Please follow this link to see Dr. Pizzorno’s Editorial Commentary
25 February 2009
Joseph Pizzorno, ND
Editor in Chief at Integrative Medicine
Dear Dr. Pizzorno:
I have been a subscriber to IMCJ since its inception. I am most impressed by the fact that your publication has done so much to bring our many alternative methods into a more favorable light with conventional medicine.
Our Occidental Institute was initially founded in 1972 and has been dedicated to bringing reliable, yet practical, information concerning alternative (or your so called “fringe”) methods to English speaking practitioners worldwide. We are a Canadian based non-profit research organization whose purpose and mission is to find those alternative methods that work – those that don’t – and then inform our international membership.
I read your recent editorial entitled “How Should We Deal With Fringe Theories and Therapies?” initially with great interest and then with growing concern and finally with a great deal of frustration.
As you mentioned, Electro-Acupuncture according to Voll (or EAV) has been an accepted and effective diagnostic approach since the mid-1950’s.
I find it interesting that you based your comments and opinion about EAV on a Google search and an article in the highly reliable(??) source Wikipedia. Perhaps a search of published medical and other related journals, or even some of the text or technical books would have provided you with a more in depth understanding of the method. In spite of volumes of information published on this particular method, your comments seem to be out of touch with the method’s proven capabilities.
In the same breath as you talk about EAV, you immediately start lumping in a whole bunch of other abbreviated initials – most of which have absolutely nothing to do with EAV. If you meant to talk about the topic of point and medication testing then I could understand some of your inclusions here, but a clearer understanding of the methods that you so casually group in with EAV is needed here. Here are some brief descriptions of the alphabet soup you incorporated with the work of Dr. Voll:
EAV: This is specifically the work of Reinhold Voll, MD. This is a method which measures acupuncture points using a specific type of brass electrodes to determine a disease pattern and then which medications (usually homeopathic) will reverse or correct that pattern. There are many publications that describe the method in general, the specifics of the measurement techniques, the technical requirements for the devices, and so on. There are many studies (including blind, double blind – and maybe even some with blind doctors) available proving the abilities and capabilities of the method. In English try such journals as the American Journal of Acupuncture. There are nearly sixty years of journal articles, studies, books and publications in German.
EDS: This usually refers to an American “version” of Dr. Voll’s method. In our experience and research many of the American made devices stating they will do this type of measurement seldom fully meet the published parameters and standards of the industry. In some cases, the devices are exactly as you termed them: “black boxes”, with no basis in reality, electronics or science. I include in this the so called remedy software comprised of radionic words or rates. Although these methods do work well for some practitioners (those that are very sensitive – or who believe), it does not work for all.
BFD: Differing from EAV, this method was also developed in Germany. The letters stand for Bioelectronic Functions Diagnosis. Fewer points are measured, silver plated electrodes are used and patient examinations can be completed more quickly. This method utilizes a stress type of measurement and was in essence a transitional method between EAV and the more popular VEGA method. Fewer practitioners still utilize this method. Results are similar to EAV although not as detailed. Thus, there are few if any clinical studies concerning this method.
BRT: BioResonance Therapy – please note the last word. This is a therapy – not EAV, not diagnostics and not point measurement. Rather it is therapy using the patient’s own information/oscillations which are filtered into pathological or physiological information, processed with amplification, inversion, etc. and then sent back to the patient as their therapy – and yes, there are multiple studies from respected researchers available. Although many of the BioResonance devices also incorporate a diagnostic portion, these are two entirely different processes.
MSA: This is another “version” of the EAV method. Again, like EDS and because either the equipment or the measurement technique does not usually meet the full standards of EAV, it has been called a slightly different name.
BER: Yet another “version” which does not usually meet the EAV standards.
Here I must add VEGA: Developed in Germany during the late 1970’s this method again uses silver plated electrodes, only one reactive point and relies on proprietary homeopathic test sets to determine the diagnosis and subsequently recommended therapy. This was a development following from the BFD method which has provided a reliable and effective diagnostic tool.
REIF: This is pure radionics – actually the true Reif equipment was the development of radionics. In reality this is a very esoteric approach, and although very popular is not an effective or reliable approach for most practitioners. It has nothing to do with EAV – there is no connection, no relationship and no similarity. EAV is an electronic and scientific method which does not utilize any radionic concepts.
