MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

My friend Roger, the homeopath, alerted me to the ‘Self-Controlled Energo Neuro Adaptive Regulation‘ (SCENAR). He uses it in his practice and explains:

The scenar uses biofeedback; by stimulating the nervous system, it is able to teach the body to heal itself. The device sends out a series of signals through the skin and measures the response. Each signal is only sent out when a change, in response to the previous signal, is recorded in the electrical properties of the skin. Visible responses include reddening of the skin, numbness, stickiness (the device will have the feeling of being magnetically dragged), a change in the numerical readout and an increase in the electronic clattering of the device.

The C-fibres, which comprise 85% of all nerves in the body, react most readily to the electro-stimulation and are responsible for the production of neuropeptides and other regulatory peptides. A TENS unit will only stimulate the A & B-fibres for temporary relief.

The body can get accustomed to a stable pathological state, which may have been caused by injury, disease or toxicity. The Scenar catalyses the process to produce regulatory peptides for the body to use where necessary, by stimulation of C-fibres  . It is these neuropeptides that in turn reestablish the body’s natural physiological state and are responsible for the healing process. As these peptides last up to several hours, the healing process will continue long after the treatment is over. The large quantity of neuropeptides and C-fibres in the Central Nervous System can also result in the treatment on one area aiding with other general regulatory processes, like chemical imbalances, correcting sleeplessness, appetite and behavioral problems.

Sounds like science fiction?

Or perhaps more like BS?

But, as always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Roger explains:

What conditions can Scenar treat?
In the UK, the devices are licensed by the British Standards Institute for pain relief only. Likewise the FDA has approved the Scenar for pain relief. However, because of the nature of the device, viz., stimulating the nervous system, the Russian experience is that Scenar affects all the body systems in a curative manner.

The Russian experience suggests that it can be effective for a very broad range of diseases, including diseases of the digestive, cardio-vascular, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, urinary, reproductive and nervous systems. It is also useful for managing ENT diseases, eye diseases, skin conditions and dental problems. It has also been found beneficial in burns, fractures, insect bites, allergic reactions, diseases of the blood and disorders involving immune mechanisms; endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders; stress and mental depression, etc.

It is known to give real relief from many types of pain. It does so because it stimulates the body to heal the underlying disease causing the pain!

Another SCENAR therapist is much more specific. He tells us that SCENAR is effective for:

  • Sports and other injuries
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Issues with circulation
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Digestive disorders
  • Certain infections
  • Immune dysfunctions

Perhaps I was a bit hasty; perhaps the SCENAR does work after all. It is certainly offered by many therapists like Roger. They cannot all be charlatans, or can they?

Time to do a proper Medline search and find out about the clinical trials that have been done with the SCENAR. Disappointingly, I only found three relevant papers; here they are:

Study No 1

A new technique of low-frequency modulated electric current therapy, SCENAR therapy, was used in treatment of 103 patients with duodenal ulcer (DU). The influence of SCENAR therapy on the main clinical and functional indices of a DU relapse was studied. It was shown that SCENAR therapy, which influences disturbed mechanisms of adaptive regulation and self-regulation, led to positive changes in most of the parameters under study. Addition of SCENAR therapy to the complex conventional pharmacotherapy fastened ulcer healing, increased the effectiveness of Helicobacter pylori eradication, and improved the condition of the gastroduodenal mucosa.

Study No 2

Administration of artrofoon in combination with SCENAR therapy to patients with localized suppurative peritonitis in the postoperative period considerably reduced plasma MDA level, stabilized ceruloplasmin activity, and increased catalase activity in erythrocytes compared to the corresponding parameters in patients receiving standard treatment in combination with SCENAR therapy.

Study No 3

The author recommends a self-control energoneuroadaptive regulator (SCENAR) as effective in the treatment of neurogenic dysfunction of the bladder in children with nocturnal enuresis. This regulator operates according to the principles of Chinese medicine and may be used in sanatoria and at home by the children’s parents specially trained by physiotherapist.

_____________________________________________________________________

While the quantity of the ‘studies’ is lamentable, their quality seems quite simply unacceptable.

