The Past, Present, and Future of the Electrodermal Screening System (EDSS)

ABSTRACT: The author presents the past, present, and possible future of the Electrodermal Screening System (EDSS), EDS Test (EDST), and EDS Device (EDSD), and relates them to procedures that preceded them: traditional acupuncture based on meridian theory and electro-acupuncture according to Voll. The author and others have produced a body of scientific data and literature that demonstrate efficacy of the EDSS and offers plausible mechanisms of action. Use of the EDSS and EDSD for diagnostic screening and their possible integration into a modern health care system are reported.


Safe and inexpensive diagnosis by skin level measurements may be superior to present imaging techniques which give limited information. An instrument is needed that can be expected to do this reliably and effectively (1), a role that is filled by the EDSD. Its acceptance will not come easily and requires adequate research evidence.

The EDST, is a testing process in which measurements are taken with the EDSD. Together they form the EDSS, a general term that stands for all the components. The device, the test procedure and the system are integrally related and cannot be separated. They must be understood together.

The EDSS is theoretically based upon bioenergy (chi) and traditional meridians which represent the paths of flow of this energy. The obvious way to prove that such energy exists is by using a device which measures it. This is what the EDSD can do. This article reviews the history, methodology and the current state of modern research in this field of investigation.


Biological energy, known as “chi” in traditional Chinese medicine, is generated in internal organs and flows through channels near the skin surface, known as meridians. Acupuncture points, generally located on meridians, are where the flow of the energy can be manipulated. The stimulation at these points by various means affects the energy circulation, thus producing secondary effects in connected organs and systems (2).

The use of the word “systems” as used hereon refers to the source areas of bio-energy in body organs and systems. It is not to be confused with the “meridian system” which refers to the complete network of meridians. A meridian, which includes the structure of the system of origin, the function of that system, the electromagnetic pathway and its emotional-vibrational interaction, can be conceived individually or as part of an intricate network. The synergistic totality of the meridian system is fundamental.

Although various mechanisms to explain acupuncture are offered, the electromagnetic model fits best. Analogically the systems can be compared with energy fields connected by wiring. A small “dose” of electromagnetic energy introduced through an acupuncture point flows to the connected system and affects it. Anything that alters system function or structure changes the energy flow through the “wiring” and the EDSD measures the resistance and polarization at the affected acupuncture points. It thus provides a picture of the balance of related systems that are interconnected through the “wiring.”

Voll (3) was an early investigator who applied low voltage currents to acupuncture points in humans. His device was called the Diatherapuncteur, but the Dermatron (Pitterling Electronics, Munich) has replaced it. Voll’s original goal was therapeutic electroacupuncture but he noted that the low voltage emitted by his device caused a response at the acupuncture point which reflected the condition of the associated system. Thus, it could be used in diagnosis and monitoring of a patient’s health status and became known as electroacupuncture according to Voll (EAV). This was the revolutionary aspect of EAV which has led to development of EDST.

Most written material on EAV is devoted to location of measuring points and how measurements are made and interpreted (3-12). They generally lack appropriate referencing and are difficult to locate. Voll used EAV in conjunction with homeopathy, thus increasing the scientific credibility gap. We are perfectly well aware of such shortcomings and intend to address them. Voll was also well aware that research was needed (13).

The Device and Method

All EDSDs share the same basic design and functional use. The core is an ohm meter which delivers 10-12 microamperes of direct current at 1-1.25 volts. Since the ionization potential of hydrogen atoms is 1.36 volts, this is perfectly safe. In most devices the meter is calibrated to read from 0 to 100 so that the standard skin resistance of 100 kilo-ohms reads 50. Zero represents infinite resistance and 100 indicates zero resistance at this electrical potential. Some devices read from 0 to 200 and 100 indicates normal skin resistance (14,15).
The testing probe is an insulated body with a tip of brass or silver connected to the positive side of the circuit. This, held by the operator, is pressed firmly on the patient’s skin at the measurement point. A brass hand electrode is held by the patient and connected to the negative side of the circuit. A metal plate, for medicine testing, is inserted between the EDSD and the patient’s hand electrode (Figure 1).

Figure 1.
A simple schematic diagram of an EDSD.

Training in the use of the probe is essential (3). Point location must be accurate, and the probe must be applied at the correct angle. Appropriate pressure must be applied during measurement which may take as long as 60 seconds. This pressure can be from 600 to 2000 PSI depending on tip design and may create a temporary dimple. It may be slightly uncomfortable but should not be painful. Moistening the probe tip and the hand electrode ensures good electrical contact. Repeated measurements, the time taken for each and the time between them affects readings (16) (Figures 2 and 3).

Figure 2.
Photograph of a point measurement.

Figure 3.
Photograph of a patient during a four quadrants measurement.

Measuring involves two components, the initial reading, which is generally the highest, and what is known as the indicator drop (ID), a gradual fall in the original reading. An initial reading of aproximately 50, followed by little or no ID is considered to be “balanced.” Initial readings over 60 may indicate inflammation of the connected system. Readings below 45 may indicate degeneration. When an ID is present it is considered to provide the most important information as an indi-cator of system disease. Using “medicine testing,” the ID can be used to define the cause of imbalance (Figure 4).

