TENS Devices and the Politics of Health

TENS Devices and the Politics of Health

By Bob Beck. 1984

Apparently a number of TENS (Transcutaneous Electro Nerve Stimulation) devices like the AccuStim and AccuScope are being used in sports medicine. But they are basically being used to relieve pain. TENS units have been around for about 100 years. When Norm Shealey saw the little device from the barber shop that had an induction coil and a flashlight battery and a handle that you roll up and down your back, he had thought this was a good idea and brought out one of the first transistorized TENS units. By the way, there’s an interesting story. The Stemtech Company was purchased by Johnson & Johnson, I’m sure you’re aware of the litigation that came down. And a few years ago, the president of Stemtech, took Johnson & Johnson, which is one of the largest pill manufacturers in the United States, they make Tylenol, Super Tylenol and what have you—hundreds of other products. They took them to court saying, “you’ve suppressed this technology.” They won. The judge said, “In 30 years on the bench, I have never seen a more flagrant violation of trust” (this was reported in a number of magazine articles.) Johnson & Johnson appealed the 130 million dollar judgment against Johnson & Johnson and lost the appeal. The inventors of the Stemtech which is only one of maybe 20 or 30 TENS units, then got back in motion. The judge pointed out that it wasn’t to the advantage of Johnson & Johnson to have anything to relieve pain if they were in the business of selling Tylenol. So that’s a matter of public record that the drug companies try to suppress this type of technology. That was a pretty big lawsuit—it made a lot of headlines. That’s typical, you see we’re not dealing with a scientific problem with this type of instrumentation, we’re dealing with a socio-political-economic problem. The government on one hand subsidizes the tobacco growers and on the other hand says you have to put a warning on the packages. But the tobacco growers generate so much tax revenue that they’re in this double bind. This thing is a political problem not a scientific one.

The same thing is happening with the new emerging electronic medical devices. Germany has some of the most amazing things, the Mora Unit—you’re familiar with that, the Dermatron. These things do almost psychic diagnostic work. And yet they’re totally outlawed in this country. Andreas has to smuggle these things in—call them agricultural testing devices. Should we charge more money? We’ve had one complaint from a number of professional users. They say “For God’s sake, take that thing and put it in a great, big box, put a lot of dials and bells and whistles and light-emitting diodes and switches on it, all of which would be dummy incidentally, and charge five or six thousand dollars for it. Then people will have faith in it.

And I say “Well that’s criminal.”

But anyway that’s my philosophy. Early Research Studies Okay, the results of this on drug addicts were generated in the US several years before Meg learned about the device in Hong Kong. And the vast literature on this was funded by the Neuro Systems Group in Garland Texas. How many of you have heard of the Executive Monkey study. This work was funded by the people who brought this box out originally in 1970. This is before Dr. Wen had his serendipity, his accidental discovery, with the heroin addicts in Hong Kong. I didn’t realize you could give monkeys ulcers. But what they had done was to aggravate them enough to where they had ulcers and put the device on their acupuncture points. They found that within about three days they had reversed the pH, the acidity, and the monkeys got better—the control group. All of this work had been thoroughly done long before this current era of re-stimulation of interest. The rat studies had been done both in San Francisco and in Hong Kong. The chromatography had been done here in the United States, so it was well controlled. Like electronic medicine, when we were looking at patents, we found a patent in 1893 showing a fellow with electrodes behind his ears. Okay, 1893, before the Harrison Act, some 20 some years before the Harrison Act you could go into any drugstore and buy morphine sulfate. Mothers whose babies cried could buy simple soothing syrup, which was sugar and morphine. She’d give a teaspoon to the baby and the baby wouldn’t cry anymore. There were quite a few addicts. The stuff was legal, there was no control. I mean marijuana was legal. After the Act, a number of people who were trying to get off this had forgotten that around 1890 we had a hell of a lot more addicts in this country. The women who were religious were sipping tonic which was about 200 proof alcohol for their health, taking bitters and what-have-you. In other words, we had about the same addiction level. And this work had been explored about 84 to 85 years ago and then again suppressed by what we feel is the ruling class of the doctors, the pharmacies and the people who want to take your money for making you better. … Fisher, no relation to Jerry, had done this work in 1932 and 1935 and had a number of patents. Remember the Fisher Instrument Company that was making electrical stimulating devices back 40 years or so. Okay, this has been in the literature, they had explored in great depth the wave forms, the frequencies, the application modes and what-have-you.

Bob Beck’s Early Research

There’s a replica of the work I did in 1973. In 1969 I began building ethical biofeedback equipment—EEG Brainwave Amplifiers. I had one foot on each banana peel, I had been a scientist and I am now a kook, so we sort of straddle this chasm. So I have taught biofeedback classes at UCLA, USC, Vilanova University of Hawaii, SMU. And when I was doing this for health professionals, I also had access to the psychic underground. In Hawaii I was able to make brainwave recordings of one of the three living bloodline Polynesian Kahunas. I was able to make brainwave EEG recordings of hexinmeisters like John Ott in Lancaster County—no relation to the fellow who did the work on light and color. I have worked with American Indian medicine men. I’ve worked with Kathryn Coleman before she died. And she let me run a little telemetry test when she was knocking them down at the Shrine Auditorium. We found almost invariably that when they were in their working state—which was only a few seconds—you’re here you get the information you come back, you can talk about it for hours. It’s a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. They were showing about a 7.83 hertz, almost pure coherent maybe 20 microvolt signal frontal to occipital midline. That’s between F1 and F2 in the standard nomenclature system to halfway between 01 and 02 if you’re an encephalographer. In other words the third eye … which shows whole brain alpha. Over and over again we found these frequencies in people with remarkable talents—healers, radionics operators, dowsers, shamans, witch doctors, mystics, golden don, priests and priestesses—if they were authentic. One of our early cases was, well I’d better not mention the person’s name, and it’s a world famous name. But at any rate I was intrigued enough to want to discover the common denominator, yet none of these persons would speak to the others. Kathryn Coleman thought it was the blood of the lamb that Christ had died for your sins and that’s the only way to go and some of the American Indian medicine men thought it was in the sacred cornmeal, the gourds and the feathers. Marnis and Leona had certain stones that were the dwelling place of the ancestral spirits.

Well, Kathryn would think that was heathen and Marnis would absolutely laugh at a fellow in a barn in Lancaster County wearing a black hat between midnight and dawn drawing these hexan signals to bless the barns. So after we’d seen it enough times, I developed very sensitive magnetometers, which I sell to the government for anti-submarine warfare, that would detect this earth ionosphere cavity resonance. And in a few cases—not enough to make a solid scientific case, but enough to be extremely interesting anecdotally—we found that there was phase-lock … frequency, amplitude, etc. between that person’s EEG signature and the earth’s brainwave itself. Now this was heresy, when I reported on it in 1973 and then did a more formal paper in 1977. We’d rather you learn to enter altered states through EEG biofeedback instead of having it done to you. I teach classes back east occasionally, where they have a number of people who get into this state very rapidly.