Frequency Specific Microcurrent

This week in my local community paper I had cause to once again raise my brow in surprise at the low bar for inclusion in this publication. I refer to a story written by a journalism student promoting a therapy known as FSM or Frequency Specific Microcurrent (not Flying Spaghetti Monster). I say promoting rather than reporting on as it seemed that the student merely parroted what she had been told of the treatment with nary a skeptical thought. I was unsure when I read this article whether I was looking at a news report or an advertisement for yet another brand of alternative health device. Though I should temper this by pointing out that it seems to be becoming endemic to the field of journalism as a whole rather than be unique to this student of it.

As I could find little in the way of information about this therapy at my usual sources on these sorts of claims (Quackwatch and Skepdic, both excellent resources) I thought I would do some investigation of my own and share the results here. A brief search of PubMed found a decided lack of peer review studies either published by the technology’s alleged inventor Carolyn McMakin, nor on the effectiveness of the therapy itself. So I decided to start with the website of the inventor herself.

The “therapy” consists of applying microamp current to selected areas of the patient’s body, the current is tuned to two different frequencies that historically were supposed to correspond to the resonant frequency of the disease and the tissue of interest. It is unclear whether the current version makes this claim but two frequencies are still employed, apparently providing a unique synergy that is useful for treating only specific ailments. Practically the current is produced by a battery operated device that allows the practitioner to set both the frequency and the current on two independent channels. This current is then transferred to the patient via conductive graphite gloves worn by the practitioner as they lay hands on the patient. The claims for the device itself are modest apparently due to FDA restrictions that apply to the classification of devices it falls under. This classification is that of TENS devices which stands for Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation, this class of machine can provide relief from certain types of pain simply by virtue of electrical stimulation, no frequencies are explicitly invoked.

However, the frequencies used have much wider claims associated with them, one I found amusing was “There is one frequency combination that so far is 100% effective in a small number of cases to take away kidney stone pain.”, I perhaps naively think that a treatment is either 100% effective or is useful in a small number of cases, combining these two seems to be trying to get the best of both worlds. To clarify I don’t think there are necessarily treatments that are always 100% effective but I do have the opinion that a more useful statement would have been how effective the treatment is for the majority of patients. Other claims include the ability to treat asthma, liver dysfunction and irritable bowel syndrome as well as scar removal.

On the website’s FAQ a simplistic history of the use electromagnetic therapy devices from the early 20th century is given and spoken of in glowing terms stating that “There were thousands of physicians using this technology at this time. They had journals and associations and were treating patients and doing research and sharing the effects of frequencies in articles and books.” This may or may not be true but has no relevance as to the effectiveness of the treatment, I have no doubt there are thousands of practitioners prescribing Homeopathic preparations right now. Dr. Albert Abrams is also referenced as a pioneer of these techniques despite his unusual practices having been exposed as fraud in the 1920s. In 1994 Dr. McMakin started using these frequencies on her chiropractic patients and reports that they “appeared to do exactly what they were alleged to do”.

In 1995 Dr. McMakin developed the therapy using a device and a list of reputedly medically useful frequencies that she apparently inherited from a Canadian osteopath. Two years later Dr. McMakin began teaching FSM according to her website “to see if the effects of FSM were reproducible.” (curious, I thought that’s what studies and controlled trials were for). Despite the order in which the story is related this appears to be before papers were presented to either the American Back Society or Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, both chiropractic based. The teaching of the technique consists of a three day course in “the use of frequency protocols, the differential diagnosis of pain generators and neurologic conditions.”. Were this technique developed by the medical mainstream I hope it would have undergone slightly more rigorous investigation before being tested on patients or taught to other practitioners.

Moving on, there are several papers listed on the website in support of this therapy of mixed quality. The most convincing papers deal with the use of the therapy for Fibromyalgia, in particular this study on “Cytokine changes with microcurrent treatment of fibromyalgia associated with cervical spine trauma“. Now I am not medically trained and readily admit that I am not qualified to accurately interpret the results of this study, however there are several points that I as a layman found concerning. First was the inclusion of only a single control subject who also received treatment. Second there seemed to have been quite a high drop-out rate for the trial (approximately 30%) leaving only 32 subjects to acquire meaningful data from. Thirdly, the use of specific frequencies in the treatment is probably the most controversial part and yet those that were chosen for the study are simply asserted to be the most effective with no reference to how this was done or what data lead to this conclusion. Fourthly, and this is less a criticism of the study itself, is the topic under study. I am given to understand that Fibromyalgia is characterised by periods of flares and remission which may complicate the data. I realise however that this trial may be considered a pilot study and so can not be held to the same standards as a large rigorous placebo/non-treated group controlled trial.

