on the potential harm to life, much further research is needed to investigate this.

Robert O. Becker is a pioneer who challenged the conventional mechanistic understanding of life and made several breakthrough discoveries in regeneration and its possible relationship to bioelectricity. This book presents an overview of his underst anding of the electromagnetic model of life in a most readable convincing way. Cross-currents tells us a fascinating story of our bioelectric selves. Is this the essence of life that is missing in the conventional chemical-mechanistic model? Do we need t o reevaluate Reichenbach's "od" or the notions of prana and viral force? Further work is necessary to address these and many other questions raised by this provocative book.

Article copyright The Center for Frontier Sciences.


By Andrei Apostol

DISEASES -- Treatment
ELECTROMAGNETIC waves -- Therapeutic use
ELECTROMAGNETIC fields -- Research

Abstract:Explores the new horizons in the field of electromedicine. Exploration of new ideas for applying electromagnetic energy to patients; Need for additional research in electromagnetic field and to bring together the best aspects of the chemical concept and the electromagnetic concept; Experiments on a boy having the ability to sense the presence of electromagnetic fields and disease in humans; Speculation of action mechanism leading to the possibility of sensing an unknown aspect of magnetic field.

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