Figure 4.
Five examples of typical readings taken with the EDSD.

There are 850 measurement points (4) on the body, but most mea-surements use points along 40 meridians on the hands and feet, gen-erally located between the diaphysis and capitulum of the phalanx, metacarpal or metatarsal bones (Figure 5).

Figure 5.
Examples of measurement point locations on the right foot.

Voll discovered new meridians, new measuring points and new functions of existing points, although his understanding and use of meridians was generally in agreement with Chinese tradition. His “new” meridians relate to joints, skin, fibrous and fatty tissues, se-rous membranes, pyramidal and autonomic nervous systems, lymph system, capillary circulation and allergic reactions.

Branch points, many of which were discovered by Voll, help in pin-pointing the exact location of abnormal function. For example, the branch points on the two heart meridians, one on each hand, include all the heart valves, the conduction system and coronary arteries. By combining readings from different points, a more exact definition of the affected tissue is possible.

The EDST begins with examination of whole-body energy levels
represented in 4 quadrants, hand-to-hand, foot-to-foot, right hand-to-foot and left hand-to-foot, using brass tube hand and brass plate foot electrodes. The probe is then used at the control measurement points (CMP) to determine the general condition of a meridian. Branch points are checked if there is a positive reading at the CMP or if symptoms suggest it, regardless of CMP readings. When an ID oc-curs, various reagents can be tested by placing them one by one on the test plate in the circuit in an effort to restore balance by abolish-ing the ID. Each reagent sample is sealed in a glass container.

Selection of test reagents is based on medical knowledge and experience and may require a combination. Reagents that abolish the ID may be found to be appropriate as a medication or as a nutritional supplement. No change suggests ineffective choice, while an increased ID suggests that the choice would be harmful. For example, in a diabetic, a proper dose of insulin would improve or abolish the ID, whereas refined sugar would increase it.
Medicine testing is controversial but may be the most promising aspect of the EDSS (12,13,17). Voll, who discovered the phenomenon, used it in conjunction with homeopathy and its effectiveness in testing homeopathic remedies has been published (16,18). They are particularly useful reagents since they are prepared in various dilutions which increases the likelihood of finding an appropriate “resonance,” to be discussed below.

This kind of procedure has been shown to be effective in testing herbal and allopathic drugs (18,19) and is successful in testing for allergy (20,21), the presence of environmental xenobiotics like insecticides (22) and the effect of biologically active substances.

Theoretical Basis and Holistic Approach

The EDSS is based on electromagnetic physics and quantum mechanics and this is well documented (23-25). Bio-energy, bio-information and harmonic resonance represent the biophysical foundation of its use. All living creatures generate energy containing biological information which flows in specific tracks throughout the organism. The cell mass in a given organ creates informational energy when the organ functions, giving rise to resonance. There is therefore a direct relationship between quality of organ function and the energy generated.

The initial reading in the EDST measures the energy generated by the connected system. The form and time elapsed in the ID and its manipulation through medicine testing represent the information contained. If system function is normal there will be electrical equilibrium between the EDSD generated voltage and the system. There will be no ID. On the other hand, if the system cannot maintain equilibrium, resistance will increase and there will be an ID. During medicine testing, it is the informational energy in the reagent that causes equilibrium to be established, thus abolishing the ID.

Bio-energy and its relationship with acupuncture points and meridians has been confirmed (26-28). Areas of increased electrical conductivity on the skin are known to correspond with them
(29-32) and scintillation scanning of radioactive tracers injected at acupuncture points reveals patterns of energy flow separate from blood and lymph circulation (33). A definite relationship has been shown to exist between a meridian and its associated system and other bio-energetic relationships have been found to exist between the exterior and interior of the body (34-38).

Bio-information research is new, but all matter has its own unique vibratory signal (39). It is possible to record the vibrational information of a given substance in water and use the water for treatment (40,41), information which can also be carried by photon and electron beams (42). Storage and transport of this information is almost certainly biophysical rather than biochemical, though its exact nature is still uncertain. Theories include L-fields (43) and biophoton emission (44). A plausible mechanism for medicine testing has been suggested (45) based upon quasi phase matching, or resonance, between the test system and the reagent. Chen (personal communication) has suggested that all biological systems communicate through similar quantum-mechanical processes.

It has been suggested that resonance energy of this nature is dispersed throughout the body so that resonance of one organ has a profound influence on function of other organs and systems. Thus, every system influences and is influenced by other systems. Any organ dysfunction affects the whole body and this always needs consideration in therapy.

As an analogy, one violinist in a large orchestra playing out of tune will make the whole violin section sound bad. Should the other violinists in the section decide to play out of tune with their colleague, the section will then be in tune with each other, but not with the orchestra, causing maladjustments by musicians in other sections. This generally does not happen in an orchestra because all its musicians know what harmonic values they need to produce in relationship to each other and constantly adjust. Constant adjustment, or “tuning,” in the body maintains the harmony of normal function.

