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Using Electricity to Heal 200

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the frankenstein-approach-to-healing dept.
ganjadude writes to tell us that while the idea of using electricity to heal wounds was first reported 150 years ago by Emil Du Bois-Reymond, modern scientists may have found a way to practically apply this idea. From the article: "The researchers grew layers of mouse cells and larger tissues, such as corneas, in the lab. After 'wounding' these tissues, they applied varying electric fields to them, and found they could accelerate or completely halt the healing process depending on the orientation and strength of the field."
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Using Electricity to Heal

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  • by lecithin (745575) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:49PM (#15787095)
    After 'wounding' these tissues, they applied varying electric fields to them, and found they could accelerate or
    completely halt the healing process depending on the orientation and strength of the field.

    "Hey Marty, lets start out with 1.21 gigawatts right about... Here."

    "Interesting. It looks like that stopped the healing process."

    "Hello... McFly?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:52PM (#15787108)
    Shocked, I tell you!
    • while the idea of using electricity to heal wounds was first reported 150 years ago by Emil Du Bois-Reymond, modern scientists may have found a way to practically apply this idea.

      I hope this new method obviates the need for bolts in the neck.
  • Maybe those people (idots) who kept strapping magnets to themselves knew something after all. Although given the findings it seems equally likely that they were impairing the healing process. (yes, I know the article is about electricity, electro-magnetism people)
  • How fun (Score:2, Funny)

    by Alyks (798644)
    Now when we cut our fingers building computers, we can just electocute ourselfs with the power cables!
    • shock therapy....

      hehhe slash word image: crotch...

      just don't get shocked there (male OR female)...

      Hmmm... now putting together Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey", with an infinite number of chimpanzees, and an infinite number of typewriters, and a HUGE rheostat, you indeed MIGHT get "War and Peace", but you'll surely have some funky monkeys in the end...
  • Power Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:55PM (#15787124) Homepage Journal
    Once doctors are using guided electric fields to assist healing, how will corporations which spill uncontrolled electric fields among people deny that their fields affect human tissue? Or will they just claim credit for the healing "they've already been offering free for generations", and start tacking a medical charge on our bills?
    • Re:Power Insurance (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It figures that the bozos at New Scientist, by confusing "electric fields" with "electric currents", would prompt comments like this. EM radiation from wireless sources consists of orthogonal electric and magnetic fields which are as different from DC currents, physically speaking, as you could possibly imagine.

      This sort of journalism is exactly why I no longer subscribe to New Scientist. They don't appear to give a crap about the "science" part.
      • I can possibly imagine neutron-degenerate matter [wikipedia.org] near 0' Kelvin, which is more different than DC than is an electric field.

        And I know that DC is electrons moving in a conductor under the influence of an electric field [wikipedia.org].

        Maybe you should drop such aspirations as reading _New Scientist_ and instead catch up on basic electromagnetics.

        And try getting a userID when throwing around baseless insults that betray your ignorance. It makes it easier to distinguish your unique style from the others.
    • There couldn't *possibly* be a difference between having electricity sent trough your tissues (as happens if you hold on to two bare ends of live wire) and having electricity flowing trough a wire in the proxomity of your tissues, thus subjecting said tissues to an electric field.

      Now could there ?

      Fact is, we've experimentally raised mice in literally 1000 times the field you'll ever experience -- with no measurable effect whatsoever. This ain't proof that there *is* no effect. But if it was hugely harmf

      • Of course there's a difference. Current through your tissues exposes your tissues to both current and field.

        I didn't say it was "hugely harmful", you did; that's the standard "excluded middle" hyperbole people use in denial of other effects. Fact is, electrical fields have been tested experimentally to affect growing tissues subtly, like guiding the new matrix of healing bone. And people living close to electrical wires has been accompanied by all kinds of health problems. That's why I want to see the kind
        • Yes people living close to electrical wires has been accompanied by all kinds of health problems.

          But that includes EVERY SINGLE PERSON LIVING IN AN ELCTRIFIED HOUSE.

          The current from a standard washing machine creates electrical fields FAR stronger than those from transmission wires. And they are FAR close to you.

          The health problems experienced by people living near high power electrical transmission wires have been repeatedly found to be NO different than people living in unwired shacks.

          Electricity c

          • I produced a bibliographical research report in college (nominally for an aquatic ecology course for my major) on interaction between electric fields and tissue growth. The only serious research that had been performed (late 1980s) was by the Japanese nuclear power industry, on clogging cooling ducts in which power cables were also routed. They found that the fields dramatically increased growth of various species. The American and global power industries had produced no (or too few to notice) peer-revieewe
  • quick! (Score:2, Funny)

    by arabagast (462679)
    more gadgets!
  • by bermabloeme (990995) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:57PM (#15787146)
    This creates electric field patterns all over the body.

