Source of Energy

During treatment with andullation, specific mechanically induced vibrations are applied in combination with red and infrared light. Universally, treatments using different forms of energy are applied in order to improve health. These are the so-called ‘biophysical’ treatments. Warmth, infrared radiation, vibrations, ultrasonic or infrasonic sound, UV light, electric currents, laser beams and magnetic fields are treatment methods which can be applied to reduce numerous secondary complaints, such as pain, and to make patients function better. Biophysical therapies may in certain cases stimulate the cell metabolism, and very often enhance regeneration. While using this specific and unique andullation technique, oriented and low frequency vibrations are applied. Moreover, their amplitude and frequency are stochastically modulated. The red and infrared light produces a deep warmth increasing the effect of the vibrations.

Vibrations – how do they work ?

Our skin contains a few millions of different sensory cells. These cells are able to pick up all kinds of energy (light, cold, heat, pressure, etc.). When vibrations penetrate into the skin, specific sensory cells such as the so-called Pacini and Meissner bodies, are stimulated. While these sensory cells are triggered by vibrations – and there are different kinds of vibrations – they generate an electric impulse: an action potential. This electrical impulse is then conducted further along broad A-beta (Aβ) sensory nerves towards the brain where the stimulus is recognized as a pleasant sensation.

Fighting pain

Gate System

The brain perceives andullation vibrations as a pleasant sensation. However, the brain also discerns pain. Specific pain sensitive nerve cells in the skin register the pain stimuli. When cutaneous pain sensitive nerve cells are stimulated, an electric pain action potential is generated which equally is sent to the brain through the spinal cord. But contrarily to pleasant sensations, pain sensations are sent at a slower pace along the thin A-delta (Aδ) nerve bundles and the C-fibres. In other words, the brain receives pleasant information (andullation) more rapidly than unpleasant sensations (pain).

The gate system (‘Gate Control’)

The spinal cord is continuously bombarded by different incoming nerve impulses which have to be conducted further to the brain. Stimuli from both andullation vibrations and pain sensations have to pass through the spinal cord at the same time. However, this happens at different levels of speed. There exists a so-called gate system through which the action potentials from the pleasant sensations are forwarded faster than those from the painful sensations. This is made possible by the presence of the so-called T-cells or transmission cells. These cells can be compared to traffic policemen: information from pleasant sensory stimuli (through the faster A-beta nerve fibres) is given priority in relation to the information from the pain stimuli (slowly conducting A-delta and C-nerve fibres). The pain relieving effect of andullation

Because the gate system in the spinal cord filters the information, the passage of pleasant feelings generated by the andullation vibrations (Aβ) is given priority. The ‘gate’ does not allow those unpleasant impulses (Aδ and C) to pass as rapidly towards the higher brain centres as the pleasant impulses. The ‘gate’ can even block the passage of unpleasant information. This explains why andullation relieves pain and why pain can even disappear.


However, andullation has to be applied regularly. When andullation vibrations no longer are perceived, the T-cells come to a state of rest.. In other words, the policemen no longer have to differentiate the incoming information. The slower pain information (through the Aδ and C-fibres) goes through and pain is felt again. When we get used to some kind of activity in our lives, it no longer is perceived as ‘special’. Occupations and actions become routine and often are experienced as monotonous. Their stimulating effect and influence diminish. Most physiological processes in our body evolve in the same way. A well-known example is the observation that the regular intake of pain medication finally loses its analgesic effect. Andullation technology is provided with an ingenious system to avoid this problem of habituation. During andullation, the amplitude and / or frequency of mechanical vibrations change continuously within certain time intervals. This system stimulates the sensory nerves in our skin by stochastically modulated vibrations and avoids stimulation by identical and monotonous vibrations. As such, our body keeps experiencing pleasant sensory information continually, allowing the pain relieving effects to persist. Therefore, andullation has to be applied regularly and for a sufficient period of time (about 20 minutes). This results in the liberation of the body’s own morphine derivatives: the endorphins. These hormones remain in the blood stream quite a long time (on average half a day). Endorphins are known to alleviate pain in a strictly normal physiological and safe manner. They do it more efficiently than the gate system. Endorphins are not drugs ! For instance, high production of these body’s own hormones is the reason why triathletes gradually feel less pain and more pleasure while performing this formidable sport.