In addition the almost ubiquitous claim in pseudo-scientific medicine and quackery is made that there are no dangers or side effects from the treatment itself. As has been pointed out in other places a modality that affects biological systems is unlikely to be all benefit. If there is an effect then it is almost guaranteed there is a side-effect. The consideration undertaken in the use of valid medical interventions is whether the benefits are worth the accompanying risks.

Due to the nature of the therapy it is unclear exactly what is being tested/providing relief, a shaky theory of dubious plausibility based on the unscientific premise that tissues and diseases have “Frequencies” that if applied externally can enhance or inhibit functioning and so cure medical conditions or transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation that at least one doctor considers to be an uncontroversial treatment for pain. What does seem to be clear is that there seems to be more emphasis on promotion of this therapy than on testing it’s efficacy and introducing to the wider medical community a truly useful technique.

Finally, it seems to me that the evidence is not convincing that there is an effect here that can only be explained by appeals to the recovery of lost knowledge from a golden age of medical treatments that was squashed by a jealous Medical Establishment.

Resources

http://www.frequencyspecific.com

http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/News/rife.html

http://www.americanartifacts.com/smma/abrams/abrams.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcutaneous_Electrical_Nerve_Stimulator

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    • Chew Wong
    • August 21st, 2008

    Why not you do a real test yourself instead of commenting from articles that you read? Get someone with pain, I am sure there are alot around. Even your family, surely there are people with pain. Pay a session in the FSM treatment, and after that do another report. I am a cranial acupuncturist and I can reduce the pain from a patient in a matter of a few needles. Do you have any knowledge of alternative medicine?

      • Cheryl
      • December 18th, 2011

      Well, I know why. She can’t test herself without getting the patented codes and taking the class. So as a journalist, she wrote. Good job!

  1. I’m sorry but the test you suggest would not be valid and would essentially amount to a single anecdote. As such it would be subject to all the usual reasons anecdotes are not acceptable as evidence, mistaking correlation with causation, small sample number, confirmation bias, etc. Also I am not arguing that it is of no use for relieving pain, but that proposed mechanism does not have any plausible biologic basis and there is no need to invoke magical frequencies when there is insufficient reason to believe they add anything to the process.
    Thank you for your comment.

    • Why do people have stupid opinions about something they know nothing about?????

        • Phil
        • March 17th, 2013

        Consider the rationale and purpose for Evidence Based Medicine (EBM). Without EBM patients can be victimized by unproven treatment modalities.

      • Phil
      • March 17th, 2013

      Well stated.

    • Pamela Hall, DC
    • October 21st, 2008

    Research that meets the gold standard of large patient numbers, with controls costs millions of dollars. There is very little money available for treatment that won’t make the drug companies or some other big players in the medical-industrial complex a lot of money. This is why the research doesn’t get done on this scale. In fact in the 1930′s all electrical therapies, herbs, and homeopathy were banned. They were a threat to the profit of drug companies and the AMA.

    Those who are prejudiced against so called “alternative healing” fail to acknowledge that western medicine has used aspirin simply because it worked without knowing the reason why until rather recently. The common treatment for angina is nitroglycerin put under the tongue, and this treatment was taken from the realm of homeopathy.

    You failed to mention the research done with the frequency for inflammation, using the same animal model as used to test most all of the anti-inflammatory drugs. FSM reduced inflammation by 64% in four minutes, and they never found a drug that reduced it more that 45%. Further more, all anti-inflammatory drugs have undesirable side effects some of which can be life threatening.

    You stated two frequencies are employed by Dr. McMakin, however, hundreds of frequencies are employed. There are always at least two frequencies applied at a time, one resonating with a specific tissue and one resonating with a specific condition.

    Microcurrent increases cellular energy by 500% and also increases protein synthesis. This is not what I would call a modest claim.

    You state that Dr. Abrams was dismissed as a fraud in the 1920′s. You fail to mention that Dr. Abrams was investigated by Upton Sinclair, who according to Wikipedia, “was a Pulitzer Prize-winning prolific American author who wrote over 90 books in many genres and was widely considered to be one of the best investigators advocating socialist views. He achieved considerable popularity in the first half of the 20th century. He gained particular fame for his 1906 muckraking novel The Jungle, which dealt with conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry and caused a public uproar that partly contributed to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906.”

    Mr. Sinclair reported that “Albert Abrams was one of the most eminent practitioners in San Francisco, the head physician of large hospitals, recognized as the author of important discoveries.” Like many scientists who make major breakthroughs his ideas which involved a new paradigm in healing were met with disbelief and derision of his peers. Upton Sinclair was very skeptical when he first visited Abrams, and expected to be done in a couple of days. Instead he stayed and observed him for a couple of weeks, “and it might have been months or even years, if urgent duties had not called me home.” Sinclair considered Dr. Abrams to be a great scientist who had much to offer humankind.