We are thus left with two possibilities: either the SCENAR is more or less what its proponents promise and the science has for some strange reason not caught up with this reality; or the reality is that SCENAR is a bogus treatment used by charlatans who exploit the gullible public.

I know which possibility I favour – how about you?

24 Responses to SCENAR, effective for a very broad range of diseases or merely a means for quacks to exploit the public?

  • I love it the way some people read a couple studies and they are instant experts on a subject with no experience of it. If its not stamped “AMA” it must be bad. But of course EBM (Evidently Baseless Medicine) has all its bases covered.

    https://scenar.com.ru/en/materials/articles-and-dissertations.html

    http://www.scenar-therapy.com/therapy/

    From 2009: Ghostwriting: The Dirty Little Secret of Medical Publishing That Just Got Bigger
    https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000156

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvGdMJdF02A

    Who’s preying on gullibility to kill more people? I know which one I favor – how about you?

    • To same us the time, can you point to any robust randomised controlled trials in peer-reviewed journals? I could not find any. What has ghost-writing to do with this? Don’t you know that tu quoque is a logical fallacy?

      • Randomised Controlled trials are not the only valid source for identifying effective healing modalities. Most conventional treatments have not undergone trials. They are used based on clinical experience. In fact the RCT is very flawed on many levels. Read Harris Coulter’s dissection of the RCT here:
        https://www.canhealyourself.com/homeopathy/pdf/Controlled_Clinical_Trial.pdf

        Clinical experience is equally valid for determining good treatments.

        When ignorantly being accused of preying on gullibility, an ad hominum attack is being made, which is also a logical fallacy. So I think it is valid to respond that The Pot is Calling the Kettle…

        • Roger

          RCTs are not the only source of evidence, but they are an essential stage. Without a rigorous and fair test we would not know if there is any intrinsic effect of the treatment. If an RCT is positive, then we can do other studies to see whether the effect is clinically useful and generalisable. Quacks love to skip this essential step and denigrate RCTs, because they usually generate inconvenient truths.

          It is not true that “Most conventional treatments have not undergone trials”. In general practice about 80% of decisions are based on good evidence, ie fair trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1314867/. Tu quoque again. EBM is a work in progress and of course there are ways to go, but that doesn’t invalidate it.

          In stark contrast the quacks resist all attempts to improve their evidence base. For them evidence is not a work in progress, it’s a problem to be overcome.

          Come on now, the manufacturers of these machines are viable businesses making profits. Are you really telling me that they can’t afford to do ANY proper research? They get away with it because the regulators are pretty toothless and under-resourced. It’s down to the savvy consumer to challenge them and ask for evidence. It’s interesting that the manufacturers only make claims for pain, but practitioners make far wider claims. The manufacturers train the practitioners, so where do the latter get all these other claims? I have my suspicions.

          There is a very odd logical flaw that the alt med community perpetuates. You said that “[in western medicine] …you have to have a specific protocol for each and every set of symptoms that a few doctors elect to call a disease”. For a start this is not really true. Symptoms are signposts, and validated tests are routinely used to clarify what they mean. Also signs are not the same as symptoms – these are part of the diagnosis. A cough is a symptom, a chest rattle heard with a stethoscope is a sign. Yet alt med is obsessed with symptoms. A homeopathic materia medica is based on symptoms not test results. Most of these symptoms are quite unconnected with the medical condition. For example it is ludicrous to think that tearfulness caused by onion has anything to do with the common cold, yet onion is a homeopathic remedy for a cold. Homeopaths make not the slightest attempt to look beyond symptoms, yet claim to treat the cause of disease.

          It is also ludicrous to say that a disease is defined by a few doctors. Your wild claim without evidence, that “conventional medicine had identified 250,000 different diseases (they think they can cure maybe 1,000 of those), I won’t even dignify with a rebuttal.

          I should point out that I don’t for a moment expect to change your mind, because you have bought into a belief system that has the happy side effect of making you money. I will just say that I have nothing to gain from spending my time writing this, and only hope that other readers who are wavering will understand the difference between evidence and opinion.

