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Source: A Newly Discovered System Of Electrical Medication
For healing wounds, burns, ulcers, irritation of mucous membranes, and
cutaneous eruptions, the A D current is by far the best. Recent
wounds, contusions and burns are electrically positive. Old ulcers and
irritations are generally negative.
To make a correct diagnosis, it is needful to bear in mind the following
1. Where the organism is in health, the momentary application to the
patient of the negative pole of the double Faradaic current B D--the
best for diagnostic use--in good medium strength,[D] will be directly
felt, yet will cause no pain. Whatever muscular contractions may be
produced for the time, they are harmless, and need not be noticed.
Wherever the electro-vital fluid is in excess, producing
hypersthenia--too much vital action--the part is morbidly positive;
and, excepting sometimes in the stomach and bowels, the B D current, of
medium force, directed to that part under the negative pole, will
produce sharp pain. But where a current of full medium strength can
not be felt under the negative pole, there is a morbidly negative
state--a deficiency of vital action--a condition of at least partial
2. In a state of health, different persons will have different degrees
of sensibility to the electric current, depending on their varied
nervous susceptibility. Again, the same person will be much less
sensitive to the current when directed to the spine, particularly the
lower part of it, and to the stomach, than when directed to most other
parts. Also, where bones lie near the surface, the periosteum--the
membrane immediately investing the bone--is apt to feel more sensibly
under the electrodes than the muscular parts. But these variations soon
become so familiar to the practitioner that he finds no difficulty in
making the proper allowances for them.
In making an electrical examination, the two following questions present
themselves to be answered: First, whether anywhere, and, if so, where is
there a morbid electrical state in the body of this patient? Second,
what is the electrical condition of that unhealthy part? Is it
positive or negative?
These questions being answered, according to the tests just given, the
well-instructed practitioner is prepared to go on and treat the patient
judiciously, and with success, if success be attainable by any form of
Let me next say, It is best, as a general rule, to make examinations
with the negative pole. The reason of this is that, since the current
is always more energetic under the negative than under the positive
pole, it makes itself more sensibly felt there than under the
positive pole. Indeed, it will commonly be felt even to painfulness
there, if the part were overcharged and inflamed before. Thus, under the
negative electrode, the current readily detects any active disease. But,
if we be making the examination with the positive pole, as we come
upon any point more or less inflamed, the current, quick as lightning,
rushes away from such inflamed part to the part under the stationary
negative pole, carrying with it, for the time being, more or less of
that excess of electro-vital fluid which was in force at the inflamed
point; so that no pain, perhaps, is experienced there; and thus the
disease escapes detection.
I am aware that it has been said by some of our practitioners, with, if
I rightly remember, the able discoverer of the grand practical
principles of our system, Prof. C. H. Bolles, at their head, that it is
not quite prudent to use the negative pole in hand for diagnosis, lest
we possibly contract the disease from the patient; since, in that case,
the current runs from the patient to the practitioner. They think it
safer to use the positive pole in hand; so letting the current run from
the practitioner to the patient. There is force in this consideration,
without doubt, where the patient is affected with a poisonous or
malignant disease. And where any thing of this nature is apprehended, I
would never examine with the negative pole in hand. But these cases are
commonly so manifest, or so easily determined by colloquial inquiry,
that examination with the electric current is rarely if ever necessary.
And when the disease is plainly not of a poisonous or infectious nature,
I do not think there is any danger to be apprehended from the cause
stated. I therefore prefer, as a general rule, to examine with the
negative pole; and for the reason given above.
The temperature of the room and the adjustment of apparel should be the
same as for treatment. To prevent improper chilliness, the room ought to
be of such temperature that clothing is not required for bodily
comfort--say, from 70 to 80 degrees, Fahrenheit. Seat the patient on a
stool or chair, (a stool is most convenient), and yourself at his side,
with your machine, ready for use, on a table or bench before him, and a
vessel of warm water within easy reach. If the patient be a man we let
his trunk be disrobed, giving free access to the back, chest and
abdomen. If the patient be a woman, let her be covered with a
treating-robe, of which garments the practitioner should keep a supply.
They are made much like a lady's plain nightgown; but large and loose,
so as to serve ladies of any size, and give ample room to work the
electrodes under them. Her skirts should be dropped below the seat, so
far that their bands shall lie across her lap.