    FSM is based on a new paradigm in healing. Dr. McMakin explains it well in simplified terms on a video clip now on her website: http://www.frequencyspecific.com. If you wish to have a better understanding of the scientific underpinnings of Frequency Specific Microcurrent, I suggest you read Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis by James Oschman, Ph.D.

    • Here is a review of “Energy Medicine: The scientific Basis” by a medical doctor.

  2. Thank you for your comment, I feel that such a well thought out reply to my post deserves no less from myself. So I hope you do not begrudge me taking a day or so to marshal my arguments. I shall also be posting my reply as a full blog entry, I hope you don’t mind.

  3. Pamela thank you for your patience, I have published my reply at the link track back below or http://scepticon.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/frequency-specific-microcurrent-revisited/

    • Benjamin Smith
    • January 18th, 2009

    Whether you can feel it or not, our bodies have an electrical system; the current is often referred to as Chi, Qi, Prana, Shakti, PiezoElectric Energy, Bio Microcurrent, etc.

    People who are aware of its(Bio~ Microcurrent) upkeep and healthy flow around the core and periphery of the body often do exercises like Tai Chi, Meditation, Soaking Prayer, and the many forms of exercise to encourage its homeostsis in the body.

    This box (FSM) does one thing; where the healthy flow of Bio~Microcurrent has been impeded, FSM helps to encourage its healthy flow.

    Every form of Medicine is trying to do this, some forms just create other disesases in the process.

    Please feels free to call or email anytime; 757-289-7449/USA or benjamincmt@gmail.com

  4. PiezoElectric Energy? You might want to look that up, it doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    But I really have only one question, do you have any evidence for any of this?

    It is curious that the method of action you propose is completely different to that of the “Inventor”.

    • fredd
    • August 31st, 2009

    i have had micro current treatments, 11 in fact, however i also have 2 fixed wires between C2 and C3, the practitioner knows this and went ahead with the treatments . perhaps because the insurance company payed for them. I cannot find any information regarding the dangers of micro current treatments with metal implants. perhaps you could be of help, i can asure you that the pain levels increased significantly during and after treatments

    • Thanks for your comment, I am not a medical practitioner and recommend you see your doctor regarding this. Good luck, sorry I can’t be more help but I feel it would be irresponsible on my part to offer any specific advice beyond this.

    • John
    • October 16th, 2009

    Just pointing this out. Microcurrents are also used in treating disease, because certain frequencies kill certain diseases. That is the reason a sweep will be done where a range of frequencies will be repeated for disease. But to talk about the electrical current we all posses, people don’t need to have this “chi” to have this microcurrent work, especially in the case of disease killing. But as a possible supporting example of chi, there is a guy in Asia, he has been on Nat Geo, that is able to power lamp or light fixtures just by touching them. Also, he is able to have lethal amounts of voltage pass through him and it does no harm. Also, microcurrent is widely used in European and Asian nations, with our country lagging behind as usual as a result of our controlling medical industries.

    • Thank-you for the evidence free comment. You’ve just restated what I argue against above.

    • Wayne miller
    • August 13th, 2010

    Your commentary is rather idiotic. If you had any training or understanding of biophysics you would know that the construction of biological tissue, is highly sensitive to the application of energetic stimuli on the basis of the frequency applied.

    That you aren’t aware of that makes your commentary rather idiotic. You are right and fine to be skeptical. If you really want a target for which your skepticism is valid – try conventional medicine.

    Evidence based medicine by definition is a kind of chimera. Accurate numerically but fraudulent in intent.

    Oh yes, then there is the general framework of iatrogenic care. Now well documented as the leading cause of death in the United States, you would be of greater service to those who care about effective medicine if you would simply expose the difference between what we do know and what is otherwise commonly done.

    The very fact that we spend $2 trillion on chronic care means that the sum total of products and services applied do not solve the underlying problem.

    It is a simple engineering equation here. If we don’t know what works BEST – then let’s find out.

    We do know what works least.

    A rigorous population study done in the state of Washington where thousands of patients receiving either CAM or non-CAM treatments were examined. The difference in outcomes and costs of the CAM treatments vs. non-CAM treatment s were statistically significant in favor of the CAM approach.

    The data was available because the State of Washington requires that CAM practitioners be included for reimbursement for all insurance sold in the State.

  5. Ah, Wayne, welcome back.

    Thank-you for the insults they advance your case tremendously.

