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Skin resistance vs. body conductivity: (On the Background of Electronic Measurement on Skin).


In this paper, we discuss several critical problems of electronic measurements of the acupuncture system, such as the size, shape, location, and stability of acu-points and acumeridians; the violent fluctuation of the measurement data; the holographic phenomena and the statistical self-similarity of measurement data; the transmission of signals along the meridian and its speed; the parallel distributions between higher conductivity points and higher sound intensity points; and the mathematical background of lognormal distribution of measurement data.

A conclusion, which comes from the contradictions between these experiment results and the existing knowledge in modern anatomy, histology, neurology, and biochemistry, is that there is an invisible dissipative structure the electromagnetic field, which is mainly composed of an interference pattern of standing waves in the resonance cavity of human body under the condition of permanent support of energy in an open system. To some extent, the invisible structure corresponds to the mysterious acupuncture system and is closed related to many energetic medicines.

The conclusion and recognition of the existence of the invisible dissipative structure of the electromagnetic field inside a body offers not only a new understanding of the background of acupuncture and many other holistic medicine, but also a scientific and quantitative way to evaluate the degree of coherence, namely harmony, of a body-mind system.

Electronic Measurement of the Acupuncture System

Acupuncture is a living and stubborn challenge to established scientific knowledge. If acu-meridian and Qi really exist, the modern scientific views of the body-mind clearly need to be revised. Therefore, the research in the mechanism of acupuncture is not only for the understanding of the old medical method, but also for the development of modern science itself.

(1) No Anatomic Evidence

The first dilemma that gives scientists headaches is that we could not find the anatomic evidences that may prove the objective existence of acu-meridian and Qi. (1-3) However, the absence of anatomic evidence does not mean that we can deny the existence of the acupuncture system, which is not only working, but also becoming more and more popular in many countries nowadays, out of clinical success. (4-6)

(2) Electronic Measurement

Besides the clinical success of acupuncture, the electronic measurement on the skin offers clear objective evidence, which powerfully proves the existence of the acupuncture system, even though we could not see it through anatomy. The electronic measurement of the acupuncture system was at first found by the German doctor Croon (7,8) in 1947, then independently found by the Japanese doctor Nakatani 9 in 1950. Since 1953, the German doctor Voll (10,11) spent 40 years to develop it into a diagnosis system. Today, the Voll-electro-acupuncture and some other similar diagnosis methods based on electronic measurements on the skin have been used in many countries (4-13), including China, the motherland of acupuncture.

(3) What is Behind the Measurement?

However, the point is, what is the background of the electronic measurement?

Querying the Terminology "Skin Resistance"

Usually, people call the electronic measurement of acupuncture skin resistance measurement." 4-13 There are several reasons to use such terminology. The first reason is that the measurement is performed on the skin of patients; the terminology objectively describes the place where we perform measurement. The second reason is that the acupuncture measurement in medicine is almost the same as the resistance measurement in electronics. Therefore, people think that what we measured on acu-point is also resistance. The third reason is that the resistance of body liquid is so small that it is completely negligible in the precision of clinical measurement. It seems that the reading of the instrument could only come from the resistance of skin, nothing else.

However, if we seriously check the terminology, we will find that there are many puzzling problems, which do not fit into the existing knowledge of anatomy, histology, physiology, biochemistry, and physics. Now, let's start our discussion with a series of important experiments.

Experiment 1: How Big is the Difference of Skin Resistance Between Acu-Points and Other Places? And is the Difference Reliable?

The first question we have to answer is why the readings between acu-points and non-acu-point-places is so big. The difference of readings between on acu-points and non-acupoint-places is usually more than 10 times (see Figs. 1-4). Many experiments3 show that the difference is almost independent from pressure (see Figs. 1 and 2), from voltage (see Fig. 3), and frequency (see Fig. 4) of measurement current as well.


Then, a crucial question occurs of whether, if the difference had come from the difference of skin, shouldn't it be quite easy to find the big difference of the structures of skin on acupoints and on non-acu-point-places through anatomy or histology? Unfortunately, there is no such evidence.

