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Bioresonance - Fact or Fallacy? An Evidence-Based Approach

by Roger Coghill(more info)

listed in energy medicine, originally published in issue 138 - August 2007

Am I mad? Few if any establishment scientists would dare to give any credence to the claims about bioresonance, radionics, or that whole area in which organic life is said to be affected beneficially by distant non-chemical influences by applying electromagnetic waves at specific frequencies and intensities, let alone to seek funding for its rigorous investigation. I am certainly not attempting the latter. In stepping into these muddy waters, I fear I may be immersing myself in an ocean of doubt, testimonial evidence, conflicting practices, unsupported value judgements, gobbledygook, and all that is abhorrent to the scientific method.

One reason for my insanity is that if there turns out to be a grain of truth in this hope of a science, then its benefit to the public health services would be immeasurable, against a background of telemonitoring for the elderly, long waiting lists for surgical and other interventions, and the failure of medical practice to deal with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, not to mention cancer and Aids. Is there any bedrock connecting bioresonance to the body of established scientific knowledge? Are there any peer reviewed studies to support the claims of bioresonance? Is there anywhere a plausible biological exposition of the mechanisms at work? Is there any clinical trial to demonstrate its effectiveness?

Having spent two decades persuading scientists, Government and the public at large that the electromagnetic fields and radiations emanating from powerlines and cellphones in our ordinary lives can adversely affect health (even now not fully accepted, but increasingly evident from peer reviewed studies), it might seem at first illogical that I should now be considering its obverse. Nevertheless, over the last century, there has been a persistent stream of pioneers practising a variety of such techniques – Dr Albert Abrams, Dr W Boyd, Georges Lakhovsky, Royle Rife, Ruth Drown, De La Warr, Bruce Copen, Hans Brugemann, Robert Becker, Paul Schmidt, Cyril Smith, Jean Munro and Dr Hulda Clark to mention but a few – and claiming success. Most of them have been pilloried and marginalized for their claims.

The Pioneers and their Techniques

A convenient starting point is San Francisco in 1916, when Dr Albert Abrams, an enormously wealthy medical doctor practising in the city, published his revolutionary book.[1]

Ernest Rutherford had not long before isolated the electron and fractured the atom, transmuting gold into lead. Before then JJ Balmer had shown, in 1885, that the frequencies for some of the lines observed in the emission spectrum of atomic hydrogen could be expressed with a completely empirical relationship, later extended by J Rydberg, who produced a simple equation to describe hydrogen’s spectral lines. Further theoretical work by others, such as Niels Bohr, made one thing clear: the laws of physics do not hold in the microworld of the atom, and that the motion of an electron has a wave aspect (l = h/p, proposed by de Broglie in 1923).

Abrams was quick to realize that medicine was not based on the organ or the cell but rather on the molecule or atom and its component electrons, hence simultaneously inventing molecular biology and electronic medicine. Today’s free radicals, so prevalent as causes of organic disease are nothing more than unpaired electrons unstable enough to damage DNA. Since most of free space is permeated with electrons, albeit in the biosphere associated with their gaseous atoms like nitrogen and oxygen, and since electrons are negatively charged, they will all be mutually repulsive. This means that if any single electron moves, it will influence another to do the same, in the manner of Newton’s cradle. There is no energy needed to do this, since their incessant spin around their atoms provides electrons with all the energy necessary for the transferred position. Such physical effects are at the basis of all radiofrequency radiation, and are the means by which radio receivers collect their signals.

The most efficient means of collecting radio signals is when the receiving antenna is the same size, or a simple binary submultiple (‘harmonic’) of the length of the transmitting antenna. These frequencies are inevitably related to the length of the incoming wave by the formula f (frequency in Hz) = c (the speed of light in metres per second) / l (wavelength in metres).

For example, our mains electricity has a frequency of 50 hertz, and a wavelength of 6,000 kilometres: 50Hz = 3 x 108/ 6 x 106 metres.

