Electricity and Life
By Frederick Finch Strong, M. D.
Lecturer on Electro-therapeutics, Tufts Medical
SCIENTIFIC progress during the past three decades has perhaps surpast
that of all preceding ages; but we are still in the kindergarten class
when we compare what is known with that which is still to be discovered.
To discover means practically the same as to uncover, implying that the
truth or fact was there all the time but was hidden, covered, occluded,
or occult: and is it not a fact that many of the electrical discoveries
of to-day would have been regarded as supernatural or occult by the
scientists of a few generations ago? Of course there is nothing
supernatural in the strict sense of the term, but many things remain
occult, altho science is daily uncovering new and hitherto undreamed-of
There exist great Cosmic Forces of which we still know but little.
Gravitation is one of these; we know something of its laws and the
results of its action, but nothing whatever of its real nature.
Electricity is another; of this we know somewhat more, and we now
recognize it in a variety of forms, as light, heat, chemical action, and
magnetism, etc., but its true nature is still a deep mystery. Life-force
or vital energy is another great Cosmic Principle; thru its action
electrons are formed into atoms, atoms into molecules, molecules into
crystals and chemical compounds,and these into the bodies of plants,
animals and of man. We have no name for this force, but thru its action
the great Cosmic Scheme of Evolution goes on. In India they call it by a
Sanscrit name - Prana. Here in the Occident we have not yet officially
recognize this force; it is quite unortodox to even suggest that it
exists - simply because we have not been able to measure and record it by
our still comparatively crude laboratory instruments.
A few years ago, when almost every scientist was a materialist, we
believed in nothing but matter and force; to-day science recognizes the
necessity of a third basic principle, Intelligence, or Mind: without this
we can satisfactorily account for none of the facts of the world in which
we find ourselves. Its manifestations in matter thru the Cosmic Forces
give us at least a working hypothesis of life.
As electricity has been the great field for the investigations of the
past century so will the nature and manifestation of the Life-force be
the source of the discoveries of the future. Even to-day we may hazard a
few statements regarding this hypothetical Prana or Vital-force. For
example, it comes to us - like all other active forces - from the Sun. It
is stored and transmitted by plants and by the oxygen of the air, and in
the human body it appears to be distributed thin the great Sympathetic
Nervous System to every organ and tissue of the body. The Sympathetic
nerves radiate from the Solar Plexus - our Sun-center. If bacteria or
poisons interfere with this circulation, as for example in infantile
paralysis, the muscles from which the supply of life force is cut off,
lose their power of reaction and wither away. It is in this connection
that we may study the action of certain electric currents as applied to
the treatment of disease. It would seem that certain types of alternating
cur- rents of high frequency and voltage greatly facilitate the
distribution of this vital principle (Nerve-force, Prana, or whatever you
choose to call it), and this explains the action of one of the most
valuable of recent medical discoveries.
In 1893, Dr. Nikola Tesla described in a magazine article the remarkable
effects upon himself and his assistants resulting from their exposure to
the action of alternating currents of exceedingly high-voltage and
frequency during some research work.
He prophesied that when electrical oscillations were fully understood and
applied by physicians that a universal healing agent would have been
obtained - one which would so increase the vital energy and resistive
reaction of the human body as to enable it to throw off all disease. The
present writer, acting on this hint, constructed a high - frequency
appara us. tested it on a number of patients and reported his results to
a local med-ical society in 1895. So far as can he learned this was the
first clinical work ever done with the Tesla Current, altho d'Arsonval in
Paris was then experimenting with his relatively low voltage currents,
produced from 3,000 cycle alternators. Later. Apostoli, Denoyes, and
others reported remarkable results from the currents induced in the
bodies of patients placed inside of huge solenoids or wire coils thru
which high frequency currents were passing. The effects obtained were:
increase of strength, appetite and weight, induction of natural restful
sleep, and increase in tissue combustion and elimination.
Early in 1895 the author devised the first Vacuum electrodes for applying
Tesla currents to the patient. Today thousands of physicians are using
this device, often, miscalling it the Violet-ray Treatment. This is of
course a misnomer, the violet light in the tube having nothing whatever
to do with the healing effect produced by the transmitted electrical
oscillations. Some years ago the great Swedish scientist, Arrhenius, was
reported to have subjected one half of the class of school children to
the action of high-frequency currents, one hour daily for several months,
at the end of which time there was marked increase in the average growth,
weight, general health and mental ability in the electrified pupils as
compared with those not so treated. At the present time high-frequency
currents are actually being used in truck-gardens to promote the growth
and increase the size of vegetables for table use.
The high-frequency currents, in short, act as vitality boosters - no other
form of electricity will do this. Galvanism, Faradism, Static electricity
are all valuable agents in the hands of the Electro-therapeutic
specialist, but they have little direct action in promoting cell vitality
and growth, as do the high-frequency currents when properly applied.
Authorities explain the action of high- frequency currents in various
ways, the favorite theory being that the healing effect is due solely to the liberation of heat in the tissues. It
is perfectly true that in many diseases the heat liberated in the body by
the passage of from 400 to 2,500 milli-amperes at a frequency of about
one million cyc1es is an important agent in promoting an artificial
inflammatory reaction and increasing circulation. The heat is, however,
only one of the secondary forces generated by the current; there are many
other factors in the vitalizing effect. The thermic theory will, for
example, not explain the increased growth of plants produced by the
action of high-frequency currents of very high voltage and low amperage.
In medical practice often the most marked results are obtained by the use
of Tesla currents of low intensity, but of exceedingly high
potentiality. The author can account for these effects only on the theory
that these currents, when of proper frequency, are synchronous with the
normal rate of sympathetic nerve vibration, and in this way increase the
flow of the mysterious Pranic force thru which function and tissue growth
High-frequency currents are now extensively used by the medical
profession to increase cell growth, metabolism and functional activity.
They tend to normalize the blood pressure and are the only agents that
are of real curative value in certain stages of Arterio-sclerosis
(hardening of the arteries). They greatly augment the defensive powers of
the organism, enabling it to resist and overcome disease-producing
agencies. The prejudice against high-frequency currents on the part of
many physicians may be attributed to the fact that they do not employ
proper technique or that they use an apparatus which does not admit of
proper variation of frequency, amperage and voltage, in order to suit the
requirements of the individual case.
In the next article the author will describe the details of construction
of an apparatus suitable for the generation of high-frequency currents
for therapeutic use and the technique for their application.
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