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From the Townsend Letter
February/March 2008


Healing with Electromedicine and Sound Therapies, Part One
by Nenah Sylver, PhD

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Part Two is also online

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In the 1960s, counterculture hippies were urging us to give peace a chance (great advice). To expedite that process, it was helpful to have "good vibrations" – considered so important, the Beach Boys wrote a catchy song with that title. It was easy to tell who had good vibes and who didn't. An optimistic, considerate person was considered "high frequency," while a pessimistic, disagreeable individual was "low frequency." Not surprisingly, everyone wanted to be around the folks who had good vibes.

Colloquialism aside, saying that someone is "high frequency" is based on legitimate science. Every molecule, cell, living body, and object is comprised of energy that manifests as physical matter. Some of that energy is detectible as frequencies that belong to one or more radiation bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. And these frequencies correspond to biochemical and biological processes in the body.

In the healing arts, there are different ways to affect matter. With conventional medical care, the chemical, functional, and/or structural change in organs, glands, and other tissues are created either through biochemical manipulation (through drugs) or physical manipulation (such as surgery). With electromedicine therapies, healing is achieved by working with the electromagnetic radiation (emissions) and related energy fields that form, and are emitted by, physical matter. Broadly speaking, electromedical devices produce and focus specific frequencies that can be in the form of electromagnetic fields, electrical current, magnetism, visible light, heat, or other energy.

Although electromedicine is widely used in Europe, it is less known in the United States. Few people in developed countries would question the use of the ubiquitous transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit, which emits small amounts of electrical current to manage pain. And magnets embedded in the insoles of shoes, also for pain management, are now a regular item in consumer catalogues. But electricity and magnetism are primarily used diagnostically in hospitals – such as with the standard electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to assess the health of the heart and with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show the inside of the body. Most medical professionals (and the lay public) are not inclined to take advantage of less popular electromedical devices because they do not understand how they work. And those who do use the equipment might talk about "frequencies" or "energy" without a full grasp of what these actually are or the science behind the technology.

Fortunately, receptivity to electromedicine is increasing. Health professionals are expanding their practice (and their success rate) with safe, holistic technologies. The general public is beginning to recognize and request electromedicine as an effective and valid treatment modality. In this article, I will explain what "frequency" and other terms mean as they are applied to the electromagnetic spectrum; review electromagnetic energy in living systems; explore several types of electromedical modalities; and discuss a related modality: sound therapy.

Electromedicine Throughout History
Healing with electromedicine is not new. From electricity (lightning) and static electricity (friction) to magnetism (lodestone), from the sun (for its far infrared and ultraviolet radiation) to visible light (for its different colored wavelengths), humans have used electromedicine for healing since ancient times. The therapies were first based on natural phenomenon, but about the early 1800s, electrical current began to be harnessed – first for providing light and then for more sophisticated needs, such as for telegraphing messages over long distances and running machines in factories. By the 1900s, electrical power was common in the home as well as the workplace.

Given the healing properties of many forms of energy, it did not take long before numerous electronic devices invented for medical treatments were considered mainstream. In Electrotherapy and Light Therapy with Essentials of Hydrotherapy and Mechanotherapy, published in 1949, Richard Kovács describes an impressive array of electronic equipment, most of which had already been in use for half a century. This equipment utilized alternating current, direct current, low frequencies, high frequencies, static electricity, diathermy, infrared rays, ultraviolet rays, and ultrasonics. Modern electromedicine practitioners will recognize some of these devices as forerunners of those used today – if not the machines still being used, since some devices have not changed much in 100 years. Some of this equipment included Georges Lakhovsky's multi-wave oscillator, the Violet Ray (which utilized Nikola Tesla's coil), Edgar Cayce's wet cell, and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's electric light cabinet. The conditions treated were virtually unlimited: muscular aches and pains, skin conditions, gynecological problems, some heart conditions, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal disorders, acute and chronic infections, and degenerative diseases.

