Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation: A Non-Drug Neuromedical Treatment




Neuroscience and Neurology CategoryCranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), (also known as “electrosleep”, “transcranial electrotherapy” and by many other names), involves a form of treatment that sends low intensity microcurrent (under 1 milliampere) to the brain. [1] CES devices function differently from other biomedical electronics, such as deep brain stimulating electrodes (which prevent seizures and hand tremors) [2] and heart pacemakers. While those instruments require surgical implantation, CES operates non-invasively. Designed for home use, the devices deliver current to the brain via a hand held machine to electrodes attached on or behind the ears. [3]

Uses for Brain Health

A wide body of research suggests that the technique effectively treats insomnia, depression and anxiety (the only FDA approved uses). Scientific data also shows promise for other conditions such as pain, tension/migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and ADHD. CES might also provide benefits for chemical dependencies (such as street and prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco); that is, it might help the insomnia, anxiety and depression that often manifest during withdrawal. [4,5]

Patient Experience

The devices, sold by prescription in the U.S., require initial assessment and ongoing medical follow-up. [6] Treatment protocols vary based upon the health issue and the phase of treatment. Therefore, patients with anxiety typically use devices for 20-60 minutes daily for the first 2 to 3 weeks, with less frequent use thereafter. [7] Users may do other things during treatment (such as read, watch TV), but should not drive or operate machinery during or shortly after treatment. [8]

Individual responses may vary, but most users report reduced symptoms (such as anxiety) after their first or second treatment. Severe depression however, may require three weeks for therapeutic results. During use, patients often experience pleasant mental states with increased muscle relaxation yet enhanced mental clarity. They might also feel a pulsing or tingling, sensation in their earlobes, (considered normal), which setting adjustments can alleviate. Positive effects after a single treatment may last up to two days and effects usually become cumulative. [9]

Brain Effects

Researchers don’t fully understand mechanisms involved, but theorize that CES electrical current helps reestablish optimal brain chemistry and improves efficiency of neural connections. [10] One example of research supporting this theory involves electrical engineering simulations conducted by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin. Their brain mapping techniques suggested that minute amounts of current traveled to the brain’s thalamus, enough to enable release of neurotransmitters. [11] Other research conducted by North Dakota State University utilized EEG techniques to quantify changes during administration of CES versus sham treatment. The research showed frequency distribution shifts suggestive of beneficial changes. [12]

Based on current and ongoing research, neuroscientist Dr. James Giordano postulates that CES microcurrent travels to the base of the brain (the brainstem), activating clusters of nerve cells which make the brain chemicals serotonin and acetylcholine. Serotonin is linked to relaxation [13] while acetylcholine is linked to body processes not under conscious control while at rest. [14] Released by nerve cells at the synapse, these neurotransmitters influence pathways within the brain and spinal cord that inhibit arousal and agitation. The resulting “fine tuning” helps the nervous system to restore homeostatic balance and possibly creates brain patterns known as alpha rhythms. Measurable via brain wave recordings (called EEG); scientists often associate alpha states with enhanced mental focus and relaxation. Neurological processes linked to alpha states seem to reduce stress, stabilize mood, and exert control over certain types of pain.

Effectiveness

Scientists conducted much of the early work on CES in France. Starting work in the early 1900’s, they theorized that minute amounts of current (applied to the head) would calm the central nervous system, inducing a sleep-like state. [16] The technique took hold in the West in the late 1960’s, when Austria hosted International Symposia on the topic. The uneven quality of studies published up until that time however, generated skepticism as well as further research. Still in progress, the scientific community has accumulated years of research, which spans the past century. [17]

In his recently revised book, The Science Behind Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, Daniel L. Kirsch reviewed CES research from the last 40 years which includes 126 human and 29 animal studies, and 31 review articles. Over half came from peer-reviewed sources and most, coming from major US universities used double blind techniques. Of studies reviewed, 112 (89%), claimed positive results. Seventeen follow-up studies evaluating residual effects (lasting 1 week to 2 years) showed at least some continuing effect in all of the patients. [18]

While a body of published research does exist, some have reservations. Research design and quality varies widely and very few peer reviewed journals are publishing recent studies. Complicating matters, makers of the device often lack proper funding to support high quality research. [19] Others think the technique needs more study in terms of practicality and cost effectiveness. [20]

As a way to clarify CES efficacy, medical researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health published a thorough scientific review of CES devices. Their report identified 18 of the most rigorous studies of CES versus sham treatment. They then applied meta-analysis to 14 of those studies, using combined results to further discern effects after treating four different conditions. [21] Reconfirming previous meta-analysis by University of Tulsa researchers, [22] pooling techniques showed CES to be significantly more effective for treating anxiety; but they did not affect results for insomnia, headache, and brain dysfunction. The review team made comment that most studies under scrutiny needed to publish more complete data and blind treatment providers from knowing which patients were getting CES. [23]

