ALPHA STIM for brain fog/anxiety/insomnia? -- good for FM pain too

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by victoria, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. victoria

    victoria New Member

    A friend gave us an Alpha Stim unit -- has anyone used it for the 'fog' connected with CF?? or insomnia?? or anxiety?? Luckily I don't have the FM pain but have read that it can really help that too.

    How long did it take you to see results, and how many times/day did you use it?

    Any info concerning results, etc., anyone can give me would be helpful... I did a 'search', but didn't see anything about it being tried for these problems.

    Thanks, Victoria
    [This Message was Edited on 09/04/2003]
  2. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    I have never heard of this. How does it work? Does it use electrical current?

    I have a set of CD tapes which use certain sound waves to produce Alpha waves. I mainly use it for producing Delta waves to help me sleep.

    Love, Mikie
  3. spartanjt

    spartanjt New Member

    Hi Victoria
    Can you tell me what an alpha stim unit does,,,,and where you got it?

    I'm always interested in something that can impact brain function and the foggy/off balance feeling that i have.


  4. victoria

    victoria New Member

    Below is just a little of the info available at alpha-stim's website (edited to remove URL).

    All I need is some electrode gel... Would still love to get feedback from anyone who has tried it.

    WHAT IT IS: It’s a small, easy-to-use, hand-held device with electrodes that clip on to your ear lobes. Most people experience a comfortable tingling as it starts to work. Best of all, you can even use it while watching television or working.
    HOW DOES IT WORK: A cranial electrotherapy stimulator (CES) that uses tiny electrical currents to stimulate “alpha-state” brainwave activity.

