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Allopathy brooks no competition. Not even from venerable ayurveda. The status that this 'tried-and tested' system of medicine enjoys in the medical world is unrivalled, so much so that it would seem heretic to suggest any other system of medicine for any ailment.

Yet , it has its Achille's heel. Sometimes, some chronic ailment stands up to allopathy. And then, when allopathy wrings its hands in despair, people sceptically start looking around for alternative system of medicine.

Such chronic illness that defy allopathic cures do sometimes find an adversary in alternative systems of medicine, but for want of the kind of proof that allopathy demands, they are not listed as 'guaranteed' systems of cure in the collective consciousness of the people.

India can boast of a  host of alternative systems', from the tribal 'Ottamulis', fast spreading 'made in Germany' homeopathy to the Hyderabad-based unani system which believes that "God did not sent any ailment without a cure with it. ' the pranic and reiki way are permeating into large sections of people with lightning speed too. the 'magnetic' way is gaining some popularity.

The effect that magnetic poles have on health is ingrained in our culture.

Traditionally, we are careful about the direction in which the pillow is placed on the bed, when we go to sleep. Electromagnetic therapy is a fairly new entrant to the fold of alternative medicine.

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) has been recently gaining a lot of attention in the US. PEMF was approved by the FDA in 1979 for the healing of non-union fractures. This approval came about after a Columbia University study, under NASA auspices.

Nearer home, among the very few practice this form of medicine, is Dr. S. Krishnan of Kochi. He is a practicing allopathy with also training in ayurveda, who got an award for the best DMO when he was working in kottayam in the Government health Service.

HE got interested in electromagnetic therapy in 1987 and since there was no one to teach him, read up everything he could on it and did some research into it too. Knowing modern medicine helped in studying this therapy and practicing it, says Dr. Krishnan.

It is a non-invasive treatment that works by permeating the body with low-frequency electromagnetic field, reaching every cell and changing cell potentials, and influencing the activity of enzymes and coenzymes, he says.

Literature available says the first human study was conducted in in 1971 by Dr. Carl Brighten at the university of Pennsylvania School of medicine . A site on the internet, on alternative

 medicine, says." He attached a pin directly to a broken ankle of a woman, which had ceased to heal on its own after nine months. A continuous voltage supplied by battery induced a current of ten microamps. After twelve weeks of treatment the ankle had completely healed." Since 1979 the FDA has also approved EMF therapy for the fusing of spinal vertebrate in patients with chronic back pain.

In 1979 the FDA approved the first electromagnetic device for medicinal  therapy. The majority of EMF device manufacturers now use a combination of time-verifying and static fields. Furthermore, the waveforms (Shape, amplitude, frequency) used are modeled after measured responses in human bone induced by mechanical stresses.

As of November, 1999, only two types of devices have received such approval. Research is going on in Japan and Germany.

Dr. Krishnan designed his own device with the help of a professor-friend, as this special bed in which the patient has to lie, was only available abroad and the cost was prohibitive. So he prepared a project to assemble one here. He made two of these devices, which cost a few lakhs of rupees and started practice in right earnest.

NO medicines, no injections, only lying on the bed, within a magnetic field, is required of a patient.

But for how long and under what frequency, etc is decided by Dr. S. Krishnan after diagnosis. The electromagnetic field is produced by a machine attached to the bed.

He says from his experience that pulsed electromagnetic therapy can be used for the recovery of almost all diseases.

This therapy, when used with other medicines, reduces the quantum of medicines otherwise needed and  duration of treatment also can be reduced. The cure or remission obtained lasts long. But everything else is hazy. Unlike other treatment this is a non-invasive form of treatment and can be given for all. No side effects have been reported so far.

Some effects like reduction of blood sugar level, blood cholesterol level etc, will help in prevention of diabetes, hypertension and heart attack.

PEMF also enhances the higher brain functions, Dr. Krishnan says. It can induce better learning capacity, memory, creative thinking etc, he adds.

"People are yet reluctant to try out this system and they usually come only at the fagend, when all types of modern medicine and other popular systems have failed," Dr. Krishnan lamented.

Mr. Deepak Nair, 29 a journalist working in muscat, also sought this system as a last resort. He was hard of hearing after a bout of meningitis. But he could get along with a hearing aid. One fine day the residual hearing also just about vanished. Visits to different ENTs brought in more and more bad news. He would always be stone deaf, he was told, as the trouble was with a nerve that was connected to the brain.

Someone told him about electromagnetic therapy and he decided to go in for it. "After ten days of lying on bed at Dr.Krishna's for an hour each day, I found that there was little difference. One month of treatment later, I got back my hearing right up to the post -meningitis level," says Mr. Deepak Nair, who is now on a holiday here in Kochi.

The cost of one session on the bed varies according to the needs of the patient, on the period and extent of the field. It ranges form Rs.60 to Rs.150.

Dr.Krishnan keeps video clippings of all his patients' progress and the 'before' and after visuals too. Mr. T.K. Gopinath of Anjumana, Kochi, had a stroke and he could not walk properly as one side was almost incapacitated. After treatment, you see on the video, a happy old man talking and walking slowly on his own.

Mr. Harikumar, a B.Tech degree holder, was devastated when he passed a test but failed badly at the interview because of his stuttering problem. He underwent electro magneto therapy and the stuttering almost vanished in the 'after' video clipping.

Mr. M. J. Sebastian 45, who was suffering from muscular dystrophy was told by doctors that there was no cure. His right hand was almost useless. After treatment, he could hold a pen and write too. Dr. Krishnan himself says cataract troubled him and after using this bed for some days, he could read.

Diabetes, hypertension, severe asthma and chronic diseases can be cured to a certain extent by electromagnetic therapy, Dr. Krishnan says.

Brain disorders like depression, aggression, anxiety, stress and conditions like Parkinson's Disease, epilepsy, migraine, stroke, Alzheimer's Disease, cardio-vascular diseases and degenerative conditions of the brain can be treated by PEMF, according to the doctor.

As it a sort of holistic system of treatment people cannot fathom the intensity and virtually grasp how a disease can be cured, in the conventional sort of way.

Those, virtually on their last legs, often give it a try with a 'you've - nothing-to-lose-but-your-disease' attitude. Many live to say they have been happy they tried.