Safety/Precautions

CES has an excellent safety record, few side-effects, and works well for all age groups. CES users sometimes have temporary headaches, lightheadedness, skin irritation from electrodes and rare paradoxical reactions (such as excitement, anxiety, sleep problems, or increases in pre-existing depression). Pregnant or lactating women, people with implanted bioelectrical devices, or those taking supplements or medications affecting the brain or vascular system should first consult with a physician. [24] Of 17 follow-up studies conducted up to two years after treatment, none showed negative effects. [25] Very few major short or long-term problems have therefore been found, and several of the devices carry FDA approval. [26]

Implications for Use

CES has been around for many years, yet its use in the U.S. remains little known. First of all, new therapies must prove efficacy to gain recognition. [27] Additionally, medical school training is non-existent, postgraduate continuing education offerings are scarce, and device makers lack marketing resources. [28] Given that mainstream providers and the public seem mostly unaware of the treatment, alternative providers may be prescribing it most. Among the few who do know about CES, opinions vary.

According to Dr. Daniel Kirsch, an authority on electromedicine and Chairman of Electromedical Products International, research shows CES to be safe, having good results for a range of brain based disorders. He believes the evidence supports use as a first line treatment for issues it effectively treats. [29]

Upon their review, insurer Aetna however, found that CES remains “experimental and investigational” for major depression, other psychiatric disorders, and for “neuropsychological indications (alcoholism, chemical dependency, dementia, depression, headache)…” They say that the evidence is encouraging, yet the issue needs more study. [30]

According to distributor Elixa Peak Performance, CES works best as a treatment (not a cure) for the anxiety, insomnia and depression that comes as a byproduct of stress. But the web site also suggests that it can treat a number of other stress related disorders as well as boost IQ and peak performance. [31]

In contrast, physician Dr. Stephen Barret of Quackwatch takes issue with those who claim benefits beyond approved uses or distributors who sell devices with commercial nutritional programs. He does concede that CES has shown effectiveness for anxiety and possible other uses. But he then points out that physicians, naturopaths or chiropractors (who prescribe CES most) might not be qualified to diagnose and treat neuropsychological problems. He further states that it’s better to get to the root of a problem than only treat symptoms. [32]

Writing on behalf of the Houston VA Pain Management Program, psychologists Dr. Gabriel Tan and Dr. Julie Alvarez argue for integrating CES and self hypnosis into multidisciplinary pain treatment programs. Clinic patients usually have intense chronic pain, not helped by analgesics; additionally, they often travel long distances for treatment, having limited means, and social problems. Seeing pain mainly as a physical problem and lacking resources for long treatments, patients often want tangible, fast results. CES and self hypnosis combined therefore meet the need, as they take little time and provide quick results. After getting some measure of relief, patients are often more willing to accept additional psychological help as a part of their treatment plan. [33]

Physician advocates Dr. Marshall F. Gilula and Dr. Paul Barach (in an editorial published by Southern Medical Journal) assert that the device can be a valuable treatment for the approved uses of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. While physicians usually treat those problems with psychoactive drugs, they point out that the medications often pose safety concerns; that is, they have potential for side-effects or dependency. [34] (FDA warnings for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors used for depression, serve as a prime example.) [35] Like psychoactive drugs, CES does require ongoing medical supervision, but it doesn’t have the same potential for problems. Ultimately, they maintain that CES is of great value as a safe, non-drug alternative which can reduce or sometimes even replace medication use. They say that while CES is not a miracle cure, it is at least worthy of consideration. [36]

References

1. Kirsch DL, Smith RB. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation for anxiety, depression, insomnia, cognitive dysfunction, and pain: a review and meta-analysis. In: Rosch, PJ, Markov, MS, eds. Bioelectric Medicine. Mineral Wells, TX: Marcel Dekker, Inc.; 2004: 3-27. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

2. Smith RB. Scientific electromedicine. Positive Health. September 2003: 8.

3. Kirsch DL. A practical protocol for electromedical treatment of pain: cranial electrotherapy stimulation. In: Kirsch, DL, ed. 6th ed. Pain Management: A Practical
Guide for Clinicians. Boca Raton, FL: Greenwood Press; 2002: 1-6. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

4. Smith RB. Scientific electromedicine. Positive Health. September 2003: 8.

5. Kirsch DL. A practical protocol for electromedical treatment of pain: cranial electrotherapy stimulation. In: Kirsch, DL, ed. 6th ed. Pain Management: A Practical
Guide for Clinicians. Boca Raton, FL: Greenwood Press; 2002: 1-6. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

6. Gilula M, Barach P. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation: a safe neuromedical treatment for anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Southern Medical Journal. 2004; 12:1269-1270.