Experiment 2: The Shapes of Acu-Points and Acu-Meridians from the Data of So-Called Skin Resistance Measurement

For quite a long time, people believed that the acu-meridian was some pipeline like blood vessels or nerve fibers and the acu-point was something like neuroganglion or some holes, and it was expected that we would find them through dissection one day.

Unfortunately, this belief failed to be proven by anatomy or histology after a half century of research. On the other hand, however, the objective existence of acu-points and acumeridians is proven by means of electronic measurement with excellent reproducibility. Then, we have to ask what on Earth the acu-meridians and acu-points look like from the data of electronic measurement and whether they are like some invisible pipelines or knots or holes.

From Fig. 5, we can see the shapes of two acu-points measured electronically by the American scientist Becker. (12) The two pictures show that the acu-points are not like some knots or some holes with a clear boundary, but something like two small and invisible hills without a clear boundary.


The two pictures in Fig. 6 are the results of electronic measurement along the meridian and across the meridian, respectively, from American scientist R. O. Backer (12) and Chinese scientist R. J. Zhang. (3, 13) The results show that the acu-meridian is not something like a pipeline with a clear boundary, but something like small and invisible mountains without a clear boundary, but with several small and invisible peaks, which we call acu-points, on the small and invisible mountains.


The picture with pseudo-colors in Fig. 7 shows a landscape of conductivity on the skin of a palm. On the center of the palm, we can find the point with the highest conductivity, which is called acu-point "Laokung," which emits "Qi" according to the theory of acupuncture. There are other five points with higher conductivity on the centers of five fingers, which are also five important acu-points.


Experiment 3: The Movement of the Acu-Meridian and Acu-Point on a Large Scale.

Then, we have to point out that the landscape of conductivity on skin that has some correlation with the acupuncture system is not a fixed one, but a dynamic one that would greatly change in some special pathological, physiological, or psychological conditions.

The two pictures in Fig. 7 were observed by the Chinese medical doctor D. Z. Li 14 in the big project of sensation propagation along meridians." They show that the routes of sensation propagation, which are usually coincident to acu-meridians, can have great change in some special pathological states.

The important phenomenon can be also objectively measured electronically. We can see the big difference in the comparison between the normal distribution of the so-called skin resistance in Fig. 6 and the changed distributions of it in some abnormally pathological, physiological, and psychological states in Fig. 8.


In Fig. 9, we can see that the so-called skin resistance could even have some quite fast changes during a needling operation as well.


Therefore, the large scale movement of acu-meridians and acupoints can be both subjectively felt in the observation of the sensation propagation and objectively measured with an electronic instrument.

The large-scale movement of acumeridians and acu-points tells us that the acupuncture system is not some fixed network like a blood vessel network or nerve fiber network, but something that is a dynamic structure. In the normal state of a body-mind system, the structure is relatively stable. The outline of the relatively stable structure was somehow discovered by ancient people and roughly described in the theories of acupuncture and ayurveda as an acu-meridian network and chackras.

Experiment 4: Violent Fluctuation of So-Called Skin Resistance

It is important to notice that so-called skin resistance would not only have some big changes in some pathological or unusually physiological states, but have permanent fluctuations in various scales (see Figs. 10 and 11), even for healthy persons.


The more precise the instrument we use, the bigger fluctuation we would find in the so-called skin resistance measurement. If we use an instrument with very high sensitivity to measure the so-called skin resistance we would find that the reading of the instrument would violently fluctuate in very high frequencies (see Fig. 11). Therefore, in the viewpoint of electronics, skin would be a very bad and unstable resistor.

Experiment 5: Simultaneous and Holographic Change of So-Called Skin Resistance

It is worth further noting not only that the so-called skin resistance would change in various states of body-mind system and at various time, but also that the so-called skin resistance on all related acu-points in a body simultaneously change.

What makes the problem even more complicated is that the synchronous change of the so-called skin resistance, when a patent is ill, could not only be found on all main corresponding acu-points on the acu-meridian network, but also on all micro-acu-points on the ear, nose, palm, foot, and so on. In other words, the change of the so-called skin resistance is "holographic" or "fractal."