          • @ Les Rose: Very impressive response!

          • RCT are not a rigorous and fair test as Coulter shows.

            Who are the supposed quacks that resist all attempts to improve their evidence base? There are lots of studies done on Scenar & homeopathy, not acceptable to the mainstream but they are being done. Organizations are devoted to the research. I dont think any study could possibly convince a “skeptic” because they dont want to be convinced. It doesnt fit their paradigm.

            Did you follow the links I gave for scenar papers?

            Homeopaths and Scenar therapists are for the most part physicians who look at all the signs and symptoms that any other doctor looks at. Go and sit in on the clinic of a busy homeopathic MD in India, for example Dr Farokh Master in Mumbai (who’s clinic I observed) who sees 50-60 patients daily and does all the testing that conventional docs do.

            I am sure there are many estimates. A simple search found someone estimating 100k diseases. Still the same order of magnitude. How many chronic diseases can we point to for actual cure by CM?

            Such bs about making money. Yeah, we are all in it for nothing but the money. Another baseless ad hominum attack. Come have a treatment sometime and then assess whether i am doing this for money and whether it works or not. Ask around and see what other practitioners are making. But if the treatment wasnt getting results people wouldnt come back.

          • @Roger

            “I dont think any study could possibly convince a “skeptic” because they dont want to be convinced. It doesnt fit their paradigm.”

            What would it take to convince you that homeopathy is not an effective medical therapy? You certainly seem to be stuck in a paradigm yourself.

  • There is no registration of Scenar as a medical device so any diagnostic or therapeutic claims are illegal. I’ll notify MHRA Devices Compliance. Their email is Devices.Compliance@mhra.gsi.gov.uk. More complaints would put pressure on them to act.

    • The OKB Ritm company has 2 or 3 Scenar devices that are registered with the FDA in the same manner as the TENS devices for pain control. Scenar does much more than mere pain control but that would require a lot of expense and complication for registration. Other companies produce similar Scenar devices but cant afford the registration expenses. Scenar technology has been around and popular in Europe since the 70’s. It was developed for the Soviet Space program since its not feasible to bring a doctor and pharmacy into space. In the USA we get the benefits of the opioid epidemic instead.

  • And of course innumerable chiroquackers have added this space-age (25 y/o) cutting-edge non-sense into their practices-of-deception. With all it’s sciency gobbledygook, non-specific effects and myriad conditions-treated it’s perfect for scamming the gullible out of a few extra bucks.

    • In the western medical paradigm we have been brain washed into thinking that you cant have a general purpose approach to healing, basically stimulating the body’s own healing response. In other words you have to have a specific protocol for each and every set of symptoms that a few doctors elect to call a disease. One estimate I saw said that conventional medicine had identified 250,000 different diseases (they think they an cure maybe 1,000 of those)! You can buy into that horse-sh!t if you want to. I would guess that flawed paradigm has scammed more gullible people out of a lot of extra bucks, by many many orders of magnitude, than all the “complementary/alternative” medical approaches put together.

      • Dear Roger,
        I am not a medical scientist. But as a plant molecular biologist, I will offer you some information that may help to explain why it is very rational to conclude that many different causes for diseases exist, which each will require individual treatments, and why idea that “self-healing” via “general purpose approach” is a very naïve concept.

        I try to keep this post simple and am well aware that the following statements are simplified and the by no means complete. Still, I hope that my point gets across to you, Roger. I should mention that the following statements are beased on scientific evidence, not on belief.

        First, I want to distinguish between diseases from “external” causes and diseases from “internal” causes (I know, Dr. Money-Kyrle… I am aware that these certainly are not medical categories 😉 ).

        External causes could e.g. be of biological nature. It should be obvious that a disease caused by bacteria (e.g. a bacterial sepsis) should be treated very differently than a disease caused by a virus (e.g. Aids). One reason is that antibiotics can kill bacteria, but not virus particles. Since many infectious diseases exists, many individual treatments of these are necessary.