7. Kirsch DL, Giordano, J. Cranialelectrotherapy. Natural Medicine. 2006; 23:118-120. Available at: . Accessed December 6, 2006.

8. Kirsch, DL. A practical protocol for electromedical treatment of pain: cranial electrotherapy stimulation. In: Kirsch, DL, ed. 6th ed. Pain Management: A Practical
Guide for Clinicians. Boca Raton, FL: Greenwood Press; 2002: 1-6. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

9. Kirsch, DL. A practical protocol for electromedical treatment of pain: cranial electrotherapy stimulation. In: Kirsch, DL, ed. 6th ed. Pain Management: A Practical
Guide for Clinicians. Boca Raton, FL: Greenwood Press; 2002: 1-6. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

10. Klawansky S, Yeung A, Berkey C, Shah N, Phan H, Chalmers, TC. Meta-analysis of Randomized controlled trial of cranial electrostimulation. Efficacy in treating selected psychological and physiological conditions. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. 1995; 7:478-484.

11. Ferjallah MB, Francis X, Barr RE. Potential and current density distributions of cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) in a four-concentric spheres model. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 1996; 939-943.

12. Schroeder M, Barr R. Quantitative analysis of the electroencephalogram during cranial electrotherapy stimulation. Clinical Neurophysiology: Official Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. 2001; 11:2075-2083.

13. Giordano, J. How alpha-stim cranial electrothrerapy stimulation (CES) works.
Alpha – Stim Technology Web site. Available at: http://alphastim.com/Information/Technology/Giordano/how_ces_ works.html.
Accessed December 18, 2006.

14. Neuroscience for Kids. The autonomic nervous system. Neuroscience for Kids Web site. Available at: http://faculty.washington.edu.chudler/auto.html. Accessed December 17, 2006.

15. Giordano, J. How alpha-stim cranial electrothrerapy stimulation (CES) works.
Alpha – Stim Technology Web site. Available at: http://alphastim.com/Information/Technology/Giordano/how_ces_ works.html.
Accessed December 18, 2006.

16. Kirsch DL, Smith RB. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation for anxiety, depression, insomnia, cognitive dysfunction, and pain: a review and meta-analysis. In: Rosch, PJ, Markov, MS, eds. Bioelectric Medicine. Mineral Wells, TX: Marcel Dekker, Inc.; 2004: 3-27. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

17. Klawansky S, Yeung A, Berkey C, Shah N, Phan H, Chalmers TC. Meta-analysis of Randomized controlled trial of cranial electrostimulation. Efficacy in treating selected psychological and physiological conditions. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. 1995; 7:478-484.

18. Gilula M, Barach P. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation: a safe neuromedical treatment for anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Southern Medical Journal. 2004; 12:1269-1270.

19. Gilula M, Barach P. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation: a safe neuromedical treatment for anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Southern Medical Journal. 2004; 12:1269-1270.

20. Barret R. “Be wary of nutripax and the nutripax network”. Quackwatch Web site. Available at: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/ces.html.
Accessed November 21, 2006.

21. Klawansky S, Yeung A, Berkey C, Shah N, Phan H, Chalmers, TC. Meta-analysis of Randomized controlled trial of cranial electrostimulation. Efficacy in treating selected psychological and physiological conditions. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. 1995; 7:478-484.

22. Kirsch DL. A Practical protocol for electromedical treatment of pain: cranial electrotherapy stimulation. In: Kirsch, DL, ed. 6th ed. Pain Management: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. Boca Raton, FL: Greenwood Press; 2002: 1-6. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

23. Klawansky S, Yeung A, Berkey C, Shah N, Phan H, Chalmers, TC. Meta-analysis of Randomized controlled trial of cranial electrostimulation. Efficacy in treating selected psychological and physiological conditions. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. 1995; 7:478-484.

24. Elixa Peak Being. Cranial electrical stimulation (CES) for neurotransmitter balancing, mood control, IQ gains, sleep, exploration of altered states, peak performance, and much more. Elixa Peak Being Web site. Available at: http://www.elixa.com/estim/CES.htm
Accessed November 21, 2006.

