Pain Research Newsletter

Back Pain Cure (?)

From the Pain Research Institute

By Darrell Stoddard

      If I told you 100 years ago that we would be able to send spoken words and music through the air, and 30 years after that send color pictures though the air, you would definitely think I had lost my mind. And if I told you just thirty years ago that something you have never heard of would completely replace typewriters, you would think I was deranged.

    Discovering a better way of healing pain with something other than medication or surgery, sounds as incredulous as sending pictures through the air or replacing all typewriters. Just such a discovery has been made. See the following:

    I recently received the following letter in an E-mail from John Liammari:

     "9 Years ago I had two ruptured Cervical Spine disks that two neurologists insisted would compromise my life style if I did NOT have a laminectomy (spinal fusion). ONE treatment with Biotape along with life style changes described in your book - mainly hydration - and I have been doing everything the doctors insisted I would never do again."

     I have seen this scenario repeated hundreds of times – people who were told that spinal surgery was their only recourse for pain from a herniated or bulging disk and then made pain free with no medication and no surgery.

     The above evidence for the effectiveness of hydration and Biotape is unproven and only anecdotal, because no double blind placebo controlled studies have been done.

   The evidence for the efficacy of laminectomies and decompression spinal surgery is also unproven and unsubstantiated because no double blind placebo controlled studies for spinal surgery have been done.  

    Because the results Mr. Liammari described are "unsubstantiated and unproven" by double blind studies the relief he received could be due solely to the "placebo effect." If this is true, and if a few dollars worth of Biotape and water will do what spinal surgery costing more than $60,000 will do, then we need more placebos.

      The reason we even question laminectomies and decompression spinal surgery for back pain is because too often the patient has more pain after the surgery than before. There is even a name for this. It is called failed spinal surgery or FSS.

    Is it right to pay surgeons incredible sums of money (or even for them to accept it) for spinal surgery when the pain is worse after the surgery than before?

     I offer the following challenge to anyone with a ruptured disk, to the insurance companies that pay for laminectomies, and to the spinal surgeons of America:

   Let me see any ten patients scheduled for decompression back surgery and I will absolutely guarantee that more than five of the ten patients will be free from pain and not need spinal surgery after I see them. I make this claim after doing more than 18,000 documented treatments for pain. In my own mind I believe I can make 8 or 9 of the ten patients better.

  This will be accomplished often by just one treatment and a possibly a follow-up. Patients can even apply the Biotape themselves, as Mr. Liamarri did, without ever seeing me.  

    Making just 5 spinal surgeries unnecessary would save our health care system more than a quarter of a million dollars. Preventing half of the 250,000 spinal fusions that are performed each year in the U.S. would save more than $7.5 billion dollars! Is anyone listening?

     Placebo controlled studies for surgery are almost never done because it would not benefit the surgeons. There would be no financial gain from a successful study and everything to loose if the study determined the surgery was no better than a placebo.   

       There is one notable exception. The Baylor College of Medicine conducted a placebo-controlled study on 180 patients to evaluate the efficacy of arthroscopic surgery for arthritis of the knee.  The outcome determined that the surgery was no more effective than a placebo procedure.  

      Before the study, about 650,000 arthroscopic knee surgeries for arthritis in the knee joint were performed each year in the United States at a cost of more than $3 billion dollars.  That $3 billion dollar income a year is no longer available to surgeons unless they ignore the study that showed the surgery was no more effective than placebo surgery.                                       

     For these reasons, there will never be a placebo controlled study for any kind of spinal surgery. Such surgeries will remain unproven and unsubstantiated (because there is nothing to gain and more than 7 billion dollars of income a year to lose).

      I am not naïve enough to even hope that a placebo controlled study for spinal surgery will ever be done, but I think I know what the outcome would be. And I know, as I know the sun will come up in the morning, what the outcome would be if the placebo surgery included placing electrically conductive Biotape over the incision and horizontally crossing the site of the pain with Biotape.

      Revealing the limitations of surgery for back pain will not make spinal surgeons happy but I can teach them how to reduce the number of FSS (failed spinal surgery) cases, and dramatically reduce post surgical pain,

    Whenever a surgical incision is made, it severs the electrical connections between cells. If in the healing process, the body does not reconnect the broken circuits, there will be new pain that did not exist before the surgery.

    Placing silver Biotape over the incision would not only help reconnect the severed electrical connections between cells that cause new pain, but it would keep the surgical site sterile. Silver kills bacteria, virus, and fungal germs.

    For the latter reason, two similar silver products have been approved by the FDA for wound healing. What they don't know is that such products also reduce or eliminate pain because the silver helps the body reconnect the broken circuits that cause pain.