Disease is induced by a lack of harmony, and abnormal function in any part of the body affects the whole organism, sometimes resulting in secondary dysfunction. This is particularly true of degenerative diseases such as AIDS and cancer. Mainstream medicine emphasizes structure and function, rarely addressing the electro-chemical mechanisms affecting the whole organism. For this reason it is usually incapable of effectively treating such conditions. The EDSS addresses whole body function because the bio-information read by the EDSD provides factual data which reflect on the condition of every part of the body. Using a computer, these data can be stored and analyzed, permitting repeated evaluations over time and even across generations.

Current Research

We have completed over 20 studies using the EDSS, 8 of which are translated into English. In the first study, 11 patients receiving treatment in a family practice were observed. Conditions seen included peptic ulcer, appendicitis, chronic chorea, and cancer of the colon, breast and uterus. In every case, readings taken with EDSD matched standard diagnostic tests (46). In another study, allergy symptoms were assessed by standard diagnostic methods. Testing with EDST correlated closely with accepted criteria, particularly the food rechallenge test, considered the most reliable method of testing for food allergies (20).

After further refinement of the EDST and standardization of the EDSD, data from 483 healthy individuals were studied (47). Quadrant measurements, which assess general biologic energy, did relate to age and sex. Point measurement did not, not particularly surprising since they represent energy and balance in a specific system at the time of measurement. Little or no variation due to these two variables would be expected.

We have studied chronic fatigue syndrome (48), and pesticide exposure (22). Measurement readings at points representing circulation improved significantly after half an hour of chi-kung meditation exercise (49). We have reported on two major studies in diabetes mellitus (50,51) and one on hypertension (52). It was clearly shown that it was possible to differentiate normal from abnormal organ and system function by measuring bioenergy at a few specific points.

EDST as a Screening Tool

It is possible to control sensitivity and specificity for screening purposes. In the hypertension study (52), readings were taken on all 428 subjects at the 40 CMPs and 24 branch points. A logistic regression model was used to analyze the measurements. Readings at 10 points were found to be affected by hypertension much more than the other points, most of which were on the pericardium meridian.

These 10 points were then used to create a screening model for hypertension and the data originally collected were reassessed using this model. If a positive reading were defined as an ID of only 2 or more, more positive tests would indicate screening relatively high sensitivity and low specificity. If only IDs of at least 5 or more were considered positive, screening specificity would increase and sensitivity decrease. The range of possible results of various combinations of screening criteria is defined with a statistical value called the cutoff value. When the cut-off value of the hypertension screening mode is 0.53, the correction rate is 73.42%, sensitivity 47.93X, specificity 89.23% and odd value is 7.62. Any cut-off value, that is any point along the x-axis, could be selected (Figure 6), thus determining specificity and sensitivity.

Figure 6.
Possible screening results attained using an EDSD based hypertension screening process.

Although increased specificity results in false negative readings and increased sensitivity increases false positives, the flexibility offered by this system is invaluable, particularly when medical resources are at a minimum.

Integration of Holistic and Modern Medicine

As we have said, many diseases can only be understood and properly treated by analysis of the whole patient. Although traditional and modern methods are used together by many physicians, the two methods have never been fully integrated. This is possible with the EDSS because it is historically connected to Chinese medical tradition which shares similarities with traditional medicine as practiced throughout the world. It is also truly modern and has a scientific foundation, is computerized, and produces data that are quantifiable and reproducible. Based on advanced physics, it is arguably more modern than the mechanistic and biochemical models that dominate current medical thought.

At our clinic, a comprehensive method of studying new patients has been developed. Quadrant measurements determine the general balance of the whole body, and CMP measurements determine the balance of the 20 meridians. Medicine testing is used to determine the cause of any imbalanced meridians. The aging process is monitored by measuring the levels of contaminants in the body, the free radicals or homotoxins in Reckeweg’s homotoxological theory (53). Emotional states and moods are monitored by measuring the electrodermal reaction to floral essence samples.

This assessment takes approximately 2 hours, giving body/mind information and environmental effects all at the same time, offering a complete picture of the patient. By selecting the best components from holistic and allopathic methodology perhaps the question of matter versus energy might be settled as an approach to treatment.


The author would like to thank Professors Kuo-Gen Chen and BinHsin Yang, and Dr. F.M.K. Lam Jr. for technical assistance; also Christopher Chalfant for his help in editing.
This research was made possible with the support of the Foundations for East-West Medicine, Taipei and Honolulu.

* Dr. Julia J. Tsuei received her medical education in China, Taiwan and the United States, and is a diplomat of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has participated in family planning and maternal-child health activities in the WHO and USAID and is a past professor at the University of New York and the University of Hawaii. She currently is at National Yangming University, Taiwan, where she established the Graduate Institute of Traditional Medicine in the School of Medicine. She established the foundations for East-West Medicine in Taipei and Honolulu in 1989, to research the integration of traditional and contemporary medicine.
Julia J. Tsuei, MD, FACOG, National Yangming University, School of Medicine, Graduate Institute of Traditional Medicine, #155 Li-Noon Rd., Sec. 2 Shihpai, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.


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Written by Professor Julia J. Tsuei MD FACOG

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