Energy and Healing in YNSA
“In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy”17 – Albert Szent-Györgyi
Energy Medicine History
Energy fields have been identified and used in medical context from more than 2500 years before the birth of Christ, when sick people were exposed to the shocks produced by electric eels. At different times, in different cultures, various stones/minerals were used in healing, from iron ore, to bloodstone, to lodestone. These stones were used in healing in Egyptian then Chinese cultures, and later by the Greeks. In biblical times, the “laying on of hands,” as practiced by Jesus, was used, transforming electromagnetic impulses from one person to another. The modern version of this technique with and without religious overtones is called therapeutic touch, healing touch, Reiki, or polarity.
In 1773, Franz Anton Mesmer used magnets for healing. His patients frequently noticed unusual currents coursing through their bodies before a healing crisis occurred. His methods were dismissed as philosophically unacceptable and by at least two scientific investigations at the time, including those by Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier. Magnetic healers, however, have always persisted in all cultures, including the American West, when in the 1870s Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy, carried a business card identifying himself as a “magnetic healer” and “lightning bone setter.” The big controversy over energy healers that started with Mesmer continues today.
Mechanists vs. Vitalists
Those involved in science, medicine, and healing are basically divided into two main philosophical camps, the mechanists and vitalists. The mechanists hold that life obeys the laws of chemistry and physics, and will ultimately be totally explained by science, through the known laws of physics and chemistry. In contrast, vitalists have historically held to a belief that life will never be explained by normal laws of physics and chemistry, and that there is some kind of mysterious “life force,” which is separate from the known laws of nature that distinguish living from nonliving matter.1
Early 19th- and 20th-century “medical” electrical therapies include the four types of electricity: static (Franklinic) energy, direct (Galvanic) current, induction-coil (Faradic) current, and high-frequency (d’Arsonval) current. Using the induction-coil method, Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen charted the locations of muscle points, or motor points in 1864. In 1867 Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne published classic studies on muscle points that gave rise to the modern field of medical electromyography, in which electrical recordings are made of the activity of the muscle motor points. The Faradic current was used as therapy early in the 20th century. Today it is used diagnostically, called electromyography (EMG). EMGs are used to determine whether the muscle is properly neurologically innervated for diagnostic aids in cases of herniated discs and spinal cord injuries.
By the early 1900s, Sears Roebuck, the Chicago mass merchandiser, was selling electric belts, bands, chains, plasters, and garters that were purported to provide a quick cure for all nervous and organic disorders arising from any cause. This cure-all commercialism continued until the Flexner Report that was produced in 1910, which ultimately showed that electrotherapy was declared scientifically unsupportable and was legally excluded from licensed clinical medical practice.
Meanwhile, electrobiology, the scientific study of electrical effects in biological organisms, continued its advancement and progress, resulting in electricity gradually losing its mysterious connection. It became less attractive than the elusive force that the vitalists were searching for. However, this emotional dogmatic fervor persists between the mechanists and vitalists today. Currently, there is a strong academic bias against any suggestion that electrical and magnetic fields generated by tissues or organs might have any important biological purpose. They are widely thought to be mere by-products of cellular activities. However, electromagnetic medicine is beginning to revive, because of far more sophisticated science to support its contention that these electromagnetic fields have an important biological purpose in diagnosis and treatment of various disease states and the widespread development of alternative medicine practitioners, specifically hands-on therapists, describing and experiencing the “vital force.”
Electromagnetic Field Investigations
Both scientists and non-scientists have been intrigued and amazed by the study of energy fields. In 1873, Edwin D. Babbitt, a minister, identified electromagnetic fields around the human body after days of living in total darkness. He drew the electron magnetic field around the head corresponding to the sights he saw in the darkness. He made a beautiful etching showing the fields of the head that he saw. His etching interestingly now corresponds to the expected neuro-currents flowing through the interhemispheric fibers of the corpus callosum of the brain.2
Harold Saxton Burr, PhD, Professor at Yale School of Medicine from 1929 through the 1950s, did numerous experiments and wrote papers showing the electromagnetic field in nature. During this time, Burr was researching energy fields, while most biologists and physicians were certain that any motions of energy therapy and “life/ vital force” were complete nonsense. In the 1950s, Burr published a series of articles on how the electrical fields of trees change in advance of weather patterns and other atmospheric phenomena. Professor Burr was convinced that these electromagnetic fields are the basic blueprints for all living things and the electromagnetic fields reflect physical and mental characteristics. Thus, these electromagnetic forces are therefore useful for diagnostic purposes.3
It was physiologist Albert P. Mathews in 1903 who stated, “every excess of action, every change in the physical state of the protoplasm of any organ, or any area in the embryo or in the egg, produces, it is believed, an electrical disturbance.”4 So, not only does every event within the body, whether it is normal or pathological, produce electrical changes and charges, and alterations in electromagnetic fields within the organ and body, but also in the spaces around the body.
