Electricity And Life
The Uses of High-Frequency Currents in Medical and Lecture
WorkLecturer on Electro-therapeutics, Tufts Medical
By Frederick Finch Strong, M. D.
The phenomena of high-frequency currents offer us a fascinating
field from which to select experiments for public lecture
demonstration. In his lectures on "The Realms Beyond the Senses,"
the author has used high-frequency phenomena to demonstrate the
existence of force and matter beyond the range of human perception.
In "The Science of the New Age" he has employed similar means in
calling attention to the fact that the investigators of to-day are
leaving the crude matter of earth and are dealing more and more
with Etheric Force and with matter of a super-gaseous nature. The
scientist of the future will have to provide himself with
instruments far more delicate than anything hitherto dreamed of or
else he will develop super-normal powers of perception by the
manifestation of faculties already latent in the human organism.
For the traveling lecturer who wishes to employ high-frequency
currents in his work, the large resonator described in the last
issue of Electrical Experimenter may prove somewhat cumbrous and
difficult of transportation. Those who wish a lighter, more compact
apparatus may use the small resonator shown in Fig. 1.
It is quite small, yet it sends out streamers two feet in length,
and may be operated by a 1/2 K.W. "wireless" (step-up) transformer.
With this little apparatus beautiful luminous effects may be
obtained as. for example, by connecting the terminals with a
tin-foil star glued to a sheet of glass: with a suspended umbrella
(opened): with a long wire running out over the lecture hall, etc.
For each of these experiments different tuning will be necessary -
the series inductance coil being adjusted to balance the different
capacities added to the resonator terminal.
This little resonator is made by winding 600 turns of No. 30 triple
cotton covered wire upon a shellacked paper cone, 12 inches in
diameter at the bottom, 5 inches at the top, and 14 inches high. It
is a difficult matter to insulate this small coil as the turns of
the winding are very close together ; it can be done, however, by
the use of from six to eight coats of Armalac.
The primary coil is a ring, 18 inches in diameter, formed of five
concentric turns of thin copper ribbon 1 inch wide. The exciting
apparatus is the same as that described in the last paper in
connection with the large resonator, except that a 1/2 K.W.
transformer is used instead of the heavy 1 K.W. (See Fig. 2.)
The writer also employs a standard Clapp-Eastham 1/4 K.W. Tesla
coil excited by the same apparatus (see Fig. 3). Connected with two
parallel upright wires the spark from this coil will run up and
repeatedly reform again at the bottom, producing a very spectacular
effect (Fig. 4).
Another brilliant experiment can be performed with two large glass
flasks (ordinary carafes or water-bottles will do). One is filled
with water containing a few drops of fluorescein solution - (a coal
tar dye ) - the other with water to which a small amount of
bi-sulfate of quinine has been added: the bottles or flasks are
placed about six inches apart and a wire from the Tesla coil
terminal inserted into the solution in each. The current passes
down thru the water and the arc takes place between the glass walls
of the two flasks.
The ultra-violet rays from the discharge cause the water in the
flasks to become luminous, the quinine solution with a pale blue
light, the fluorescein with a beautiful apple-green. The discharge
apparently passes directly thru the glass walls of the flask; in
reality, of course, the current passes by induction rather than
conduction, the flasks acting as condensers in series. (See Fig.
The Use of High-Frequency Currents in the Treatment of Disease.
High-frequency currents are employed by physicians in four
principal ways, each adapted to the treatment of certain types of
1. "Tesla" treatment with vacuum electrodes ("Violet-ray
2. "Effleuve" or high-frequency spray.
3. "D' Arsonval auto-condensation."
1. The method most frequently employed applies the Tesla current
thru glass (vacuum) electrodes for the relief of local pain or
inflammation. The little muscular pumps around the veins the
"vaso-motor system" which keep the blood circulating by
withdrawing it from the capillaries and sending it hack to the
heart-act more vigorously in tissues over which the vacuum
electrode is applied. In this manner waste products which cause
rheumatism and gout are dissolved and washed away and fresh blood
and white corpuscles are brought to infected parts, thus aiding
nature in destroying disease-producing germs and their poisonous
In most of the smaller high frequency machines for physicians use,
but one Tesla terminal is provided; a coil of the resonator type
being connected to the glass electrode by a flexible wire. The
effects are largely local, but the method is of value in relieving
pain, swelling and congestion. The writer has always advocated the
bipolar method, even for treating purely local conditions.
The best results will be obtained from the use of a Tesla outfit of
the type described in last month's Electrical Experimenter. The
patient is to be connected to one terminal of the Tesla coil by
means of a metal electrode held in both hands (a piece of thin
nickeled pipe will answer, 1 foot long and 1 1/2 inches in diam.).
In this way the current is diffused thru the entire body. The
vacuum electrode, connected with the opposite Tesla terminal is
applied to the skin over the affected part for from five to twenty
minutes, a very short spark-gap being used.
This method employed by the writer for years enables us to obtain
the wonderful vitalizing effect of the high-frequency currents on
the whole body simultaneously, with the local effects from the
For the past few years the writer has been in the habit of
connecting the Tesla coil with an Auto-condensation pad (as used in
the "D'Arsonval" and "Diathermic" methods). This is formed of two
plates of Bakelite, 1/8 inch thick, hinged to fit the seat and back
of an ordinary chair. To the back of each plate is cemented a sheet
of tin or copper foil, covered with leatherette. Suitable flexible
conductors connect these metal plates with each other and with the
Tesla terminal. This folding pad may be used in both "Tesla" and
"D'Arsonval" treatment, and is quite as efficient for ordinary use
as the cumbrous and expensive condenser chair or couch.
