Lessons from tesla for plasma medicine

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19 Scopus citations


It can be argued that plasma medicine originated with Nikola Tesla in the late 19th century when he showed that one could pass large quantities of high frequency currents through a human body with no apparent damage. Tesla's work inspired much more extensive investigations over a period of several decades by numerous other researchers, on both the physics and biomedical effects of these currents. These early pioneers had a surprisingly modern view of some aspects of the therapeutic mechanisms of high frequency currents that clearly overlap with recent results. The perspective of this community was that the most important physiological effects are associated with the high frequency currents rather than the gas phase plasma per se. Some early work, such as the analgesic effects of dielectric barrier air plasma on tissue, is not well known today. The range of afflictions that early practitioners treated successfully is remarkable. This body of work, in some cases almost 130 years old, might have important lessons for current investigations into plasma medicine. Observations from Tesla and other early practitioners suggests that high frequency currents are potentially important and plasma medicine researchers should probably pay more attention to them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8443160
Pages (from-to)594-607
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Radiation and Plasma Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Instrumentation


  • High frequency therapeutics
  • history of medicine
  • plasma medicine


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