For this reason TV aerials have ‘fishbones’ much closer together than radio antennae, since their wavelengths are shorter. Since the most efficient antenna shape is helical, one cannot but help speculate that DNA itself is an efficient biological aerial for receiving signals from the brain, or from the DNA in another nucleus. Moreover, since all receivers are also transmitters when energy is imparted to them, DNA would also, in such circumstances, willy nilly act as a transmitter too. All this seems a long way from our present ideas of lock and key type membrane ligands and receptors, or voltage gated channels, but such a paradigm shift would be a faster and more elegant system than nervous conduction or electrochemical signal transduction, on which most of today’s molecular chemistry is based.

Whether or not Sir James Barr, a former president of the British Medical Association in those days, had any full understanding of radio engineering is moot, but he certainly supported Abrams’ concepts, making this astonishing prophesy in the BMJ[2] more than 70 years before the advent of cellphone telephony):
“When every important member of the community has a wireless telephone in his house and on his person, then medical editors and medical men will begin to perceive that there was more in Abrams’ vibrations than was dreamed of in their philosophy. Dr Abrams’ discoveries have come to stay, whether you like them or not.”
So what was Dr Abrams’ philosophy? As with any new discovery it required a new vocabulary, and to understand Dr Abrams one must acquaint oneself with his vernacular. (And it helps if you have a Classical education, as many did in those days). In 1913, he gave his first talk on recognizing and measuring human energy in health and disease, based on 30 years research by previous researchers Baines and Bowman, cited by Parkes and Perkins in 1930.[3] They had argued that in the body are great conductive and inductive capacity: human beings generate static electricity through muscular movement, but this is dissipated if the body is earthed by a metal plate. It can be detected with a sensitive galvanometre which is deflected to varying degrees. But even in those days Dr Abrams warned that the presence of an electric railway or high voltage power line as far as one mile away could make nonsense of the readings.

He argued that different diseases caused differing results on the galvanometer readouts, but that far more sensitive results could be obtained by testing the tautness, or otherwise, of the stomach muscles using a technique common in those days called percussion. Percussion is when the clinician taps the patient’s stomach muscles to measure his muscle tone. Dr Abrams not only became adept at interpreting the small changes in muscle tone caused by externally originating radiations, but he also invented instruments to measure them, often with strange names. He tied back these contractions to the arrival of ions, both negatively and positively charged.

To quote:
“The essential factor in my investigations concerns the atom in vibration. The fact has been definitely established by physicists, that when a moving electric charge is accelerated or retarded in any way, a wave of electromagnetic disturbance radiates out through the surrounding space. Such pulses are given out when cathode rays strike the solid anticathode and are called X-rays.
“If the charge is not arrested but is permitted to oscillate about a mean position, a series of electromagnetic waves move out from the vibrating electron. If white light is passed through sodium vapour, the spectroscope shows two dark lines across the ordinary coloured spectrum. This effect has been likened to a form of resonance. The electrons of the sodium atom when excited yield light of the frequency corresponding to the two sodium lines because it is tuned to this frequency, and it vibrates if oscillations of this frequency fall upon it. By doing so it extracts the energy of the radiation in tune with itself, whereas the light of frequency remote from this passes on practically unaffected.”
Dr Abrams goes on to argue that each organ has its own vibratory rate. The vibratory rate in health is practically constant but is said to vary in illness, and can be identified to specific diseases, thereby permitting diagnosis.

One might have hoped that towards a century later there might be ample peer reviewed evidence to support his statement. A perusal of the several subsequent books reviewing the hypothesis, however, shows that most of the references they rely on are to other books largely un-peer-reviewed.

What little evidence there is for non-chemical action at a distance relates often to plants rather than to the animal kingdom. In 1923 Aleksandr Gurwitsch reported that if the growing tips of two onions were placed close together they had a mutually positive effect on growth. If they were separated by glass, this effect did not occur, but if separated by quartz, which permits the passage of ultraviolet radiation, the effect returned. From this Gurwitsch hypothesized that the radiation must be in the UV part of the electromagnetic spectrum. He argued that organisms emit mitogenic radiation: biophotons in the UV range (the work is being continued by Lev Beloussov).[4] A sort of replication study was attempted by Kaznacheyev who placed a quartz separator between a bacterial culture and a substance highly toxic to that organism, claiming that the bacterial growth was inhibited when the quartz was in place but not when replaced by a glass separator.[5] The study involved spinning the culture and toxin, and the experimental conditions were not well enough described for others to repeat the experiment. A third oft-quoted research stream is that of the Kirlians, a husband and wife team (Gurwitsch similarly, researched alongside his sister Anna) who exposed plant leaves to high frequency radiation and saw an outline of the whole leaf even though a part of it had been removed. The photographs are not very convincing, to be honest, and no mechanistic explanation of this effect has been forthcoming.