Given the wide applications of such equipment over half a century ago, what seems remarkable is not the abundance and range of devices, but rather the resistance to electromedicine today. Of course, the invalidation of electromedical therapies by the medical mainstream – and laws passed to suppress the use of such devices – drove these modalities out of the public's immediate consciousness. Electromedicine as a valid treatment modality has met with derision and skepticism from practitioners and laypeople alike. But electromagnetic fields are successfully used for diagnostic purposes, with the understanding that living organisms are energy-based. Yet electromedicine as a valid treatment modality has met with derision and skepticism from practitioners and laypeople alike. If all sorts of electrical, thermal, and magnetic devices (as well as the acoustic-based ultrasound) are used for testing, why can't they just as easily be used for healing?
As might be expected, the pharmaceutical industry has taken advantage of people's ignorance and resistance to any modality that seems new and strange, for if the benefits and track record of electromedical devices were widely publicized, drug companies would lose billions of dollars each year. There is little effort by mainstream media to educate consumers, since it depends on considerable revenues from the advertising of drugs.

Unlike drugs, each of which can be used only one time by one person and for just one or two conditions, the many electromedicine modalities that have emerged in the last century

  • are effective,
  • are non-invasive,
  • support the body's innate ability to heal, instead of substituting for its natural functions,
  • are fairly easy to use, by laypeople as well as professionals,
  • can be utilized over the course of a lifetime (since they address many conditions),
  • can be used with more than one person, and
  • are relatively inexpensive, considering their range and scope.

How and why do electromedical devices work? Whether one is a health care provider or a seeker of health services, understanding the science behind electromedicine can make the difference between discerning good vibrations from bad. The best place to start is with a discussion of the EM spectrum and its related component, sound.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum and Sound
EM Spectrum Defined by Its Particles and Their Effects

The electromagnetic spectrum (or EM spectrum, sometimes also called EM waves) is the term used for many different energy oscillations that comprise our known universe. As shown on the accompanying chart (Figure 1) of the EM spectrum, these different oscillations with different characteristics range from the slower-moving, lower-energy electrons of electrical current to the faster-moving, higher-energy photons of visible light and other waves.

Figure 1

It's common to think of the various EM energy bands as unrelated phenomena that are separate from each other, since we perceive them differently with our senses (when we can perceive them at all). We see visible light as color, we feel far infrared radiation as heat, and so on. But all these energies are sequentially connected to each other as a continuum of waves in the EM spectrum. The nature of the particles depends on how fast they are moving and the qualities that they exhibit.

Humans perceive most of the EM frequencies indirectly through their effects, rather than directly perceiving the frequencies themselves. We label and differentiate EM waves from each other, according to how they manifest physically. By harnessing the waves with various electrical devices and some passive (non-electrical) materials, we can produce tangible physical phenomena. For instance, we access frequencies on the radio spectrum with an antenna, which transmits and receives radio broadcasts. An X-ray machine utilizes certain radiation on the X-ray band, which allows us to see inside the body, and so on.

The existence of an EM field includes both electric and magnetic fields. An EM field has certain properties, electrical fields have other properties, and magnetic fields possess yet others. Electrical and magnetic fields can be separated from EM fields as their own distinct energies. They can also exist in EM fields in varying proportions.

Frequency, Wavelength, and Amplitude
All the energies in the EM spectrum have different frequencies. The term frequency pertains to the number of cycles per second (CPS) at which a wave vibrates or moves. (The designation "CPS" has now been replaced with hertz, or Hz.) Waves also have different sizes or lengths, with various terms used to measure the length such as micron, angstrom, nanometer, and meter. (The waves shown below are sine waves. Different shaped waves will be discussed later.)

Figure 2: Key EM Wave Definitions

Wave is a movement of energy along a directional axis.

Frequency is a rate of oscillation measured by the number of wave cycles per unit time (usually in cycles per second, or Hertz).

Wavelength is the length or distance between two identical points on the wave (which comprises one complete wave cycle). This is described with different terms of measurement, depending on the size of the wave.

Amplitude is the point of maximum intensity of the signal (usually regarded as the highest point on the wave). It is comparable to turning up the volume on a radio.

The peak of the wave is the highest point on top. The trough of the wave is the lowest point on bottom. The length of a wave is often measured peak to peak. (See arrows in diagram below.) Technically, however, any portion of the wave can be used as a reference point, as long as the measurement addresses one complete cycle (peak to peak, trough to trough, etc.).

