Layout Image

Interactive neurostimulation (INS)

How INS works

InterX deviceInteractive neurostimulation is a form of electrical therapy that uses micro-current electrical stimulation. This works by mimicking the body’s own bioelectrical system. It restores the balance and kick-starts the body’s healing process. In a nutshell, it’s a handheld pain relief device that is non-invasive and helps the body to heal itself.

INS was developed by Russian Scientists in the 1970s as an offshoot of their space programme. They needed a treatment to keep cosmonauts in optimum health – but one that was portable, non-invasive and did not involve needles or drugs. The INS device looks similar to a TV remote control and is battery powered.

The original Russian device, called Scenar (which stands for “Self-Controlled Energo Neuro Adaptive Regulator”) was introduced into the UK in 1997. It represented a breakthrough in stimulating the body into natural self-healing. This advanced technology was also researched in the USA and an INS device was launched there in 2005 under the name InterX. INS therapy is now used routinely by thousands of medical practitioners, paramedics and hospitals in Russia. I currently use both the Scenar and InterX devices together with a combination of INS treatment protocols.

When placed on the skin, the device sends an electrical signal into the body, “listens” for a response by recording the skin’s galvanic response (its electrical resistance), returns a newly modified signal back to the body, and then again listens to the reply. This is known as a bio-feedback and treatment loop and the dynamically changing impulse counters the body’s natural tendency to develop a tolerance to static therapies.

The electrical impulses travel down the nerve fibres to the brain where they trigger the release of certain chemicals such as endorphins (the body’s own painkillers) and neuropeptides. These chemicals then enter the blood stream and travel all round the body.

INS uses many of the same principles as acupuncture. Since an embryo’s skin develops from the same tissue as its nervous system, we can treat skin areas that map to internal organs and energy pathways.

After an accident, surgery, chronic or extreme stress, or disease, the body commonly provides a measure of healing, but how fast, deep and comprehensive this is depends on what other issues the body is dealing with. If the body is in a weakened, stressed or distracted state, its reaction to the damaging event may be slow, leading to the condition becoming more established. Then, after giving it a period of attention, the body often moves on to other priorities, allowing this part of the body or its systems to remain “stuck” in a low-energy pain and disease state. INS therapy can help to clear these blockages.

This can be thought of in a similar manner to the way in which a computer printer with a paper jam is unable to print. As soon as the offending paper is removed, the stored print jobs can proceed and all the documents are successfully printed. The information was there all along – it was just necessary to fix the blockage in order to allow it to flow!

Overall, INS therapy helps the body to recognise and re-connect with damaged or painful areas. INS re-awakens the brain, reminding it of its healing priorities and guiding it back into a balanced and pain-free state.

What can INS treat?

INS is effective for a wide range of conditions including:

  • Backs & joints: Slipped discs, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, repetitive strain injury (RSI), tennis elbow, golfer’s knee, bursitis, tendonitis, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff pain, whiplash, spondylosis and sciatica.
  • Acute injuries: Fractures, strains, sprains, burns, tears, and post-operative wounds.
  • Digestive & hormonal: Irritable bowel, colitis, endometriosis, menstrual pain.
  • Neurological: Migraines, myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).

While the most obvious effect of INS is relieving pain, it is often the case that there are much wider results as the whole system return to balance. Depending on the protocols used, major progress has been seen with stress, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, fatigue, skin tone, ageing and allergies.

Technical and scientific specifications

The INS device emits a dosed signal stream that consists of waveform, signal strength and frequency; all of which can be varied by the therapist. The experienced therapist can draw on a comprehensive range of treatment variations to deal with both acute and chronic conditions.

There is no diagnosis in the conventional medical sense – the body, via the INS device and the therapist, will itself indicate what it needs. After establishing a dialogue with the body (see “How INS works”), the INS device determines the most appropriate signals to stimulate self-healing.

The power output is set by the operator to be detectable, but comfortable, for the patient. It can also be adjusted during application should this be required. The maximum current output is 70mA and the peak voltage is 180v, derived from standard, internal batteries. These peak levels would be uncomfortable under most circumstances and are used only in emergency situations or for a split second in areas where the nerves are significantly damaged or blocked. Once the signal has “broken through” and is starting to be felt, the therapist will quickly bring down the strength to comfortable levels.

INS uses a short, high amplitude cycle followed by several lower amplitude cycles all operating at the same frequency (which is adjustable and variable). The body effectively controls the INS via changes of skin impedance, thus regulating the structure of each new impulse so that almost every one of them will be different from the previous one.

The basic signal component is a bipolar pulse, comprising a negative square-wave followed by a positive saw-tooth, starting and finishing at zero and lasting for a few microseconds. A number of these pulses may be packaged into a discrete burst (intensity) which itself may be repeated at a fixed default frequency. The individual pulses in these bursts can themselves be spaced out to give a concentrated (deep) or diffuse (shallow) penetration, depending on local body density or depth of pain location. Alternatively, a single pulse may be pre-selected to a pulse repeat rate over a set frequency range. The signal may also be “modulated” either by altering the ratio of “time-on” to “time-off” or by changing the pulse waveform by selecting one of a series of set damping factors. These modulations can either be applied individually or together.

There is also the possibility of automatically cycling both the pulse repeat rate over a set frequency range and the waveform-damping factor. These cyclical modes can again be invoked either individually or together.

A feedback mechanism is provided by the constant monitoring of skin impedance, which will change with time and “dosage” delivered. Integration of these values permits calculation and display of rate of change (of current flow) and coefficient of waveform in relation to the starting point.

The purpose of all these variants is to give the operator a large toolbox with which to stimulate both acute and chronic conditions and prevent the body from adapting to the signal before there has been time to generate sufficient neuropeptides.

The device will also detect the areas on the skin that are most in need of treatment. Trauma or disease affects the electrical potential (voltage) of the damaged cells: the injured site has a much higher electrical resistance than the surrounding areas. As electricity tends to flow towards the path of least resistance, the INS can detect where the damaged areas lie and therefore where the treatment should be centred.

INS communicates with the nervous system’s C fibres. These are the thinnest and slowest fibres, representing 80% of the overall nervous system. Crucially, they are able to release a far greater spectrum of proteins (regulatory peptides) than the A and B fibres. These control all our major biological functions (eg endorphins for pain relief, vasopressin for memory). It takes a very unique and powerful signal to excite the C fibres, but INS does this in a very elegant and safe way. Other electro-stimulation devices like TENS just excite the nervous system’s easy-to-reach A and B fibres, the rapid information highways that communicate primarily with the muscles.