Electrical Currents in Nerves

Was Ellen White Really Years Ahead of Science?

By D. Anderson

The myth that Mrs. White was years ahead of science was popularized in the 1972 book Prophet of Destiny written by Rene Noorbergen.1 Noorbergen, who previously published books extolling psychics Jeanne Dixon, David Bubar, and Nostradamus, writes:

"Ellen White Wrote: 'Whatever disturbs the circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system lessens the strength of the vital powers, and the result is a deadening of the sensibilities of the mind.' ... It was in the year 1929 that Hans Berger, a German psychiatrist, first published a series of irregular curved lines... It was not until five years after Berger first announced his discovery that Charles Mayo, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, first supported his discovery. Now we know that 'the little wavy lines reveal the activity of the micro-electrical generators within our nervous systems. These wonderful waves exist in the human body, and are the vital-force of the heart and the nerves.'"2
Noorbergen and others have suggested that Mrs. White's references to electrical activity in the nervous system was not understood by scientists until 15 to 20 years after her death when scientists made the discovery. Is it true that Mrs. White was years ahead of science about electrical activity in the human nervous system?

Galvani Discovers Electricity in Nerves

Perhaps the first scientist to discover electrical activity in the nerves was Luis Galvani, an Italian scientist. In 1791, after completing a series of experiments, Galvani "grew convinced that the vital spirit was electricity flowing through the nerves and announced this to the Bologna Academy of Science in 1791."3 Later on, in the 1840s, a German scientist named Emil Du Bois-Reymond "went on to show that when a nerve was stimulated, and impulse traveled along it. He measured the impulse electrically..."4

Whether or not Mrs. White was aware of these scientific discoveries is unknown. However, the idea that electricity was running through the human nervous system was taught by other popular health reformers who believed in the concept of "vital force".5

John Wesley and Electricity

One possible source for Mrs. White's understanding of electricity's role in the human body was John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church of which Mrs. White was a member during her early years. In his personal journal on January 4, 1768, John Wesley wrote how he had recently read a book on electricity by a Dr. Priestly...

"He seems to have accurately collected and well digested all that is known on that curious subject. But how little is that all! Indeed the use of it we know; at least, in some good degree. We know it is a thousand medicines in one: in particular, that it is the most efficacious medicine in nervous disorders of every kind which has ever yet been discovered."6
John Wesley, along with Richard Lovett and natural healers, began practicing electropathy for the healing of various conditions. Wesley called electricity "a thousand medicines in one, especially for nervous disorders" and "the greatest medicine yet known to the world."7


The idea that Ellen White was years ahead of science in saying there was electrical activity in the nervous system is a myth. Scientists had already discovered electrical activity in the body by the late 1700s, and further studies in the 1840s confirmed these findings. These findings were published long before Ellen White wrote any statement about electricity in the body. Besides this, natural healers, such as John Wesley, recognized the connection between electricity and the nerves and were using electricity to treat various nervous conditions prior to Ellen White's birth. Since Ellen White drew heavily upon the writings of other health reformers when writing her own reforms, it is more likely she received her information on electricity from these resources rather from divine inspiration or heavenly communications from angels.

For further study: Mrs. White's Top 7 Science-Defying Statements

And also:   Modern Medicine Proves White Wrong


1. Rene Noorbergen's other books include such titles as You are Psychic, Jeane Dixon: My Life and Prophecies, and Nostradamus Predicts.

2. Rene Noorbergen, Prophet of Destiny, chapter 7. According to Noorbergen's footnote following the Ellen White quotation, the quote was taken from Testimonies, Vol. 2, page 347.

3. Robert O. Becker, M.D., The Body Electric, p. 63.

4. Ibid., p. 64.

5. Ibid., p. 62. "The vitalists had long tried--unsuccessfully--to link the strange, incorporeal phenomenon of electricity with the elan vital."

6. John Wesley, The Journals of John Wesley (Abridged), chapter 14.

7. "The Rev. John Wesley MA (1703-1791), Pioneer Electrotherapist: A History of Medicine Study." (http://paintechnology.com/052.htm)