    Have you found the numbers of successfully treated patients vs iatrogenic complications that I enquired about when you commented earlier?

    Remember that risk benefit ratio.

  6. I know I’m late to this party, but I have something to contribute. I have developed microcurrent stimulators as an FDA registered company. I have worked with the FDA to create the microTENS classification in 1986, so I know a bit about the technology.
    1. Microcurrent has been around for over 30 years as an FDA cleared device.

    2. Albert Abrahms was a quack of the highest order. Anyone using his frequencies, or anyone like him (Voll or Rife) is an intellectual idiot.

    3. McMakin should stop what she is doing until she can produce studies that are not flawed.

    4. The drug companies did not eliminate electrical stim to protect their profits in the 1930′s. Can anyone name a wonder drug from that period? Drug companies had nothing important to sell till the 40′s.

    • A refreshingly grounded and evidence based comment.
      My thanks to you sir.

    • Michael
    • September 5th, 2011

    I am real late to this conversation: Mr. Ventura, I guess you do not remember when DC’s were considered quacks. In reference to Royal Rife, he was honored by his piers, the medical establishment of that time, for his discovery of his frequency machine. The medical practitioners from all across the nation came to Los Angeles to honor Mr. Rife. It is a published fact. His healing frequency machines were being used across the nation. Then the AMA stepped and tried to purchase Rife technology. Rife refused and the AMA from that time on threatened all medical practitioners who used the Rife machine. Big Pharma helped because this would threaten their business. As far as tens goes. The AMA and the big pharma allow it is because the tens machine does not threaten their profits because it does nothing but put money in the DC pockets. Do not get me wrong, I have been going to DC’s for most of my life. They do a wonderful job in adjustments and that is what relieves the pain, not the tens treatment.

    Scepticon, I have difficulty in being positive about your reviews but you do put an honest face to your reviews. You try and keep an open mind and I can understand with some of the things you come accross that you find hard to believe.

    I practice two energy therapies, Thought Field Therapy and Bowen. Neither have been approved by the FDA nor AMA but they work. You said that you are skeptical of someone claiming a 100% of anything. Hey, I do not blame you. Altough I have only been doing Thought Field for over 12 years, I do have a 100% success rate with all fobias with clients that I have seen. What can I say. Dr. Callahan says I have not seen enough clients. Dr. Roger Callahan who discovered TFT in 1982 has a 95% success rate with all mental trauma. You will be surprised what you find on TFT and why the VA does not use it to treat PTSD.
    I have not tried the FSM machine but I will find some one who has one and give it a go. There is also the MVT machine and like FSM has had anecdotal study of many success stories. Even today many medical doctors and the FDA (big pharm watch dog) still are skeptic about DC, accupuncture and anything else that may reduce their profit centers. Let us all keep an open mind and remember our bodies are energy and maybe just maybe energy can heal them without drugs most of the time. Also adjusting!

    SEMPER FI,
    Michael

    • Michael, thanks for the attempt at a calm reasonable comment, but I find I must agree with Joe. I am uninterested in the early history of FSM/Rife if the only use it is put to is establishing conspiracies. It does not explain why we have no good evidence now.

      [update] I just looked up TFT, you’re kidding right?
      http://www.thoughtfieldtherapy.co.uk/tft-faq.php

  7. Deming said “In God we trust. All others bring data.” That’s all this is about. Proving the claims. Not through anectdotal evidence, but real double-blind studies. Never been done. Why not. It’s easy to blame others like the FDA and AMA, drug companies, but if any of this stuff really worked the inventor would rule the world. Even the most basic premise of disease frequencies has not been shown to exist. If that is the case, how can you build an entire treatment strategy on vapor?

    I’m a DC of 33 years. I’m also a double EE in hardware and software. Maybe I just think a bit differently, like in the real world.

    • Michael
    • September 6th, 2011

    I wish I had the time and finances to be an investigative health reporter and attempt to gain access to government archives through the freedom of information act. Unfortunately no one from the general public will get access to this area. Veterans who I have met through out the years have told me that when the government confiscates items, they do not destroy them but store them. It would be a life time of work to shift through those items. I wonder how many cures could be found. In regards to the Rife discovery and current evidence of his frequency cures is government crack down. I went to a Rife convention several years ago. Like you pointed out, many are trying to duplicate but cannot. I was told that those that come very close to the Rife duplication or use some sort of device that does heal are arrested and all documentation is confiscated.

