The most enlightening book on alternative medicine I have ever read.
Mendel's laws of genetics were published in 1865, but ignored because it concerned plants. In 1900 Mendel was rediscovered by geneticists working with lab animals. They realised similar laws applied to humans, and this begot an eugenics movement which claimed superior human races. Thus arose one of the ugliest periods in human history. Mendel's rediscovery also begot a medical renaissance in biochemistry, the foundation of modern medicine. "The Body Electric" by Robert O Becker MD, (published in 1985 by Gary Selden) is a rediscovery of physical laws that could change the future course of medicine. It is well illustrated, and written for non-scientists to understand. Dr Becker was a brilliant orthopedic surgeon and experimentalist, who graduated medical school at the end of World War II. He witnessed the before and after effects of penicillin, both good and bad. He witnessed how penicillin saved countless lives, and its discovery spawned a pharmaceutical industry that now controls medical treatments and research directions. Dr Becker ran afoul of this establishment. Dr Becker began his research career studying bone fractures, which notoriously heal poorly and become easily infected. He reasoned that bone healing is a form of tissue regeneration, commonly observed in primitive animals which can regrow entire body parts, including skeletal bone in the case of salamanders. Dr Becker's experiments on regeneration led to his finding that nerve fiber electrical conductance was essential. He found that electric currents, almost too weak to measure, could cure infections and promote healing in humans when applied correctly. His theories and experiments suggest an alternative approach to medicine which has the potential to cure all diseases! It also explains the power of the mind in reports of faith healing and the placebo effect. Dr Becker was no quack. His prolific research was published in Nature, Science and other high impact journals. Unfortunately his ideas were too revolutionary for the scientific establishment to accept. He had trouble getting grant applications funded, and was roundly criticized by 'experts' who sometimes took credit for his discoveries. The main problems he faced were not scientific, but political. This book thus reviews fraud and corruption throughout scientific history, similar to what he experienced. He critically distinguishes between scientific objectivity and the personal bias of scientists. Dr Becker's most serious problems arose when he dared to confront the military and industrial establishments. He had come to realise that electromagnetism generated by household electrical currents and man-made appliances, may be interfering with normal body functions and ability to heal. As we are increasingly bombarded by these, he questioned how many contemporary diseases plaguing society result from interfering with natural electromagnetism. The more he spoke out, the more he was silenced. On Jan 1, 1981, his lab was shut down. This book is not only brilliant in summarizing Dr Becker's scientific discoveries, but also his philosophy regarding medical research and teaching. His frustrations with the bureaucratic establishment ring true today. One of my favorite quotes (p.331) is: "Many a genius has been destroyed by people of lesser talent defending the status quo." Dr Becker used every trick to protect his genius from destruction, as this book attests. As a medical scientist myself, this book is truly enlightening.Read full review