    A lot of the "New Age" folks say they can see a person's aura. A lot of these "New Age" folks are really hot girls! So, this is what you do: you grab this article and tell them that you believe, now. Let her just start talking about this stuff. Then, complain about some ailment that requires her "healing" touch. Lastly, ask to try it on her.

    Let things progress: touching , kissing, clothes off, etc...

    Enjoy!

  • The problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:58PM (#15787149) Homepage Journal

    The only problem with this is that now we need to put surgeries on the top floor of hospitals. Then there's the problem of having to wait for a lightning storm. Let's not even get into the extra staff you need to turn the big wheel and lift the operating table through the roof.

    I suppose we'll also see extra insurance needed for the wear and tear on the surgeon's voicebox when he yells, "Liiiiiife! Liiiiiiife DO YOU HEAR ME!? GIVE MY CREATION ........... LIIIIIIIIIIFE!!"

  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by mnmn (145599) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:58PM (#15787151) Homepage
    Forget about 150 years, down in Texas they use electric chairs to fix up some really sick people.
    And psychiatric wards have been using it to fix up people who were sick in the head in the early half of the century.

    Even the police and mean old ladies use it to fix other people and pets. Them doctors are a little behind.
    • You laugh, but electroconvulsive therapy has gone a long way. It's now considered a reasonably safe and clinically proven [medem.com] treatment for certain disorders.
      • A friend of mine went through ECT a couple of years ago. I can't say that it helped his condition (but I can't say that it didn't either). What I will say is that it F*CKED his memory up. The entire roughly 4 month period he was getting ECT is gone--no memory at all of events that happened during that time, and his short-term memory is much, much worse than it used to be. I've heard similar stories from others.

        I have no doubt that ECT can create some positive outcomes, but the costs seems REALLY high to me.
    • Well, most of your examples are very heavy on the sarcasm, but the one about psychiatrists using it is spot on. And no, it's not just limited to the first half of the century (though stuff like insulin shock therapy was).

      For a variety of neurological disorders, they'll sedate you then run some current across your brain, with the goal of fixing whatever's been misfiring in your head. It's definitely a treatment of last resort, since the zapping can cause short/long term memory loss & the occassional chan
  • On second thought, there are probably minors reading this, so I won't give the URL of the B&D web site I stumbled across last week.
  • A friend of mine (now deceased, rest his soul, he couldn't beat the cancer) had a treatment along these lines about a year ago to help heal some sort of lesions on his skin (may have been bed sores, I don't recall). It was a device that he'd put over the affected area and it applied voltage to the skin, adjustable by him. I'm not sure if it was for healing or pain control, but it worked. He showed it to me a couple times, when I put it on my hand it felt like a mild version of a 9-volt battery on the ton
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I had electro-field treatment back in 1990 when I fractured my collar bone. Several months after the accident, the bone was still not knitting - hardly at all, anyway. Really disturbing to be able to bend my collar bone in the middle when doing things like, oh, sleeping or picking up a glass of water. Wrecked havoc on my posture, strength, and everything else in by back and nexk, too.

      I was told many things by many people as to why this happened and what to do about it (diet, immobilization impossibilities,
      • by budgenator (254554) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:15PM (#15787534) Journal
        Bone (Calcanous) has two differnt types of cells, osteoclasts which "eat bone" and osteoblasts which lay down new bone. The osteoclasts tend to meander, eating the one randomly, but the osteoblasts tend to follow electrical currents in the bone. The calcium salts in the bone give off electrical currents by the piezoelectric effect which causes the bone to grow in the direction that makes it the strongest for the stresses it normaly recieves.
      • Been there, done that. Bad tibia/fibula break in a Harley accident; bones didn't heal due to an infection. Cleaned the mess out, bone/skin/muscle graft, and the little zapper box. The box sat on my belt, with two wires that went to sticky pads (like EKG connectors) that were situated on either side of the break.

        Healed that sucker up in about four weeks (quicker than the six weeks anticipated, if memory serves). Only had to swap out the 9v battery once a day.