The holographic change of the so-called skin resistance happens not only on the level of ordinary acupoints and micro-acu-points, but also on any point on the skin. That is, whenever the body-mind system has some change, the shapes of probability distributions of electronic measurement data synchronously change and keep similar patterns in different places and in different scales (see Fig. 12). This phenomenon is called "statistic self-similarity."


Experiment 6: The Speed of "Sensation Propagation" and the Related Change of So-Called skin resistance

Another interesting phenomenon of the acupuncture system is the slow movement of "sensation propagation," which can also be monitored by a series of electrodes on skin. Another very interesting and important phenomenon is that the speed (slower than 40 cm/sec) of the sensation propagation and the change of the pattern of so-called skin resistance is much slower than the speed of signal transmission (20-120 cm/sec) in nerve fiber. Obviously, the phenomenon cannot be explained by the nerve system.

Experiment 7: Acu-Meridians as Channels of Electromagnetic Waves

The Chinese physicist B. W. Zhang (3,18) found that the acu-meridian is a good channel for microwaves of 1359MHz. He not only did experimental research, but also postulated that the acu-meridian is some kind of "wave guide" in which the slow speed of the signal comes from the "group speed of waves." This is the best explanation about the slow speed of the signal transmitted in the acu-meridian among decades of various hypotheses about the mechanism of acupuncture. It is great that B. W. Zhang had such a brilliant idea of the "group speed of waves" in the acupuncture system in 1959, long before the recognition of the dissipative structure in the scientific community.

It is also well known that many medical doctors in Western countries who performed soft-laser acupuncture also found that the acu-meridian is also a good channel for laser beams. Therefore, the acu-meridian is a channel of electromagnetic waves.

Experiment 8: Acu-Meridians as Channels of Acoustic Waves

Another Chinese physicist, P. S. Sun, and his colleagues (3,17) found the high similarity and coincidence between the higher sound intensity points and meridian on the human body (see Fig. 14). The result reveals that the acu-meridian is also a good channel for acoustic waves.


Experiment 9: Lower Resistance Points and Higher Sound Intensity Points after Amputation

For a long time, many people wondered whether the acupuncture system exists after death. The Chinese biophysicist Z. X. Zhu 16 observed the lower resistance points and the higher sound intensity points after amputation. The result shows that the lower resistance points almost stay in their original places after amputation (see Fig. 15).


Experiment 10: The Lower Resistance Points and the Higher Sound Intensity Points on the Surface of Plants

Z. X. Zhu (16) not only measured the lower resistance points and the higher sound intensity points on the legs after amputation, but made many measurements on the surfaces of various animals and plants. The results show that the distributions of lower resistance points and the higher sound intensity points on the surfaces of animals and plants are highly similar and coincided (see Figs. 16 and 17).


It is worth noting that the lower resistance points and the higher sound intensity points on the surface of a watermelon, which is almost a perfect spheroid, are scattered along the lines of longitude and latitude of the spheroid. This is the phenomenon and characteristic of the interference pattern in a ball-like resonance cavity.

Behind Measurement

The exploration of the background behind the so-called skin resistance measurement is a big challenge to biologists and physicists. In

some ways, it is quite like the situation of seismologists when they explore what is inside the earth. Both are exploring what is inside a body, but are not allowed to open it.

Of course, there is a little difference. The problem for seismologists is that they are unable to open the earth in order to see what it inside; whereas the problem for biologists is that they have opened the human body and studied it thoroughly and saw nothing related to the acupuncture system, though they have electronically gotten some mysterious signal on the surface of the body. Therefore, both of them have to explore what is inside based on careful analysis of the data, which were measured on their surfaces.

(1) Peeling Off the Skin

Japanese physiologist Y. Motoyama (19) did such an experiment of peeling off the horny layer from the skin, and found that only 30% contribution of the readings of electronic measurement comes from the horny layer and 70% from somewhere beneath or behind the horny layer.