        With “Internal causes”, I refer to causes that, for example, are related to the genes.
        As far as I can tell, you are not very informed about biology, so I give you a very brief refreshment about the biological basics (disclaimer: my apologies, but to keep it simple, I have to leave out MANY more aspects, such as regulatory RNA, splicing variants of genes, post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation, ect.pp.).

        All living beings have genetic information in their cells, humans e.g. have double stranded DNA.
        The DNA is the template for the production of proteins (see disclaimer above). Proteins perform most of the functions in the body, and estimated 19,000-20,000 proteins are encoded in the human DNA. It can be assumed that pretty much every single one of these proteins is of some importance for a “healthy” human, because maintenance of the genes in the human genome and production of the protein demands energy. For this reason, genes/proteins that are defect or not important for optimal reproduction tend to get lost over time (which is the basis for evolution).

        DNA is a very long chemical molecule, and mutations can occur, e.g. during the replication or induced by certain chemicals or UV radiation. Sometimes (but by no means always), such a mutation leads to production of proteins that have altered function, e.g. loss-of-function or de-regulated activity. Such mutations can then cause diseases, e.g. genetic disorders, cancer, etc.

        Scientific studies have elucidated MANY examples. Just a few selected examples are:
        *mutation of the dystrophin gene leading to Duchenne muscular dystrophy
        *mutation of the BRCA1 gene promotes different forms of cancer
        *mutation of the LAMB3 gene causes the skin disease Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa
        * Irregular length of the HTT gene causes Huntington’s disease

        The more we learn about the functions of individual proteins and the networks that these proteins act in, the more connections to diseases are elucidated.

        Although the human “body’s own healing response” (e.g. via the immune system) CAN be very powerful fighting off certain types of infections, it is NOT able to fight such diseases.
        If you want to get an idea how difficult it is to treat such gene-related diseases, you might want to follow these links:

        https://epidermolysisbullosanews.com/2017/11/21/interview-with-scientists-behind-potential-epidermolysis-bullosa-gene-therapy-and-hassan-surgeries/

        https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24487

        I hope that these examples illustrate that the human body is very complicated and why simple answers for treatment of very different conditions, as suggested by many SCAM proponents, is so ridiculous.

        • A nice post, Jashak. I’m pleased you gave infectious diseases as an example of the complex and quite different nature of your class of ‘externally caused’ diseases.

          @Roger. Jashak gave the example of bacterial sepsis vs. HIV infections where entirely different antimicrobial agents are used for treatment. But it goes further than that. Different bacteria and viruses require entirely different antimicrobial agents to inhibit their growth and provide effective treatments, because even these tiny agents of disease differ enough in their DNA to be susceptible only to particular antimicrobials. They’re also specialized at infecting different parts of the body.

          I’ll give just two examples of this specialism. One is the bacterium Neisseria gonnorrhoeae, the cause of gonorrhoea, whose genes encode specialized surface ‘hairs’ that specifically attach the bugs to mucosal epithelial cells, thus explaining why gonorrhoea affects mainly urinary and genital mucosa. The second example is the bacterium Clostridium tetani which gets into wounds from soil, does little local damage, but whose genes encode a secreted protein neurotoxin that finds its way into the bloodstream and travels to cause prolonged, convulsive contractions of muscle that are often fatal.

          Of course, the human body has evolved an immune system to deal with infectious microbes, but this is necessarily incredibly complex. Many people don’t begin to understand just how complex immunity is: to get a taste, please look here (Fig. 1) and here. The complexity exists to cope with the enormous diversity of microbial ‘virulence factors’ and the ‘system’ is not perfect: it can turn on its human host to cause autoimmune diseases, or even damage tissues in its efforts to eradicate microbes (e.g. in tuberculosis).

          I hope you’re beginning to understand why Jashak says (and I agree with him totally) “…simple answers for treatment of very different conditions, as suggested by many SCAM proponents, is so ridiculous.”

