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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Measurement of electrical resistance at the skin surface over Jing-well acupuncture points in chronic pain states Turner, Linda Catherine


The purpose of this project was to investigate an energy-based model of chronic pain. Given skepticism about the domain of energy-based healing as treatment for chronic pain, it has been suggested that research can only be furthered by the use of laboratory methods that allow for rigorous and controlled studies of the hypothesized biological pathways. A review of the literature established several measurement devices that could be used to measure the human energy field (biofield) but only an ohmmeter measuring electrical resistance at 24 Jing-well points showed promising biometrics. A reliability study conducted within this larger study demonstrated an impressive mean Cronbach’s alpha of .88 for the ohmmeter used in this study. Participants in the experimental group with rheumatoid arthritis and a pain level of at least 3 (0-10 scale) were compared to participants in the control group who had no medical diagnosis and were pain free. The measurements from the ohmmeter were compared to heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, Pain Catastrophization Scale, McGill Melzack Pain Questionnaire, and Profile of Mood States. There were significant differences between the experimental group and the control group on conventional markers of pain except heart rate variability. Similarly, there were significant differences between Jing-well measurements for the acupuncture points labeled ‘Bladder’, ‘Gall Bladder’ and ‘Small Intestine’ thus differentiating between the experimental and control groups. Ingesting an analgesic did not lead to significant between group changes in acupuncture point activity after one hour. Electrical resistance at all Jing-well points was highly correlated suggesting that they tap into a global level of physiological activation. Electrical resistance at acupuncture points was significantly correlated with total pain (McGill Melzack Pain Questionnaire) and some acupuncture point activity was correlated with the ‘Tension/Anxiety’ and ‘Friendly’ dimensions of the Profile of Mood States. In summary, it was concluded that the ohmmeter and its measurements possessed criterion validity for distinguishing pain from no pain states. This research protocol appears to be suitable for further validation research on the criterion validity of energy-based models of disease and can be seen as a bridge between Western and Chinese medicine.

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