Can a “galvanic skin measurement” device really discern over 7,000 potential health issues? That’s what one chiropractor was selling to Plain communities. His license is now suspended.


A Commonwealth Court panel has refused to void a state licensing suspension and $10,000 fine imposed on an Ephrata-based chiropractor accused of placing a misleading advertisement in a newspaper aimed at the Mennonite community.

The ad that got chiropractor Lawrence Charles Bennett in a bind dealt with health benefits he claimed to have been achieving by using Asyra, a “galvanic skin measurement device” that faces considerable skepticism in the mainstream medical community.

Bennett placed his ad in a monthly newspaper popular among Amish and Mennoites:

Bennett placed the contested ad for Asyra, an alternative medical device that is not approved by the state chiropractic board, in The Plain Communities Business Exchange in 2012. The ad was titled “Improve Your Life!” The Plain Communities Business Exchange is a nationwide monthly paper with around 18,000 subscribers among the Amish, Mennonites and other Anabaptist groups.

The claims made about the device:

Bennett identified himself as a chiropractor in the ad and touted the benefits of Asyra, which requires patients to hold two brass handles for a few minutes while connected to a computer that supposedly registers “resonances” involving bodily functions. Asyra can test for “over 7,000 issues present in the body,” the ad stated.

Bennett’s ad stated the Asyra testing cost $170 per patient beyond his standard fee, but would provide patients with readings on “you’re overall state of health” along with “the number of toxins in your body” and which organs those toxins were affecting. It added that Bennett would use Asyra to evaluate the patient’s spine, hips and joints.

Asyra and related devices have come under criticism for their claims by doctors and industry monitors. The machine was not approved by the FDA to be marketed for diagnosis or treatment of patients.

Bennett knew his target

Bennett got in trouble for this, but I am not sure why he was singled out. In Plain publications, these types of ads promoting unproven or unorthodox treatments are common.

Amish skepticism about scientifically unproven treatments is lower than that of the average American. What counts more is what your family member or neighbor testifies about the treatment. The scientific basis of whether something or other actually does what it says, backed by clinical testing, is of less importance.

That is not going to hold across the board of course; there are Amish people who would find the idea of a $150 galvanic skin measurement procedure being able to identify 7,000+ medical issues ridiculous.

But in a close-knit community which places more weight in the experience of loved and known ones, treatments like this can gain a foothold and become popular.

That is not always to the detriment of those treated, however. Untested or scientifically unverified treatments are not necessarily bad for the health.

Some are neutral. Some may be beneficial (including in a placebo effect manner). But if the treatment itself is not harmful, real damage can be done when effective and proven treatments are foregone in place of the unorthodox.

Though in the end, many such products are likely more detrimental to Plain wallets than anything else.

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