        • I disagree that different infectious diseases necessarily means that different treatments are required. That is 19th century thinking. From what we now know about the microbiome, there are 10 non-human cells for every human cell in the body. I read where 5% of the population has plague germs in their body. We haven’t seen plague epidemics in a long time. When an epidemic sweeps through a population, most of the population resists it. The small percentage that is seriously effected has a weakened susceptibility. A generalized treatment can strengthen the immune system and reduce the susceptibility. A better model of disease than the germ theory is to consider the germ and the susceptibility. The germ theory has relied on killing the germs to solve disease and that approach is reaching a dead end, or at least it should as we realize how important the microbiome is.

          Most of the serious diseases that conventional medicine claims to have abated, were mostly reduced due to better air, water, food and living conditions. That means our body’s own immune systems handled the disease assaults because they were less susceptible.

          Genetic causes of diseases account for a tiny subset of chronic disease. And we are finding that many of the genetic disease have environmental and epigenetic factors that mediate their expression. Gene therapies were going to revolutionize medicine. They have gone nowhere except a few instances.

          • I don’t think any of us expected you to agree. BTW it’s `affected’ not `effected’ in that context.

          • We can with confidence strike infections and microbiology from the short list of things “Roger” knows something about.

          • Dear Roger,
            regarding your 1st paragraph (“I disagree” (…) “how important the microbiome is.”):
            Sorry, you have lost me, I have no f-king clue what you are talking about. Sounds like complete gibberish to me.

            Regarding your 2nd paragraph (“Most of the serious“ (…) “were less susceptible”):
            Such nonsense! Have you ever heard about vaccination?! Just google smallpox or poliomyelitis.

            Regarding your 3rd paragraph (“Genetic cause (…)”):
            I don’t think that you understand what epigenetics means. You might want to refrain from using terms that sound scientific to you, but which you obviously don´t understand.
            You are, however, correct that establishing gene therapy has proven to be more difficult than anticipated early on by some scientists (one example is the tragic case of Jesse Gelsinger). Since gene therapy is a very young research field, I am optimistic that progress will be made in the future to cure many currently untreatable forms of devastating diseases.

            I would like to point out that I find it repugnant that you downplay the successes of gene therapy by saying “They have gone nowhere except a few instances.”
            You might want to have a look at Figure 1 of this paper.
            https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24487

            Why don´t you ask the boy what he thinks of gene therapy?

          • “I disagree that different infectious diseases necessarily means that different treatments are required.”
            You may disagree but that doesn’t make it so. Have you any experience treating serious infectious diseases?

            “That is 19th century thinking”
            What on earth do you mean by that?

            “I read where 5% of the population has plague germs in their body”
            I’m not sure I understand that sentence, either. You read that there is a place where 5% of the population is carrying plague? Where is that place and where did you read it? It doesn’t seem very likely to me.

            “We haven’t seen plague epidemics in a long time”
            I think the last epidemic was during the Vietnam war. The CDC states that the last urban outbreak in the US was in Los Angeles in 1924-1925. There are still many thousands of cases reported annually, mostly in Africa, but plague responds to antibiotics and modern supportive therapy so the prognosis is much better than it once was.

            “When an epidemic sweeps through a population, most of the population resists it.”
            Isn’t that sentence contradicting itself?

            “The small percentage that is seriously effected has a weakened susceptibility.”
            That applies to sporadic infections, not epidemics. Though I think you mean that the susceptibility is increased, not weakened.

            ” A generalized treatment can strengthen the immune system and reduce the susceptibility”
            I am really getting fed up with these daft claims that over-simplify the immune system as if it were something that either works or it doesn’t. The immune system is the most complex system in the body with many thousands of components dealing with different kinds of infections and interacting with each other in order to regulate responses. There is no generalised treatment for the immune system, any more than there is a generalised solution for a car that doesn’t go properly.

            ” A better model of disease than the germ theory is to consider the germ and the susceptibility. ”
            Well yes, of course. Any doctor can tell you that.

            “The germ theory has relied on killing the germs to solve disease and that approach is reaching a dead end”
            Actually it has mostly relied on hand-washing.

            “we realize how important the microbiome is”
            We know it is important, but it is another very complex system which hasn’t been worked out yet.

            “Most of the serious diseases that conventional medicine claims to have abated, were mostly reduced due to better air, water, food and living conditions”
            You forgot to mention vaccines.

