Ellis Micro-Dynameter

December 28, 1999

The Ellis Micro-Dynameter was a scientific-looking device claimed to “make the human body function as a simple electrical cell and measure the current it generates.” Invented in 1923 by an engineer named Francis Cutler-Ellis, it was claimed to diagnose virtually every human ailment. Distribution of the device began in 1931. Over the next 30 years, it was widely accepted by chiropractors for diagnosing “subluxations” and became their main “bioelectrical instrument.” It was also used for prescribing vitamin supplements. During the 1950s, the FDA estimated that about 5,000 had been sold, mostly to chiropractors. Available in several models, it was marketed by Ellis Research Laboratories (Chicago) and endorsed by many prominent chiropractors. In 1954, the company published an 8-page brochure titled “The Journal of Micro-Dynameter Research.” The main article (see below), which explained what the device was supposed to do, was followed by five endorsements. During the 1960s, the FDA obtained an injunction banning interstate distribution of Micro-Dynameters and had them removed from hundreds of chiropractic offices.

Model SA-1

The Micro-Dynameter


E. Z. Martin, D. C., President, Chiropractic Research

Official Journal of the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Research Society

New Holland, Pennsylvania

Ed. Note: Dr. Eli Z. Martin started with the Micro-Dynameter Sept. 25, 1945, when he had just graduated from school. He said at the time, ‘I turned a disadvantage — for the lack of patients — into an advantage by studying and practicing steadily.” The clinic shows the results he achieved by knowing exactly how the method is pursued. In 1951, he built his Chiropractic Health Center clinic from scratch in about 1-1/2 years.

The Micro-Dynameter will give you information you cannot obtain from any other instrument. It will tell you how much of a case you have to deal with; should you accept this case, or should you reject the case.

The health index will give you the probable prognosis. If the health index is between 50 and 100, the prognosis is from fair to excellent. If it is below 50 the prognosis is more questionable.

The dynamic energy measures the rate of recuperation. It is a reliable guide, while patient is under adjustments to see the trend of improvement or decline. As long as there is improvement in the dynamic energy, the patient should remain under Chiropractic. If there is no improvement in the dynamic energy, or if it is declining, the patient is either getting the wrong adjustment or he is beyond recovery.

The acid/alkaline test is a new body measurement. It does not just measure the pH of urine, saliva, or some other body fluid, but the readings obtained are those of the electrolytic conductivity of the tissues in the pathway of the test current between the tongue and the skin. Three factors are involved: the acidity or alkalinity of the saliva, the skin, and the tissue between the tongue and the arm. Temporary changes in the acid/alkaline balance occur with exercise (acid) and after eating (alkaline). The Micro-Dynameter accurately measures these changes. The pH of the urine cannot always be relied on as a basis for the determination of internal tissue conditions. The Micro-Dynameter gives the truest reflection of the clinical picture at all times.

By the use of the Micro-Dynameter you can, in a few minutes, make a complete analysis of the spine for the location of nerve interference. The Micro-Dynameter will faithfully point to the major subluxation, whether it be an acute or a chronic lesion. It will take the guess work out of your practice; it will make you a true scientist; it will make you a proud Chiropractor.

The Micro-Dynameter electrodes are so designed as to make it easy to differentiate between occiput, atlas, and axis subluxations. They are not large and clumsy to handle; neither do they give a differential reading (one side balanced against the other), but they pin point the exact point of interference.

Research conducted at the Chiropractic Health Center has proven to us that many times there is the same amount of inflammation on one side of the spine as on the other. Under such conditions it would be very easy to miss the subluxation if you were to use an instrument with a differential pick-up. Using a single electrode as employed in a Micro-Dynameter examination, it becomes almost impossible to miss a spinal lesion.

The Micro-Dynameter will also point to local infections as in teeth, sinuses, or over abdominal viscera; it will give the true picture and the exact location of the disease focus.

Many times trauma in the pelvic area will distort the upper cervical region. The atlas becomes distorted, there may be cord pressure and cord tension, which is entirely secondary to a pelvic lesion. The Micro-Dynameter will differentiate between the right ilium or the left ilium or between a damaged coccyx. Miraculous cures have resulted by the use of a coccygeal adjustment where the coccyx was involved; and it is so very easy to find.

The X-ray is very important to the Chiropractor and it is my opinion that no one should be without it. However, it gives a static picture of the spine; it is fixed photography. A distorted spine may produce shifting nerve pressures. That is, a nerve pressure may not register when the spine is in a certain position. But when you ask the patient to bend his head forward or backward, or from side to side, you may get a very distinct nerve pressure which is recorded on the Micro-Dynameter. This procedure may help to find subluxations which otherwise would be missed.

After an adjustic thrust has been given, a post-check can be made to see whether or not a correction has been made. Such procedure will step up your efficiency and result in a better practice.

The Micro-Dynameter makes instantaneous visual measurements that uses an entirely new principle, that is, it makes dynamic measurements instead of static. It gives you a true picture of the patient as of now. It shows you where the trouble is not where it was.

It makes important measurements in health and disease on the living body, not on a waste product which the body has discarded.

