Thomas W. Wing. D.C., N.D., LAc., a fifth generation Chinese Doctor, is credited with introducing the first microcurrent instrument in the late 1970’s. Doors opened to acupuncture after President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. Almost overnight thousands of doctors were interested in all forms of acupuncture.
One of these acupuncture methods included adding current to the acupuncture needles to create a more potent application. It was a stronger current than is currently used and was seldom comfortable for the patients because of the intense stinging they felt.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Consulting with a few members of Dr. Wing’s study group suggested they should find a better way to utilize electrical acupuncture. Now, Dr. Wing had a little background in electronics and felt competent enough in the science and application of electrical current to take this on.
Diagnostic current, called galvanic skin differentials, are accredited to Dr. Reinhold Voll, a West German physician. He’d previously introduced GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) as a feature in his electro-acupuncture devices in 1958. Galvanic is a much stronger current than microcurrent.
Practitioners of the Chinese system of 12 Meridian style of acupuncture found these differentials useful in identifying and treating energy imbalances. Using Dr. Voll’s instrument became referred to as EAV (Electrical Acupuncture by Voll). Dr. Voll also used the auricular system of treating ear points used by ancient Egyptians and the Chinese, which related ear points to specific parts in the body and organs. New ear charts had been developed by a French physician, Dr. Paul Nogier in 1951 along with experimentation with new frequencies for a new form of electrical ear acupuncture called Auriculotherapy.
Dr. Nogier’s ear charts reflect over 200 ear points for treating the entire body and brain.By comparison, the traditional Chinese ear charts use a simpler system of 130 points. The first Dr. Voll EAV devices tried encompassing all possible points which was approximately 850, thus the first diagnostic scales read from 0-1000. By the 1970’s most of these devices went to a simpler system by reducing the scale from 0-100.
First Use of Microcurrent
Dr. Wing used this type of diagnostic feature, along with lowering the voltage on his unit, and current levels were adjusted to the micro amperage range (1/1,000,000 amp). Through successful experimentation, Dr. Wing added a wider range of very low frequencies. In 1975 Dr. Wing introduced what was known as the first comfortable US made, non-needle acupuncture (Surface Electrical Acupuncture) instrument with diagnostics. Needles were replaced by pencil-like electrodes with brass tips. Later, these electrodes were converted into probes which would hold wet Q-Tip ends to gently conduct current into the skin. He called this device the Accu-O Matic. The name was a hybrid of the words ‘Accurate’ and ‘Automatic’.
Dr. Wings instruments created quite a stir. For the first time, acupuncture could be enhanced without pain or discomfort to the patients. The lower-frequency current was not only better tolerated by the patient, but the results were even more significant and measurable. Western physicians flocked to learn about this method and were so impressed with the results they were quick to incorporate them in their practices.
The FDA Has a Say
In 1977, as a result of the Medical device act of May 28, 1976, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) informed Dr. Wing he could not use ear point charts to treat from because they were claiming to cure conditions. In 1978 FDA agents visited again and said acupuncture had not been “proven safe and effective” in the experimental use period of one year.
The FDA told Dr. Wing he could reapply for approval of his instrument under the 1976 Medical Device and Cosmetology Act if he took the reading portion of the unit and did not refer to it as an ‘electrical acupuncture device’. This new, 1980 model, became the My-O-Matic which added a new wave form and was found beneficial in the treatments of muscles to lengthen, shorten and strengthen them and their surrounding tissues. It was approved as a Muscle Stimulator.
Here is where Microucrrent becomes Recognizable
The new low current machine found new life in the Cosmetology industry for facial toning and wrinkle reduction. By this time there were several other companies offering copies of the exact same machine for use in the cosmetology world. Some of these early machines were the Accuscope/ Myopluse, Alpha Stim and quite a few others. All had to comply with the FDA and as a result had marketing issues. Many of these early companies did not survive.
A Good Thing is Hard to Hide
World wide recognition of the My-O-Matic began when athletes like Olympic Gold medalist and San Francisco 49er Carl Lewis, Olympic Gold Medalist Joan Benoit, and the New York Mets, among many other pro athletes and teams, began using micro current. They were claiming it was the latest and greatest of physical therapy treatments. Many peer-reviewed articles appeared in medical journals documenting the benefits and establishing protocols of use for various injuries. This was exciting. Public interest in microcurrent could be found in newspapers. Cosmetic and esthetic trade shows and conventions began to showcase the first facial microcurrent units with probes and conductive gloves. More would follow.
Articles such as Scott pushes revolutionary physical-therapy machines. (USA Today 87) and “It’s not a cure-all. It doesn’t replace coaching or hard work. But it is the best form of physical therapy that’s ever been developed” (Jack Scott, Phd) ignited public interest in this fantastic modality.
It should be noted, Jack Scott first represented the Accuscope label then switched to Monad (Dr. Wings company) later on. Many chiropractors and athletic trainers maintain it is still today one of the best methods for physical therapy.
The Evolution of Microcurrent Devices
Since the 1990s, a multitude of device choices, with FDA approval, (Class II Medical Devices) for esthetic and medical use have come into existence.
In fact, microcurrent devices for medical, professional esthetics, MedSpas and for personal home use, are massively abundant for consumer and medical practitioners alike.
Selecting quality, well-engineered devices is the biggest challenge as fast tech and knock-offs are rife in online sales.
The medical community continues to microcurrent marketed to them under many guises such as bone healing devices, facial stimulators, muscle relaxers and the like. For esthetic, chiropractic and physical therapy use, electrotherapy devices are all-one-type with microcurrent being only one of the features incorporated into these professional units.
Beauty Vloggers on Youtube frequently demonstrate their newest microcurrent and how they use them as part of the online sharing culture.
The Wellness and Beauty culture has so much of its breakthroughs trends originating in medical and oncology research. Do not be surprised if, through research, an even more subtle frequency comes into use.