Improved Blood Circulation

Many chronic diseases cause pain and very often are associated with a decreased blood circulation. Pain induces an excessive stimulation of the orthosympathetic (autonomous) nervous system, causing local contractions of the blood vessels and reducing the blood flow.
The more the blood supply diminishes, the more the pain will increase and the less mobile the patient will become, leading to even more pain. However, when the orthosympathetic nervous system is stimulated lengthily and intensively enough, orthosympathetic signals will get exhausted or even be blocked (= inhibition). Then, the opposite effect occurs: a local dilatation of the blood vessels and an improved blood supply.The mechanical vibrations generated by andullation therapy also reach the orthosympathetic nerve system along the vertebral column (the paravertebral thoracic orthosympathetic ganglia). Lengthy application of andullation vibrations (at least 20 minutes) stimulates the orthosympathetic nervous system to such an extent that it finally gets exhausted. This results in the so-called ‘post-excitatory ortho-sympathetic inhibition’. Consequently, blood vessels no longer narrow (= vasoconstriction) but widen locally (vasodilatation) restoring the local blood stream as well. Constant application of andullation vibrations then also gives rise to pain alleviation. A better blood circulation provides more blood, which stimulates the metabolic processes and regeneration.

Fibromyalgia (FM) patients using andullation therapy also experience a clear improvement of their pain and fatigue complaints. Scientists think that these complaints are due to a disturbed orthosympathetic innervation at the level where veins and arteries connect in the extremities (the so-called arteriovenous shunts – Albrecht, 2013. Because of an excessive orthosympathetic innervation, the blood vessels narrow, causing the decrease of the blood flow and the occurrence of pain. When the andullation sessions last a long time, the vibrations will excite a blocking effect upon the orthosympathetic (autonomous) nervous system. This may explain why andullation improves the blood supply in FM-patients and decreases their pain complaints.

Application of Red & infrared light

The skin acts as a ‘window’ for light. This means that red and infrared light easily penetrate into the skin (better than any other color). It is a well-known fact that infrared produces a pleasant warmth. Since this warmth will also reaches the deeper structures, the andullation effects will be enforced. For the same reasons, this deep warmth also has a big influence upon the collagen proteins in the connective tissues, allowing our joints and tendons to become more supple.

Regeneration through the piezoelectric properties of the collagenous proteins.

Andullation vibrations relieve pain and improve blood circulation. But this biophysical technique also changes the electric field around the cell. As such, the cell functions can be favourably influenced. The application of numerous biophysical techniques is based upon the fact that our body is an electrically conductive system, composed by many smaller electric and electromagnetic entities and mechanisms. The core mechanism of andullation technology is the transformation of mechanical vibrations into electrical micro currents. Around 1880, Pierre and Jacques Curie discovered this piezoelectric phenomenon. For instance, when a quartz crystal is deformed by pressure or other shrinking and expanding forces, it produces electric micro currents. Inversely, the crystal is also deformed when an electric field is created in its environment. Collagen fibres possess such piezoelectric properties. Therefore, when they get deformed, collagens develop micro potentials and influence the regeneration functions positively. Collagen is the main protein in the connective tissue of tendons, joints and bone tissues, and is responsible for their mechanical qualities. Subjected to the mechanically induced andullation vibrations, collagen fibres successively shrink and extend, thereby continuously generating electric micro currents. The generated micro potentials enhance the regeneration as well as the production of collagen fibres. Moreover, these potentials have a proven effect on the growth and regeneration of bone tissues (in the case of fractures e.g.), muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules.

The body’s own energy ATP

Vibrations mechanically induced during andullation penetrate the body. These andullating vibrations deform the collagen fibres causing micro currents through an inverse piezoelectric phenomenon. The micro potentials provide the cells with supplementary energy as well. Research shows that such electric micro potentials induce a significant increase of energy, the so-called adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) molecules (Cheng N., Van Hoof H., Bockx E. et al.,1982; Fukada E., Yasuda I., 1964; Minary-Jolandan M, Yu MF, 2009). Cells contain mitochondria which are the cellular power plants producing the molecular energy: the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules. ATP is an energy molecule which runs all cell functions and all cellular metabolic mechanisms indispensable for the body to survive.
The clinical observation that the healing processes are influenced positively is related to an external stimulation leading to the stimulation of ATP: andullating vibrations.

The lymphatic system

Working alongside the vascular system, the lymphatic system is an important element of the body’s fluid balance system. While blood vessels can easily be observed because of their colour, the lymphatic vessels are almost completely transparent.But though they cannot be observed with the naked eye, they are nevertheless present throughout the body. Major concentrations of lymph vessels with the associated lymph nodes are found in the neck, the groin and the armpits. If any or all of these lymph nodes are removed, perhaps through surgery, the fluid which was previously confined to the lymph vessels can now move freely into tissue, where it does not belong. In this way an excess of fluid gradually arises in the tissues, forming a swelling or oedema.

An oedema can be compared to a flood. Flooding is an excess of water, but floodwater also carries a great deal of mud, and similarly an oedema consists of a large amount of water but also contains proteins. These proteins are also not normally found in tissue but rather in the blood and lymph vessels. These proteins play an important role in the formation of the oedema, because of the way they firmly attach themselves to the tissue. The tenacity of this “knitting” will increase over time. It is therefore vital to remove the proteins from the tissue as quickly as possible, as, if they are left, they become irremovable and lead to the formation of thickened tissue. The proteins can only be removed from the tissue via the lymphatic system. So one crucial role of the lymphatic system is to remove this fluid with the waste products (including bacteria) and proteins it carries. The vascular system is unable to do this as the waste products and proteins are too large to pass through the walls of the blood vessels.