Let us now suppose the machine to be working. We will take the B D
current. Let it be of good medium strength. We regulate the strength by
the quantity of fluid in the battery, so far as volume is concerned,
and by means of the plunger as respects intensity. The electrodes
should be dampened with warm water. Let the sponge-roll, [a very thin
expansion of sponge, quilted upon a muslin lining, and enveloping one of
the tin electrodes], be made the positive pole, and be placed under the
coccyx--lowest part of the spine. Then attach the positive cord; that
is, the cord connected with the negative post, to another sponge-roll,
to be held in the operator's right hand; or, what is better, attach it
to a thin, flexible, metallic wristband, (brass is good, but metallic
lace--such as is used in trimming regalia, is best), underlaid with
wet muslin, and fastened around the right wrist. This brings the
operator's hand into the circuit as the negative electrode or pole.
Next, pass a moist, warm sponge all over the patient's back. Now, before
the back becomes dry, press the points of two fingers firmly, yet not
uncomfortably, upon the back of the neck at the base of the skull;
thence move gradually downward, by frequent touches of the same firm but
gentle character, keeping one finger on each side of the spinous
processes, until the whole length of the spine has been, in this manner,
passed over. If sharp pain or soreness be felt at any point, note that
point; there is inflamed irritation there. Then return up to the right
or left shoulder, and pass, in like manner, by frequent touches with one
or two fingers, over all parts of the back on that side of the spine,
down to the hips. Then, in the same way, examine the shoulder and back
on the other side of the spine, noting, as before, every point, if there
be any, where soreness and pain appear. After this, pass over the entire
neck, then over the front parts of the thorax and abdomen, down to the
pelvic bones, everywhere watching for soreness and pain. Next, go to the
head. Wet the hair through to the scalp, (because dry hair is a bad
conductor,) and change to a very soft B C current. Then go over all
the head in the same manner as over the neck and trunk. Better reverse
the poles on the head, by transposing the cords in the posts, so as to
make the manipulating hand the positive pole. The head is, or ought to
be, extremely sensitive. You need not do this, however, if the negative
pole can be received on the head without discomfort, as it sometimes can
be. Commence on the cerebrum, and then pass to the cerebellum.
If, in the examination of the spine, the practitioner finds it
uncomfortable to bear in his fingers a current of sufficient strength to
be distinctly felt in that part of the patient, he may use the
side-sponge cup on the spine. But let him never use a current on
another person which he does not first apply to his own nerves, so as
to know its intensity. Indeed, if one prefer to use the side-sponge cup
through the whole process, he can do so; although there is advantage in
using the fingers, since, by their concentrated impressions, he is more
sure to detect disease than by the broader face of the sponge cup.
[->]Now, wherever there is found soreness or lancinating pain under
the touch, it is sure that the part is preternaturally positive--more
or less so, according to the degree of painful irritability. On the
other hand, if there be found a part evincing much less than the usual
sensibility found in the healthy corresponding part of other patients,
it may safely be pronounced torpid or paralytic, more or less. It lacks
sufficient electro-vitality--is improperly negative, and needs to be
treated with the negative pole.
It will often happen that diseased action is found in parts where the
patient was entirely unaware of its existence until the practitioner's
fingers or other electrode revealed it. Again, it will sometimes be
found that there is no disease whatever in parts where the patient
supposed disease to be active. But when we find patients to be
especially nervous, it is not always best to tell them immediately just
what our examinations have revealed to us--how severely or how little we
think them diseased. It is sometimes better to humor, more or less, the
patient's own views for a time; lest, by exciting him or her, we make a
difficult case out of one that might have been mastered with comparative
ease. In this matter discretion should guide us.
But let me say farther, what I deeply feel, that neither do I think it
right to persistently conceal from patients, especially those who are
dangerously affected, a knowledge of their true condition. In my
opinion, physicians often unwittingly incur an awful responsibility in
this way, wronging their patients in the most vital and momentous of all
interests--the interests involved in a due preparation for death. I
believe the true way, in every such case, is for the physician himself,
in a kind and soothing manner, to reveal to the patient, little by
little, if need be, what he really thinks, or to ask the patient's
pastor, or some other calm and judicious person to do it for him. I
believe the visits of a discreet and affectionate pastor, or, in the
absence of a pastor, of some other mild and Christian friend, to the
bedside of the sick is, nine times in ten, not only no embarrassment to
the patient's recovery, but positively favorable to it, and ought to be
habitually encouraged, rather than restrained, by medical
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