2. For the "Tesla Effleuve" treatment a brass bell electrode is
used. This can be made from a common brass oil can, the flat bottom
being removed and the resulting hollow hemisphere being mounted on
an insulating handle: the discharge occurring from the sharp edge
of the brass. The patient is seated on the Bakelite pad. which is
connected to the Tesla coil. The opposite terminal is attached to
the brass bell electrode and a sufficient number of turns of the
inductance coil are placed in series with the Tesla primary to give
a full, smooth "effleuve" or purple brush discharge, when the
electrode is held from four to eight inches from the patient.
By careful tuning, a beautiful effect may be obtained. Close
examination of this discharge will show it to be literally an
electric "brush", formed of thousands of distinct, delicate, purple
threads. Upon each of these hair-like paths of light countless
millions of ions (electrically-active atoms), are being shot from
the electrode to the patient at a speed of over 60,000 miles per
second: the treated surface is therefore being submitted to a
literal bombardment by countless microscopic projectiles which are
thrown out in periodic showers from the electrode, once for each
cycle of the oscillating current. Two effects are produced, one due
to the penetration of the tissues by ozone-forming ions: the second
to the rhythmic or periodic impart of the discharge Upon the nerve
endings in the skin and superficial tissues.
The writer hopes ultimately to produce an apparatus of a frequency
exactly synchronous with the rate of vibration of the sensory
nerves; an "effleuve" from such a coil would produce a harmless and
efficient local anaesthesia so that operations could be performed
without the use of ether or cocain. The effects obtained from the
"effleuve" as now used are stimulating and vitalizing to a marked
degree. The nerve endings of the skin may be regarded as sensitive
antennae of a complicated radio- system, and any intense sustained
vibration to which the apparatus is attuned will be transmitted by
them to the receiving station. The effect therefore, is not merely
superficial but systemic as well. Tuberculosis and other pulmonary
troubles often yield to the "effleuve" treatment.
3. Perhaps the most remarkable theraupeutic effect of heavy
high-frequency currents is their power to liberate heat in the
tissues of the body. For this purpose the so-called "D'Arsonval
current" is used. This is a secondary current of high amperage
derived from the heavy coil of copper strip shown in Fig. 6. The
lower terminal of this coil is connected with the condenser pad on
which the patient is seated ; the tubular metal electrode is held
in both hands and connected thru a Milli-ampere meter with the
upper turns of the coil. The clip is moved to different turns as in
wireless tuning, until the meter shows the highest reading for a
given amount of exciting current. The patient's circuit is in this
way tuned in perfect resonance with the primary oscillations. After
a few moments the patient's wrists become hot, the heat rapidly
extending up the arms and into the body until profuse perspiration
is produced. Ordinarily we do not carry the treatment as far as
this: the safe dose for an average patient being not over 700
milliamperes for twenty minutes.
This is "D'Arsonval Autocondensation", and is applied with great
benefit to patients suffering with Arteriosclerosis ("hardening of
the arteries"), and in a variety of other diseased conditions
4. In diseases in which we wish to induce a regenerative
inflammation, promote circulation and absorption, and increase cell
activity, the method known as "Diathermic" is employed. Instead of
the hand electrode and condenser-pad the D'Arsonval current is
applied thru two small sheets of block-tin about 2x4 inches. These
are applied to the skin on either side of the affected part and a
current employed which gives the patient a decided sensation of
penetrating heat. Average treatments use from 1000 to 1600
milliamperes. In treating consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) one
electrode is placed on the back and the other on the chest over the
affected lung. One Tuberculosis Hospital in which this treatment
was given daily to a number of patients reported 85 per cent of
The author is working on an apparatus which will make possible the
use of Diathermic treatment in the homes of patients suffering from
this disease. For office use and for the Electro-medical specialist
("Electrotherapeutist") the writer has recently designed an
apparatus from which remarkable results are being obtained (see
Fig. 6). The Tesla and D'Arsonval coils are excited by a wireless
transmitting set of the well-known "Hy-tone" type. The rotary
quenched gap with its exceedingly high-spark frequency produces an
almost sustained wave in the High-frequency coils. Both for the
Tesla and D'Arsonval treatment the writer believes this apparatus
superior to any that he has used up to the present time. The
vitalizing and exhilarating effects are extremely pronounced. The
machine has the added advantage that there is no troublesome spark
gap to adjust, the strength of the current being regulated by a
many-stept rheostat in the primary transformer circuit.
Much has been done in adapting high frequency currents to the
treatment of disease, but much remains yet to be done before we
shall be able to avail ourselves of the wonderful healing and
vitalizing powers which these currents undoubtedly possess. The
writer hopes to be able to continue his studies along this line,
believing that when we can scientifically apply to our patients
pure undamped waves of definite form, frequency, amperage and
voltage, we will obtain results far surpassing anything that we
have dreamed of up to the present time, and that in the future the
scientific use of high-frequency currents will become the greatest
method ever discovered for the healing of disease, the promotion of
health and the maintenance of a "More Abundant Life!"
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