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Debunking Myths About Electrodermal Testing

By Cathy Creger Rosenbaum · January 30th, 2008 · The Road to Wellness

Electrodermal Testing (ET), a variant of acupuncture, has its roots as a diagnostic aid for practitioners recommending homeopathic and nutritional remedies, including dietary supplements, for various medical conditions, nutritional deficiencies, allergies or food sensitivities.

ET combines the principle of galvanometer-based skin differentials with Chinese acupuncture theory, creating a connection between the skin's electrical characteristics and the health of our internal organs. Chinese theory holds that skin areas are composed of acupuncture points that are referred to as organ projection areas by ET practitioners.

The skin's galvanic resistance is measured with the use of positively and negatively polarized electrodes (i.e., electrical current rectification). The theory holds that if an internal organ is diseased, the organ projection areas (OPAs) corresponding to that organ will rectify an applied electrical current from the probe.

The OPAs of a diseased organ will show a higher resistance measured by the positive electrode compared with the negatively charged electrode.

Finally, with diseased internal organs, impedenace of the corresponding OPAs is increased. These changes are not seen for healthy organs.

There is a limited body of research that's been done in well-designed, large-scale clinical trials comparing various organ projection areas on the skin, and results are inconclusive as to ET's accuracy. Some of the variables and limitations that could affect the diagnostic accuracy include incorrect medical theory regarding organ projection areas upon the skin, lack of validated comparisons of different skin locations for the probe placement, inter-operator variability, the patient's skin hydration status, environmental humidity (affecting the probe), the amount of moisture on the cloth covering the ET probe held by the patient and the amount of pressure used with the probe (e.g., pressure increases the flow of electrical current between the device and the skin).

More well-designed clinical trials are needed to demonstrate the validated diagnostic value of ET for healthy and diseased internal organs. Incorrect diagnoses might cause harm to patients and waste health care dollars on nonexistent conditions or at minimum, unduly frighten patients or prevent them from seeking medical attention for a missed diagnosis based on a false negative ET.

At minimum, ET should be combined with a medical history, general physical exam and appropriate lab testing by a licensed practicing physician. As is always the case with alternative diagnostic tests, the fact that a person is seeking ET is a signal that he or she wants to move in the direction of health and is seeking to understand what is happening in her or his body.

Though there can be noteworthy questions about this specific testing method, the motive is a good one and should be honored.

CATHY CREGER ROSENBAUM is a holistic clinical pharmacist. Contact her via www.rxintegrativesolutions.com.



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