In the 1940s, Reinhard Voll in Germany was testing the electrical resistance of acupuncture pathways and correlating the conductance with specific pathological problems.5 In 1973, Otto Bergsmann and Ann Woolley-Hart published a study showing that conductance of acupuncture point LR-8 was about 18 times higher in patients with known liver disease compared with those with no liver disease.6 In 1985, S. G. Sullivan and colleagues reported that patients with lung disease had 30% lower electrical conductances at various lung points.7 In 1996, Barbara Brewitt showed the cellular basis for viral infections, bacterial infections, and cancer affect the ionic content, water content, and pH of the extracelluar fluid, thereby affecting and influencing the cellular membrane and tissue conductances.8
For scientists like Burr, the link between biology and physics was not mysterious or unfathomable, or subtle. He found that biological energy is no different from any other kind of electricity, nor does it obey different laws. As a phenomenon, bioenergy fields have gone from scientific nonsense to an important and expanding subject of biomedical research. These electromagnetic fields can be detected at a distance from the body and scientists are explaining how these fields are generated and why they have become distorted when pathology is present.
Measuring Electromagnetic Fields
Since the mid-1980s, scientists have gone from a conviction that there is no such thing as energy fields in and around the human body to an absolute certainty that they exist. We now recognize that there are many forms of energy such as electric, magnetic, heat, light, electromagnetism, kinetic energy of motion, sound, gravity, vibration, elastic energy, and such. There is some fundamental principle that is present in all these forms of energy. At a fundamental level we still do not know exactly what the body electricity and magnetism really are. The electron is a basic unit and has properties such as charge, mass, and gravity, but a deeper explanation of how these properties arise is currently missing.9 As we continue to expand scientific knowledgewe continue to discover more questions regarding the fundamental unit of life; the what, where, when, how, and why.
A basic law in physics is that when an electric current flows through a conductor, a magnetic field is created in the surrounding space. This was discovered by Hans Christian Oersted in 1820. This classic law of physics was be challenged and expanded.
In 1963 Gerhard Baule and Richard McFee proved that the heart produced a strong electrical and magnetic activity, which resulted in a useful diagnostic procedure, the electrocardiogram.10 They predicted that the heart produces magnetic fields and went on to discover with quantum physics that devices were able to pick up the field of the heart 4.5 m away from the body.
Also, in 1963, Philip Warren Anderson and John Rowell, as well as Sidney Shapiro separately, showed that something seemingly impossible could actually happen: the movement of pairs of electrons through a material (insulator).11 This phenomenon was identified and called tunneling, something that was forbidden in the classical world of physics but easy in the quantum world. The quantum world states that classical particles, such as electrons, are at the same time waves, and waves can do things that solid particles cannot do.
Several kinds of tunneling can take place, and they are called Josephson effects. A superconducting quantum interference device or SQUID is now being used in medical research laboratories to map the biomagnetic fields produced by physiological processes inside the human body. A global network of SQUIDs is also being used to monitor movement-to-movement fluctuations in the geomagnetic field of the earth.
In 1972, David Cohen was able to extend his SQUID measurements to the fields produced by the brain.12 These biomagnetic fields of brain measurement, “brain waves,” are referred to as though they are confined to the brain but they are actually not. The electromagnetic fields of all the organs spread throughout the body and into the space around it. Thus, all forms of therapeutic contact may involve far more than simple measurement of touch-pressure on the skin and can be involved in electromagnetic forces.
What we have learned thus far is that living organisms have biomagnetic fields in and around them. These fields change from moment to moment in relation to events taking place inside the body as well as atmospheric effects upon the body. These fields give a clear presentation of what is going on in the body, from classical electrical diagnostic tools such as the electrocardiogram and the electroencephalogram to more sophisticated machines such as SQUIDs.
Electricity vs. Electronics
Biological electricity is a large-scale phenomenon arising from the movements of a charged ion such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. In virtually all cases, the electricity arises because of the large electrical polarity across cell membranes, and the ability of these membranes to temporarily depolarize and then repolarize. Biological electronics is a relatively new subject of research. It deals with the flows of much smaller entities than ions, which result in a metabolic change/effect upon the body. These are mainly electrons, protons, and the spaces where an electron is missing, called “holes.” The cytoskeleton as described next is the latticework upon which the electricity and the electronics take their effect.