The theory of acupuncture and acupuncture points is based on energy and energy balance or imbalance. We have all seen the traditional acupuncturist taking the pulses, or as some would say “reading the Qi winds as they flow through the meridians”. We all know it works, and we all know that the theoretical concepts are accurate. But now we have EAV, and yes it relies on an “electrical device”. True EAV devices (usually German) are designed and manufactured to exacting standards (and no they are not just a “galvanometer”) and the legitimate ones are also European registered and ISO certified. Dr. Voll was the pioneer who helped to develop a system whereby we can actually measure in a scientific and reproducible manner the energy or Qi that the Chinese have talked about for millennia. Although your µ Amps, 50% and microSiemens figures are somewhat off, they do show a simplified picture of what EAV is doing. However this method is not based on the practitioner’s or the patient’s belief – rather it is based on the accuracy and technical parameters of the devices and the skill of the practitioner. It is instead a matter of science and experience.
As for your statement about “black boxes” you will find me in very strong agreement. There are too many imitation, radionic or “newly developed” pieces of equipment out there on the market that are promoting themselves on the basis of the success of EAV (and recognized BioResonance Therapy) devices. In our opinion it is the imitations and their salesmen who need to be questioned – not the validity of EAV.
Although I applaud your search of the PubMed site as opposed to Google and Wikipedia, I wonder what did you expect to find? As the national library for the US medical system, did you really expect to find information on a German method that is not yet accepted within the conventional sphere in North America? They are still trying to figure out if acupuncture works – after 5,000 years of empirical knowledge. If you are unable to find studies, I can immediately provide you with almost 20 reliable, acceptable studies about EAV on disk. Many more studies are available and many more are currently underway.
Well, God Bless Google! Some 12,000 hits. Yes, “there is clearly substantial patient and practitioner interest”. If we (as patient or practitioner) are to keep abreast of the new and innovative therapy methods of the 21st century, then it behooves us to have a method such as EAV to test and to confirm their efficacy – before we take the remedy.
As for the Qi Gong study it was simply a way to show the effectiveness of EAV testing. Qi Gong has absolutely nothing to do with EAV.
As to your comment about patients “exhibiting a learned response after repeated electrodermal testing” this is ridiculous. Either the device was not working properly to EAV standards or the practitioner doing the tests didn’t know what he was doing. Also, I suppose we should consider that after intermediary therapy the patient was actually improving.
And then there are your suggestions to the practitioners.
- Yes, let us by all means get more studies. The EAV method will be more than verified if the tests are administered in an unbiased manner. Anyone or any organization willing to take on such tests should be encouraged to do so.
In the meantime the patient is not wasting money or time and certainly is still receiving appropriate therapy for their problems – scare mongering unneccessary.
- EAV has already been proven effective. What is not proven is all of the imitation instrumentation hawked by unethical salesmen in an effort to cash in on the bandwagon of this truly amazing method. Better advice here is that the practitioner be sure to obtain quality, reliable devices and not get flimflammed with “black box technology”.
- For beginners in EAV, yes of course they should use all methods available to confirm their findings. For qualified and experienced EAV practitioners such additional testing is often unnecessary and thus reduces the cost and invasiveness of the standard tests for their patients.
I can assure you that EAV is a valid diagnostic tool. It is not a therapy although it can be used to guide the practitioner in deciding which therapies will be most effective.
As for chastising Dr. Barret at Quackwatch, let us not play the “kettle calling the pot black”. Your diatribe here about EAV is at best misplaced and at worst misinformed.
But semantics aside – and after all these words – I will try to make my point. We have enough trouble in the field of integrative /biological /natural /functional /alternative/ wholistic/ or, whatever term you choose/ medicine without internally trying to discredit and criticize each other.
You are a well known, respected and outspoken leader in this field, Dr. Pizzorno. As a founding director of Occidental Institute I am also a long time proponent of utilizing proven alternative methods that will help our patients. What would be more useful to our alternative practitioners is a clearer picture of which methods work rather than a blanket statement that none of them work. Instead of using a Quackwatch-style approach of trying to discredit the doctors and scientists like Dr. Voll who have brought us insights before we are ready to understand them, please let us try to be more accurate in our editorials.
For you and me as leaders in this field, it is our job and our responsibility to promote those alternative health care methods that work and bring them into good repute and acceptance. It is our job and our responsibility to ensure that we promote those methods and critique the ones which do not work. By creating dissension, disrespect and controversy within our own ranks we do more damage to our field than anything Quackwatch or conventional medicine can say.
I am disappointed, Dr. Pizzorno. To dismiss EAV and the work of Dr. Voll (and the thousands of practitioners around the world using this method) because you cannot find clinical studies on Google or PubMed, is just not right. To use your own opening words, “we should be judged by what we are rather than by what we aren’t”. Perhaps your friend and colleague is so successful in his practice because of EAV and not in spite of it.
And yes, I too love my work. We are both blessed to be able to work in a field that helps so many people and at the same time brings us personal challenge and joy!
Respectfully . . .
Carolyn L. Winsor-Sturm
Occidental Institute Research Foundation
Penticton, B.C. CANADA