STUDIES USING MERIDIAN STRESS ASSESSMENT DEVICES
A great deal has been done throughout the world correlating changes in electrical conductance at acupuncture points with various disease entities. Much of the German, French, Japanese, and Chinese literature has not been translated into English. There are many studies that have been performed using Meridian Stress Assessment devices.
Meridian stress assessment (MSA) devices have been extensively studied by Dr. William Tiller from Stanford, who is a professor in the Department of Materials Science Engineering. He has written extensively in an attempt to explain the electric behavior of the skin and how meridian stress assessment diagnostic and treatment instruments function. Dr. Cyril Smith, Ph.D. physicist in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Salsfor, England, has also written extensively in an attempt to explain various electromagnetic phenomena, including meridian stress assessment on acupuncture points. Other world leaders in bioelectric medicine include Robert O. Becker, M.D. and his landmark book entitled The Body Electric Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life" and Bjorn Nordenstrom, M.D. and his book The Electric Man27 and Biologically Closed Electric Circuits.
Another study from the Pain Management Clinic, Department of Anesthesiology, UCLA School of Medicine, evaluated the ability of meridian stress assessment to identify, in a blinded fashion, areas of pain. Forty patients were determined by medical examination to have musculoskeletal pain. Each patient was draped to hide any physical evidence to suggest where the pain might be. The physician conducting the meridian stress assessment had no prior knowledge of the patient's history, and was not allowed to talk to the patient. Based on increased skin conductance at specific acupuncture points of the ears, the physician determined, with greater than 75 percent accuracy, the location of the pain, a highly significant result. This study also pointed out that meridian stress assessment technique "is often sensitive to pathological problems of which the patient is only minimally aware. When some patients were told of their auricular diagnosis results, they suddenly remembered having a minor or old pain problem in that bodily area, a problem which they had neglected to mention during the medical evaluation," and thus were considered to be "misses" in the statistical analysis.6 The results of this test were therefore more impressive than the statistical analysis would indicate.
Whether or not a diagnostic or therapeutic modality is fully understood has absolutely no bearing on its effectiveness or usefulness. It is beyond the scope of this paper (and of this writer), to attempt to explain the phenomena involved in meridian stress assessment. In fact, it would seem better to have no explanation at all than to have an incorrect theory. For example, the drug Hydregine has been shown to be effective for improving cerebral function in older people in a number of double-blind controlled studies. The mechanism was thought to be through increasing cerebral blood flow. When further studies failed to show increased blood flow, the drug was thought by many to be ineffective, and fell into disfavor. More recent studies have shown a variety of actions that could explain the results of therapy, and it once again has become widely used.29
EVIDENCE FOR RELIABILITY OF MERIDIAN STRESS ASSESSMENT
There is a great deal of controversy in medicine today over the issue of what techniques are considered experimental, and which ones are considered to be adequately proven. This issue was investigated by the Office of Technology Assessment of the Congress of the United States.
They produced a 133 page report entitled "Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies." This report stated that "it has been estimated that only 10 to 20 percent of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trails."
The chairman of the Utah Unproven Health Practices Committee in 1985 was asked what constitutes adequate evidence that a technology has been adequately proven? His reply was that a good double-blind study is reasonable proof, and that several double-blind studies reported by researchers from different centers is excellent proof. Others involved in this issue have suggested that the agreement of experts in the field of the effectiveness and usefulness of the technology is good proof. Also, the clinical use of a technology by various medical practitioners is also good proof of its efficacy.
Meridian stress assessment instruments have been around for over thirty five years and have been used widely in Europe and virtually around the world for allergy testing as well as for a variety of other purposes. These instruments, however, have been used for only a few years in this country. Meridian stress assessment instruments have been manufactured in Germany, Japan, China, France, Denmark, Russia, and more recently in the United States.
Many double-blind studies have been done using this technology. In fact, most of those practitioners who use them have set up a blinded test situation of one kind or another before they really believe that these instruments actually work. Besides the double-blind study described earlier in this paper, we have tested hundreds of patients in a double-blind fashion where the patient did not know what they were being tested for, and the instrument operator did not know anything about the patient's reactivity. These tests usually compare favorably to the patient's history and to testing by other techniques.
Perhaps the most convincing evidence for the accuracy and reliability of meridian stress assessment came from using this testing to quickly identify correct optimal treatment doses for patients who had unpleasant reactions to provocative testing. An effective dose to turn off the response would often take more than an hour by trial and error, but could almost always be found within seconds using the instrument. On those few misses, the optimal dose was within one dilution, and could easily be found.
Another physician who has evaluated meridian stress assessment in his office is William Rea, M.D. from Dallas, an internationally known pioneer in environmental medicine. Besides serving as the director of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Dr. Rea has been appointed as the First World Professional Chair in Environmental Medicine, University of Surrey, England. Dr. Rea set up a simple double-blind study using a number of people who had reacted adversely to a challenge test with various antigens, and for whom an optimal treatment dosage had been found to turn off those reactions. Neither the patients nor the instrument operator knew the correct dosage. A series of dilutions were tested, and the electronic instrument identified the correct optimal treatment dosage out of 12 to 20 options in approximately 80 percent of the cases. Virtually all of the "misses" were within 1 dilution of the optimal dose dilution determined by trial and error, making it easy to find the optimal dose in those "misses." Dr. Rea describes using these instruments as part of his practice to find optimal treatment doses for very sensitive patients before provoking symptoms, so that he can quickly administer an effective treatment dose in case of severe reactions.
Doctors from England have for some time used meridian stress assessment for allergies. One of these medical doctors reported a study in the British medical literature.
There have been at least three double-blind assessments of meridian stress assessment reported in the American medical literature. In 1989, Ali reported in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology the results of a double-blind test comparing the results of the IgE antibody levels (using a micro ELISA procedure) for a variety of pollens and molds to meridian stress assessment for the same antigens. The results showed concordance between the two tests of 73 percent. In 1985, Krop did a double-blind test comparing meridian stress assessment to sublingual and intradermal testing for a variety of foods, chemicals, and inhalants. In 66 percent of the 227 tests, the meridian stress assessment identified exactly the same "neutralizing" (optimal treatment) dilution as did the intradermal and sublingual testing.
In 1984, researchers from the University of Hawaii compared 6 different diagnostic modalities for assessing food allergies. These tests included history, food challenge, skin, RAST, IgE antibodies, and meridian stress assessment on 30 volunteers. The testing was done in a double-blind fashion, with the patients not knowing what antigens were being tested, and the instrument operator not knowing anything about the patient's food sensitivities. In over 300 tests, meridian stress assessment matched the history 74 percent of the time, the food rechallenge test 77 percent of the time, skin testing 71 percent of the time, and RAST 69 percent of the time. The authors conclude that "the EAV (or MSA) data obtained in this experiment demonstrates the highest degree of compatibility with the food challenge test, which is considered to be the most sensitive of the currently available diagnostic techniques for food allergy. In addition, the EAV (MSA) results were comparable with both skin and RAST tests. In comparing these three double-blind studies, it is of interest to note that the numbers of "false positives" identified by meridian stress assessment greatly exceeds the number of "false negatives." The breakdown is as follows:
Krop points out that in his study, the subjects were only tested to things to which they reported an adverse response. He expressed the opinion that these apparent "false positives" were not false at all, but merely reflected a greater sensitivity of the meridian stress assessment compared to the more traditional testing to which it was compared. The results of the other two studies may also have reflected this greater sensitivity with meridian stress assessment. When trying to evaluate the accuracy and dependability of meridian stress assessment for food allergy testing, a number of factors about food allergy must first be understood.
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