            “That means our body’s own immune systems handled the disease assaults because they were less susceptible. ”
            Actually it meant that our bodies were less likely to be exposed to pathogens. Though nobody would disagree that poor nutrition and the presence of co-morbidities will increase the susceptibility to and impact of infectious diseases.

            “Genetic causes of diseases account for a tiny subset of chronic disease”
            That is certainly not the case. Leaving aside diseases with a clear Mendelian inheritance (Huntington’s, cystic fibrosis), family history is a major risk factor in common problems such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer… With DNA analysis now cheap, easy and quick the constellations of genes responsible for these risks are beginning to be identified.

            “many of the genetic disease have environmental and epigenetic factors that mediate their expression.”
            Again you are stating the obvious. Genes are expressed in relation to environment.

            “Gene therapies were going to revolutionize medicine.”
            Don’t believe all the hype. It takes a long time to go from an idea to an established treatment, despite what you read in the media.

          • @Roger

            I couldn’t face taking the time to respond point by point to your profound misunderstandings of medical microbiology. Thanks to Julian I don’t need to.

            Roger, you seem to have an uncanny knack for grasping the wrong end of every stick that floats into your field of vision. You seem to be entirely unaware of the deep foundation of scientific research that underpins the study of infectious diseases. You talk about ‘germ theory’ almost in the “it’s only a theory” manner used by fundamentalists about evolution. You clearly imagine you are a level-headed, rational person but boy, you’re not even at novice level when it comes to infection and immunity. You should try thoroughly reading a textbook of medical microbiology, not just surfing websites for quotes that support your weird views about ‘strengthening the immune system’ and the like.

            I’ll respond only to one point from your muddled post. “From what we now know about the microbiome, there are 10 non-human cells for every human cell in the body.” We already knew there were huge numbers of microbial cells in the body decades before the term ‘microbiome’ was invented. The 10:1 ratio originates from a 1972 article by Luckey (Am J Clin Nutr 25:1292–1294) which used then available estimates of gut microbial flora (10^14) vs. then available estimates of numbers of human cells in the body (10^13). Savage (Ann Rev Microbiol, 1977;31:107–133) discusses the topic in more detail.

            So your numbers don’t come from ‘what we now know about the microbiome’ at all. In fact, people who study the microbiome are now challenging the 10:1 ratio [http://www.microbiomeinstitute.org/blog/2016/1/20/how-many-bacterial-vs-human-cells-are-in-the-body] and suggesting the numbers of microbial and human cells in the body are about equal (1.3:1). Whatever the truth, it’s pretty indisputable that around 2 kg of the average human body weight is comprised of gut microbes: and we’ve known that for very many years. That datum is usually trotted out in the first lecture of microbiology 101.

  • This device is recommended on some Scoliosis facebook sites – claiming that it can straighten a scoliosis. In this circumstance it is preying on the very vulnerable and desperate who have a condition for which for many there is no real solution or cure.

    Can I post this thread on facebook to back up my challenge ?

  • Roger

    Yes I did follow your links for Scenar papers. I could not find any rigorous studies in quality journals. That’s why I asked you to cite one. You conveniently say that RCTs are not fair tests. Special pleading if ever I saw it. Harris Coulter is a well known vaccine critic and frankly a danger to public health: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Vaccine_Information_Center

    So with the efficacy of vaccines robustly shown by RCTs, Coulter writes that RCTs are not fair tests. How convenient! And not even peer reviewed or published in a journal.

    I think you need to realise that the randomised controlled trial is not the preserve of the health care sector. It is the basic tool of the whole of science. If you deny its utility, you deny most of what we know about the universe. You can live in that fantasy if you like, nothing I can do about that, other than try to stop your thought processes from propagating.

  • SCENAR is said by some to be the product of a secret Soviet space programme or the like.

    This audio from vet Roger Meacock at a radionics (see https://www.rcvs.org.uk/news-and-views/news/disciplinary-hearing-for-derbyshire-based-vet-adjourned/ for more on him) is very “interesting”. A baby grew a new kidney.

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