What is it?
Neural therapy, also known as regional anesthesia or therapeutic neural blockade, is a treatment modality designed to correct autonomic nervous system imbalances. These imbalances, which are termed interference fields, commonly contribute to the persistence of chronic illness and organ system dysfunction. Interference fields in the body can be found in relatively common areas such as scars, disturbed sinus drainage, regions of direct injury, spinal segments and infected teeth. As well, it is possible to see these disturbances in more difficult to assess regions which will manifest symptoms in seemingly disconnected or distant regions of the body via the autonomic afferent and efferent nerve connections.
Myofascial symptoms, pain syndromes and disturbed organ function are all manifestations of disrupted nerve signaling between the sensory and motor pathways. Illnesses such as asthma, headaches, depression, anxiety, kidney conditions, back pain, plantar fasciitis, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder and prostate issues, menstrual irregularities, brain fog and regional pain, to name just a few, all have major autonomic nervous system involvement and corresponding interference fields. Addressing these blockades to healing is instrumental in restoring healthy nerve feedback in the treatment of chronic pain and long-term illness.
How does it work?
Traditionally, treatment is administered by injecting dilute (preservative –free) procaine into the interference field. While there are a variety of ways to address these blockades, treatment is commonly performed intradermally over the surface of the skin using a very small (30 gauge) needle. By addressing this “visceral-cutaneous reflex” the treatment can address disturbed cellular function in underlying dermatome associated organ structures. The procaine itself restores a normal electrical potential across the cell membranes and helps to regulate the physiology of the affected tissues. With benefits lasting much longer than would typically be expected from a local anesthetic, repeated treatments commonly resolve the underlying interference field resulting in the elimination or significant reduction in associated symptoms. Treatment is repeated at regular intervals until it is no longer required.
Why haven’t I heard about it before?
Practiced throughout Europe, Neural therapy was developed by two German physicians, the Huneke brothers in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, most of the literature and research on this treatment is in German or other non-English languages, some of which has been translated. The translated “Manuel of Neural Therapy According to Huneke” still remains the gold standard for doctors practicing in the US and instructional training courses are still taught by several well qualified physicians such as Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, Ph.D. The history of this treatment suggests that it was initially inspired through an attempt to understand the anatomical and physiologic rationale for Acupuncture’s benefit. This inquiry led these early pioneers of the therapy to eventually coin the term “visceral-cutaneous reflex” as an explanation. While fundamentally different from acupuncture in its philosophy, Neural therapy treatment is also similar in many ways, but also much more potent for many scenarios involving long-term illness.
Is it safe?
With nearly a century since it’s inception, neural therapy has a well-established and proven track record as both a very safe and effective modality. Procaine rarely causes allergic reactions and most of the recorded instances in the past seem to be precipitated by the methlyparaben that was commonly used as a preservative. At BCNC, all procaine used for injection is free from these preservatives. Anyone with a known allergy to a “cain” medication would, however, need to be treated with a different substance which can still be of significant benefit. Common alternative include dextrose, lidocaine or normal saline.
Any possible side effects are typically very transient and mild. There can be some local discomfort and pain at the site of injection and potentially some mild bruising which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Dizziness, sweating and a temporary euphoria may occur temporarily, and patients are always encouraged to remain in one of the clinic’s many plush recliners for a short while after treatment until these side effects resolve.
Since the treatment is aimed at restoring normal nerve function and micro-circulation to the affected tissues, treatment may result in the release of various metabolic acids which may have accumulated in the injured area. Likewise, by normalizing cell membrane potential, treatment can precipitate detoxification in the associated cells and tissues resulting in symptoms such as generalized fatigue, headaches and achiness. Drinking adequate water, taking chlorella immediately following therapy, resting, getting massage, doing contrast hydrotherapy and using castor oil packs are commonly recommended treatments that can alleviate these symptoms and support the overall therapy.
Are there any studies or research?
Yes, a simple Google or Pubmed search will show numerous clinical publications on the benefits and success of Neural Therapy. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the published journal articles are not in English due to the fact that the treatment garnishes much more awareness and utilization in Europe than in the United States. A small sampling of what is available includes:
- This study shows that Neural Therapy is effective on pain, function, quality of life, anxiety, and depression in patients with chronic low back pain.
Source: Comparison of Efficacy of Neural Therapy and Physical Therapy in Chronic Low Back Pain, Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013; 10(3): 431–435.
- This study shows that, in nearly 300 patients suffering from previously unresponsive chronic pain, Neural Therapy was successful in nearly 75% of the cases.
Source: Long-term results of therapeutic local anesthesia (neural therapy) in 280 referred refractory chronic pain patients, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015.
- This article makes a strong case for neural therapy as an appropriate intervention for chronic pain and illness, acting to balance the illness-related dysfunction of the nervous system.
Source: Neural Therapy by Dr. D. K. Klinghardt, 2002
- This study discuses the use of Neural Therapy as an effective treatment for chronic pain secondary to autonomic nervous system dysfunction. He described a patient who had significant improvement in hi low back pain of over 40 years
Source: Effective Treatment of chronic pain by the integration of the neural therapy and prolotherapy, Gerald R. Harris, DO
- This study shows that neural therapy is an effective, nontoxic and inexpensive treatment for multiple sclerosis that can confer both immediate and long-term benefits.
Source: Neural Therapy in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis: A pilot study, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1999.