Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

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Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

Postby AmpLogic » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:11 pm

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

In my humble opinion Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) devices have the potential to be the end-all be-all of brainwave entrainment gadgetry. Most people have never heard of CES and most of those who have, usually equate the technology with the brutal Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) (AKA Electroshock Therapy) that was used back in the day. ECT was used to treat major psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia, severe depression, and various manias.
CES is a completely different technology that is in widespread use in many different areas of medicine to safely and effectively treat depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addictions, insomnia, to help with pain management and all sorts of other ailments. One of the more common devices in use these days for treating psychological disorders, insomnia etc is called the Alpha Stim.
I do not own and have never used an Alpha-Stim (I HAVE used other devices), but I have seen them in several doctor's offices, and this particular device is apparently very effective. I'm not trying to sell anyone on this device, but it is one of the better known CES devices and has lots of research behind it, so I'm using it as my example.

The following is an excerpt from some random customer testimonial I got from their website. There are plenty of other testimonials, but this one in particular illustrates how it can be effective in helping one to reach a state of deep relaxation while remaining mentally alert. And we all know what that can lead to :)

"[CES] sounded like something both interesting and desirable to me, which is why I was sitting there beside the Alpha-Stim® with those electrodes clamped to my earlobes… The machine was turned on, and I felt a tingling sensation of tiny pinpricks in my earlobes, as a few micro amps of 0.5 Hz passed into my brain… the shift in consciousness was quick and unmistakable. My body immediately felt heavier, as if I was sinking down into myself. I realized I was becoming extremely relaxed, and all of a sudden, there I was. It was that feeling you get when all at once you blink your eyes and realize that you’re awake."

So how does it work?
CES devices are generally small and portable, roughly the size of one of the old Walkman portable cassette players, or maybe a large smart phone. They are battery operated and have two small electrodes that are built into small spring loaded clips that have small wires terminated with something similar to a headphone plug. (Obviously, there are different brands etc that may be slightly different but all the devices that I've seen have been very similar)
If the device comes with bare silver plated electrode clips, there is usually a small tube of electrode gel and the user rubs a small amount on each electrode surface. In the case of the Alpha Stim, the electrodes have some sort of disposable felt pad that needs to be saturated with a conductive solution; Probably saline. After prepping the electrodes the user attaches one of the electrode clips to each earlobe, and selects the program and/or frequency from the control panel on the device.
The device produces pulses of a specific waveform and is capable of delivering only a very tiny current, usually in the range of 50 micro amps up to several hundred micro amps at around 20 or 30 volts, and sends the pulses to the ear lobe clips. Generally these devices produce biphasic rectangular pulses with about a 50% duty cycle. (Basically square wave A/C. There are other proprietary waveforms, and each manufacturer claims that theirs is 'better', but whatever. ) The difference in electrical potential between the user's ear lobes cause the tiny square wave currents to flow through various areas of the user's brain.

The following snippet is from Wikipedia;
The proposed mechanism of action for CES is that the pulses of electric current increase the ability of neural cells to produce serotonin, dopamine DHEA endorphins and other neurotransmitters stabilizing the neurohormonal system.[44]

It has been proposed[45] that during CES, an electric current is focused upon the hypothalamic region; during this process, CES electrodes are placed on the ear at the mastoid, near to the face. Computer modeling suggest that current of similar magnitudes maybe induced in both cortical and sub-cortical regions.[24] The prediction that CES induced current intensities in the sub-cortical structures are not sufficiently decreased from the cortical structures is potentially clinically meaningful.

It has been suggested that the current results in an increase of the brain's levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and a decrease in its level of cortisol. After a CES treatment, users are in an "alert, yet relaxed" state, characterized by increased alpha and decreased delta brain waves as seen on EEG.

CES devices have been around for quite some time, are FDA approved and they are actively manufactured under various names by several bio med companies. There are also some "knock off" devices out there that may work just as well, or better than their higher priced counterparts. There's a wide variety of devices out there ranging in price from around $100 to well into the thousands of dollars.

