Cybermed Update May 2005
Electrostatic Therapy - Electropathy
The above advertisments are not endorsed by the author
- Orthodox medicine has not found an answer to your complaint.
- However, luckily for you, I happen to be a quack.
Definition: Electropathy - The treatment of disease by electricity.
Why my sudden interest in electropathy? Recently there has been considerable interest by consumers in electro-static therapy or something similar using electricity. Free treatment signs for anyone and everyone from children to adults and the elderly are up at major department stores/outlets and consumers are shuttling great distances just to get this treatment at "less crowded" sites! Many branches have been opened and more are planned.
The pamphlet that I have claims, "Blood Cleansing, Improve Immune System, Regulate Involuntary Nervous System." Helps in Heart Disease, Diabetes, Asthma, Osteoporosis, High or Low Blood Pressure, Stroke, Constipation, Insomnia, Rheumatism, and to top it all Prevention of Chronic Diseases. My favourite is its ability to help autoregulate blood pressure. Give me a break!
A device that can do all that and has been around for many years in Japan! Wonder why only now we poor souls were considered to share in this great therapy! Not to mention names, but a lot of people who I know have been singing praises. You know you do this for 20 minutes a day and your urine will be clear and all aches and pains will disappear. The "man" or "lady" informs that you must also exercise and take your medication regularly and drink a lot of water. Wait! Isn't that what all we doctors have been saying all the while...exercise, take your medication regularly and drink water.
Lets look at it objectively, if one takes his/her medication regularly, exercise and is well hydrated will it not help manage whatever disease he or she is having. In addition when you are well hydrated, will not your urine be clear?
The catch is, if more and more people queue for this treatment, there will be a greater number wanting to buy this device. The cost? Around Rm 17,000! You may also get a discount!
Cyberdoc...checks the internet and this is what I find.
- Singapore Young PAP Discussion Forum: A posting (May 1, 2005) quotes, " SINGAPORE : More than 10,000 senior citizens in the heartlands have been getting free electrostatic current treatment for their various health problems over the last two-and-a-half years. But it is not any voluntary welfare organisation that is offering this service, but a business corporation. Is there a catch?
For 74-year-old Li Feng Qing, she goes for therapy there daily at 7am. But some are sceptical. A lady said: "I have tried the therapy seven or eight times but I feel no effect at all. Maybe the other elderly are coming here for psychological reasons." While getting a buzz in the electro-static treatment in a room, they listen to a staff member who gives tips on healthy living, and the benefits of the product. The machines are priced at some $12,000 each. (Singapore dollars) They are said to create a 9,000 volt electric field, and when channelled into the body through the chair mats, is said to help raise one's metabolism rate and improve the immune system.
But does it really work?
Another lady said: "I have only been using this for less than two months and I see results. I no longer suffer from headaches and dizziness, or aches at my elbows and legs." Kent Tay, Managing Director of COSMO Healthcare, said: "We have a lot of certificates, the ISO certificate as well as the Singapore safety authority certificate, these are all original copies that we have got. "Basically this machine is for external usage and they have gone through 28 years in Japan, till today they are promoting this technology."
But most doctors think otherwise.
Dr Low Lip Ping, Chairman of the Singapore Heart Foundation, said: "There is no scientific evidence that there is any benefit from electrostatic therapy. "The benefit is largely psychological, there is the well known-placebo effect. For example, you give somebody placebo, in other words medication that has no effect to the person, and his blood pressure can decrease to some extent."
Cosmo Health runs six outlets and serves over 1,400 people everyday.
And while it won't say how much was spent on the rental and operation costs, it did disclose that the money comes from an advertising and promotion budget. They hope the thousands of elderly served will pass the word around to their own doctors about the product.
A check with the rental market showed the company could be paying some $24,000 in rent each month. But with local hospitals not having any plans to purchase the product any time soon, just how does Cosmo Health survive?
The company said it did not matter as they are doing it as a community service.
Read further down for other comments in the forum.
- Museum of Questionable Medical Devices : Electropathy - When electricity was new, people had high hopes that it had curative powers. Unlike other "magical" cures, electricity could be felt. Electropathy, very popular from 1850-1900, promised to cure most diseases and conditions including mental illness. The patient held a metal cylinder, a hand electrode, while the healer applied a second electrode to the ailing body part. Electrode attachments were manufactured in a variety of shapes. The electrodes connected to an electrical source such as a magneto, chemical battery or battery box.
Its not new...it has been around for many years. It can be felt therefore it works!
- Collect Medical Antiques : Electrostatic Generator See pictures of the electrostatic generator in use from "Practical Electro-Therapeutics" (1908), by Franklin Gottschalk, MD.