    Maybe just maybe the AMA, FDA and big pharma will allow procedures/techniques that do no harm to continue. Most small companies and/or individuals do not have the funds to do the ‘Scientific’ research that you mentioned. A good example of why new discoveries are stopped is money. Just look at fish oil.When the medical profession denied for so many years that there were some health benefits in taking fish oil and now they write a script which cost 10 times the amount you can purchase in a health food store and they pocket the money. Who pays? We do with higher insurance premiums.

    FSM works for some and it does no harm. If it continues to be a successfull therapy that works for so many maladies, the government will eventually crack down. Then we will all know that it does work for those who did not receive the benefits of the treatment.

    The general public needs more writers like yourself that will bring forward new thoughts whether we like it or not. Eventually FDA and AMA will not be able to squelch new discoveries and the general public will demand them to allow the discoveries. Thank you for the forum.

    Semper Fi,
    Michael

    • Again, Joe said it first and said it better. Conspiracies again? Do you have names, arrest records? This must mean the police are in on it too then, or perhaps these people are getting arrested for practising medicine without a licence and the fact that they are quacks is incidental.

      I do appreciate your manner of conduct here but I really can’t credit constant appeals to conspiracy in the place of evidence.

      As for TFT, it’s magic tapping for Bob’s sake.

    • Michael
    • September 6th, 2011

    Ops. I missed you update on TFT. I see you looked up the TFT-UK. It is interesting that you happened onto the UK site. TFT is an approved intervention in the UK for mental trauma. It is not so in the US. Why, again it all comes down to money. When Dr. Callahan discovered TFT he said he put himself out of business. As you and I know that is not the case, as we are all under daily stress and we need some intervention to help us.

    I am not sure about the kidding, but it does work. There are many spin offs of TFT, like EFT. I know many psychologist’s and one psychiatrist who use this thearpy as part of the treatment but do not publish it. Why you ask if it is so successful. The reason is, it comes down to being paid for it. If the treatment is not published in the bible ‘DSM IV’ current, they would not get reimbursed by the insurance company.

    The other reason is political. In some states, TFT is an approved course for CE credit. Even today health practitioners still will put politics ahead of their patients well being.

    Be Well,
    Semper Fi,
    Michael

  8. I guess for some it is easier to believe in conspiricies than in charlatans who dupe the public by offering false hope. Rife was not the first and won’t the last. There are still those that believe the big three automakers have suppressed the 100 mpg carb. for all these years. Now it’s the FDA and the AMA,, who aren’t the best of friends by the way, but it’s easy to believe they might.

    You ask why they don’t allow procedures with no proof but do no harm. Because these procedures are never free and usually quite expensive and second, they delay treatment that might really work.

    The AMA has only about 18% membership anymore. The FDA turns over on a regular basis. Again, it simply comes down to proof. These types of devices are easy to prove. Easy. One thing I’ve never quite understood is if these treatments are so specific why the results are still within the Placebo range. I’m talking about FSM in particular. I looked at all her “studies” and shredded them with design flaws and conclusions. FSM is just another in a long list of mis-guided theories. Why does it seem to work? Because it’s based in conventional microcurrent that has over 233 published studies. McMakin just does not want to acknowledge that. By making FSM seem unique you can charge more.

    • Michael
    • September 6th, 2011

    I just got in and I have to respond with a current big pharma, fda and ama quest to squelch a current cancer cure. I am sure you have heard about Dr. Burzynski, if not you have got to look him up. He has been hounded for over 20 years. He has spent millions of dollars to prevent the above from stopping his studies and treatments. I am one of the contributors to his fund. Well anyway, the feds have stopped trying as the courts have thrown out the case every time it came to trial. The feds finally gave in and now Dr. Burzynski is the phase 3 of their scientific study. The feds have their investigators on site and have tried to skew the study by trying to input some of their own ideas and the good Doctor has caught and prevented them from doing so. This is all documented.

    The feds have stopped trying to pull his license but the State of Texas medical board is still trying. All of the money the state has spent trying to pull Dr. Burzynski’s license, they could have used in promoting his therapy of curing canser. It is the oncologist and others who are afraid of loosing all of their income they are hauling in on therapys that do not work.

    Yes you all, it is the scientific methodology that you all have been speaking about but, yes there is a but here, and Dr. Burzynski is one of the few who has the following and without contributors like myself, he would not have the funds to survive the intrusion of the state, federal and local governments for so many years. I believe the phase three part is over this year or next. I am anxiously waiting to see what the feds do when the study is over with.

    Here is one example for now on someone who has been arrested, thrown in jail and survived.

    One more thing, if you go to Dr. Burzynski before you have any of those approved cancer therapies that do not work, you have a 90% chance of a survival rate. This is not the fudged 5 year survival rate that is used by AMA.