As the number of waves within a given space – in other words, their frequency – increases in number per second, their size becomes smaller. And as the number of waves decreases in number per second, their size becomes larger. Put another way, the higher the frequency (cycles per second or CPS) or oscillation rate of a wave, the smaller the wavelength. The lower the frequency (CPS) or oscillation rate of a wave, the larger the wavelength. "A homely comparison to visualize this," Kovács analogizes, "may be a motley army of giants and dwarfs, all under orders to reach the same goal simultaneously; in order to do so the giants step out leisurely, while the dwarfs run and take hundreds of steps for each one of the giants."1

In the example below, the frequency of the top wave is higher than the frequency of the bottom wave, because the distance is shorter between the peaks of the waves. The wave forms in this example are simple sine waves.

In order from slower-moving to faster-moving, frequencies in the EM spectrum include radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays.

Electric Fields and Magnetic Fields
So far, I have been discussing electromagnetic radiation from the EM spectrum. Electromagnetic radiation (radiant energy) and electromagnetic fields (non-radiant spaces in which energy exists) operate somewhat differently. Both come from electromagnetic sources. However, energy that radiates exists separately from its source. It travels away from its source, and it continues to exist even if the source is turned off. EM fields are not projected out into space. They no longer exist when the energy source is turned off.

Static electricity and magnetism are both static fields that share a complex and intimate relationship with each other. An oscillating electric field generates an oscillating magnetic field, and an oscillating magnetic field generates an oscillating electric field. Each exists at right angles to the other. Most importantly, when movement is introduced to either a static electrical field or a magnetic field, they become electromagnetic fields. This will be important to remember when we later examine a number of different electromedical devices.

The EM spectrum is often compared to sound, since the two phenomena share many of the same features. Sound is comprised of mechanical pressure waves in a compressible medium such as air or water. Put another way, sound is created when an object moves with enough force to displace (compress) the surrounding air (or other medium capable of carrying these waves). We hear many of these waves (air currents) as audible frequencies (sound), because after the air reaches the ear, it minutely moves the eardrum – a delicate drum-like membrane – and sends the oscillations to the brain, where they are then decoded into the noise of traffic, spoken words, a barking dog, music. The waves of sound could be created by a pen dropping on a desk, someone's vocal cords being moved in speech, or a violin string being plucked.

The frequency of a wave (expressed as cycles per second) that applies to the EM spectrum also applies to music (a subset of sound). The pitch of a note depends on its cycles per second. A lower frequency, or an oscillation rate of fewer CPS, is slower-moving and produces a lower tone. A higher frequency, or an oscillation rate of more CPS, is faster-moving and produces a higher tone.

The feature of cycles per second can be more easily understood and perceived with music than with random sound (noise). Noise – as well as some harsh electronic music – is comprised of disorganized waveforms. This disorganization manifests acoustically as indistinct, muddy pitches. Music, on the other hand, is comprised of organized waveforms. This organization manifests acoustically as distinct, discernible pitches. The difference between music and noise can be seen on an oscilloscope – a testing device that shows visually what we hear acoustically – with real-time pictures of wave forms (Figure 3). Noise, or random sound, on the oscilloscope appears as irregular wave forms, while music or pure tones appear as regular wave forms. In Figure 3, in the examples of music, all the instruments are playing the same note.

For most people, the acoustic and the visual correlate: music is more pleasing than noise to the ear, and regular waveforms are more pleasing than irregular waveforms to the eye.

Figure 3: Comparing Music and Noise Wave Forms on an Oscilloscope

The wave forms of music on an oscilloscope show organization, with obvious patterns. The wave forms of noise on an oscilloscope show disorganization, with no discernable pattern.

Music – Symmetry
1. Tuning fork. Very pure sound; prongs vibrate regularly.
2. Violin. Bright sound, angular waveform. Same pitch as tuning fork: peaks of the waves are the same distance apart and pass at same rate as those produced by tuning fork.
3. Flute. Playing same note as first two. Purer sound than that of violin, so its waveform is more rounded.

Noise – Asymmetry
4. Cymbal. Irregular patterns and jagged, random waveforms, no discernible pitch. No regular pattern of peaks and troughs.

Photo courtesy of, and text adapted from, Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia UK

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