25. Kirsch DL. A Practical protocol for electromedical treatment of pain: cranial electrotherapy stimulation. In: Kirsch, DL, ed. 6th ed. Pain Management: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. Boca Raton, FL: Greenwood Press; 2002: 1-6. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

26. Kirsch DL, Giordano, J. Cranialelectrotherapy. Natural Medicine. 2006; 23:118-120. Available at: . Accessed December 6, 2006.

27. Collins WG. Book review: the science behind cranial electrotherapy stimulation. NeuroRehabilitation. 2000; 2:123.

28. Kirsch DL, Giordano J. Cranialelectrotherapy. Natural Medicine. 2006; 23:118-120. Available at: . Accessed December 6, 2006.

29. Kirsch DL, Smith RB. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation for anxiety, depression, insomnia, cognitive dysfunction, and pain: a review and meta-analysis. In: Rosch, PJ, Markov, MS, eds. Bioelectric Medicine. Mineral Wells, TX: Marcel Dekker, Inc.; 2004: 3-27. Available at: .
Accessed December 6, 2006.

30. Aetna clinical policy bulletin. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and cranial electrical stimulation. August 29, 2006. Aetna Web site. Available at: http://www.aetna.com/cpb/data/CPBA0469.html. Accessed December 16, 2006.

31. Elixa Peak Being. Cranial electrical stimulation (CES) for neurotransmitter balancing, mood control, IQ gains, sleep, exploration of altered states, peak performance, and much more. Elixa Peak Being Web site. Available at: http://www.elixa.com/estim/CES.htm
Accessed November 21, 2006.

32. Barret S. “Be wary of nutripax and the nutripax network”. Quackwatch Web site. Available at: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/ces.html.
Accessed November 21, 2006.

33. Tan G, Alvaraz JA, Jensen M. Complementary and alternative medicine approaches to pain management. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2006; 11:1419-1431.

34. Gilula M, Barach P. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation: a safe neuromedical treatment for anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Southern Medical Journal. 2004; 12:1269-1270.

35. FDA: U.S. index to drug specific information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Web site. November 20, 2006. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/DrugSafety/DrugIndex.htm. Accessed November 22, 2006.

36. Gilula M, Barach P. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation: a safe neuromedical treatment for anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Southern Medical Journal. 2004; 12:1269-1270.

  • Charles Donovan

    The human brain is the most complex organ in the body. Neurostimulation is the next frontier in treating various froms of mental illness, including depression. It is the electricity that allow these therapies to target key areas of the brain responsible for mood and depression.

    Unfortunately, third party payers( insurance companies) have discrminated against depression sufferers from having access to these medical breakthrough therapies.

    The FDA approved vagus nerve stimulation therapy as an adjunctive treatment for chronic depression. Reimbursement decisions by private health plans have been on a case-by-case basis. At least 250 insurance plans have reimbursed for at least one case of vagus nerve stimulation therapy.

    I sincerely believe that by year-end 2007, most insurance plans will universally reimburse for this treatment. The clinical benefits of vagus nerve stimulation therapy have been remarkable in the most difficult to treat cases of depression.

    I would encourage readers to visit:

    VagusNerveStimulation.com
    It could change your life or the life of someone you love. The therapy changed my life.

  • Pingback: Brain Blogging, First Edition | GNIF Brain Blogger()

  • http://www.davesbeer.com Dave

    I’d LOVE for this to work but the majority of articles you cite makes you look like you work for Alpha-Stim of stopdepressionnow.com. If this worked so well, wouldn’t we be seeing it “prescribed” (you can buy these devices from many sources without a script) more often. I’ve been combing the net and have only found spotty anecdotal information. I’m still skeptical.

  • http://www.davesbeer.com Dave

    Charles, what does Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) have to do with these little 9-volt CES devices? Doesn’t VNS require a surgical operation?

  • buchholtzer

    I work for thirty years in a hospital, as an engineer for medical equipments and I am interested both in new medical technologies and in their applications and results. From this point of view I find this article very interesting.

  • Timada

    This new treatment is quite a great discover, but I heard though that the doctors aren’t yet sure about some other effects that this may have on the body. Anyway… I still don’t see what else can be worse than the bad consequences that a drug, no matter what it is, has on an addicted person.
    Timada

  • Ricardo

    Is this just treatment or is a cure for depression, insomnia and anxiety? How can you treat or cure a spiritual illness?

  • Ricardo

    Cranial Electrical Stimulation (CES) for neurotransmitter balancing? How long will the effect last? My neurotransmitters have been fried after a nasty traumatic experience. I got about 20% of serotonin left in my brain. You just want to kill yourself when you can’t just sleep a single second of your life ever again.