A few decades ago, the living cell was visualized as a membrane-bound bag containing a solution of molecules that randomly walked from one part to another and exchanged their biochemistry. Today this image is massively changing. We now know that there is very little empty space within that bag and that the cell is filled with filaments, tubes, fibers, and trabeculae, collectively called the cytoplasmic matrix or cytoskeleton. This cytoskeleton results in very little space left for a solution to be randomly diffusing and floating around. This cytoskeleton has a relationship with other cells and the extracellular matrix. This relationship is called the “trans-membrane,” linking molecules or “integrins.” It is recognized now that the cytoplasmic matrix also links to the nuclear envelope, nuclear matrix, and to genes. So the boundaries between the cell environment, the cell interior, and the genetic material are neither as sharp, nor as impermeable as we once thought. To put this in practical terms: what a practitioner touches is not merely the skin. One contacts the continuous interconnected webwork that extends throughout the body. Indeed, the skin is one of the first tissues in which this continuity was documented by Janice Ellison and D. R. Garrod in 1984.13
The discovery of neurohormones led to an understanding of how neuro- and hormonal systems interact. Chemical regulations are usually viewed in the same manner as cell metabolism, controlling substance hormones diffused through the extracellular matrix until they happen to bump into the target cells upon which they exert an influence. This imperfect view is not accepted anymore, for we know that many hormones deliver messages to the cell surfaces. This causes the production of second messages within the cells to activate the cellular activities.14 Therefore, communications in the living system involve two languages—chemical and energetic.
These two methods of cellular communication —chemical and energetic—provide specificity and a type of reducency to the human body. The chemical regulations are carried out by hormones and various factors (growth factor, epithelial growth factor, and so on) through various second messages within the cell. There are also two kinds of energetic interactions—electrical and electronic. The electrical activities of the nerves and muscles are well known, but the electronic map of interactivity still remains to be completely discovered. “The entire living matrix is simultaneously a mechanical, vibrational or oscillatory, energetic, electronic, and informational network”.15
The dynamics of the living matrix involve signaling and cell crawling. The molecules that link the cell interior with the extracellular matrix are called integrins, which are a class of adhesion molecules that glue cells in place. They also regulate most functions of the body. The hidden roles of integrins in arthritis, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and the spread of cancer were identified by Alan Horwitz in 1997.16 The living matrix is a dynamic rather than a fixed system with connections between adjacent cells and between the cells and the substrate.17 “Molecules do not have to touch each other to interact. Energy can flow through the electromagnetic field. The electromagnetic field along with water forms the matrix of life.”18
With the biochemistry taking place in a solution and the discovery of the cytoskeleton, science has advanced our understanding of solid state biochemistry. Solid state biochemistry recognizes that chemical reactions precede in a much more orderly and rapid manner if they are organized on a structural framework instead of the random walk theory. Moreover, the living matrix concept opens up the possibilities for global control: signals traveling in the matrix that can regulate or fine-tune matrix-associated enzymes throughout the organism. Messages can travel through the matrix, as by diffusion, or travel in the matrix by electronic conduction along the protein backbone. The therapeutic significance of solid state biochemistry and matrix regulation is further explained by the high degree of order, regularity, and crystallinity present in cells and tissues.19, 20
The crystalline arrays in cells and tissues are found in a piezoelectrical fashion.21 Piezoelectricity is a form in contradistinction to random shape; it contains parts or elements in a definite, characteristically recurrent array in space. Thus, form is the result of the orderly manner in which those elements are combined and arranged. The form of a higher order of complexity accordingly can emerge from the ordered assembly of simpler formed elements of mutual fit as stated by Paul Weiss in 1961.22 Crystalline arrangements are the rule and not the exception in living systems.23
James Oschman, in 1981, stated that virtually all of the tissues in the body generate electric fields when they are compressed or stretched.24 The piezoelectric effect is partly responsible for these electric fields. Another source of such fields is a phenomenon known as streaming potentials. When the skin is stretched or bent, as at a joint, minute electric pulsations are set up. These oscillations, and their harmonics, are precisely representative of the forces acting on the tissues involved. This information is electrically and electronically conducted through the surrounding living matrix.
Albert Szent-Györgi received the Nobel Prize in 1937 for his discovery of vitamin C, and after researching the insoluble scaffoldings of the matrix since 1941 he suggested that proteins in the body are semiconductors. He stated: “If a great number of atoms can be arranged with regularity in close proximity, as for example in a crystal lattice, single electrons cease to belong to one or two atoms only, and belong instead to the whole system. A great number of molecules may join to form energy continua, along which energy, namely excited electrons, may travel a certain distance.”25 Today we know that this is true thanks to Oschman and others.
Properties of the Living Matrix
The living matrix continuum includes all of the connective tissues (cytoskeletons) of all the cells throughout the body:
1. All of the great systems of the body are every-where covered with material that is but a part of a continuous connective tissue fabric.
2. The connective tissues form a mechanical continuum, extending throughout the body, even into the innermost part of each cell.
3. The connective tissues determine the overall shape of the organism as well as the detailed architecture of its parts.
4. All movement of the body as a whole or of its smallest parts is created by tensions carried throughout the connective tissue fabric.
5. Each tension, each compression, each movement, causes the crystalline lattice of the connective tissues to generate bioelectronic signals that are precisely characteristic of those tensions, compressions, and movements.
6. The connective tissue fabric is a semiconducting communication network that can carry the bioelectronic signals between every part of the body and every other part.26