The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life

The Body Electric tells the fascinating story of our bioelectric selves. Robert O. Becker, a pioneer in the filed of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things, challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body. He found clues to the healing process in the long-discarded theory that electricity is vital to life. But as exciting as Becker’s discoveries are, pointing to the day when human limbs, spinal cords, and organs may be regenerated after they have been damaged, equally fascinating is the story of Becker’s struggle to do such original work. The Body Electric explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena, and healing.

The first part of the book discusses regeneration, primarily in salamanders and frogs. Becker studied regeneration after lesions such as limb amputation, and hypothesized that electric fields played an important role in controlling the regeneration process. He mapped the electric potentials at various body parts during the regeneration, showing that the central part of the body normally was positive, and the limbs were negative. When a limb of a salamander or frog was amputated, the voltage at the cut (measured relative to the central part of the body) changed from about -10 mV (millivolts) to +20 mV or more the next day—a phenomenon called the current of injury. In a frog, the voltage would simply change to the normal negative level in four weeks or so, and no limb regeneration would take place. In a salamander, however, the voltage would during the first two weeks change from the +20 mV to -30 mV, and then normalize (to -10 mV) during the next two weeks—and the limb would be regenerated.

Becker then found that regeneration could be improved by applying electricity at the wound when there was a negative potential outside the amputation stub. He also found that bone has piezoelectric properties which would cause an application of force to generate a healing current, which stimulated growth at stress locations in accordance with Wolff’s law.

In another part of the book Becker described potentials and magnetic fields in the nervous system, taking into account external influences like earth magnetism and solar winds. He measured the electrical properties along the skin surface, and concluded that at least the major parts of the acupuncture charts had an objective basis in reality.

In the last chapters of the book, Becker recounts his experiences as a member of an expert committee evaluating the physiological hazards of various electromagnetic pollutions. He presents research data which indicate that the deleterious effects are stronger than officially assumed. His contention is that the experts choosing the pollution limits are strongly influenced by the polluting industry.

In 1998 Becker filed a patent for an iontopheretic system for stimulation of tissue healing and regeneration (US 5814094 A).

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