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theratest machine

In September 1999 the NSW [New South Wales] Health Care Complaints Commission’s review of its Final Report into the Listen and similar Interro machines (and by implication similar skin sensing devices like Mora, Vega, Theratest, Dermatrons) found: “the Listen had no scientific basis - defies any logical rationale - is totally useless in diagnosing any health problem”. These findings were not made public. --Cheryl Freeman, Skeptic, Spring 2001

theratest machine

According to John Goodwin, who says he uses a theratest machine in his work as an "Isopathic Practitioner," this device is "a highly sophisticated bio-electrical machine that functions by measuring minute electrical impulses that travel throughout the body meridians via the acupuncture points found on the skin surface."* Goodwin says the theratest machine can detect toxins in the body by measuring the aura or energy field of the toxins. (He then develops homeopathic remedies from the toxins and promises to completely detoxify anyone who comes to him for treatment.*) Goodwin believes that poisons, bacteria, and viruses emit specific auras detectable by the theratest machine. I don't know if I would trust Goodwin about energies and auras, however. He thinks auras are created by the life force in any living thing and says "In medical science they can pick up the subtle energy within the body on a cardiograph or brain graph." No, Mr. Goodwin, that's not true. Scientists gave up the belief in a life force, known as vitalism, over a century ago. The electrical impulses measured by an electrocardiogram are the result of chemical and physical activities in the heart. An electroencephalogram measures and records the electrical activity of your brain. My guess is that Mr. Goodwin and others who use the theratest machine are measuring electrical activity at the surface of the body (hands and feet are where these folks say they do their measuring of the life force). In short, the machine is essentially a galvanometer used inappropriately as a medical device. One might as well use a dowsing rod or a crystal attached to a car battery.

Anyway, here is what another user of the theratest machine, Michelle Glassbrook (a naturopath in Queensland, Australia), has to say about it:

Thousands of years ago, it was discovered that energy travels in lines along the human body, and modern technological methods using electronics, thermography and radioactivity, have actually been able to measure and map these lines. Along these lines are various points which have unique electrical characteristics which distinguish them from the surrounding skin.

It is onto these very specific electromagnetic points on your hands and feet that I place the electrode of the Theratest Machine and am thereby able to determine the state of various organs e.g. the liver, heart, lungs, stomach etc in your body. A point which requires treatment is often tender and has a low electrical resistance.

This method of diagnosis is very accurate and I am able to use the energy reading that the machine gives to discuss genetic influences, organs that are energetically low and can often predict an illness before it actually occurs.

I don't know where Glassbrook and Goodwin studied, but it wasn't at the University of California. The true history of science reveals that scientists do not accept the idea of subtle energy or life force traveling in lines (meridians) in bodies. Our modern instruments measure electrical energy, not life forces. You will learn nothing of value about the health of internal organs by measuring galvanic responses on hands and feet. In short, the theratest machine is one in a long line of pseudoscientific devices invented by quacks promoting various forms of energy medicine. Foremost among these charlatans was Dr. Albert Abrams (1863-1924), Albert Abrams known affectionately as the "dean of twentieth century charlatans."*

Abrams called his healing method radionics and claimed that he was able to detect distinct energies or vibrations (radiation) being emitted from healthy and diseased tissue in all living things. He invented devices that allegedly could measure this energy (vibration, radiation) and he created a system for evaluating vibrations as signs of health or disease. Despite the fact that there is no history of scientific validation for the claims that sick organs give off particular vibrations, radiation, auras, or the like, or that any device can both measure and heal by detecting and emitting vibrations, electrical impulses, radiation, etc., belief in energy medicine continues to flourish.

Another Australian naturopath who uses the theratest machine in her practice says Hans Kupka from Germany introduced the Theratest Diagnostic machine to Australians in 1981 for use in allergy testing and "de-sensitising." A clipping from The Sydney Morning Herald shows naturopath Hans-Joachim Kupka demonstrating a computer program he connected to a theratest machine that supposedly told the user what homeopathic remedy was called for. He is cited as saying the machine could be modified to test for antibiotics and that it had been in use in Germany for 28 years. Kupka makes no mention of who invented it, however. It is possible that Kupka was Reinhold Vollreferring to a machine invented by Reinhold Voll (1909–1989), a German medical doctor who developed an electronic testing device for finding acupuncture points electrically. One website on the history of quack medical devices says that in 1953 Voll "researched and developed a systematic approach for evaluating the body through skin resistance measurements." He created a cumbersome and complicated device for "the world’s first EDS (Electro-Dermal Screening) system." These machines go by many descriptions and names (my favorite is Meridian Stress Assessment). One of the more popular designations is EAV (electroacupuncture according to Voll). Dr. Steven Barrett also has a history of quack "electrodiagnostic" devices and he says:

