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Electricity and Life

By Frederick Finch Strong, M. D.

Lecturer on Electro-therapeutics, Tufts Medical School, Boston

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 marvels.

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 are maintained.

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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