Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Interference field, interference zone.
Neural therapy is the process of receiving an injection of small amounts of the commonly used anesthetic (pain killer) Novocain® (also known as novacaine or procaine) into specific areas of the body in order to supposedly relieve a variety of medical complaints.
Neural therapy is considered a form of alternative medicine in the United States. The theories of how the method works are difficult to explain in a way that would make sense to most mainstream medical practitioners. Practitioners of neural therapy base their explanations of how the procedure helps patients in terms of energy fields.
In 1925, a German surgeon named Ferdinant Huneke began to formulate the idea of neural therapy as a treatment when he injected Procaine into the vein of his sister, who was suffering from a migraine. The delivery of the drug to stop the migraine was unusual because this pain drug was always injected into a muscle as a painkiller in surgeries. On another occasion in 1940, Dr. Huneke injected procaine into the shoulder of a woman who was experiencing shoulder as well as leg pain. The pain in the woman's shoulder improved to some extent, but her leg became itchy. When Dr. Huneke injected the woman's leg, the shoulder pain disappeared completely. This experience led the physician to theorize that physical symptoms could be treated by injecting a pain killer medication into a different part of the body to cause a positive change in the patient's flow of energy in another area of the body. The idea that problems in one part of the body could be treated by injecting another part of the body was the primary theory behind what became known as neural therapy.
Neural therapy is popular in South America and in some parts of Europe. In Germany, neural therapy is considered a mainstream treatment for pain. Neural therapy is only practiced at a few clinics in the United States.
There has not been a large amount of scientific research conducted on neural therapy, and the way that this treatment method may help a patient experience relief from their symptoms is not very well understood.
Neural therapy is most commonly used as a treatment for chronic or ongoing, pain. Other less common uses of neural therapy include the treatment of allergies, arthritis, asthma, circulation problems, depression, dizziness, gallbladder disease, headaches, hay fever, heart disease, hormone imbalances, liver disease, menstrual cramps, phantom pain syndrome, skin problems, and sports or muscle injuries.
Before administering neural therapy, the practitioner interviews the patient about their current injuries, symptoms, and medical problems. Discussing past injuries, illnesses, and medical problems is also an important part of the intake process because this information helps the practitioner decide where an injection may be given.
After the intake process, the practitioner injects anesthetics (also known as a type of pain killer) into points on the body. These points are not usually over veins, but they may be far from the source of the pain or location of the injury. These points may be in or over glands, scars, acupuncture points, or other locations that the practitioner chooses after a careful evaluation. Sometimes injections may be given at a very shallow point under the skin, and sometimes an injection may be given much deeper, such as into a muscle or joint. Some practitioners administer neural therapy with lasers or slight electrical currents applied to the skin instead of injecting anesthetics. These tools are thought to cause partial blocks in the transmission of pain signals and are an option for patients who are afraid of needles.
The length of neural therapy treatment varies from one session to a series of sessions over a period of weeks or months. The number and frequency of sessions is determined by the practitioner's assessment of the patient's condition. The goal of neural therapy is to provide the patient permanent relief from their symptoms.
During the time that a patient is receiving treatments, the practitioner may encourage the client to keep a log of any changes in symptoms. The practitioner uses this log to determine the best points for future injections.
Patients may experience unexpected and at times intense emotional reactions right after the injections. A patient may feel the need to cry or to laugh. Some patients also experience sweating.
A course of neural therapy is intended to provide long-lasting or even permanent relief from symptoms.
Neural therapy may be combined with other alternative medicine practices, such as applied kinesiology or homeopathy.
Anesthetics other than provocaine or novocaine may be given.
Neural therapy is based on the idea that the injections may restore the body's natural energy flow. Proponents believe that physical or emotional trauma may cause long-term disturbances in the energetic and electrochemical functioning of tissues. In addition, scars or changes in neural pathways may create long-lasting energy disturbances as well. Stress, malnutrition, and a patient's inborn emotional and physical profile may also cause energy interferences. The area where the energy is blocked is called an "interference field" or "interference zone." These zones or fields are thought to distort the body's energy flow. Therefore, it is believed that interference fields may cause problems in other areas of the body that would not seem related in the opinion of a conventional Western medical professional. For this reason, points on the body other than those directly over the source of pain may be chosen for injection. Points are chosen based on the extent of the benefit they may have in correcting an interference field.
Injections are intended to remove the energy interference, thereby restoring the body's natural, healthier energy flow. The injection points may include the location of nerves, glands, scars, massage trigger points, and acupuncture points. Each of these points has a series of indications. In choosing points, the practitioner takes into account the patient's medical history to evaluate the most appropriate points for injection.
Formulating a patient's treatment involves careful consideration of the best combination of points. There is no prescribed formula for point injections by medical condition. Rather, they are chosen based on the patient's individual medical history.
Scientists have not been able to explain the way that neural therapy may help a patient. Different theories on how this may occur include the restricted electrical disturbance theory, the ground system theory, lymph system theory, or myofascial restriction theory (also known as the fascial continuity theory).
Electrical disturbance theory: Electrical disturbance theory is based on the idea that in chronic illness changes in the membrane potentials of the ganglia and nerve fibers occur. When the membrane potentials of these parts of the autonomic nervous system change, disturbances may also occur in the conductivity of these cells. Over time, this dysfunction may spread to nearby ganglia, potentially affecting both motor and sensory fibers. Abnormal signals may overwhelm the spinal cord's gate mechanisms, and electrical malfunctioning may result. These signals flood the brain, and disturbances of hormone regulation, as well as in the central and autonomic nervous system may occur. Neural therapy may interfere with this process by correcting the cells that delivered the original signal to the autonomic nervous system.
Ground system theory: Ground system theory is based on the idea that the fluid in the microscopic spaces between cells, called extracellular space, is interconnected throughout the body. The fluid in these extracellular spaces creates a network called a ground system. This system is thought to have properties of osmosis, electric conductivity, and ionic capabilities. Manipulation of the ground system through neural therapy may change the properties of the extracellular space, and the ground system may move towards a healthier state.
Lymph system theory: Injecting novocaine into a lymphatic node or channel may lead to significant widening of these structures. When the lymphatic channels are opened, the functioning speed of this important part of the immune system is increased because its carrying capacity is increased.
Myofascial restriction theory: Many massage therapists, chiropractors, and other bodyworkers have noted that the connective tissue that surrounds the body's bones, organs, blood vessels, and nerves form an interconnected web that surrounds the body. After physical trauma, fibrous tissue may build up as a scar or adhesion on the fascia. This scar or adhesion may change the overall orientation and tension of the fascia. As a result, musculoskeletal problems may arise, and muscles and organs may be displaced.
A qualified healthcare provider should be consulted before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Individuals with allergies to Novocaine or any of its components, such as sulfite, should not receive neural therapy. Individuals with allergies to other anesthetics should be extremely cautious in evaluating if neural therapy is an appropriate treatment option.
It may not be appropriate to give neural therapy to patients with severe mental illness because anesthetic drugs sometimes produce intense and unexpected emotional reactions.
Neural therapists believe that individuals with blood clotting disorders, serious kidney problems, cancer, autoimmune disorders, or a muscle condition called myasthenia gravis should not receive neural therapy.
Patients on blood thinners or serious pain medication, such as morphine, should not receive neural therapy.
High quality clinical trials evaluating neural therapy for the treatment of any medical condition are currently not available.
This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017