The first EAV devices were developed by Reinhold Voll, a West German physician who had been engaged in acupuncture practice in the 1950s. In 1958, he combined Chinese acupuncture theory with galvanic skin differentials to produce his EAV system. His first transistorized model was the Dermatron. A few years later, one of his students (another German physician named Helmut Schimmel) simplified the diagnostic system from approximately 850 points to 60 points, made small modifications to the equipment, and went on to help create the first model of the Vegatest. Subsequent variants include the Accupath 1000, AcuGraph, Asyra, Avatar, BICOM, Bio-Tron, Biomeridian, Computron, CSA 2001, Diacom, DiagnoMètre, Eclosion, e-Lybra 8, ELAST, Interro, Interactive Query System (IQS), I-Tronic, Kindling, LISTEN System, MORA, Matrix Physique System, Meridian Energy Analysis Device (MEAD, MSAS, Oberon, Omega Acubase, Omega Vision, Orion System, Phazx, Prognos, Prophyle, Punctos III, SpectraVision, Syncrometer, Vantage, Victor-Vitalpunkt Diagnose, Vistron, Vitel 618, and ZYTO.

Scientific testing of these devices is never done by the practitioners who use them. They take it on faith, I guess, that the machines work as marketed. Anyway, a group of British researchers tested one such device--at the time (2001) there were more than 500 such machines in use in the UK--and found it worthless for detecting allergies. This should have come as no surprise since the machines are just fancy galvanometers hooked up to software programs that spit out diagnoses and treatments on par with machine-generated fortune cookie and newspaper astrological readings. This would be funny if it weren't so dangerous.

See also energy medicine, radionics, and vibrational medicine.

further reading

Listen to My Story - Cheryl Freeman exposes more dangerous devices masquerading as medical diagnostic and treatment instruments "In 1996 I became filled with horror at the thought that an unborn baby in Australia could become infected with HIV as a result of fake electronic HIV tests conducted on its parents....My story began in 1985 when I finally gave in after a year of a friend’s pestering and visited a naturopath who tested me with his self-invented saliva testing 'diagnostic computer.' He called this 'bio-energy medicine' and announced that I was suffering from 'diabetes, tuberculosis, virus, bacteria and fungal infections and malfunctions of bodily organs, plus a host of other conditions.' Other alternative practitioners confirmed his cancer diagnoses and ‘cures’. From 1986 I became aware of a qualified naturopath using this therapist’s machine who was also diagnosing infections including malaria, toxoplasmosis, cancer, faulty heart valves and blood clots..."

Quack "Electrodiagnostic" Devices - Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 1

Unproven techniques in allergy diagnosis by B. Wüthrich

Controversial and Unproven Tests in the Diagnosis of Allergies Alternative Medicine in the Testing for Allergies - By Daniel More, MD

Unorthodox Techniques for the Diagnosis and Treatment of allergy, Asthma and Immune Disorders -- ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) Position Statement Use of unproven allergy tests is common in Australia and New Zealand. Despite advances in scientific knowledge about allergic disorders, 50-70 per cent of patients with allergic disease consult alternative practitioners yearly for diagnosis and treatment.

"Why Bogus Therapies Often Seem to Work" by Barry L. Beyerstein, Ph.D.

Miracle Machines: 21st century snake oil

Spread of illegal devices causes alarm

Public never warned about dangerous device

pseudoscientific energy healing devices and their absurd claims

ADR Energy Stimulators "Placing the disc directly over a part of your body affected by disease or, the corresponding acupuncture points, brings relief and promotes healing processes....[the disc is] a neutralizer of the untoward influence of electromagnetic fields on living organisms."

Advance Bio-Photon Analyzer "An advanced subtle energy instrument that...can make a self-tuned, custom isopathic remedy in less than 40 seconds...."