  • Jack

    Show us real research, Ms. Jones. Good studies published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals. It looks to me that you either work for them or you fell for it.

  • javier

    Neurologist made me a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, then It showed the presence of a left temporal pole aracnoidal cyst. Its size is 42x11x22 mm. Five years ago I was made another Resonance. Camparing both resonances, doctor appreciate that size cyst did not grow up with time. There is no presence of lesions in brain. I have never experimented convulsion and my relatives neither.I have no relatives with neurological illneses. Doctor told me that many people have with aracnoidal cysts and there is no problem, and they do not generally produce problems. Hence he diagnosed me depression, in adittion i have insomnia.

    Can I use Alpha stim having a cyst?

  • Jon Gerstad

    My ex did this, and I payed for it, so that she could get off of the anti=depressants. Well, she did go down from 60 mg to 40,but, after her “treatments” she lost all interest in sexuality.
    I even went so far as to tell her to get a new boyfriend, thinking that the root cause was emotional, but I was wrong.
    That brain zapping thing Murdered her Libido.
    Personally, I must say that more research should be done before the general public is told “don’t worry, this is safe”.
    To all of the quacks out there who are advisesing their patients to do this, just stop !
    This procedure is nothing short of a full frontal labotomy, with a fancy new name.

    • Andrew Bulgin

      Boy, your comment really says it all. It might be summarized as follows:

      “I spent money on my girlfriend and got less sex, not more. Since I noticed a substantial negative effect on my sex life, I concluded that my girlfriend’s use of the F-W device alone had severely suppressed my girlfriend’s libido.” How was her mood and behavior otherwise after using the F-W device for a while? You did not touch on that in your comment, maybe because those things do not matter as much as getting your onions whenever you want, especially when you paid good money for the privilege. Did her loss of libido bother her as much as it did you? I wonder.

      But the implications of that aside, loss of libido can be a complex problem with potential physical, psychological and behavioral causes.

      Even if the use of the device did severely suppress your girlfriend’s libido, which I doubt, it is unlikely any such effect would be permanent, and you cannot rule out potential causes such as the reduction in dosage of her anti-depressant medication, other physical causes, or just the gradual and natural loss of interest in sex that occurs in many people as they age. There could have been many other causes working alone or in conjunction to suppress her libido.

      Who knows? Severe depression can impair one’s judgment and seriously alter one’s perspective for the worse. Maybe she started to feel much better and more confident after using the F-W device and decided she was not so sexually attracted to you as she once thought, or had regained enough self-esteem to conclude she should not have to be a sexual slave to you to ensure your continued emotional and material support.

      It is just an idea.

      Good luck to you.

      AB

  • dave

    I too have experienced major loss of libido after a weeks use of the machine. I’m trying to do as much research here now to see what can be done to restore it but I am glad I am not the only one.

    If anyone else has experienced loss of sex drive from this CES device please let me know if this goes away or what can be done to fix it. It is very disturbing that this device is marketed as safe and side-effect free.

    Thanks,

    • Kenneth Sheppard

      I have suffered from long term serious clinal depression.
      I have been prescribed virtually every drug treatment available fro tricyclics, through SSRIS, SSRNIS and even Lithium. I came within a whisker of receiving ECT.
      A a conservative estimate, I have spent in excess of $75,000 on in-patient treatment,therapy and drugs; not covered by insurance, out of my pocket!!
      I have paid an even heavier price in suffering, destroyed relationships, effective chemical castration by means of anorgasmia and severely reduced libido.
      When I read about CES in “New Scientist” I contacted my therapist, psychologist and general practitioner. Not one of them had heard about this potentially effective treatment.
      Undetected, I set about researching this treatment. My findings could be summarised as follows:
      •If the results of the many trials are to be believed, this treatment is far more effective in treating depression/anxiety than any of the current drug treatments.
      •the side effects profiles are minimal compared with the long list of side effects listed for all current chemical treatments. (Those that are admired to by the pharmaceutical companies)
      •The devices are extremely safe. A device powered by a 9 volt battery cannot deliver a current of more than 1mA, typically less than 200 micro amps. This is equivalent to less than the power delivered to your iPhone head phones.
      As a retired engineer I was able to build a device which emulates the functions of all of the commercially available CES devices. I also built in robust safety systems which provided both voltage and current regulation and limiting, and a timer which would allow a max treatment duration of 30 minutes.
      Does it work? For me, without a doubt!
      After 5 sessions my mood was so improved that I began to slowly reduce my current medication to zero. I suffered no withdrawal effects.
      I have suffered no side effects other than a mild headache which was fixed with a single paracetamol.
      Most importantly, I have my libido back for the first time in decades, I can once again achieve an orgasm without repetitive strain injury.
      I have recently met a young woman who I sexy and has healthy sexual needs – I am able to please her and match her performance orgasm for orgasm.
      I stopped treatment after 25 sessions of 20 minutes duration. 2 months later my mood is terrific (usual ups and downs – that’s life!) I feel and look 10 years younger, I am more sensitive to the needs of others and in general my happiness index is beyond my widest dreams.