        Full details of the accident at http://www.geo [geocities.com]
  • forget that (Score:5, Funny)

    by npietraniec (519210) <`npietran' `at' `resistive.net'> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @05:59PM (#15787159) Homepage
    This guy discovered immortality with magnets.

    http://www.alexchiu.com/ [alexchiu.com]

    Damn, they even interviewed him on slashdot.

    http://interviews.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/0 6/07/1421238&mode=nocomment [slashdot.org]
  • by josepha48 (13953) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:00PM (#15787169) Journal
    .. you have been to a physical therapist. My physical therapist used electricity on my shoulder to help it heal up some. I think she said it was supposed to stimulate something.. actually it just tingled and felt weird, but now I no longer have shoulder problems....
    • Absolutely. When used properly, the electrical stimulation can work wonders for various muscle maladies. This is hardly a new discovery. Feels a bit weird at first, but pretty damn good afterward. It's just a way of triggering the nerves repeatedly to stretch the muscle in ways that you can't yourself. But when the electrodes are misplaced oh so slightly it feels like the muscles are being ripped from the bone.
    • .. you have been to a physical therapist. My physical therapist used electricity on my shoulder to help it heal up some. I think she said it was supposed to stimulate something.. actually it just tingled and felt weird, but now I no longer have shoulder problems....

      What you had was probably a TENS treatment, or transcutaneous electrical nervous stimulation. It is intended to work muscles, and can also cause them to relax if used properly. They are very common in physical therapy in situations in which m

  • Old news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bob Gelumph (715872)
    The genes may have been identified, but there are patents out on the pulsing of DC across wounds by placing electrodes both laterally and diametrically on opposite side of the wounds and by holding one electrode steady while moving the other around.

    I analysed a patent recently that dealt with this as part of a question in a preliminary round of interviews.

    I can't remember the patent number, but basically, if they try to patent the actual therapy, they are going to have problems because the patent I am descr
  • Awesome (Score:5, Informative)

    by BilZ0r (990457) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:04PM (#15787187) Homepage
    That's actually quite an awesome paper. It seems that when a wound is made, it makes a low resistance shunt across skin, which normally has a voltage difference across it. This stimulates wound healing activity. The current peaks at 10 microA cm-2 and persisted at 4-8 microA cm-2, with all the current vector pointing towards the wound center. This paper shows not only that that effect is easily demonstrated in vitro, but what are the molecular mediators of it, see the original article here [nature.com].
  • by Culture (575650) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:05PM (#15787193)
    ... from history? If you read about Dr. Frankenstein, you will find that this medling in the unknown will lead to nothing but misery. I hope Bush veto's any work in this area.
  • by Null Nihils (965047) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:09PM (#15787205) Journal
    While I am fascinated by genuine scientific research into such effects, and interested by the insights into cellular and genetic mechanics described in the article, I shiver to think of how news like this might reverberate across the large communities of pseudo-science loons and snake-oil salesmen that lurk in the dark corners of the Internet.

    " Electr1city curez, as seen |n New Scienti5t m4gazine. G3t electr|cal d3vice, cur3s all d1sease including ere
    Zap.
  • Already out there (Score:4, Informative)

    by bobllama (587614) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:14PM (#15787231)
    There's already a company that's commercializing this - http://www.biofisica.com/ [biofisica.com]. They have some pretty interesting information on their site for anyone interested in more detail. I'm not associated with them in anyway, just happened to see them present at an event once.
  • by bananaendian (928499) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:18PM (#15787254) Homepage Journal
    No doubt this report will be hyped by the new-age weirdos that are always looking for miracles cures or reasons for paranoia. Why do these articles never EVER tell anything meaningful - like for example the strenght and orientation of the field they used with some simple data tables and statistics? Who has access to some weird specialist journal with a 1000USD subscrition to get the raw data? New Scientist no.1 Science Magazine, yeah right! - science isn't about wild speculation and hype - its about rigorous examination and critical thinking. I wouldn't be suprised ones other labs try to reproduce the effect it gets debunked.
    • Why do these articles never EVER tell anything meaningful - like for example the strenght and orientation of the field they used with some simple data tables and statistics? Who has access to some weird specialist journal with a 1000USD subscrition to get the raw data?

      So you think Nature (the journal TFA said it was published in) is some weird specialist journal with a 1000USD subscription? It is probably the most well known academic journal in existence, at least to the non-academic. And even if you a
      • Indeed. I have a subscription to Nature, and I can assure you that:

        a) it's nowhere near $1,000 US /year. It isn't Time or Newsweek cheap (it's about $100-$200/year, depending), but...

        b) Time/Newsweek aren't going to give you articles that are hardcore reviews of the state of astrophysics (with references).

