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ME/CFS: In Free Fall Through the Looking Glass
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Mild Brain Stimulation???

Discussion in 'Active Clinical Studies' started by merylg, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. merylg

    merylg Senior Member

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    Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  2. fairlight

    fairlight

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    I wonder if this is the same as Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment?
  3. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    Looks super interesting, might be too much for some of us with ME/CFS, though. I know I had the electrical current test for carpal tunnel, where they shoot your nerves with mild electric current to test the nerve reaction - thought I was going to die. I think a lot of us are extremely sensitive to that kind of energy, which would be easy to surmise w/all the pain and sleep problems, light & noise reactivity some of us have, etc.

    There's also a neurofeedback technique called LENS - Low Energy Neurofeedback System - that I believe uses weak magnetic fields to restore or enhance some of the brain's natural frequencies. I think some people with ME/CFS have had at least initial success with it. Haven't heard too many long-term reports, tbh. Might be worth looking into as it's something that's available now.
  4. merylg

    merylg Senior Member

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    No, it's different to TMS.

    jeffrez...I tend to agree with you that the low dose Direct Current Therapy might be too stimulatory & possibly damaging to brains already hypersensitive to EMF, light, noise, activity & deprived of quality sleep.

    (Taking part in the trial also involved travelling a long distance every day for about 4 weeks)
  5. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    It's still very interesting, though. Our brains don't have the pain receptors we have elsewhere in the body, so maybe we would in fact escape with some improvement and only a minor headache. Will be interesting to see how this goes, and if anyone with CFS tries it.
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  6. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    There seems to be some evidence for cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranial_electrotherapy_stimulation). However, devices can costs several hundred dollars.

    Alternatively, you could build your own "cranial electrotherapy stimulator" if you are into hobby electronics. I built a very simple one a while ago with limited options from an online schematic (http://www.redcircuits.com/Page19.htm):


    [​IMG]
    Very simple design using two very common ICs (the 555 timer and 4017 counter), although illness can make it more difficult to build it. I added a power diode between the battery and switch to protect it from accidental reverse-polarity. Anyway, this is what mine looks like without the 9V battery:

    ces.jpg

    I have not really tested it properly yet and part of me is reluctant to do so, although I have briefly tested it without major incidence IIRC. This thread encouraged me to take another look at it. I still need some decent earclips and maybe put it inside a case. Would have been easier to save up and buy one, but again, ~$20 vs hundreds of dollars.
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  7. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    Looks cool, biophile! Let us know how it works for you when you get around to testing it.

    I tried one of those commercial CES devices a few years ago, but it only made me worse. Think I got a bad bout of insomnia from it, whereas it was touted to relieve insomnia, lol. Thought it could be just one of the typical vagaries of CFS, so I loaned it to a family member and they had a similar result, although slightly less intense. But that could have been the specific unit I had, the particular brain wave patterns of my family (speculating), or perhaps a number of other factors. Hoping you have better results. : -)
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  8. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member

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    I use an Alpha-Stim CES device to help my sleep. The way I use it is unusual.

    I use it for 45 minutes at night at a setting of 1, the lowest. The suggested use is at a higher setting for around 20 minutes during the day.

    A nurse from my doctor's clinic went to Mineral Wells, TX, to the Alpha-Stim company for training. She learned that very low settings for periods of time longer than 20 minutes are best for sleep for some people.

    I can only use the Alpha-Stim every 3rd night, or it's not effective.

    I think with these CES devices that you have to experiment to find the settings, duration, and times of day that will work best for you.

    Interestingly, I learned of the Alpha-Stim from my very mainstream sleep doctor. He offers his patients an Alpha-Stim rental to see if it will help with their sleep. It's very safe, having been studied for at least a couple of decades.
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  9. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    Anyone have any updates about their experiences using cranial electrotherapy stimulation?

    It has been nearly 10 years since I built the very simple version of a CES which I mentioned in a previous post, but I still have not acquired ear clips for a regular real-world test! However, for anyone else considering making one, I thought I would at least post some basic evidence that it does technically work.

    ces-evidence.jpg

    Previous website claim made about the output:

    "The waveform of this device is a 400 milliseconds positive pulse followed by a negative one of the same duration, then a pause of 1.2 seconds. The main frequency is 0.5 Hz, i.e. a double pulse every 2 seconds."

    Is that true for mine? Here are some captured waveforms, one at 500ms per division, and a close up at 200ms per division. I did not bother to take further measurements yet:

    ces_max2.jpg

    ces_max1.jpg

    Roughly true, but oh dear, looks more like 360 milliseconds positive swing, 360 milliseconds negative swing, with only 1.04s dead time, so a frequency of about 0.568 Hz. Oh well, might still be OK to use anyway. I did not have access to an oscilloscope when I built it, so perhaps some minor component value changes (e.g. R1 or C1 next to the 555 timer IC) would achieve the correct proportions. Might play around with the value of R1 later and scope the 555's output.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
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  10. perchance dreamer

    perchance dreamer Senior Member

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    I still use my Alpha-Stim and find it helpful, but still only every 3rd night. However, these days I'm finding using it less than 25 minutes, but at a setting of 2 instead of 1, helps my sleep more than how I was using it previously.

    I get a little more sleep, and it's better quality. I also remember dreams more when I use the Alpha-Stim.

    Another thing to consider with CES is whether to use it with eyes open or closed. My biofeedback therapist told me to use it with my eyes closed because my brain speeds up when my eyes are closed. It's an uncommon pattern.
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  11. lastgasp

    lastgasp

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    You have no idea what the effect will be on the physiological broken system of ME except to say "stimulation" is usually not good, and these researchers sound like they'd know even less than we do about ME. A slight headache? Yes for people with primary depression maybe, pwME already get headaches, and neurological symptoms. If they were talking about evidence of neuron preservation and immune modulation and blood flow improvements that might be different.
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  12. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    ack, I get migraines and other problems just from too much sound. I can't imagine what electrical stimulation would do but I can't imagine it would be at all good.

    I do know one person with severe ME who does seem to like this kind of stimulation.
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  13. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    Lucid dreaming can be induced by electric scalp stimulation, study finds
    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/11/lucid-dreaming-electric-scalp-stimulation-study

    Neuroskeptic offers a more critical evaluation here:

    Does Gamma tACS Really Induce Lucid Dreaming?
    http://neurocritic.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/does-gamma-tacs-really-induce-lucid.html

    The above used alternating current (not clear on the exact waveform yet, but Google search suggests tACS uses either square wave or sine wave). I also came across a few articles on transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS):

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110413/full/472156a.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3176333

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcranial_direct-current_stimulation
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
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