A short time ago a Chiropractor said to me, “If we could only know what is involved in a subluxation . . .” To this I say, “Measure and know, don’t guess. The Micro-Dynameter will do this for you.”


“Been getting regular reports from the Drs. Inman on the Micro. At the end of three weeks with the instrument they had showed a 48% increase over any previous week. Got the enclosed letter today. Thought you might get a kick out of it.” — R. L. Deming, D. C., Dubuque, Iowa.

“Thank you very kindly for sending Dr. Campbell to talk with me about the Micro-Dynameter. I found him to be most efficient in his work. We had quite a long session last Sunday and he left me with a feeling of renewed vigor and confidence in the Micro-Dyna meter. I have always felt that my problems came from faulty technique in using the instrument for the principle on which it operates is a well-proven fact and is the reason I purchased the instrument in the first place.” — W. C. Jones, D. C., Columbus, Ohio.

“I received a letter this morning which informed me that your November 1st class is all filled. I was very happy to hear that, for I know from long usage how much a Micro-Dynameter can do for a chiropractor. As you know, my hope would be, that every chiropractor in America owned and used one on every patient.” — M. H. Beebe, D. C., New Mexico.

“With a little practice and some good hard thinking on the principles and use of the Micro-Dynameter, new horizons will open up to -any conscientious doctor, and his problem cases will resolve in proportion to the mastery of the Micro-Dynameter and the intelligent use that is made of the facts that are found in each case.” — E. Eliopulos, D. C., Miami, Florida.

“I received my Micro-Dynameter the first week in January and have enjoyed using it from the first patient that I used it on. It is a thrill for me to run the electrode down the spine locating the trouble. I know when the cause is removed the patient will return to health. This is the delight that I received from practice for the patient to tell me how well he feels after being sick or incapacitated for a while.” — Willie Sacks, D. C., New-Orleans, Louisiana.

Two More Views

An Ellis Research Laboratory ad headlined “Prove Your Work” stated:

A GREAT PHILOSOPHER said, “When you can measure what you are talking about you know something about it.” And by “measure” he did not mean a rubber yardstick, guess work or personal opinion. He meant definitely calibrated gauges which anyone with eyesight could see and read accurately. Such instruments are the back bone of science. The MICRO-DYNAMETER is that kind of measuring device, one which forma a New Therapeutic Yardstick to report startling new facts faithfully and honestly and instantaneously . . . time and labor saving . . . . one which enables its owner to look any scientist (or his own conscience) in the eye and successfully defy refutation of its basic principles, its mechanics and the clinical results it produces.

The modus operandi? Utterly simple. (1) In a few moments you measure electrically, on a calibrated scale as plan as that of a weighing machine, the Vitality Index and the Oxidation Index of the patient to see how far from normal he is (how much of the patient you have to work with) and his ability to take on energy — Oxygen, the “Flame of Life.” (2) Then just as simply you locate with an exploring electrode focal points of disease and record the findings. (3) Then you give a treatment. (4) Then you retest immediately (no loss of time waiting). (5) The difference in the readings tells you what you have accomplished, right or wrong. What else does a doctor need to be sure he knows what he is talking about and doing? . . .

Thus is this powerful new weapon against disease forging a new era in diagnosis and treatment and bringing order out of chaos. The MICRO-DYNAMETER is like a road map to the motorist or a compass to the mariner. With it you can PROVE YOUR WORK

K.L. Milstead, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the FDA Bureau of Enforcement, presented the following description at the Second National Conference on Medical Quackery. The meeting, held in October 1963, was cosponsored by the FDA and the American Medical Association.

The device is a galvanometer mounted in an impressive cabinet. On its face is a scale or meter to measure in milliamperes the flow of current, together with a number of dials which can be set at numbered or lettered positions. The current which flows, and is measured by the scale or meter, is generated by closing the circuit between two dissimilar metal “probes.” The circuit is closed by placing the “probes” at different points on the human body.

In actual operation, the patient holds in his hand a combination electrode (or “probe”) consisting of a silver pole and a zinc pole. A lighted needle then moves across the scale on the face of the device. The reading obtained is the “Potential Energy” or “Vital Reserve” of the body. A second reading, obtained by adjusting the knobs on the face of the cabinet, is the “Metabolic Index,” and supposedly measures the “exchange rate of cellular waste and nutriment” in the body. The final reading, obtained with the same knob settings as the “Metabolic Index,” but after the patient takes a deep breath, is the “Oxygenation Index.”

These readings are recorded on a card, and by drawing lines between the points indicated two other values are obtained-the “Dynamic Energy” and the “Health Index.” These are claimed to show the general state of the health of the body.

With an electrode of antimony alloy placed on the tongue and an iron electrode on the arm, the patient’s “Acid/Alkaline Balance” is determined. In other tests, one electrode is held in the patient’s hand and the other moved to various areas of the body. High readings are claimed to indicate areas of pathology.

In general, the claims for the machine are that it can discover changes in living tissue by measuring electrical current produced by such tissue changes. Carefully controlled tests showed that the amount of current flowing between the electrodes of the device was due to the amount of perspiration on the skin and was not dependent on the health or diseased condition of the body.

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