There is no doubt that organisms are capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations: any humble glow worm or firefly will testify to that. Nor is it disputed that some animals are incredibly sensitive to electric fields, even as low (in the case of elasmobranch fishes) as a quarter millionth of a volt/metre.[6] Some fishes use this sensitivity to identify the location of obstacles or prey (e.g.Gymnarchus niloticus). But no study to-date has shown that sick glow worms or fireflies display a different quality of light, or that the radiations from humans do so.

First Published Study

Arguably the first peer reviewed and published study to demonstrate the importance of endogenous radiation for human health was ours, when in 2000 we reported that human peripheral blood lymphocyte viability was significantly improved when exposed extra-corporeally to the radiations from the cells’ donor. In this study the lymphocytes from a healthy donor were placed in three separate small glass phials together with the usual nutrients, antibiotics, and antimycotics.

Introduced into the sealed cap of one phial was a gold wire whose other end was attached to the donor’s skin surface. The second phial also had a gold wire sealed into the cap, but not protruding. The third had simply the culture with no wire. All three phials were placed in a small mu-metal container to exclude extraneous radiation, and this was then attached to the donor’s forearm all night. The next day the cells’ viability was tested by trypan blue exclusion, and the donor-connected culture was significantly more viable than the other two. The experiment was repeated 12 times with the same result, over one year. (There was one occasion when the second phial also showed high viability, but on closer examination we found the gold wire had somehow protruded through the seal, so had also been exposed to the donor’s

Astonished with this robust result we invited professorial scrutinizers from the Karolinska, from the Neurosciences Department of Oxford University and from the former National Radiological Protection Board to witness the study, code the samples, and double-check our cell viability counts. They confirmed our findings. It was published in Electro and Magneto Biology after further peer review.[7] Extensions to the research established that non-donor fields had no similar effect, and that artificial EMFs at power and radiofrequencies actually reduced viability below the norm. This work shows that our bodies’ electric fields have more utility than the simple by-product of on-going chemical reactions, and supports Dr Abrams view that alterations to the body’s biofield can adversely affect health, since lymphocytes are primarily responsible for cellular protection against pathogens.

Rife’s Microscope

Arguably the next most important development in the US was the claim by Royle Rife that his specially constructed high magnification (x 30,000) light microscopes could show how microbes are destroyed by specific frequencies (Rife called this the mortal oscillatory rate), and that this was the way to cure infectious diseases as well as cancer. Like Dr Abrams before him, and William Koch[8] since, this inconvenient heresy was pounced on and Rife was so publicly pilloried that he was driven to drink and died. Nevertheless, his adherents still ponder at annual meetings on how to replicate the microscope, of which only five copies were ever made. We examined the sole UK example in the Science Museum, but apart from a cleverly designed long light path achieved by means of quartz prisms, could find nothing exceptional to suggest its efficacy at achieving magnifications way beyond the conventionally accepted limits at light microscopy. Nor are there any convincing micrographs remaining to prove the instrument’s resolving capability.

In stark contrast to Rife, Harold Saxton Burr’s work in this field as Professor of Anatomy at Yale stretched from 1932 to 1972, during which time he published some 93 papers, culminating with his conclusions in Blueprint for Immortality.[9] Burr proposed that all living things are formed by fields capable of measurement with standard instruments. These ‘electric fields of life’, he argued, reflect physical and mental conditions and are, therefore, of utility in diagnosis.