    If any of my family members ever get cancer, especially my Granddaughters, it is off to Texas before you can say super calafr oh you know.

    Again, You a hard one to convince but have an open mind. This is the first time on a forum and I wish I had more time to converse.

    Thank You again.

    Be Well,
    Semper Fi,
    Michael

    • I did look up Burzynski and I hope that no-one in your family ever gets cancer, sincerely.

      Here are a few links: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/burzynski1.html

      http://quackfiles.blogspot.com/2004/11/saul-green-letter-to-wash-post-re.html

      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/05/harnessing_peoples_good_to_pay_for_woo.php – About 1/2 way down

      http://www.houstonpress.com/2009-01-01/news/cancer-doctor-stanislaw-burzynski-sees-himself-as-a-crusading-researcher-not-a-quack/

      According to the Clinical trial registry (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=Burzynski) the good Doc has a large number of trials registered in the late 1990s, many have been withdrawn or are at “Unknown” status, a few are “Terminated”, one is completed the rest are recruiting. I was unable to find the competed study published anywhere, despite primary completion date being 2005.

      Here is a brief summary of Burzynskis legal issues http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislaw_Burzynski#Legal_Issues

      If you have actual published research that Dr Burzynski’s treatment works please share. Testimonials are not evidence.

      • More on Burzynski:

        http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2011/11/the-false-hope-of-the-burzynski-clinic.html

        • Yet more, attempting to intimidate a teenager – ineffectually. A class act that Burzynski, I see why you look up to him.

          http://rhysmorgan.co/2011/11/threats-from-the-burzynski-clinic/

      • I do want to say something about Quackwatch- while these kinds of blogs are needed, there needs to be a watch on them. Noone has all the answers, and certainly not rabid allopaths!

        • Dianne
        • January 11th, 2013

        how many of these websites you list have PROOF that what they are saying is true and not just more propaganda? If proof is your major necessity to believe something do you have proof ? How do you know they are not just perpetuating the Western Medicine lies?

        • WTF??

  9. Removed Spammy kidney pain comment.

  10. Hello. I guess I am really late to this discussion, but let me weigh in. I am a licensed acupuncturist in practice over twenty years, and so many solicitations for the Latest Discovery in complementary medicine cross my desk that I could keep warm for the Winter if I burned them. Lately, a patient of mine came across a device related to FSM, as well as specific information about it that led me to look at the website. Further investigation brought me here, and I have read all the posts with great interest. I am especially interested in the lack of science-based studies for FSM, and it puzzles my as to why the Inventor hasn’t made an effort to look for a university-based group to implement and promote a study. It seems to me that some Masters or PhD candidate in a particular field might jump at the chance to do specific, or comparative, research on the parameters of this therapeutic process.
    That being said, I am practicing in a field that is lacking “enough” study data to give it the cachet of legitimacy I have long hoped for, but I am a great believer in outcomes. I had an instructor in acupuncture school who would occasionally use a protocol that would get all the students scratching their heads, and, when asked why she did it, would reply, “Because it works- that’s why!”.
    I am interested enough in FSM to investigate further, and I don’t want to assume that the proponents haven’t yet tried to recruit people to create a peer-reviewable study. I also am familiar with one of the listed practitioners, and will be contacting him after the weekend to learn about his experiences in treating his patients.
    Maybe a lot of what we health-care providers [including MDs] do ultimately would have to yield to the label of Placebo. But if it gets you well, and does no harm, maybe that’s OK. I understand that in New York State at least, health-care providers [including MDs] may not guarantee results to individual patients for whatever we do. To do so can result in disciplinary action. Probably a good idea.
    If anyone’s interested in reading further about placebo, please see an article in The New Yorker magazine of December 12, 2011 entitled, “The Power of Nothing”. And, by the way, in the eight-and-a-half years I worked in a Western medical clinic, I often referred to the PDR [Physicians Desk Reference] to learn if some of my acupuncture patients were reporting problems that were side-effects of their prescription meds. It was quite telling that, in the section of each drug that described, and I paraphrase, the “mechanism of efficacy”, almost half reported that it was not clearly understood, and in addition, many of these approved drugs had an effectiveness that was only marginally better than placebo and controls. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.
    I hope to hear of more posts on this subject.

    • Thanks for the comment Charles,

      I’m heartened by your acknowledgement of the lack of good evidence for FSM and certain other therapies. That said I think the current promotion of Placebo as some sort of wonder drug is concerning. Those reading might find this commentary on the New Yorker article interesting.

