Otto Overbeck

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Otto Overbeck
Otto Christoph Joseph Gerhardt Ludwig Overbeck, by Otto Christoph Joseph Gerhardt Ludwig Overbeck.jpg
Born Otto Christop Joseph Gerhardt Ludwig Overbeck
1860[citation needed]
Died 1937
Nationality British
Occupation Brewer, Inventor, Scientist
Known for Inventions, the Overbeck Rejuvenator, Overbeck's

Otto Overbeck (1860–1937)[1] was a British chemist and prominent advocate of electrotherapy in the early twentieth century.


Overbeck was educated at University College London, where he studied Chemistry.[2] He worked initially as the scientific director of a brewery in Grimsby.[3] An example of his electrotherapy device, the Overbeck Rejuvenator,[4] is held by the Thackray Museum.[2]

"Electric health"[edit]

Overbeck patented aspects of the Rejuvenator in many countries during the late 1920s, and marketed it. He also proposed a "theory of electric health", which he advocated in A New Electronic Theory of Life (1925). In this book, Overbeck linked all manner of ailments with an imbalance of electricity. Restoring the natural balance of the electric body, Overbeck argued, could overcome all illness apart from those caused by germs or deformity.

The Rejuvenator was not an electric "shock" device in the traditional sense; rather, it made use of very small, harmless, levels of electric current, which were applied to affected areas on the body by means of intricately shaped electrodes. In a later book, The New Light, published in 1936, Overbeck argued that the universal force of electricity made religion obsolete.[5] The universe instead operated under a "Deistic electronic law", which governed everything from atomic forces to the motions of the heavenly bodies.[6]

Overbeck amassed wealth from sales of the Rejuvenator.[7] After his death, two friends established the Overbeck Rejuvenator Company, which continued to supply replacement parts for Rejuvenators until the mid-1950s.[citation needed]


In his latter years, Overbeck lived in a palatial house in Sharpitor, Salcombe, Devon, now known as Overbeck's. He left it to the National Trust.[8] Here he collected all manner of natural historical artefacts, and gathered specimens of tropical plants from across the world, opening the gardens to the public.[9]


  1. ^ "Toothache and electrical imbalance : BDJ Team". Nature. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Stark, James (2012). "A New Electronic Theory of Life (1925)". BMJ. 344 (mar14 2): e2032–e2032. ISSN 0959-8138. doi:10.1136/bmj.e2032. Retrieved 15 March 2012. Electrotherapy is most often associated with its modern manifestations, yet it has a tradition that stretches back to at least the mid-18th century. One of the major advocates of this technique was Otto Overbeck ... an eccentric industrial scientist and inventor. He studied chemistry at University College London and worked for a brewery in Grimsby as scientific director 
  3. ^ "Teetotal beer being brewed". This Is Lincolnshire. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2012. THE importance which is attached to the discovery of Mr Otto Overbeck FCS FGS, of Grimsby and Retford, of a process whereby beer and stout can be brewed without alcohol, without in any way impairing the flavour and nutritive qualities, can be judged by the fact that the chemist has refused a cash offer of £100,000 for the rights of his patent. 
  4. ^ "Quack Medicine". Carleton County Historical Society. Retrieved 15 March 2012. The "Overbeck Rejuvenator," an electric shock device designed and sold by Dr. Otto Overbeck, Chantry House, Grimsby, England. 
  5. ^ J. Stark, '"Recharge My Exhausted Batteries": Overbeck’s Rejuvenator, Patenting, and Public Medical Consumers, 1924–37", Medical History 58 (2014) 498-518
  6. ^ O. Overbeck, "The New Light", 1936
  7. ^ Stark, JF. "‘Recharge My Exhausted Batteries’: Overbeck’s Rejuvenator, Patenting, and Public Medical Consumers, 1924–37". Med Hist. 58 (4): 498–518. PMC 4176268Freely accessible. PMID 25284892. doi:10.1017/mdh.2014.50. 
  8. ^ "History of the Overbeck's garden". 
  9. ^ Julia Brittain (26 September 2006). Plant Lover's Companion: Plants, People and Places. David & Charles. p. 143. ISBN 1-55870-791-3. 

Further reading[edit]

Stark, James F. (September 2014). "‘Recharge My Exhausted Batteries’: Overbeck’s Rejuvenator, Patenting, and Public Medical Consumers, 1924–37". Medical History. 58 (4): 498–518. PMC 4176268Freely accessible. PMID 25284892. doi:10.1017/mdh.2014.50.