Comments on the
Position Paper on Electrodiagnosis
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians position statement (shown below) on electrodiagnosis describes the procedure as "experimental" and an appropriate subject for scientific research. This position is nonsense. Electrodiagnosis—also called electrodermal screening and electroacupuncture of Voll (EAV)—is based on the notion that health problems throughout the body can be diagnosed by detecting "imbalances" in the flow of "electromagnetic energy" through "acupuncture meridians." The treatment selected depends on the scope of the practitioner's practice and may include acupuncture, dietary change, and/or vitamin supplements, as well as homeopathic products.
The devices are fancy galvanometers that measure electrical resistance of the patient's skin when touched by a probe. Each device contains a low-voltage source. In most cases, a wire from the device goes to a brass cylinder covered by moist gauze, which the patient holds in one hand. A second wire is connected to a probe, which the operator touches to "acupuncture points" on the patient's foot or other hand. This completes a circuit, and the device registers the flow of current. The information is then relayed to a gauge or computer screen that provides a numerical readout. The size of the number depends on how hard the probe is pressed against the patient's skin. The devices may also be used to test or prepare remedies, which is commonly done by placing test substances in a glass vial on a metal test plate where they are allegedly exposed to the low-voltage electric current. This, too, is nonsensical because glass is an insulator that blocks any current from reaching the substance in the vial.
These devices cannot be legally marketed as diagnostic or treatment devices. To get around the law, some manufacturers label them as biofeedback devices or claim they are experimental, even though the way they are used has nothing to do with either biofeedback or experimentation. Regulatory agencies have warned a few manufactures to stop making unapproved claims and have seized a few devices, but they have not made a systematic effort to drive them from the marketplace. It should be obvious that electrodiagnostic test results have nothing to do with the patient's state of health.
It should be obvious that electrodiagnostic test results have nothing to do with the patient's state of health. I recommend avoding any practitioner who uses or promotes EAV testing..
THEREFORE IT IS THE POSITION OF THE AANP THAT:
Adopted at the 1992 Annual Convention
This position statement remained on its Web site until 2007. Since then, I have not been able to locate it on the site. In 2011, the AANP revised its position statement on homeopathy by adding a paragraph about electrodiagnostic testing which stated: "Electro-diagnostic testing is an investigational tool. Electro-diagnostic testing should be used according to accepted protocol and it is recommended that it not be relied on as the sole determinant in homeopathic prescribing."
For Additional Information
This article was revised on August 16, 2019.