        If you're a science nut, Nature's a reasonable thing to subscribe to.
  • by MrShaggy (683273) <chris.anderson@C ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:21PM (#15787271) Journal
    'God-Damn-it Jim, I am a doctor not a generator'
  • by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @06:25PM (#15787290)
    I've heard stories about how the medical profession was so enamored with radioactive tools for healing. Xrays to look inside the body. The way radiation exposure could kill unwanted bacteria. The cool soothing greenish glow of radioactive clocks and other tools. They came up with implementations of using radiation before understanding what it was doing. Today, looking back at the lack of understanding seems crazy; we'd never do something like that again. Would we?

    Are we in fact going to do the same thing with electricity here? Are we really understanding why these mice are being cured or are we just satisfied to have a technique that appears to work? I don't mean to be cynical. Curing the impossible seems like a great thing. But will we be reading about how a quick emag arthritis treatment today resulted in the creation of Alzheimer's v2.0 tomorrow?

    IMHO, a workable implementation is great, but full understanding would be better.
    • I'd say we have a very poor understanding of 90% of the treatments out there. The reality is: if it works, it works. Theorists (like me) like to think that one day, the stuff on paper will matriculate into something tangible, but really, in the medical world at least, it's the other way around.
    • They came up with implementations of using radiation before understanding what it was doing. Today, looking back at the lack of understanding seems crazy; we'd never do something like that again. Would we? Are we in fact going to do the same thing with electricity here?
      [...] IMHO, a workable implementation is great, but full understanding would be better.

      Short answer: No.

      Medium answer: This has literally been studied for over 150 years. How much longer do you want to wait while people die?

      Long a

    • Are we really understanding why these mice are being cured or are we just satisfied to have a technique that appears to work?

      The key thing about this article is the depth to which they understand how the effect works. Not only is a specific mechanical effect explored (i.e. how much current, in what way) but how that mechanism effects the biology right down to the level of gene expression! This kind of top-to-bottom understanding is highly unusual. In direct opposition to your example when you have detaile

    • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:19PM (#15787554)

      Are we in fact going to do the same thing with electricity here?

      I doubt it. The effects of radiation on the body 100 years ago was very poorly understood. Low voltage electrical currents by comparison are fairly benign. It's not like the use of electricity in the human body is new. Pacemakers have been around forever, there's been some trials of direct electrical stimulation of the brain to create artificial vision, and many parapalegics use direct muscle stimulation to stand up, etc (maybe even walk?).

      Also, the medical community itself has grown up. Years of animal testing is required for any kind of new treatment goes to limited human trials.

      That's not to say it's all perfect. You can't dismiss the danger that any new treatment is going to have unforseen side effects that don't show up in human trials. But I think comparing this new treatment to the early days of medicine where anything goes and there's poor understanding isn't terribly valid.
    • I've heard stories about how the medical profession was so enamored with radioactive tools for healing. Xrays to look inside the body. The way radiation exposure could kill unwanted bacteria. The cool soothing greenish glow of radioactive clocks and other tools. They came up with implementations of using radiation before understanding what it was doing. Today, looking back at the lack of understanding seems crazy; we'd never do something like that again. Would we?

      Of course we would. The only other way is t

  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0688001238/ [amazon.com]

    He was widely derided as a wacko. What has changed that makes this so new and wonderful now?
    • What has changed that makes this so new and wonderful now?

      If I had (or wanted) to venture a guess, it would be that we've sequenced the human genome, which likely helped identify the genes responsible for the process. Understanding the mechanism tends to lend you credibility.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:58PM (#15787748) Journal
    For the curious, here's the research abstract [nature.com] from the publication in Nature:

    Electrical signals control wound healing through phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase-big gamma and PTEN