     The worldwide analgesic (pain medication) market was $50 billion in the year 2005 and is expected to increase to $75 billion by the year 2010 and $105 billion by the year 2015.

     Virtually all pain medications are harmful because they suppress other vital functions. One analgesic, Vioxx alone, may have killed an estimated 55,000 people.

    Analgesics also cause gastro-intestinal bleeding, cause liver and kidney damage, paralyze bowels, suppress respiratory function, may be addictive, suppress motor function (one of the reasons so many old people use walkers or are in wheelchairs), and if that isn't enough, pain medications suppress mental function.

If you take enough pain medication, you won't need Kevorkian. The medications will not only shut off the pain but the heart and lungs as well. The entire analgesic approach to relieving pain is profoundly, wrong because it is treating the symptom, not the cause of pain.

     I respectfully submit that the cause of all pain is cut, broken, or suppressed electrical connections between cells.

      You, my reader, can find out for yourselves if this is true by placing the inside of a banana peel (an excellent conductor) on your body wherever you hurt. It will reduce your pain by helping the body to reconnect the broken circuits that are the cause of pain.

     If this theory is correct, the implimentation of this method of treating pain could eliminate the $50 billion dollar a year pain medication market and reduce the need for much of the spinal surgery that is performed.

     Recently in Atlanta, Georgia, I was on four television shows and presented a three hour seminar on "Treating Chronic Pain, Headaches, and Depression without Drugs or Surgery."  I believe those who attended now know more about the almost unknown underlying cause of all pain (and how to treat it) than they could have learned from any medical school or from reading every book that has been written about pain.

     Three people at the seminar who had headaches reported that their headaches were completely eliminated by banana peels we applied. Three others with chronic intractable back pain, including failed spine surgery, reported immediate and significant pain relief.

     Following the seminar, we treated 57 chronic pain, headache, and depression patients using, Biotape therapy, and auricular therapy. More than 50 of the 57 patients reported relief. This gives us statistical reason to believe this approach to pain is better than a placebo.

     A lady who had not been able to bend over for 43 years since an accident when she was 13 years old, was able to bend over. The improvement could have been due solely to the "placebo effect," but we must ask, "Why in 43 years did no one else's placebo help?"

     We cannot make medical claims that our treatments or Biotape will diagnose, cure, or treat any disease. This information is just anecdotal and presented only for educational purposes.

     What about prayer and faith healing for back pain? A recent national television program cited one medical study which found that prayer made no difference in the healing or recovery of patients.

      In opposition to that study there are a host of studies that have found intercessory prayer does make a difference even when the patients don't know they are being prayed for. You can pick your study to support either side of the argument you are on.  Is it honest and objective to choose one study that supports your thesis and throw out all of the studies that offer opposing evidence?

   See the following to learn about studies which have been published in AMA medical journals that report a positive  response to  prayer and faith in the healing process. Go to the website and then search for the article Prayer and Medical Science by Larry Dossey, MD published in the Archives of Internal Medicine June 26, 2000.

   The TV program also showed footage about the people who go to the Lourdes shrine in France seeking a cure. Medical doctors endorsed by the Vatican have thoroughly investigated the purported miracles and verified only 67 legitimate miracles in the history of the Lourdes shrine out of the millions that have gone there. (Thousands of anecdotal miracles no doubt have occurred but were not properly investigated; so they were not considered legitimate miricles.)

    It seems objective and very scientific to accept only evidence based on double blind placebo controlled scientific studies, but we must remember that there is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support spinal surgery, and many other medical practices.

   Quoting from the article previously cited is the following from Larry Dossey, MD: Yale surgeon and author Sherwin B. Nuland states, "Unlike other areas in which fads come and go, medical styles [of practice] are meant to be supported by irrefutable evidence. That assumption is so far off the mark that the term 'medical science' is practically an oxymoron."

  Referring to a 1978 report by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Nuland states, "no more than 15 percent of medical interventions are supported by reliable scientific evidence."

   Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, agrees, stating, "Only about 15% of medical interventions are supported by solid scientific evidence. . . . This is partly because only 1% of the articles in medical journals are scientifically sound and partly because many treatments have not been assessed at all" (spinal surgery being one of them).

       Last of all let us consider faith healers like the man known as John of God in Brazil. The TV special, that questioned the legitimacy of all faith healing, showed footage of the thousands of people who go to this man for healing. The program did not claim he was a fraud but attempted to explain away most of his practices. It is notable to point out that treatments by John of God are free.  He charges nothing.

       Another famous healer from Brazil (now dead) named Arigo was investigated by teams of medical doctors. They could find no fraud or deceit at all. He treated up to 300 patients a day and would not accept even as much as a cup of coffee for his services. Arigo claimed that to accept any kind of pay for his work would take away his power to heal.

