Since the research of Lipinski in the 1970s it has been hypothesised that biological macromolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids and mucopolysaccharides have Piezoelectric properties, capable of transducing a mechanical energy into an electric current (Lipinski et al, 1977).

In short – when certain macromolecules in the body are stressed, that stress can be converted into electrical current!

It was hypothesised that this could be achieved by movements of an acupuncture needle, osteopathic manipulations; Hatha Yoga postures or action of negatively charged air irons (Lipinski et al, 1977).

Since that time there has been a great deal of research into piezoelectric charge and how it is generated within the body.

Piezoelectric Materials

Piezoelectric materials are those which when stressed in a certain way, generate an electric field (Zaszczyńska et al, 2020).

For any material to be piezoelectric, the atoms of the material need to have polar bonds, meaning the electrons existing around those atoms, have to prefer one atom over the other. This creates positive and negative charges. The atoms of the material also need to lack point symmetry meaning that when compressed by a mechanical force force, they lose shape.

Fig 1: Neutral balanced charge held by the atoms of Piezoelectric materials

Fig 2: Under mechanical stress the charges move apart, generating electrical current

Tissues as Piezoelectric materials

In the case of our bones, these criteria are met (Oladopo et al, 2023) their atoms both have polar bonds and lack point symmetry: Bone is therefore piezoelectric material.

Research also indicates that muscle, tendon, ligament and many other body tissues are all piezoelectric materials. In fact it has been found in our fascia, stacking of collagen bundles, can create a node of piezoelectric material.

What happens to this electric current?

When a bone or other tissue in the body is put under mechanical stress, the average positive charge and average negative charge held by its atoms move apart. When this occurs throughout the whole tissue, it leads to the production of an electric current.

This wave of electric current then passes through the tissue, causing various cellular reactions, directing tissue proliferation and influencing streaming potential, which gives your new tissue correct alignment (A Ahn et al, 2009).

Now imagine everytime you move your body this is happening. Muscles and tendons are pulling on bones and generating electrical current. This current is then dispersed through the tissues causing your bones to grow new tissue in response to how they are used.

This is the case whatever you do. Whether you are a very high level athlete or a lazy couch potato. In both cases, your actions will determine the flow of this current through your body.

Further, electric current moves through the myofascial slings of the body, directing the laying down of new collagen within them and the ‘ongoing construction’ of their musculoskeletal system.

Practice of Kalari postures specifically directs this ‘ongoing construction’. Precise information given to the osteocytes, osteoblasts and osteoclasts (the cells responsible for remodeling) on where to lay down new tissue and where to remove it. Through the use of specific poses and movements, we can direct the ongoing construction of our own bodies.

Now if we return back to what Lipinski hypothesised in 1977, we can see that he went further to say that “there are sites on the body that relate to the organs through semiconductive channels of biological macromolecules” and that “stimulating the production of Piezoelectric charge at those sites, would send information into the crystalline structure of the body and the deeper tissues, we can again see parallels to Kalari.

In Kalarippayattu and Kalari Chikitsa, we contact the deep tissues of the body through the Marma points. In fact, the massage techniques and other treatments address the visco-elastic properties of the tissues themselves, correcting them through deliberate encouragement of their electric current. This helps to return the extracellular matrix of the soft tissue into a fluid gel.

This is supported by recent research that has shown how Piezoelectricity plays an important role in tissue remodeling and adaptability (Oladapo et al, 2023). Researchers found that massage strokes increased the negative charge of the tissue, encouraging proliferation, growth and remodeling. Also the negative charge helped to direct the correct alignment of the pre-collagen fibers (streaming potential), further encouraging healing.

So evidence is growing on HOW KALARI WORKS.

Research is certainly beginning to suggest that what the Kalari practitioners have been doing for millenia – giving attention to these specific 108 sites on the body and the vital force contained therein – holds merit.