    Wound healing is essential for maintaining the integrity of multicellular organisms. In every species studied, disruption of an epithelial layer instantaneously generates endogenous electric fields, which have been proposed to be important in wound healing. The identity of signalling pathways that guide both cell migration to electric cues and electric-field-induced wound healing have not been elucidated at a genetic level. Here we show that electric fields, of a strength equal to those detected endogenously, direct cell migration during wound healing as a prime directional cue. Manipulation of endogenous wound electric fields affects wound healing in vivo. Electric stimulation triggers activation of Src and inositol-phospholipid signalling, which polarizes in the direction of cell migration. Notably, genetic disruption of phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase-gamma (PI(3)Kgamma) decreases electric-field-induced signalling and abolishes directed movements of healing epithelium in response to electric signals. Deletion of the tumour suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) enhances signalling and electrotactic responses. These data identify genes essential for electrical-signal-induced wound healing and show that PI(3)Kgamma and PTEN control electrotaxis.
  • He wrote "The Body Electric" decades ago. (still in print on Amazon, etc.) He did grounbreaking research at a Veterans Hospital demonstrating that very weak currents had profound practical effects on real patients. This book is fascinating... Everything from why our arms and legs develop to the same lengths (Ever wonder how?) to knitting bones that won't fuse and cancer. And the guy's not a crackpot... Real MD. Must read!
  • it's electric eal.
  • 150 years ago, some guy said, "Oh, electricity can heal." 2000-4000 years ago, some guys in India and China said the same thing and--voila! Yoga and Qigong. Both of which move biolectric energy through the body and can be used for healing purposes. Oldest. News. Ever.
  • Until, from the midst of this darkness, a sudden light broke in upon me -- a light so brilliant and wondrous, and yet so simple! Change the poles from plus to minus and from minus to plus! I alone succeeded in discovering the cause of generation of life. Nay, even more -- I, myself became capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter!

    IT....COULD....WORK!!!!

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @12:34AM (#15788957)
    Yes, micro-current DC electricity can be used to affect the way cells function in the human body; they can signal cells to start or stop normal biological processes in healing and growth and a multitude of other functions. Robert O. Becker has written extensively [amazon.com] on his studies into this area. If you have not read his books, order one and read it. For under $5 dollars and shipping, (less than a movie and popcorn), what have you got to lose? His work is highly informed and challenges modern medicine in significant ways.

    Some notes of interest. . .

    Acupuncture works. Nobody contests this. --The theory is that by inserting a metal needle and setting it to lightly rotate, the needle cuts through the Earth's magnetic field creating a micro-current which then affects the body in a variety of different ways.

    Electromagnetic fields similarly are able to stimulate cells to react in similar ways; this is probably the basis of all concerns regarding Cell Phone radiation.

    How can EM fields affect humans? --It is understood by some that EM fields can be used to affect emotions and states of awareness. With specific application to the primary visual cortex, they can even be used to cause temporary blindness [scotsman.com]. (Read article half-way down.)

    The HAARP Array, supposedly used for research, is also suggested by some to be a means of mind-control; that is, beams of specific EM can be reflected from the sky onto terrestrial targets. The science is not contested, just the intent.

    In a world where the U.S. secret services admit to having run extensive (and fairly gruesome) mind-control experiments, where secrecy and paranoia run rampant through the government, where Israel is allowed to commit genocide in the Middle East without the media blinking an eye, and where Bush is allowed to build a police state, all to the drums of Christian-Cult Apocalypse insanity, the idea of population control through manipulation of EM fields is not so very far fetched, now is it?

    Disagree? Before responding, ask yourself in all honestly why you disagree and where the impulse stems from.


    -FL

    • I call BS. And adding a condescending remark about people who disagree with you doesn't mean you are immune to criticism.

      I was about to believe you about acupuncture, until you threw-in the two key words of a nut case:
      1) "Nobody disagrees with this" -- Nobody, except the scientific community [wikipedia.org] and the National Institute of Health. It does have some positive effects though, but nobody can consistently say what or why.
      2) Pseudoscience: "...the needle cuts through the Earth's magnetic field creating a micro-cu
      • I call BS. And adding a condescending remark about people who disagree with you doesn't mean you are immune to criticism.

        Using popular phrases like, "I call BS", is indicative of somebody who falls prey to group-think, and since group-think is most often the product of media manipulation, I am not terribly surprised that your post is so contaminated with muddy logic and over-generalized rationalization.

        --Now the above comment, you should note, might more reasonably be labeled a 'condescending remark', altho
  • "IT'S ALIVE!", may be words emminating from hospitals around the world. 'Ol Marry may yet spin in her grave.
  • The classic example is Meserism- a combination of magnetism and suggestion. That was a fad in 19th century and got Freud started in his career. Surprisingly this technique has never faded. Magnetic healing abounds at new age health fairs today.

    Other magical new physics includes electricity, radiation, X-rays, quantum microtubes, earth magnetism (feng shui), and so on. Well-homed radiation has been useful for fighting tumors.
  • I'm a science guy - I'm not particularly enamored of 'New Age' beliefs. But a few years ago, I had a huge repetitive-stress-induced ganglion cyst on my wrist, which my neurologist said could only be fixed with surgery. Since I had just recovered from a cubital tunnel operation, I reluctantly let myself be talked into trying acupuncture first. The acupuncturist not only applied long needles, he attached electrodes to them and applied a strong pulsating electric current. I was treated every two days for ten d

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