- American Artifacts :
- Galvanic Spectacles Electricity in Medicine, Part 1. Judah Moses, of Hartford, CT, received the first U.S. patent for "galvanic spectacles" in 1868. The next patent for electromagnetic spectacles was granted to John Leighton, of Scotland, in 1888. Four patents were granted in 1889, and 5 more through 1901. Most of these spectacles relied on a small zinc and copper plate to generate the tiny current desired. This current was delivered to the wearer at the bridge or nosepieces, where it was thought to reach the optic nerves.
The medical benefit of applying an electric current to the optic nerve was usually not specified in these patents, however, strengthening eyesight and allowing the user to read for a longer time were claimed in Smith and Martin's patent in 1889. Of the 11 patents, only one claimed a different purpose than treating the eye. Herman Welker's 1889 patent for electric eyeglasses claimed only to prevent nasal congestion from the common cold.
- Electric Dumbbells Electricity in Medicine, Part 2. McGinnis applied for the first patent for an electric dumb-bell . The dumb-bell, made of non-conducting gutta percha, contained a bisuphate of mercury battery and an induction coil. He states in his patent, The object of my invention is to admit of the generation and transmission of a gentle electrical current through the muscles and tissues of the body, simultaneously with their exercise, as they are brought into play by the use of appliances adapted for the purpose.
- From Quackery to Bacteriology: The Emergence of Modern Medicine in 19th Century America : Electropathy, which came in vogue in the second half of the 19th century. Electricity was believed to have magical properties and, as demonstrated by lightning, was powerful. Proponents such as S. R. Wells believed the body operated like a large magnet with positive and negative charges. If electricity was applied to the areas where these charges were out of balance, the patient would be cured. Electricity was particularly useful in treating "nervous diseases" (mental illness) since there were no known scientific cures. Resourceful entrepreneurs soon began producing electrical garments and products, including corsets, belts, and hairbrushes (advertised as a cure for hair loss).
FDA site on "How to spot health fraud" is worth checking. Their advice, "The underlying rule when deciding whether a product is authentic or not is to ask yourself: "Does it sound too good to be true?" If it does, it probably isn't true.
Tip-Offs to Rip-Offs
One Product Does It All
" ... extremely beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis ... infections ... prostate problems, ulcers ... cancer, heart trouble, hardening of the arteries, diabetes and more. ... "
"completely eliminating the gangrene ...
"... antibiotic, pain reliever ... ."
Be suspicious of products that claim to cure a wide range of unrelated diseases--particularly serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. No product can treat every disease and condition, and for many serious diseases, there are no cures, only therapies to help manage them.
Cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other serious diseases are big draws because people with these diseases are often desperate for a cure and willing to try just about anything.
"Alzheimer's Disease!!! My husband has Alzheimer. On September 2, 1998 he began eating 1 teaspoon full of ... Pure Emu Oil each day. ... Now (in just 22 days) he mowed the grass, cleaned out the garage, weeded the flower beds, and we take our morning walk again. It hasn't helped his memory much yet, but he is more like himself again!!!"
Personal testimonies can tip you off to health fraud because they are difficult to prove. Often, says Reynaldo Rodriguez, a compliance officer and health fraud coordinator for FDA's Dallas district office, testimonials are personal case histories that have been passed on from person to person. Or, the testimony can be completely made up.
"This is the weakest form of scientific validity," Rodriguez says. "It's just compounded hearsay."
Some patients' favorable experiences with a fraudulent product may be due more to a remission in their disease or from earlier or concurrent use of approved medical treatments, rather than use of the fraudulent product itself.
"... eliminates skin cancer in days! ..."
Be wary of talk that suggests a product can bring quick relief or provide a quick cure, especially if the disease or condition is serious. Even with proven treatments, few diseases can be treated quickly. Note also that the words "in days" can really refer to any length of time. Fraud promoters like to use ambiguous language like this to make it easier to finagle their way out of any legal action that may result.
"Healthy, simple and natural-way to help you lose and control your weight."
Don't be fooled by the term "natural." It's often used in health fraud as an attention-grabber; it suggests a product is safer than conventional treatments. But the term doesn't necessarily equate to safety because some plants--for example, poisonous mushrooms--can kill when ingested. And among legitimate drug products, says Shelly Maifarth, a compliance officer and health fraud coordinator for FDA's Denver district office, 60 percent of over-the-counter drugs and 25 percent of prescription drugs are based on natural ingredients.
And, any product--synthetic or natural--potent enough to work like a drug is going to be potent enough to cause side effects.
Time-Tested or New-Found Treatment
"This revolutionary innovation is formulated by using proven principles of natural health based upon 200 years of medical science."
Usually it's one or the other, but this claim manages to suggest it's both a breakthrough and a decades-old remedy.