      These posts looking at the placebo effect are also illuminating reading:
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/spin-city-placebos-and-asthma/
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/asthma-placebo-and-how-not-to-kill-your-patients/
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/revisiting-daniel-moerman-and-placebo-effects/#more-14869

      I would challenge the the assertion that placebos either “get you well” or “do no harm”, if a person feels better but their underlying condition hasn’t changed (as pointed out in the above posts) then are they better? I would say not, and if they erroneously think they are better this must surely do harm in the long run.

      Also, that a treatment mode of action is poorly understood does not validate treatments that are wholly fanciful. Yes, current conventional medicine has (much) room for improvement but that does not mean we can substitute what ever we like in it’s place.

      To note your other comment re: Rabid Allopaths, if by “Rabid” you mean “adhering as strictly as possible to available evidence” then I must disagree, we need more of that kind of doctor.

    • Cheryl
    • December 18th, 2011

    This is a really good article. I was in one of Dr. McMakin’s studies (in 2001, I believe). I loved this article as it represents how I feel although I can give a subjective opinion. Well . . . while she could have done a better study by using a mock machine that used no current vs. one with “microcurrent protocols,” that would have actually shown that her machine had limited use. I will say that I did have a remission after the 1st treatment. Days later, I was in agony. “Treated several times” after the initial treatment, I enjoyed a partial remission. Did the machine work? I don’t know. However, when I started to go downhill, the doctor couldn’t reproduce the results, leaving me in the room hooked up for 90 minutes or so with automated codes. I bought her machine (you can write privately for information to me) and it really hasn’t helped–Practioner machine and interesting too since I am a patient. I remember reading the results of the study I was in (could have been the one you cited). It was “thrilling” to read that the participants of the study were not on anti-depressants or on pain meds since I was on both after her treatment. I could go further than this, but I would prefer to tell it privately to the above journalist first. I am going to write more, because the machine didn’t work so my hands are hurting. Is there something to Microcurrent? Yes. Do we know what–No. And no one will say anything. What the heck. More later. Love it though. Good work.

    • Hi Cheryl- Very interesting to hear from a subject/patient of FSM. I expect it will be good to hear from more to get an idea as to whether anyone is actually getting help from FSM or Placebo effect. As in, was the first treatment FSM, or your desire to be helped coupled with the practitioner’s confidence, i.e., placebo.

      • Charles, could you clarify a bit? Do you mean whether people are being helped by FSM or if it is just placebo, or if placebo is helping people?

        If the former, we can’t really take a head count of anecdotes for this as these are difficult-to-impossible to control for bias.

    • Thanks for the comment Cheryl,

      There does seem to be a phenomenon where if an “alternative” treatment (for lack of a better term) works then this is reported with great enthusiasm. Those for whom the treatment does not work are less vocal and are therefore often overlooked or ignored. Your willingness to speak is a great effort.

      p.s. You may message me directly through the “Contact Me” page of this website if you wish.

  11. Over the past two years I have had many contacts with McMakin. I have pointed out to her the failings in both her research and in her alleged frequency pairs. I have always acknowledged that she gets results, but they are results in spite of her beliefs not because of them. She falls into the same problematic thinking as others that use the original cheng studies to support microcurrent. That problem is that her device does NOT use the parameters that Cheng and others used, In fact her device CAN’T duplicate the parameters. Only one I know of is at http://www.accuomatic.com . There you will find about 233 peer reviewed studies, NONE of which mention FSM. To me, and I’m a leading expert in the field, FSM is garbage. Does microcurrent work? Yes. Does FSM work? Yes, by accident.

  12. Hi- I want to clarify my remark about rabid allopaths. I have gotten the impression from too many MDs over the years that they believe that they have the best of everything, and that everything else is junk. That includes some of the MD quack hunters. Please read my remark about the PDR- lots of remedies got approved with little else to go on but slightly better results than placebo in the trials. Are the quack watchers going after the pharmaceutical companies for putting so much effort into rushing products to market just to generate profits? Isn’t this what they accuse the altermative medicine people of doing? Obviously, there’s problems in both areas, and it would better serve the traditional medical community if there was a push to come up with remedies that cure and help heal, rather than mask symptoms. And are the quack hunters going after the, in my opinion, criminal marketing in the mass media of demonstrably dangerous medicines to a public educated by pretty smiling faces promoting the latest thing for their problems? Research shows that people respond more readily to the images than to the spoken words. I know that there are people out there who are desperate for relief from difficult and disfiguring ailments, but the possible last resort meds that they might want to try are being marketed to the general public. Shouldn’t it be “marketed” in the physicians’ offices? Instead, as the doctor I used to work with often said, if he didn’t respond to peoples’ demands for “the latest remedy”, they would seek out someone else, and aren’t medical practices also businesses? Yeah, there’s more questions in all this than answers, but it is not unusual for MD types to brush off and poo-poo anything that wasn’t i their training, and that goes for the quack hunters as well.
    As to FSM helping people by accident as Joe Ventura said, couldn’t one also say that some of the medications that, in the PDR, are described as having a mechanism of efficacy that is not understood, also work for some patients by accident? One physician I know described medical practice as a combination of educated guesses and occasionally, blind luck.
    Of course studies are needed. We also need to acknowledge that some modalities don’t readily yield to double blind process. Then we often only have outcomes to go by. Some weeks in my work, everyone does better, and other weeks end in head-scratching, and it is the same for lots of allopathic practices, as well.