     No matter how skeptical you are, the book Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife by John fuller is a book everyone in the health care field should read. Another is The Cry and the Covenant (biography of Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis by Morton Thompson.  If you buy and read either of these books and are disappointed I will personally guarantee to buy your copy for two times what you paid for the book (used copies in hardback can run as much as $40).

      There is much to be said for drinking more water with a pinch of salt as an unbelievably effective remedy for back pain. After doing more than 18,000 documented treatments for pain, I can say without reservation that the number one cause of non-injury pain and the cause of injury pain that does not heal is dehydration.

    Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, MD, the author of two wonderful books Your Bodies Many Cries for Water and You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty recommends drinking each day as many ounces of water (with a pinch of salt in every glass) as half your weight in pounds.

    You can read about Biotape, Bioelectric, and Auriculotherapy by going to and reading articles number 1, 2, 4, and 6.

   Myotherapy, Reflexology, Spinal Touch Therapy, NST therapy, Reiki, Acupressure, and EFT therapy are non-invasive variations of massage and acupuncture that can be effective in reliving the cause of pain without side effects (in contrast to pain medications which all have harmful side effects).

   Such methods address the root cause of pain and are helpful because they push cells closer together and/or increase the flow of Chi which can help the body reconnect the broken circuits that are the cause of pain.

      The limitation of such treatments and acupuncture is that there is nothing to maintain the connection long enough to complete the healing. You have to be treated again and again in contrast to Biotape or Auriculotherapy (with seeds or pellets instead of needles) that can be more effective than having acupuncture with needles every day for a month.

     TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) blocks the pain signal or fatigues the nerve so the pain signal does not get through. Then the pain returns. Micro stimulation, in contrast, uses a thousand times less current and can be effective in correcting the cause of pain.

     I have a letter in my file from Norman Shealy, MD who invented TENS that he wrote just before he retired; stating that he no longer used TENS because he knew the effect would not last.

   Spinal manipulation by a chiropractor or osteopath is also an alternative that everyone should consider.  The same can be said for physical therapy, and acupuncture. 

    The problem I have with all of these is that such practitioners keep you coming back for endless treatments. You don't know whether the body is healing itself over a period of time or if the treatment is really helping you.

    If a treatment is truly addressing the underlying cause of pain, then you should be helped with the first treatment and certainly by the second.

     Medical traction for back pain was once in vogue but is now done less frequently. Still there are pain clinics, chiropractors and others that are now advertising new traction devices approved by the FDA. They are claiming an 85% success rate. Such claims are also only anecdotal and not established by double blind placebo controlled studies.

   Pain medications (over the counter and by prescription), plus narcotics, and pain patches have so many terrible side effects that there is not room enough here to list them all. Because of the experience of a friend who died from the side effects of a Duragesic (Fentanyl) patch, I must share his story.  Every pain doctor and every pain patient should read it.


  Papaya injections to dissolve the disk were considered state-of-the-art a few years ago, but this procedure is now seldom done because of serious neurological complications even though the incidence of such complications were reported to be six times less than for traditional open discectomy procedures.

    Prolotherapy (also known as reconstructive or sclerotherapy is another alternative to pain medications and spinal surgery for back pain. This consists of injecting an irritant (sugar water solution) with a local anesthetic into the site of pain. The irritant causes inflammation which increases the blood supply and flow of nutrients to the damaged tissue thereby stimulating the tissue to repair itself.

      The downside of prolotherapy is that the body converts all local anesthetics into aniline which is a known carcinogen. (Most doctors don't know this but the FDA requires a cancer warning label on all new local anesthetics.) 

     The FDA in 1993 did studies on the anesthetic lidocaine and determined that 67% of the lidocane injected was converted into the aniline 2,6-xylidine found in animal studies to cause breast cancer 99.999% of the time. The topical anesthetic Emla was pulled from the market for this reason

      The aniline 2,6-xyladine is one of the carcinogens of tobacco. Alfred Nickel, an oral surgeon has calculated that 1cc of  2% lidocaine will result in the same aniline dose as smoking 94,000  unfiltered cigarettes.

       Prolothrapy injections are also painful. Many injections (even up to a hundred) are done in each treatment session. The average number of treatments sessions is 4-6 for each area treated.

     Cortisone (steroid) injections may give temporary relief but in the long run are harmful. Steroids dissolve nerves, bone, tendon and tissue. An orthopedic surgeon recommended cortisone injections for athletic injuries then added that he would inject a site up to three times a year but no more, because more injections risked tendon rupture.