      You may feel I was taking a foolhardy risk with my sanity. Compared with the risks of the chemicals peddled by the multi national pharmaceutical companies that are ineffective, toxic and probably cause more suicides than they prevent, I am happy to trust in my own judgement and more importantly my life on or off the antidepressants was a living misery – I had little to loose – and I was happy to take control of my own destiny – for good or ill.

      Kenneth Sheppard.
      67 years old
      United Kingdom

      • Fabe Kuhn

        THANKS FOR YOUR POST KENNETH – COULD YOU SUPPLY A SCHEMATIC OR INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUILDING THE CES DEVICE THAT YOU MADE YOURSELF?

        THANK YOU

    • Andrew B.

      Dave-

      If you do not respond to this message, would you at least send me a basic test response? I somewhat wonder if any of these posts end up reaching the intended recipients.

      Your post is dated 6 August 2012.

      I assume since major loss of libido, apparently induced by use of the Fisher-Wallace device, was a problem for you that you stopped using the device.

      How is your libido now?

      Also, I should like to know what your libido was like before you started using the device. Were you taking any medications at the time you started using the device or no? Are you taking medications now, and if so, how do you think these medications alone affect your libido?

      It seems to me that all physical treatments for depression accomplish the same theoretical end, namely the increase in base line concentrations of various neurotransmitters in the CSF such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and beta-endorphin and the reduction in levels of other neurotransmitters, such as cortisol. Since all of these things are involved in human sexual response, all such treatments have the potential to alter or reduce one’s sexual drive and response. The treatments all seem to me, based on my experience, to be mild forms of a kind of chronic anesthesia. You feel less emotional pain, but your sensitivity to emotional and physical stimuli is often blunted in the process.

      But I believe none of these changes is permanent, and if you discontinue treatment, things will probably return to normal after a while assuming you were not that sick to begin with, but as you know, depression and stress by themselves can have a major negative impact on one’s libido.

      So how are things now? How were they before you initiated treatment? What have you changed or done differently?

      Thank you

      Andrew B.

    • Andrew B.

      Dave-

      Oh, and if it helps, I too seem to have experienced a similar loss of libido while using the Fisher-Wallace device, but since I have a long and complicated history and take several medications besides using the F-W device, it is really difficult to be sure about what is causing what and to what degree.

      I think it is a given that any physical treatment for depression that has a real effect is also inevitably going to have a side-effect or side-effects. For me right now, having a “healthy” libido is not as important as having an effective treatment for depression and particularly for anxiety, but I understand that that is not the case for everyone and that libido and sex drive play a big role in many people’s idea of themselves and of their general health and well-being, especially in the case of younger people.

      I think it is all relative as well. Some people were so depressed and anxious before they started using the device that their libido actually improved after using it because severe depression and anxiety can kill your libido like nothing else.

      Basically, psychiatric problems are a big, complicated mess, and that includes their treatments. But I think all in all, non-pharmacological treatments are potentially better for obvious reasons so long as they are not overly aggressive treatments like frontal lobotomy or ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), an electrical shock strong enough to induce “controlled” seizures in the brain, often with substantial and permanent memory loss. It is very effective in many severe cases, but there is potentially a substantial price to pay with it. Fortunately, thus far I have not felt compelled to resort to such extreme measures.

      Ta

      AB

  • quaze22

    I’ve used CES with hundreds of patients, and I’ve never had anyone report sexual side effects (with the exception of one person who reported that it increased libido…which she quite enjoyed).

    Sexual side effects have never been reported in the literature. However, it is fair to question how closely side effects were monitored in the research.

    Sexual side effects are a very well known, and frequently observed, side effect of antidepressants, however. These include loss of libido and inability to achieve orgasm.

    In one of the cases described, the individual was on antidepressants, and was attempting to reduce them, at the same time as the CES was introduced. I’d suggest that it’s at least possible, and more probable, that the antidepressants were the source of the loss of libido.

    In the other case, there’s no mention of whether or not antidepressants were used. However, most people try medication before they end up on CES. It’s at least possible that the actual problem was medication in this case as well.

    I urge people to read the book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” for a good review of the impact of psychiatric medication. Although CES is by no means perfect, it is clear that it has far fewer side effects than antidepressants.

