Neural Therapy

Neural Therapy (NT) is a treatment of dysfunction(s) within the autonomic nervous system (ANS). NT was developed in Germany in the early part of this century (1920's) by two physicians, Walter and Ferdinand Huneke. Historically it involves the injection of scars, glands, trigger points, acupuncture points, vascular structures, ligaments and autonomic ganglia with procaine.

Neural therapy is a medical approach that diagnoses and treats local disturbances of the autonomic nervous system. The foci of disturbance, called interference fields, are electrophysiologically unstable and emit abnormal neurological signals to which the autonomic nervous system reacts.

Interference fields seldom draw attention to themselves and are often found in unlikely places, - surgical scars being the stereotypical example. Even stranger, is the fact that the autonomic nervous system may react to interference fields by creating symptoms in remote areas of the body. For example an appendix scar may be a source of long-standing migraine headaches.

The autonomic nervous system reacts to interference fields in many different ways. Myofascial or other pain syndromes may occur. Visceral function may be disturbed, resulting in illnesses such as asthma, GERD, angina, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual irregularities, etc. In addition, virtually all orthopaedic medical conditions have an autonomic nervous system component, at least in part.

Interference fields are not rare. In fact they can be found in a substantial portion of patients in any medical practice, and in particular the practice of orthopaedic medicine. They should be looked for in any condition where the autonomic nervous system is involved, which includes most pain syndromes.

The main challenge in the practice of neural therapy is detection of these interference fields. The most easily recognized are those found in scars, but other locations such as teeth, autonomic ganglia, internal organs, and somatic dysfunction are also common. (Somatic dysfunction by definition includes an autonomic nervous system component and behaves in every way like all other interference fields.)

Interference fields may be found by two different methods. One is by careful history taking. A key element of the history is a latent period of a few weeks between the illness or injury (e.g. surgical procedure) and the onset of symptoms. The other method is by physical examination. Subtle changes in autonomic tone around the interference field are sought and a technique called autonomic response testing is used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment is the easier part. The classic method is to infiltrate the interference field with dilute (preservative-free) procaine or lidocaine, followed by an intravenous bolus into a convenient vein on the same side of the body. The rationale for this treatment is that interference fields are caused by local cell membrane instability. A caine anaesthetic (through its cell membrane-stabilizing properties), restores the electrical potential, and helps normalize the physiology of the tissues. This effect lasts longer than one would expect from local anaesthetics and with repeat treatments the interference field is often permanently abolished.