    WHO DOES IT SUIT: Anyone who wants a machine to do it all for them.
    GUIDELINES: some people are more sensitive to the effects than others. If you cn only tolerate a low setting, you will need to use it for longer than 20 minutes — up to an hour. Make sure you allow three hours after treatment before going to bed, as increased alertness can interfere with sleep.
    ADDED BENEFITS: CES is excellent for controlling anxiety and can also help depression and insomnia.
    Published in Capital Doctor (U.K), Issue 17, November, 2002:
    CES: Low Level Electricity for the Treatment of Depression
    Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is the application of very low levels of electrical current (usually <1 mA) across the head for the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia. It should not be confused with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which uses thousands of times the current. Unlike ECT, no significant negative side effects have been found from the use of CES in millions of patients over the past 40 years of its use in the USA.
                A recent review of 24 published studies, involving thousands of patients, found that 33 different measures of depression had been studied. When the results were combined in a meta-analysis, an average improvement of 53% was found, with the distribution of the improvement found to be between 43% and 71% in 95 patients out of 100. It would be expected to be greater than 71% in half of the five exceptions, or less than 43%.
                The types of patients studied in these depression studies ranged widely, and included hospitalized and outpatient psychiatric patients, drug addicts experiencing withdrawal related depression, and pain patients suffering from pain and stress related depression. CES was found to achieve significant treatment effects in all of these types of depression.
                A survey of 47 physicians using the Alpha-Stim CES device revealed 89.67% of 184 depression patients experienced significant (p>.05) improvement. A separate group of 265 depression patients’ self-reports correlated well with 89.06% reporting significant improvement from Alpha-Stim.
                People suffering depression as a normal concomitant to a busy and sometimes stressful life can be significantly helped with the use of CES for only 20 or 30 minutes 2 or 3 times a week, while patients presenting with clinical levels of depression usually require treatment for one hour daily for 3 weeks.
                CES requires a physician’s prescription in the USA, but not in the UK. Additional information on the use of Alpha-Stim CES can be found on the web at
    Another machine — one you can use at home — is called a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). These machines block your low frequency chronic pain by emitting a high-frequency pain. So it works as a counter-irritant. It can relieve you of pain temporarily, but its effects are short-lived. Still, for someone in constant pain, even a short respite is welcome.
    A giant step up from TENS units is a small device called the Alpha-Stim 100. Daniel L. Kirsch, PhD, developed it in the early 1980’s and a colleague of mine, Fred Lerner, DC, PhD, used it in his chiropractic practice from its inception. Dr. Lerner and I worked in the same office, and I was treated successfully with this unit many times. I also saw that many of his patients were helped by it. the Alpha-Stim 100 combines microcurrent electrotherapy with a cranial stimulator. it actually treats pain in the brain, where it originates. In addition to stopping pain signals, this device treats stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
    You know that chronic pain affects your mood. Well, the Alpha-Stim 100 works on your mood as well as your pain — and the effects are much longer lasting than with a TENS unit. In a recent survey, Electromedical Products International, the company that makes this device, found that 94 percent of users found the Alpha-Stim 100 significantly improved their pain from arthritis, and 91.5 percent had significant improvements in their psychological outlook.
    To get an Alpha-Stim 100, you need a diagnosis from your licensed health care practitioner (MD, chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncturist, etc.) and a prescription. If your prescription is from an MD you may be able to get reimbursed by your insurance company (it depends on your policy, says Dr. Kirsch).
    Different devices may work differently, and your doctor may already know of another one that he or she feels would be more appropriate for you. TENS units and the Alpha-Stim 100 can be expensive (the Alpha-Stim 100 is $735 — but it works beautifully), so call and ask for information on it first and discuss it with your doctor (Electromedical Products International,
    Confirming the physician survey is a peer-reviewed outcome study published in the April 2001 issue of the American Journal of Pain Management that revealed an overall significant improvement of 93% in 1,949 pain patients who used Alpha-Stim for a minimum of three weeks. Most of these people failed to get results from previous therapies or they would never have acquired an Alpha-Stim in the first place. Supported by the double-blind studies, these surveys provide a good overview of results at a glance.
    Physicians documented Alpha-Stim technology in a comprehensive retrospective survey. The degree of significant improvement (of 25% or more) in 500 patients was 91% for pain, 94% for anxiety, 90% for depression, and 79% for insomnia. More than half of the patients exhibited an improvement of 50% or more.
    Alpha-Stim Research Abstracts:
    A prescription brain stimulator is managing the severe chronic pain of fibromyalgia without the side effects of drugs. A study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology found that a very low current electromedical device applied to the brain via ear clip electrodes eased the pain of fibromyalgia, a diffuse musculoskeletal pain syndrome characterized by multiple tender points accompanied by fatigue and insomnia. The principal investigator, Alan S. Lichtbroun, M.D., a board-certified rheumatologist in New Jersey, found the device, called the Alpha-Stim 100, was as effective as prescription drugs in relieving pain, but completely safe. Drugs used in the treatment of fibromyalgia cause side effects in as many as 20 percent of the patients who use them.
    Electromedical current from the Alpha-Stim is normally very low, but for the study it was set even lower, to only 100 microamperes, which is below the level where people can feel it. Treatment was given one hour daily for three weeks. A matched group of fibromyalgia sufferers underwent the same procedure without any current. They had no effect from the sham treatment proving it was the stimulation that worked, not just belief in the procedure. After the study the patients who did not receive actual treatment were treated by the device in the normal way, where they could set the current higher and use the device longer. They then had slightly better results than the experimental treatment group.
    The study also found that while 60 percent of the patients rated their sleep as poor entering the study, only 5 percent continued to have problems sleeping after the three weeks of treatment. Feelings of well-being and quality of life measures also improved substantially.
    The Alpha-Stim is called a cranial electrotherapy stimulator, or CES for short. It uses up to 600 microamperes typically applied for 20 minutes to an hour every other day. That is about 11,000 times less current than needed to light a typical 60 Watt light bulb. It was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia, but physicians are also prescribing it to treat severe forms of chronic pain, since pain is processed and felt in the nervous system, which is controlled by the brain.
    Another recent peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Pain Management documented treatment outcomes of 2,500 patients. Of those there were 363 fibromyalgia patients, 91 percent of whom reported significant improvement in their condition. These patients all used the Alpha-Stim for at least 3 weeks according to the author, Ray B. Smith, Ph.D., M.P.A. Similar results were reported for other pains, including migraine and other headaches, backache, and neck pain.