  • Allows anyone to transmit energy patterns and solutions and to achieve effective "remote sessions" either by itself or with Rife, Clark, and other modalities
  • Helps to reduce the stress on your body’s energetic system
  • Neutralize stressful energetic residue that may be contaminating your foods
  • Antidote and neutralize the energetic effects of chemicals and toxins in household products that may be weakening your body (such as household cleaning products)
  • Neutralize harmful energies in your living area and land, including sick buildings, water and soil, greenhouses, farms, and agricultural applications
  • A helpful tool for Feng Shui practitioners
  • The most essential instrument for Energy Science professionals

Baar Wet Cell Battery System "The Baar Wet Cell Battery System is designed to help enhance the body's natural healing tendencies. The unit generates a very, very low electrical flow in the body. Passing this current through various solutions enhances the benefits of the Baar Wet Cell Battery system. This system is said to tap into the healing current vibrational medicine researchers are discovering." It is also said to be pseudoscientific nonsense.

According to inventor, naturopath Bruce Barr: "Vibrational solutions such as Gold, Silver, Camphor, etc. are purchased separately and will be determined by the information you are researching. If more than one solution (gold, silver, etc.) is indicated, then purchase an Additional Solution Jar Set (#141) for each. The system must be replenished with new chemicals every 30 days."* The expression "vibrational solution" is medical nonsense. According to Brian Dunning:

The use of a wet cell battery in New Age healing is the invention of Edgar Cayce, an early American celebrity psychic from the early 20th century. Cayce was best known for giving psychic readings on the sick, and developed a following of believers in psychic healing which still persists to this day. Virginia's Association for Research and Enlightenment, which claims tens of thousands of members, still promotes spiritual and psychic healing through methods developed by Cayce. One of these is the use of a wet cell battery. To use it, you mix chemicals in a bucket to create a weak battery. Next you mix the special "medicines", gold, silver, spirits, or iodine, in a secondary jar. [Barr sells solutions of gold, camphor, iodine, silver, iron and something he calls "GoldenSeal." ] A wire loops through these "medicines" and you apply the electrodes to your spine. You're supposed to do this for 30 minutes a day, and Cayce said months to years of daily application is required to get results. The claimed mechanism is "to introduce energy and medicinal vibrations directly into the body". There is no hypothesis behind the device suggesting how or why it might be useful.

You can generally smell a quack by his disclaimer. Barr, for example, offers what he calls the Barr Wet Cell Multiple Sclerosis Research Kit for about $500. The buyer is warned: "This system is offered for those researching the Edgar Cayce readings that reference "M.S." We offer this system for personal research only and do not make medical claims for its application. This system is not intended to replace qualified medical care" (emphasis added).

The Dynamizer. This was the invention of Dr. Albert Abrams (1863-1924), the "dean of twentieth century charlatans"* and the founder of radionics, the granddaddy of modern vibrational and subtle energy notions. The Dynamizer allegedly could transmit healthy vibrations to sick tissue or organs, thereby restoring them to a healthy state.

The Grail Stone. "The grail stone has been gifted to mankind by the higher forces of the universe to assist in his spiritual transformation and awakening..." Aren't we the lucky ones!

The Harmonizer will help "to retune those weaken [sic] disharmonious areas of the body commonly found over sites of illnesses." And pigs can fly.

PAP-IMI (Pap-Ion Magnetic Inductor) by William Nelson.The device pulses the body with electromagnetic waves that allegedly repair damaged cells. How it is supposed to do this is anybody's guess.

Rife Frequency Generator

... one of [Albert] Abrams's many imitators was Royal Raymond Rife (1888-1971), an American who claimed that cancer was caused by bacteria. During the 1920s, he claimed to have developed a powerful microscope that could detect living microbes by the color of auras emitted by their vibratory rates. His Rife Frequency Generator allegedly generates radio waves with precisely the same frequency, causing the offending bacteria to shatter in the same manner as a crystal glass breaks in response to the voice of an opera singer. The American Cancer Society has pointed out that although sound waves can produce vibrations that break glass, radio waves at the power level emitted by a Rife generator do not have sufficient energy to destroy bacteria.*

Rife's work lives on in the practice of Diane Spindler (Dr. Spindler to you. She has a Ph.D. in nutrition from the American Holistic College of Nutrition in Birmingham, Alabama!), Renewal Enterprises (The Detox Box - MFG 1000 Micro Bio-Frequency Generator), Hulda Clark (the Zapper), and many others.

Last updated 30-Nov-2014

© Copyright 1994-2016 Robert T. Carroll * This page was designed by Cristian Popa.