Claims of an "innovation," "miracle cure," "exclusive product," or "new discovery" or "magical" are highly suspect. If a product was a cure for a serious disease, it would be widely reported in the media and regularly prescribed by health professionals--not hidden in an obscure magazine or newspaper ad, late-night television show, or Website promotion, where the marketers are of unknown, questionable or nonscientific backgrounds.
The same applies to products purported to be "ancient remedies" or based on "folklore" or "tradition." These claims suggest that these products' longevity proves they are safe and effective. But some herbs reportedly used in ancient times for medicinal purposes carry risks identified only recently.
"... Guarantee: If after 30 days ... you have not lost at least 4 pounds each week, ... your uncashed check will be returned to you ... ."
Here's another red flag: money-back guarantees, no questions asked.
Good luck getting your money back. Marketers of fraudulent products rarely stay in the same place for long. Because customers won't be able to find them, the marketers can afford to be generous with their guarantees.
Promises of Easy Weight Loss
"Finally, rapid weight loss without dieting!"
For most people, there is only one way to lose weight: Eat less food (or fewer high-calorie foods) and increase activity.
Note the ambiguity of the term "rapid." A reasonable and healthy weight loss is about 1 to 2 pounds a week.
"Drug companies make it nearly impossible for doctors to resist prescribing their expensive pills for what ails you ... ."
"It seems these billion dollar drug giants all have one relentless competitor in common they all constantly fear--natural remedies."
These claims suggest that health-care providers and legitimate manufacturers are in cahoots with each other, promoting only the drug companies' and medical device manufacturers' products for financial gain. The claims also suggest that the medical profession and legitimate drug and device makers strive to suppress unorthodox products because they threaten their financial standing.
"This [accusation] is an easy way to get consumers' attention," says Marjorie Powell, assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "But I would ask the marketers of such claims, 'Where's the evidence?' It would seem to me that in this country, outside of a regulatory agency it would be difficult to stop someone from making a claim."
Think about this, too: Would the vast number of people in the health-care field block treatments that could help millions of sick, suffering patients, many of whom could be family and friends? "It flies in the face of logic," Barrett says on his Quackwatch Website.
Meaningless Medical Jargon
"... Hunger Stimulation Point (HSP) ..."
"... thermogenesis, which converts stored fats into soluble lipids ..."
"One of the many natural ingredients is inolitol hexanicontinate."
Terms and scientific explanations such as these may sound impressive and may have an element of truth to them, but the public "has no way of discerning fact from fiction," Aronson says. Fanciful terms, he says, generally cover up a lack of scientific proof.
Sometimes, the terms or explanations are lifted from a study published in a reputable scientific journal, even though the study was on another subject altogether, says Martin Katz, a compliance officer and health fraud coordinator for FDA's Florida district office. And chances are, few people will check the original published study.
"Most people who are taken in by health fraud will grasp at anything," he says. "They're not going to do the research. They're looking for a miracle."
In Malaysia, where do we go? Ask your health practitioner, or ask the Malaysian Medical Association or relevant Medical Association.
The Global Harmonization Task Force (GHTF) was conceived in 1992 in an effort to respond to the growing need for international harmonization in the regulation of medical devices. In Malaysia, the medical device act has been planned for the 7th Malaysian Plan. Recently, the Minister of Health, Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek had mentioned, "From 2007, all medical devices produced and brought into Malaysia must be registered and certified by the Health Ministry under a law introduced to regulate such equipment."(Star Online April 19 and April 20.)
Meanwhile, I strongly urge the MOH and MMA to advice the public on the use of such devices where they make medical claims.
So do I say that the device is a fake? Well lets apply the FDA guidelines. First, it sounds too good to be true. Second, it seems that this one product does it all. This two points by itself says enough. There are others down the list that it also meets. I echo the sentiments made by Dr Low Lip Ping, Chairman of the Singapore Heart Foundation, that it is a placebo effect. My main concern is the safety aspect. Most of all it should do no harm. No harm by itself and no harm by giving a false sense of security to patients in making them stop their medication. If the device claims medical properties or claims, it must than be measured by the same yard stick for scientific credibility. Evidence based medicine has to be applied. Double-blind, placebo controlled studies will clear all doubts as did in the case of Perkins tractors. John Haygarth was one of the first to do a placebo controlled trial on the claims made by Perkins tractors. It was shown that it does not work. (Haygarth J. Of the imagination, as a cause and as a cure of disorders of the body: exemplified by fictitious tractors, and epidemical convulsions. Bath: R. Crutwell, 1800). When medical claims are made is not simply just proof of efficacy but most important proof that it is safe in humans- both short term and long term. The quotation by Richter cartoon caption, says it all for this device except currently there are available medical treatment for most diseases. Lets hope common sense prevail.
Dr Muruga Vadivale a.k.a "Cyberdoc"
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