Motoyama assumed that the 70% contribution comes from the polarization of the tissue beneath the skin and near the measurement electrode. However, the problem for the polarization explanation is that the change of the so-called skin resistance is not a local event that could be simply induced by a measurement electrode, but an holographic change on all points on the surface of the body.

Many other physiologists assumed that the change of the so-called skin resistance comes from the activity of the nerve system or blood capillary. However, the problem for the explanation of the activity of the nerve system or blood capillary is that both the nerve system and the blood circulation system are completely immersed in the body fluid, whose resistance is so small that the change in the nerve system or blood capillary plays almost no role in such a measurement. It seems that it is really difficult to avoid the words of skin resistance, since only the skin has enough resistance.

(2) Conductivity vs. Resistance

Now, let's try to change the way of our thinking a little bit in order to ask another more fundamental question, "What on earth is "resistance?"

Literally, the word of "resistance" means something that resists measurement current. Unfortunately, this is not the real case. In the viewpoint of electrodynamics (20), the resistance (R) is the inverse of conductivity (J), which is the ability that allows electrons to go. And the conductivity is proportional to the electrical field (E). Namely:

R = 1 / J and J = [sigma] E

Here [sigma] is a constant characteristic of the substance. Therefore, what we measure on the skin of a body is actually the conductivity for the measurement current, which is proportional to the electrical field inside the body.

(3) The Acupuncture System and the Heterogeneous Distribution of the Electromagnetic Field

In order to make this question clearer, let's measure an ideal human body, which is an ideal cuboid described in Fig. 16. In such an ideal situation, the two measurement electrodes can be regarded as two big flat ones, which press on the ideal cuboid body from both sides, since we usually use constant measurement voltage.

In such a highly simplified picture, we can see clearly that what we measured is in fact a heterogeneous distribution of the electrical field inside the body. In the comparison between Fig. 18 and the pictures in Figs. 5, 6, and 7, we can find that the acu-meridians are some lines with higher strength of electrical field and the acu-points are actually some places with the highest strength of the electrical field.


In the viewpoint of Fig. 18, we can also find the real skin resistance on the surface of the ideal body is actually only a disturbance for such an electronic measurement. What makes it even worse is that the real skin resistance not only disturbs the measurement results, but the wrong words of the so-called "skin resistance measurement" misled the direction of the basic research of the mechanism of acupuncture for almost half a century.

(4) The Source of the Heterogeneous Distribution of the Electromagnetic Field Inside a Body

Now, we can finally ask where the heterogeneous distribution of the electromagnetic field comes from. From Figs. 6, 7, and, in particular 5, it is easy to see that the hetero-geneous distribution of conductivity is the image of an interference pattern. (21, 22) The interference pattern is composed of electromagnetic waves, which, even from the existing knowledge of physiology, come from many organs, tissues, and cells. The relatively stable interference pattern is mainly composed of electromagnetic standing waves in the resonance cavity of the human body, or the bodies of many other living systems.

As a matter of fact, the interference pattern of electromagnetic waves inside the human body is a dissipative structure, which is relatively stable as long as the energy support in the body is stable. At the same time, it is a very dynamic structure. This is the reason why there are such big fluctuations in various frequencies we can observe (see Fig. 10 and 11), if we use some instruments with high sensitivity.

As soon as the energy support or the boundary condition of the resonance cavity changes, namely, the human body has some pathological, physiological, or psychological change, the shape of the interference pattern would also change. This is the simple reason why acu-points and acu-meridians would greatly change their places in some unusual physiological or psychological states (see Figs. 7, 8, and 9).

It is well known that the holographic phenomenon is a basic characteristic of any interference pattern. In the viewpoint of the interference pattern, the holographic phenomenon of the acupuncture system is no longer puzzling problem, since it must be.

In the viewpoint of the interference pattern, not only does the electromagnetic wave have the ability to produce the interference pattern, but acoustic waves also do the same. There is quite a simple reason why there is similarity and parallelism between the lower points and the higher sound intensity points on the surfaces of the human body and the bodies of other living systems.