     Nerve blocks of any kind, including radiowaves and/or surgery to cut the nerve that transmits the pain signal, have severe side effects. A patient with trigeminal-neuralgia received an alcohol nerve block. The pain was worse after the nerve block than before; so they went into her skull and cut the trigeminal nerve. The pain was then even more severe. She said if I don't get help, I will kill myself, and she did.

     We could tell horror stories about implanted electrical devices to block the pain, but will just state here that trying to block the pain signal is wrong whether it is done with drugs, surgery, radiowaves, or electricity. Treating the symptom of pain by suppressing the pain signal is all they know how to do because the root cause of pain is not known.

   There is much to be said for minimally invasive arthroscopic spinal surgery which vindicates my theory that the incision itself may create new pain that may be as severe as the pain before surgery.  Many people who have undergone spinal laminectomies report more pain from where the bone was removed from the hip to do the fusion than the pain coming from the spine. 

       We have now considered nearly every option available to people with back pain. If you consider the options from the dictum First do no harm, you must rule out all pain medications - over-the-counter and prescription drugs and narcotics. Even the extended uses of over-the-counter pain medications can double your chance of having a fatal heart attack.

   You will rule out anything that destroys the nerve including cortisone or steroid injections, implanted electrical stimulators to block the pain signal, radio frequency surgery, nerve blocks of any kind, and cutting the nerve.

     You will rule out spinal surgery because, it is possible to be in more pain after surgery than before. I've asked more than a thousand patients who have had back surgery if they had it all to do over again, would they still have the surgery. The majority say NO.

      Some say "Yes, because I would be paralyzed if I had not had the surgery." This could be true but too often it is used by a surgeon to convince the patient that you must have surgery. Whether or not you should seek a second opinion in this situation is a question that doesn't even need to be asked.

    You should also consider all of the options for back pain relief from a cost standpoint, and at least question any treatment that requires you to go back again and again.

      You might ask the question, "Has it been proven and what is the evidence in favor of any medicine or treatment?  There are no "proven" treatments that can legally make any claims to prevent or cure any kind of severe pain. This includes all treatments by MD's, alternative health care practitioners, faith healers, and quacks. Until double-blind placebo controlled studies are done, the only evidence that any of the above can give is only anecdotal.

     Health food people refer to evidence as "testimonials." Main-line medical doctors call their evidence "case studies." Both are anecdotal.

    The only legal claim that can be made for any medication including those approved by double blind placebo controlled studies is that the medication is "for symptomatic relief of minor aches and pains."

      Numerous prescription pain medications are "approved" by the Food and Drug Administration for use on many kinds of pain, but "approval" does not allow for any claims of a "cure" for pain.

       If this is hard to believe, go to the Physicians Desk Reference or see the pharmaceutical insert for any drug. All you will find is "Indications" for the medication but never the word "cure."

     This dilemma exists because Western medicine has never defined what pain is. When no one knows what pain is, then no one can claim to heal pain.

      It's like fighting a war and not knowing who the enemy is. You can never win.  Is the enemy Osama Bin Laden, Sadam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Al Queda, Hamas, Al Fattah, Islamic Jihad, Radical Islam, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, North Korea, or is the enemy the terrorists that blow themselves up?

      Looking at it from the other side: is the enemy the Jews, Ariel Sharon, Christians, the Pope, United States, American solders, US Embassies, World Trade Centers, Pentagon, Republicans, Democrats, The White House, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Halliburton Oil, England, Tony Blair, Spanish railroads, or the Danish cartoonist?

       No one can win a war when both sides are unclear about whom the enemy is, and no one can win the war on pain until we know what pain is.

       It would be wise to begin any approach to severe back pain with the least expensive, the least invasive, and the least harmful of all the methods cited. Using this advice as a guide, we submit the following (All are unproven and unsubstantiated by double blind placebo controlled studies).

      Begin at the top of the list and don't think that simple, free, inexpensive, and noninvasive methods are just for minor pain. The most severe, excruciating, suicidal, pain can often be relieved with very simple measures.


Prayer and/or Faith healing

More water with a pinch of salt

Banana Peels applied over the pain

Self applied Biotape over the pain

Bioelectric and Auriculotherapy

EFT Therapy





Spinal touch therapy

NST therapy





Spinal manipulation

Spinal Traction Devices

Over the counter medication

Prescription medications



Steroid injections

Pain patches

Papaya injections

Nerve blocks of any kind

Cutting the nerve

Minimally invasive surgery

Implanted electrical devices


     We will close with the same statement used at the end of the TV special about healing and pain. "You really have to look out for practitioners who give testimonials, or offer a money back guarantee."

     Maybe we should be especially suspicious of prayer and/or faith healing (that cost nothing), drinking more water, banana peels or someone whose treatments are free. No need to ask for your money back.


Darrell Stoddard, Founder - Pain Research Institute

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