The theme was later refined by Drs Robert Becker and Andy Marino whose regeneration experiments showed that application of an appropriate static electric field could prevent or accelerate regeneration of limbs in frogs and salamanders.[10] The later could actually repair its own heart without bleeding to death. Dr Becker’s focus arguably became misdirected when he was involved in a major Court case relating to the high voltage powerline planned to pass near his upstate New York home, but even so his contribution to bioelectromagnetics science should not be dismissed. Dr Ross Adey is a fellow US countryman who also recognized the importance of electric fields in health, and was widely regarded as the grandfather of modern bioelectromagnetics.

He called for a closer appreciation of how cells respond to electric influences, painting a picture of cells ‘whispering together in a secret language’.

More Recent Developments

More recently, Rife’s ideas have been embraced by Dr Hulda Clark, who has also suffered the consequences by temporary imprisonment for practising medicine without a licence. Her 1993 book, A Cure for all Diseases, explains how the reader can construct a ‘Zapper’ to kill infectious agents with a specific frequency identified for hundreds of different ill health situations.[11] Again, sadly, her claims are simple pontifications, with no supporting evidence of how these frequencies have been derived. Moreover, her bizarre claim that all cancer is caused by a flatworm is difficult to justify, since the worm variety blamed is only found in mainly rural parts of the Far East, or where man lives close to pigs.

On safer ground appear to be the ideas of cell biologist Jim Oschman, whose book Energy Medicine, The Scientific Basis[12] includes a historical review of past energy medicine proponents. Like Rupert Sheldrake before him, he points to a new science of life processes, based more on fields than substances, an argument strangely reminiscent of the 19th century arguments between Pasteur and Beauchamp about the importance of fields versus the germ as the cause of disease. Oschman synthesizes the two by arguing that cell signalling is a two messenger system, part chemical and part energetic, with the latter itself divided into electric and electronic. “The entire living matrix is simultaneously a mechanical, vibrational or oscillatory, electronic and informational network”, he suggests.

In the UK, research at George De la Warr’s laboratory, the emergence of the Radionics movement, and developments in radionics instruments by Bruce Copen’s firm all contributed to maintaining momentum, but little if any of their studies were peer review published. The same may not be said of Mae Wan Ho, whose publications exceed 150, including six books,[13] though like her fellow proponents of energy medicine she has had difficulty in maintaining her Readership at the Open University through her controversial views and writings. Like Oschman, Ho underlines the importance of protein to protein resonance by reference to Irena Cosic’s finding that groups of proteins with the same function, or recognize each other share the same periodicity in electronic potential along the polypeptide chain, which is related to the frequency of electromagnetic radiation they absorb (and by implication, emit) when electrons are conducted along the polypeptide. In other words, protein-protein interactions, as well as protein DNA interactions, are not due to complementary shapes (the mechanical lock and key model), but to electromagnetic resonance recognition, so the molecules attract each other by vibrating at the same frequencies.

In Europe, from the 1970s onwards, the bioresonance fraternity seems to have gathered new strength, particularly in Germany, through the work of Fritz Albert Popp at Kaiserslauten[14,15] W Ludwig at Horb,[16] and Ludger Mersmann who developed a number of field measuring instruments. Alongside Herbert Frolich in Liverpool (and later with Gerard Hyland who was prematurely ‘retired’ from Warwick University for his interest in such matters), they developed the twin concepts of coherence at a quantum level and long range interactions.[17]

More recent publications have emerged from the Brugemann Institute[18] describing the technique of collecting the patient’s own oscillations and feeding them back as harmonious, on the basis that harmonious oscillations are virtually identical in all human beings, by filtering out the pathogenic oscillations via a 180 degree phase shift.

The research findings of another 1970s proponent of bioresonance, Paul Schmidt, is described by Deitmar Heimes, in his 2004 review and operating manual of frequencies, now available in English.[19] Schmidt developed a range of Rayometres, instruments he claimed able to deliver the fundamental frequencies specific to a large variety of medical conditions. These were established by Schmidt empirically, and their recital takes up a good proportion of the book. (See Review in PH May Issue 135).
Today ideas of bioresonance have been translated into a wide variety of instruments claimed to identify and correct those resonances deficient in the patient’s body via applying specific empirically-discovered frequencies. What is still needed is a continuous pathway, a mechanistic explanation underpinning the experimental findings, without which, as Szent-Gyorgi once argued decades ago, “It is as if there is still a missing piece, defying our full understanding of biology, in the jigsaw puzzle of life sciences.”