    Lichtbroun, Alan S., Raicer, Mei-Ming C., and Smith, Ray B. The treatment of fibromyalgia with cranial electrotherapy stimulation. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 7(2):72-78, 2001. Presented at the Fifteenth Annual International Symposium on Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics, Columbia University, New York, October 1999.
    After successful clinical use of Alpha-Stim cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) in the first author’s rheumatology practice, and IRB approval from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was undertaken in which 60 randomly assigned patients who completed informed consent were given either 3 weeks of subsensation (100 microamperes) CES treatment at 0.5 Hz for one hour daily (N=20), sham treatment (N=20), or served as controls for any placebo effect in the sham treated patients (N=20). All patients met the diagnostic criteria set forth by the American College of Rheumatology. The age range was from 23 to 82 years (mean of 50). There were 2 men and 58 women suffering from fibromyalgia from 1 to 40 years, (mean of 11 years).
    Treated patients showed a significant improvement in tender point scores (p<.01), and a significant improvement in self-rated scores of general pain level (p<.002). The number of subjects rating their quality of sleep as poor dropped from 60% at the beginning of the study to 5% (p<.02). In addition, there were significant gains in the self-rated feeling of well-being (p<.05), and quality-of-life (p<.03), plus fairly dramatic gains in six stress related psychological test measures of the Profile of Mood States. No placebo effect was found among the sham treated patients.
    After the double-blind study, 23 of the 40 control patients opted for actual CES in an open clinical trial where they could increase the current in accordance with the standard clinical protocols for Alpha-Stim CES. They also showed a significant improvement in tender point scores (p<.001), and in self-rated pain (p<.005), quality of sleep (p<.001), feeling of well-being (p<.001), and quality-of-life (p<.001). Overall there was a 27% reduction in self-rated pain, and a 28% decrease in the tender point scores of the treated group.
    According to a review of 34 studies of drug treatment for fibromyalgia, adverse effects from drugs are seen in 20% of fibromyalgia patients who use them, and improvement from prescription drugs was reported as 28% at best. In addition, unlike with the use of medication, there is no ongoing cost to the patient after purchase of the CES device. Accordingly, the authors concluded that Alpha-Stim CES is as effective as the drug therapies, with no negative side effects, and deserves further consideration as an additional agent for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

  5. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Please keep us updated on how this is working for you.

    When I use my zapper, it produces a very pleasant sensation of well-being.

    Love, Mikie
  6. victoria

    victoria New Member

    anybody try it for any reason???
  7. victoria

    victoria New Member

    apparently in the UK you can get it without a prescription, but don't know about Australia -- go to their website (do a'google' search, alpha-stim should be the first one to come up). I'm sure they'll ship it if there's no distributor there, unless it's outlawed (don't know why it would be!)

    In USA you need a prescription.

    If I can get to the store tonight, I'm getting some electrode gel and will try it tomorrow -- and will report back.

  8. Kay2

    Kay2 New Member

    I have used the alpha stim for almost a year now. You need to get Alpha conducting solution. This is the phone# where you can order it 940-328-0788. Its in Texas. Did you get the whole set with the probes, ear clips, and patches to stick on you? The probes have felt tips to put on it. Be very careful as to how long you use different settings on. I got a terrible headache one time. I over used the patches and forgot to remove them, left them on my neck tooo long and the next morning, when I got up with my hubby, I was ready to get sick to my stomach and, I had a headache from hell. Couldn't even have the lights on,my head hurt so bad. The ear clips are great and you will notice how they help you with insomia and relaxation. The probes my husband does for me on my back. Top to bottom. Do you have the instructions, as to how these work and how to make the x? Criss cross? My insurance paid for mine 100%. Just paid right before, my cobra ran out:)) Hope this has helped some. OH drink plenty of water!!!!! Good luck
    [This Message was Edited on 09/04/2003]
  9. victoria

    victoria New Member

    Sounds like it has really worked for you - was your primary dxiagnosis FM or CF? Did you notice if it helped with fatigue?

    I will order the solution, I think I have everything else.

    This seems like something that can do it all without having to take pills!?! At least I'm hoping it is.

    I will report back with my results.

  10. Kay2

    Kay2 New Member

    Yes I have cfs and fibro also. noticed it helped more with the pain in my shoulders and neck area. Also my legs. The ear clips will relax you, but it is a different type of relaxing, NOT a drop dead fatigue that we get. I will be gone until Tuesday, ( outter banks in North Carolina) :))) I just wanted you to know incase you posted me, that I wasn't ignoring you ok!!! Keep us updated and happy zapping lol!!