In the viewpoint of the interference pattern, the slow speed of the sensation propagation or the change of so-called skin resistance can easily be explained with the "group speed" of waves in the wave guide, which is a part of the interference pattern.

In the viewpoint of the interference pattern, the pattern can also exist in a dead body, or any other bodies, like fruits or plants, as long as they are resonance cavities with constant support of energy. (Notice that the measurement current itself can also be a source of energy support.)

In this viewpoint, we would have a completely new understanding of the puzzling effect of acupuncture needling without a chemical remedy involved. The metal needle is a good new boundary condition to be introduced into a body in order to change the interference pattern in it. If the metal needle is just introduced in some decisive place, it would be able to greatly change the interference pattern. The decisive place is usually on the point with the highest strength of the electromagnetic field where many peaks of electromagnetic standing waves are put together.

(5) The Relationship Between the Inner Electromagnetic Field and Outside Radiation

In the viewpoint of the electromagnetic field, it is also easy to understand why there is such a high coincidence between the acu-meridian and the discharge pattern under high voltage and high frequency 23 (see Fig. 19), since the discharge pattern is closely related to the distribution of the electromagnetic field in the body.


In the viewpoint of the electromagnetic field, there must be some relationships between the inner electromagnetic field in living systems and the outside radiation. They are, at least, a part of mysterious aura that have been described in many religions as something that is holy, though it is not holy at all since everybody has it and we can measure it easily with instruments today (25-28) (see Fig. 20).


(6) Mathematical Background of the Statistical Behavior of Measurement Data

German mathematician L. Sachs (27) found that the data from many physiological systems fit into "lognormal distribution" (see Fig. 21) instead of "normal distribution," which widely exist in many non-living systems. German doctor Rossmann (28) found that the data of the so called "skin resistance measurement" on acu-points also fit into "log-normal distribution," instead of "normal distribution."


The author (21) of this paper found that the data of the so called skin resistance on any point of the skin of a body fit into the "log-normal distribution" as long as the tested person is in an ordinary state, and the "statistical self-similarity" of measurement data on different places and various scales (see Fig. 12) when the tested persons are in abnormal states, or in big disturbances. The author (29) also proved with combination mathematics that the background of the "log-normal distribution" is that the elements in the measured system are independent from others, and, at the same time, keep all possibilities of making cooperation with others as well. In other words, the data that fit into "log-normal distribution" come from a system that is in coherence, namely in harmony (see Fig. 22).


In the viewpoint of electrodynamics, when the data from the so-called the "skin resistance measurement" fit into "log-normal distribution," it means that the data, which was measured from the surface of an interference pattern, come from the superposition of many standing waves that were emitted from those oscillators, which are in so right ways of couplings that every oscillator emits not only its eigen frequency, but also many beating frequencies out of the couplings with other oscillators. 21, 29 In such a case, the frequency spectrum would change from "right noise" to "1/f noise," in which the energy moves from the range of the higher frequencies to the lower frequencies.

The detail of the mathematical proof was published by the author 29 in Britain in 1994. As a matter of fact, the mathematical proof was a very important and decisive step in the recognition of the "invisible rainbow and inaudible music"-the dissipative structure of electromagnetic field in our bodies.

(7) The Rough Picture of the Invisible Dissipative Structure Finally, let's stop our hard rational discussion with physiology, physics, and mathematics to see a nice painting (see Fig. 23) in which the American artist Alex Grey 30 vividly described the "invisible rainbow and inaudible music" in and around a human body.


In this nice painting, we can roughly see the outline of the dissipative structure of the electromagnetic field in and around a body, which obviously includes some knowledge from acupuncture, chackas, and aura, which came from the experience and intuition of ancient people. Though there must be many errors in such a primitive recognition, it can still be a perceivable reference image for serious scientific researchers who are exploring the details of the invisible and dynamic dissipative structure.



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Chang-Lin Zhang

College of Life Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028, China

Fachbereich 4, Siegen University, D-57086 Siegen, Germany
COPYRIGHT 2002 Temple University - of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education, through its Center for Frontier Sciences
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Zhang, Chang-Lin
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Date:Sep 22, 2002
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