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Electricity And Life

The Uses of High-Frequency Currents in Medical and Lecture Work
By Frederick Finch Strong, M. D.

Lecturer on Electro-therapeutics, Tufts Medical School, Boston


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. 5.)

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 diseased conditions.

These are:

1. "Tesla" treatment with vacuum electrodes ("Violet-ray treatment").

2. "Effleuve" or high-frequency spray.

3. "D' Arsonval auto-condensation."

4. "Diathermic"

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 products.

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 vacuum electrode.

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 involving malnutrition.

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 cures!

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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