    • Sanpanza

      Are there any effective reviews of CES devises you may have heard of . There is large range of prices and am wondering if I need to spend $700 on a device or if I can get away with $300.00 instead.

      • quaze22

        I’ve used the Alpha-Stim products and the CES Ultra (sold as Sleep Genie in Canada). Both work, and there’s no research which proves one is better than the other. However, it’s my opinion based on clinical and personal experience that the Alpha-Stim products are more effective. That being said, it’s a VERY big price difference. Is there a difference between a Corvette and a Sunfire? You bet. Is it worth the difference? It is if you can afford it. But both will get you from A to B!

        The Alpha-Stim products use a 0.5 Hz setting, and have a unique waveform; you can really feel the difference when you compare them, but of course, most people won’t have that chance.

        The CES Ultra is a perfectly good machine, though, and I get good results with it. But if you can afford it…go for the Alpha Stim Aid. Which, granted, is more than twice as much money.

        Also, the Alpha Stim products have a 5 year warranty, and the new redesign of them makes them much more user-friendly than they used to be.

        • Ed

          Thanks Quaze, that is helpful. Can I ask you what makes the Alpha Stim better? I am suffering from insomnia and am in need of relief but not thrilled at spending $800.00 for what is essentially an experiment but would if I knew what the benefit was to me.

          I would do anything to get 7 hours of sleep.

          • quaze22

            The much slower Hz of the 0.5 seems to be more calming, in my opinion, though some people dislike it–if you have it turned up too high, you’ll feel dizzy or nauseous. Personally, I love the effect, though I have had people prefer the CES Ultra to the Alpha Stim. In other words, it’s a bit subjective, and I’ve got no data to back up the assertion that AS is better. It’s just an impression…though an educated one.

            In your case, it might make sense to try the CES Ultra first. You should be able to get good results within the window of their return policy. If that’s not sufficiently helpful, send it back, and plunk down the extra dough for the Alpha Stim.

            While it is true that nothing works for everyone, insomnia definitely responds well to CES, and CES is a non-addicting, non-drug alternative that, in my opinion, should be tried BEFORE medication, given that it’s safer. However, don’t expect it to be exactly like medication. It’s relaxing, not sedating–it’s NOT going to knock you out. It tends to be more helpful with initial insomnia than with middle and late insomnia (though if you wake up in the middle of the night, good sleep hygiene consists of getting out of bed rather than tossing and turning anyhow–which gives you an excellent opportunity to use your machine again).

            So while it will be an experiment for you, bear in mind that CES has been proven time and time again to have no significant placebo effect!

        • wynderen

          Thank you for the insight. Could you please clarify how Alpha Stim has a unique waveform? Both units use 100 Hz and I have read that CES Ultra also has a 0.35 Hz option, while the Aphla stim has a 0.5 Hz option. I know you are doing your best to explain, but if you could clarify further to the best of your ability why Alpha Stim is better, it is appreciated.

          Thanks

          • Quaze

            Again, there’s no research comparing the two that demonstrate that the Alpha Stim is more effective…but I believe that the CES Ultra uses a square wave form, while I know that the AS devices use a much more complex wave form. They suggest that the more complex wave form, which includes voltages that vary between about +/- 13 volts (again, in the microampere range, so this isn’t going to be shocking!), has voltage spikes that help to cut through the resistance of the skin. I don’t know about that…but I am convinced that the AS, though more expensive, has a better clinical effect in my office. To be fair, I’ve never used the CES Ultra directly; I’ve used the Sleep Genie, which is imported into Canada. I thought they were identical to the CES Ultra (I know they’re made by them), but the Sleep Genie only has the 100 hz setting; so I’ve never used the .35. I wonder if perhaps they’ve dropped it, since it doesn’t show up on the Sleep Genie. Looking at the website, I only see a reference to 100hz on the tech specs.

            On the AS, the other settings are generally rarely used; the 0.5 is the standard setting for treatment.

            Still, my impressions aside, it’s worth it to remember that much of the research was done at 100 hz, especially the early stuff; the more recent research, most of it supported in one way or another by Alpha Stim, has been at 0.5; and one machine is very slick and expensive, the other much less so. Either machine is good, but if you’ve got the money, I’d go with the AS.