The specific structure of the lymph vessels means that they are capable of achieving this, as the cells overlap and they are, as it were, attached to the surrounding tissue by “strings” formed of inelastic filaments.

The cells thereby follow the movements of the tissue. When the pressure in the tissue rises, the fluid and the waste products can enter the lymph vessels. The lymph fluid passes from the small lymph vessels to larger vessels. These consist of cells surrounded by a layer of connective tissue, along with more elastic fibres and muscle fibres, allowing the vessel to contract, moving the lymph fluid along. These vessels are also provided with valves. The space between two such valves is referred to as a “compartment”. The valves are oriented to the flow and will allow fluid to pass in only one direction, as is also the case in the veins.

The propulsion of the lymph fluid takes place on a compartment by compartment basis. As a compartment fills the walls stretch, which results in a reflexive contraction of the muscles. The lymph fluid then passes via the valves into the following compartment. An important point is that pressure can also be applied to the lymph vessels from the exterior, which is why Andullation is important here.

These large lymph vessels eventually discharge into still larger vessels, known as lymph collectors. The lymph collectors carry the lymph fluid to one of the lymph nodes/lymph glands/ganglia distributed around the body, where the cleansing of the lymph fluid takes place.

The purified lymph fluid then re-enters the circulatory system. When an excess of lymph fluid in the tissue leads to irrecoverable oedema, it is of the greatest importance that it should be drained as quickly as possible, together with the harmful waste products and proteins. This is done using a highly specific form of massage known as manual lymph drainage. It has been conclusively demonstrated that this specific form of massage accelerates the flow of lymph and so helps to prevent oedema.

Research carried out as part of a PhD thesis at the Free University in Brussels (F. Pastouret, supervised by Professor P. Lievens) has demonstrated that Andullation also has significant effects on the flow of lymph so that it too can be considered as having a preventative role in the prevention of oedema. Further research on this is ongoing.

Breast cancer / fat arm syndrome – an example of the importance of the lymph system

A seriously underestimated problem in breast cancer patients is lymph oedema, sometimes known as “fat arm”. This is a troublesome swelling which can occur anything from a few days to several years after the breast operation.

The patient develops lymph oedema because the lymph glands under the arm have been removed and the ducts which drain fluid from the arm can no longer cope, so that lymphatic fluid accumulates in the arm. 25 to 30% of breast cancer patients develop a so-called “fat arm”. The swelling of the arm also has physical consequences: the arm is less mobile, it feels strange, tasks like cooking or washing oneself become difficult, the arm may be weak or painful.

A specialised course of treatment from a physiotherapist must be followed in order to avoid or treat this swelling. The treatment is intended primarily to improve drainage of lymph fluid via the lymph vessels. This treatment can be supplemented with Andullation. Experiments described at the International Lymphology Congress in Rome in 2013 by F. Pastouret and P. Lievens have demonstrated that the flow of lymphatic fluid significantly increases when Andullation is applied. In this way Andullation supports the other treatment and its effects will be more quickly evident.
Further information:

Further readings

Albrecht PJ., Hou Q., Argoff CE., Storey JR., Wymer JP., Rice FL.
Excessive peptidergic sensory innervation of cutaneous arteriole-venule shunts (AVS) in the palmar glabrous skin of fibromyalgia patients: implications for widespread deep tissue pain and fatigue.
Pain Medicine, 2013, 14(6):895-915Cheng N., Van Hoof H., Bockx E. et al.
The effects of electric currents on ATP generation, protein synthesis, and membrane transport of rat.
Clin Orthop Relat Res, 1982, 171:264-272

Friedman JR., Nunnari J.
Mitochondrial form and function.
Nature, 2014, 505:335

Fukada E., Yasusa I.
On the piezoelectric effect of bone.
Journal of the Physical Society of Japan, 1957, Volume 12 (issue 10):1158-1162

Fukada E., Yasuda I.
Piezoelectric Effects in Collagen.
Journal of Applied Physics, 1964, 3:117-121

Griffin MJ.
Handbook of Human Vibration.
Elsevier Academic Press, 2005

Melzack R., Wall P.D.
Pain Mechanisms: A New Theory.
Science, 1965, volume 150:171–179

Minary-Jolandan M., Yu MF.
Nanoscale characterization of isolated individual type I collagen fibrils:
Polarization and piezoelectricity.
Nanotechnology, 2009, 20 (8):085706 – doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/20/8/085706


FEP, Dresden, Germany 2012-2013

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