    • Lots of stuff there all right..

      The “masking symptoms” bit comes up often in the altmed/conventional med divide. I hope you are using it more honestly than do others, generally the trend is “doctors are ignoring the true cause of disease which is [insert made-up stuff here] and only treat the symptoms”. Yes there are medications that treat symptoms and that can be appropriate, especially for self-limiting diseases that are not generally dangerous in the larger population. But in other cases doctors DO treat the underlying issues but not those subscribed to by various factions in the altmed crowd.

      With regard to the “quack hunters” and taking on pharma, well some do. Sciencebased Medicine spends a lot of time going after “quacks” but also criticises mainstream medicine when appropriate. Others specialise. I certainly tend to only go for the low hanging fruit of quackery.

      It could be that medications only “appear” to treat in some cases (the work-by-accident charge) but at least there is the attempt to base this approach on a wider body of evidence. It seems, especially in the case of FSM, that there is a treat first test later (if at all) mentality going on that is disturbing.

      About the “MDs have the best of everything/everything else is junk”, it’s true that there are arrogant MDs, it’s also true that there are altmed practitioners that are going FAR beyond what the evidence shows (again, FSM) and while this does not prove their modalities are junk it doesn’t help their case either.

    • NEV
    • November 14th, 2012

    You are a total idiot Scepticon…with a capital “I”Period. I my opinion YOU are working for the Big pharma or the FDA to discredit those who do good in this world…The natural therapists. I guess you will say there is nothing wrong with eating GMO food….Goes in the same basket with the rest of your stupid skeptic septic ideas.

    Scepticon :
    Yet more, attempting to intimidate a teenager – ineffectually. A class act that Burzynski, I see why you look up to him.
    http://rhysmorgan.co/2011/11/threats-from-the-burzynski-clinic/

    • That was hilarious thank you.
      An excellent pastiche in the style of intolerant CAM proponents :)

  13. I hold two FDA Class certifications for microcurrent devices and have since 1991, so I know a thing or two about microcurrent. Microcurrent in general has been one of the most researched modalities ever with over 250 peer-reviewed papers published. The healing mechanism of microcurrent is pretty well understood and I can send a pdf file to anyone that wants more info.

    I have mentioned to FSM proponents that their system gets results because microcurrent gets results, not because of their technique but in spite of it.

    FSM practitioners can use FDA certified devices, like mine, but the use is off-label, much like a physician prescribes a medication for other than it’s intended use.

    It’s important when making statements for or against something, you fully understand the subject. There seems to be less of that here than should be. I’m happy to answer any questions.

    Sincerely, Joseph Ventura D.C.

      • Phil111
      • March 27th, 2014

      Dr. Joe Ventura,
      Your website looks very impressive. I have purchased similar microcurrent device in New Zealand; as the device is manufactured in the U.S., and also has FDA approval. I purchased the microcurrent device, since the efficacy, indicated with clinical studies, of healing decubitus ulcers, and bone fracture non-unions was impressive. My situation is that I am relocating to Canada, but the manufacturer will not ship to Canada, because they do not have approval by Health Canada. I understand that this is another regulatory hurdle [Health Canada approval]. Therefore, could you please tell me if the AXIOM device has been approved/ cleared by Health Canada?

    • Phil111
    • March 25th, 2014

    Thank you Scepticon, as your continuing comments are objective, honest, and appropriately researched. Unfortunately, several scam devices continue to exist on the market, promoted by unethical marketing practices. Fortunately, regulatory bodies such as the FDA and Health Canada, who I believe represent the highest international regulatory bodies, are now preventing the importation and/ or the use non-approved devices medical devices. Elsewhere, non-approved medical devices, such as FSM, exploit genuine people who are looking for help. Also, testimonials represent the highest level of bias, mostly due to the placebo effect; unless, the same testimonials are supported as part of well designed randomized clinical studies.
    Re: FSM. Please provide the clinical evidence.

  1. October 22nd, 2008
  2. October 23rd, 2008
  3. July 17th, 2009

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