References / Bibliography

1.    Abrams A Dr. New Concepts in Diagnosis and Treatment. Philopolis Press. San Francisco. 1916.
2.    Barr J Sir. Many Inventions. BMJ. p819. May 20, 1922.
3.    Parkes O and Perkins E. The Detection of Disease. Sampson, Low, Marsden and Co Ltd. London. 1930.
4.    Gurwitsch AA, Eremeyev VF et al. Ultra-weak Emission in the Visible and UV Regions in Oxidation of Solutions of Glycine by Hydrogen Peroxide (Registration of Mitogenic Radiation of Animal Tissue). Nature. 206: 20-22. 1965.
5.    Kaznacheev SP, Shurin VP et al. Distant Intercellular Interactions in a System of Two Tissue Cultures. Psychoenergetic Systems. 1: 141-142. 1976.
6.    Kalmijn AJ. Electroperception in Sharks and Rays. Nature. 212: 1232-1233. 1966.
7.    Coghill RW and Galonja-Coghill T. Protective Effect of a Donor’s Endogenous Electric Field on Human Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes. Electro and Magneto Biology. 19 (1): 46-59. 2000.
8.    Koch W. The Survival Factor in Neoplastic and Viral Diseases. Michigan Press. Detroit. 1961.
9.    Burr HS. Blueprint for Immortality: The Electric Patterns of Life. CW Daniel Co Ltd. Saffron Walden. Essex. SBN 85435-281-3. 1972.
10.    Becker RO and Seldon G. The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Fountain of Life. Morrow. New York.
11.    Clark HR. The Cure for all Diseases. New Century Press. US. ISBN-10: 1890035017. 1995.
12.    Oschman J. Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis. Churchill Livingstone. Edinburgh. London. New York. 2000.
13.    Ho MW. The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms. World Scientific. New Jersey. London. 1998.
14.    Popp FA. On the Coherence of Ultra-Weak Photon Emission from Living Tissues. Kilmister EW (ed). Disequilibrium and Self Organization. PD Reidel. 207: 230. 1986.
15.    Popp FA, Warnke U et al. Eds. Electromagnetic Bio-Information. Urban and Schwarzenberg. Munich. 1989.
16.    Ludwig HW et al. A Hypothesis Concerning the Absorption Mechanism of Atmospherics in the Nervous System. Intl J Biometeor. 12: 93-98. 1968.
17.    Frolich H. Long Range Coherence and Energy Storage in Biological System. Int J Quantum Chem. 2: 641-649. 1968.
18.    Brugemann H. Ed. Bioresonance and Multiresonance Therapy: A New Therapy in the Ultrafine Bioenergy Range. Vol 1. Haug International. Brussels (tr Robert E Williams). 1990.
19.    Schmidt P. Bioresonance According to Paul Schmidt (Heimes, ed). Translated into English. 2007.

Further Information

The author continues his treatise about BioResonance in Issue 139 – BioResonance: Practical Approaches to Treatment.


  1. Kara Mia Vernon said..

    As a bio-resonance practitioner and trainer, I found this article most helpful. It can be so disheartening when trying to explain the relevance of this field of medicine to laypersons. To the sceptics, I challenge their belief in science and say to them that they are not in fact scientists, but rather mere "materialists" who believe in Newtonian laws only.

  2. Lorraine said..

    Very interesting article. I had eczema, which was successfully cleared up through bioresonance & I am now a practitioner myself! Excellent technology.

  3. Nabisar Mustan said..

    Thank you. I found you article to be very informative. I have just started to research this area in view of finding the right approach for a healthier body and mind. Nabisar PhD Cambridge University

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About Roger Coghill

Roger Coghill MA (Cantab) C Biol MI Biol MA Environ Mgt is a Cambridge Biologist, Member of the Institute of Biology, and part of the SAGE Committee appointed by the Department of Health to advise on precautions, if any, needed to mitigate electromagnetic fields and radiation effects on health. He has directed his own independent research laboratory in South Wales for 25 years and may be contacted via

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