While the exact mechanism of effective CES therapy is not exactly understood, the hardware required to generate 30 volt low current square wave A/C signals can pretty simple.
Several years ago decided that I wanted to play around with CES a little bit, and having a strong electronics and computer background, I decided to build the simplest device I could come up with that would actually do what people claimed that it would do. Just about any type and shape of waveform can be accurately generated, and converted to an audio file by simple software that can run on any PC. At some point I figured out that a simple voltage amplifier to increase the voltage of the square waves, and some very simple circuitry to limit the current to under 1 milliamp is all that one really needed to get the CES 'experience'. With that in mind, I used an LME49710 (a hi-fi audio operational amplifier) to make a very simple inverting amplifier to amplify the CES signals which were played as .wav files from an MP3 player. I used that particular op amp because I had a few of them given to me by Texas Instruments as free samples, and had them on hand at the time. I'm sure a basic cheap 741 op amp from Radio Shack or wherever would have worked fine as well. I purchased a set of silver ear clip electrodes and some electrode gel from some online retailer that I can't recall right now, and started experimenting. I'm guessing that the high dollar commercial units with their proprietary, microprocessor generated, asymmetrical waveforms would have been more effective to some degree. But, I can attest to the fact that plain 'ol A/C square waves played through the headphone jack of a cell phone, and then amplified with the simple circuit I just described worked very well. For me, effects could be felt almost immediately and were definitely not from a placebo effect. I experienced everything from massive adrenaline rushes (which were actually counter-productive in my case) to wild colorful visuals, to almost instant sleep to what can only be described as silly giddiness. At that time I wasn't overly concerned about my occasional middle-of-the night OOBE, and wasn't interested in exploring or learning more about the NPR, so I didn't really experiment with any frequencies that we would associate with a meditative state. I've struggled with ADD/ADHD and latent inhibition issues that stem from some sort of dopamine deficiency condition that I can't remember the name of at the moment, so my goals were oriented more toward finding CES solutions that would help me with staying alert and focused during the day, and calming the tornado of thoughts that was constantly present in my mind. I was using frequencies that were geared more toward inducing beta and gamma states for alertness and focus, and occasionally frequencies in the low end of the delta range for sleep. I wasn't doing any meditation or anything then, so it never occurred to me at that time to experiment with anything in the high delta or theta ranges.

I have moved to a different house in a different neighborhood since that time, and I'm sure that little amplifier device is packed away in one of the many boxes of electronic gadgets that I've built over the years. I plan to either dig around and attempt to find it, or build another one to try out during any NPR related stuff I do to see what effects it might have. When I get around to either finding or building another amplifier, I'll definitely report back and let everyone know how it goes.

Here are a few links to products, patents and other websites with related info:
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Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

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Re: Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

Postby AmpLogic » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:40 pm

I have been using Bob Beck's Brain Tuner for 2 years now

Wow. How could I forget to mention Bob Beck during all the rambling I did in that last post. Definitely one of the pioneers directly responsible for technologies such as CES.
I really like the Laxman machine. I've looked at them before, but can't bring myself to pony up the $600.00 it would take to get one. But, a light and sound machine is definitely high on the list of things I plan on acquiring. I already have the Neuro Programmer software from Transparent Corp that has an Audio Strobe encoder built in to the software, and is capable of interfacing with various biofeedback devices. I just need to buy a pair of decent audiostrobe goggles, and maybe some EEG hardware :)

What frequencies are you using with the Brain Tuner that are helping you with your dream recall?

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Re: Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

Postby Szaxx » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:06 pm

I've not built a CES unit but have built a magnetic unit way back in the mid 70's. I found it interesting but it killed off the recall for a short while. It was dismantled shortly after. I still remember how it was made too. ( no memory problem here) The CES output could be generated from a 24/240 volt transformer. These are very common in muscletone units way back. Today they'll probably use a hexfet digitally switched from a smpsu. More precision in this method.
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