      • Kenneth Sheppard

        The currently approved CES devices produce a variety of electrical waveforms.
        The manufacturers try to hide their “commercial secrets” with misleading techno babble.
        As far as I am aware, there has been next to no research on the relative advantages of various electrical waveforms. You may prefer one device to another but I doubt if one is any more effective than the other.
        In my previous reply I stated that I had made a device that could emulate all of the wave forms and frequencies of the two main commercial devices. It would take a very long time to assess all the different possibilities. In deciding which signal to use on myself, I went back to the research. There are two main types:
        100Hz bipolar (alternating positive and negative current pulses).
        And 0.5 to around 8 Hz bipolar.
        Bipolar pulses are important as one should avoid electrolytic effects which could cause skin irritation.
        For unknown reasons, everyone has settled on a 20% duty cycle for the pulse wave form.
        (Don’t worry about this)
        My prototype devise used a micro processor development kit to try out different waveforms and frequencies – I reached no firm conclusions. I decide to make a small hardware driven device which has two controls frequency and output current. This device is the size of a pack of cigarettes (remember those?) and runs off a PP3, 9volt battery.
        Total cost about $5, of which the box cost$3!!
        Any high school kid with knowledge of electronics could make one in an afternoon.
        It is about as far away from rocket science as you can get. Instructions and circuits are available on the web.
        For the electrodes if use those designed for “TENS” machines, available at any pharmacy or for a fraction of the price from Amazon or eBay.

        As for using it, I tried 0.5 Hz to start with and stuck with it since I had highly beneficial results almost immediately. So I didn’t bother to change. If I had started at 100 Hz I probably would have found exactly the same result! Don’t think it matters.

        I am currently working on a small passive device which can be plugged into the headphone socket of any iPod, iPhone, smart phone CD player etc. etc.
        and converts the audio from a prerecorded CD into suitable CES pulses.
        For those who think that a home made device running off a PP3 battery is going to fry your brain, just take said battery and stick the the terminals on you forehead – are you still there? of course you are. But if you really don’t want to risk it go to you quack and tell him that your depression does not respond to medicinal treatment. He will probably recommend the “well established and safe procedure of ECT – a la ” one flee over the… Now, how brown do you want you hash browns!!!!

        I will post info here?

        • SD

          Hi Kenneth,
          Can you provide more info on your device that you are making, its availability and how it works. I want to find a cheaper alternative and looks like you’ve done your research. Any information you may have would be great

  • Pingback: Cranial Electrical Stimulation Shows Promise | Women of Grace()

  • sanpanza

    Thank you so much for you opinion. Very helpful Quaze.

  • Pingback: Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation – An Introduction » Dave Enjoys()

  • Sara

    I just started using the Fisher Wallace one two days ago because I don’t want to risk the scary side effects you read about on the pill bottles. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and I’ve had anxiety and depression for at least 10 years.
    I’m on day 2, I don’t feel very different but I’ve noticed my thoughts aren’t jumping around as fast now. I kind of stay thinking about one thing a little longer than I was. I’ll bookmark this page and try to come back and update in a week or two.

    • Sara

      I’ve been using the device a little over two weeks, just remembered to come back and report in. I have good news. I can get rid of that giant knot of anxiety in my chest now when I want to. I still have the same kinds of thoughts as before sometimes, but I can keep from letting them get me as worked up.
      Another thing, I have no idea if it matters or not but when I started using the device it felt really prickly when I turned it on. It was too intense if I tried to turn it up past halfway. Now even with fresh batteries in it it doesn’t feel intense it just feels like a little bit of pressure maybe on my head when I turn it up to full even. I think this might mean it’s changed something about me since the device hasn’t changed.
      I think I’m getting better the longer I use it so if anybody responds to this with any questions maybe I’ll remember to come back and answer. :D I just wanted somebody to be able to find a little about what it’s like to use it in case they need it.

      • Ken

        My experience with ces was very similar. I no longer feel the tingling sensation but I can occasionally see faint white flashes in the periphery of my vision. Presumably caused by stimulation of the optic nerves. The only side effect symptom I get now is a slightly tight feeling across my forehead whist taking the treatment.
        You don’t specify the device you are using, is it an alpha stim ?
        I now do a 20 minute session every 2 days or so. I feel very alert after a session, so I always do it in the morning because- a. I feel like getting up b. it doesn’t keep me awake at night.
        Good luck. K.

        • Sara

          No I use the Fisher Wallace one. I kinda wish I had tried the alpha stim because it probably doesn’t drip water everywhere but as long as it works I don’t really mind lol. I’m still using it every day twice a day when I remember.

Eileen Jones, RN, MPH

Eileen Jones, RN, MPH, is an experienced registered nurse from Anchorage, Alaska. She holds a Master in Public Health with specialty in health promotion and education. Over the years, she researched and written over 40 hospital policies, as well as student modules, school papers, and a public information brochure.
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