About two months ago I wrote a piece describing the practice of Frequency Specific Microcurrent therapy (FSM) and attempted to show why I thought the practice was at best the premature use of an unproven modality and at worst a new way of parting the afflicted from their cash. This post recently attracted a comment from a Chiropractor named Pamela Hall who wished to defend the technique. As the comment was lengthy and covered a number of interesting points I thought I would post my reply as a blog entry. First I would like to thank Pamela Hall, DC, for her comment and I hope that I can reply to her in as thoughtful and considerate a way as she has conducted herself. Her comment starts:

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.

Firstly there have been well designed studies on other modalities that “won’t make the drug companies … a lot of money” such as acupuncture, I don’t see why this one should be any different. Also you have presented a false dichotomy here, the choice is not between large definitive clinical trials and nothing at all, smaller pilot studies published in reputable journals will do. If you can provide that I will be greatly appreciative, the best I could find was a case study which vaguely mentioned “microcurrent” along with several other treatment options. Given the amount of time the treatment has been in use I don’t think this is unreasonable.

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.

I will gladly acknowledge that much of conventional medicine has come from herbal preparations, folk remedies and the like and that medicines may be used without knowledge of the method of action. However, that the active constituent of Willow bark, salicylic acid (the precursor to acetylsalicylic acid or Aspirin) was extracted and purified which enabled the creation of medicines of consistent dose and quality, is all because of science. Just because a treatment can be obtained from a particular tradition or practice (such as homeopathy) does not lend credence to any of the other methods common to that source, they all must be evaluated separately on their merits, or lack thereof as the case may be. Also, especially in the case of Aspirin, there is a plausible mechanism of action, where a metabolically active substance is introduced into the body and produces a biological effect.

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.

This is a fair point and I will accept it. I presume you are referring to this study, the reason I did not discuss it was essentially practical in nature, I could only find this one page abstract which was thin on details. There was nothing there I could dissect. Even If I could have found the full paper it is likely I would not have gone over it as I would have felt even less capable of interpreting it than the study I did present. You bring up another point though that I agree with, drugs do have side effects, as do almost all other types of treatments. As I pointed out in my original post the very fact that treatments have an effect on the body opens the possibility that that can have negative as well as positive effects. As far as I can determine the claim that FSM has no negative side effects can neither be proved or disproved, as you seem to confirm the data is simply not there.

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.

This I think is simply a misunderstanding, I am aware that there are more than two frequencies that can be used, and I do allude to this fact in several places. My apologies for not being clear.

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

This may be true, here is the study (performed in 1982 and used as a reference for FSM everywhere), this study was on rat skin tissue in vitro and as such can not necessarily be extrapolated to treating the whole body or even significant parts of it for specific diseases. In addition I do not know how these increases affect other biological functioning or whether or not they are significant even in the context given. Indeed though there does seem to be a biological effect produced by the microcurrent and I refer you to my point above regarding potential harm. However my main point of disagreement with the treatment is the “Frequency Specific” part, in other words the claim that each disease has it’s own unique vibration that can be used to treat it, that is the real claim being made and that is the part that I find least convincing.

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.

No I did not, and would not have even had I been aware of his involvement. The opinions of a single author, even a “Pulitzer Prize-winning” one such as Mr. Sinclair would amount to anecdote. I read the biography of Mr. Sinclair and failed to note any mention of scientific training or any indication that he had any other expertise that might have been relevant, fame and popularity do not a reliable source make. Even if this had not been the case this point would have carried little weight as it is simply an appeal to authority and as such does not trump the decades of knowledge gained since his time. It is the consensus of scientific opinion that should be the more trust worthy authority here, the views of a single person, even a distinguished scientist (or author), are simply too prone to error and bias.

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: 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.

The trouble with new paradigms is that they must first prove themselves in the full sphere of scientific knowledge before they can be accepted. This means that they must either fit with the already established principles we have discovered in the realms of physics, chemistry and biology or provide a new underpinning that incorporates the known facts but explains them in a more complete and satisfying way that can be confirmed or falsified by experiment. When “Einsteinian” physics was discovered it did not overturn Newton, it added a new layer of complexity and richness to our understanding of the Universe.

Once again I would like to thank Pamela for her interest and for taking the time to comment without resorting to simple attacks. None of my points have been made in malice and if and offense is given it is with regret.

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