ALPHA-STIM: How it works

Alpha-Stim Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) Works by:

  • Amplifying some neurological system activity and deactivating other parts in a fine-tuning process called neuromodulation

  • This neuromodulation either results from, or occurs with, alpha brainwave states in the brain that are measurable on an EEG 

Alpha-Stim uses cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), more specifically, it employs a patented and rigorously tested CES waveform that delivers a very low level of current in pulsed microcurrents. It effectively targets cell receptors, activating them through frequency matching, in a manner similar to the way chemical ligands do.

CES is not to be confused with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which is a higher powered, less-sophisticated waveform for targeted neurostimulation. tDCS remains an experimental and investigational treatment.

CES should also not be confused with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) which is administered in clinical settings for patients with Major Depressive Disorder under certain circumstances.

Finally, and this is by far the most frequently asked question, Alpha-Stim is not the same as TENS. In much the same way as white pills are not alike because their chemical ingredients are different, Alpha-Stim bears no similarity to TENS, apart from perhaps in their superficial appearance.

Alpha-Stim’s employs a unique, proprietary (patented) microcurrent waveform that makes Alpha-Stim so effective. In contrast to this, TENS has limited effectiveness, and just like eyeglasses, TENS has no residual effect – it only works while in use. But the biggest problem with ordinary TENS is tolerance. This means that, in much the same way that people can become used to the effectiveness of a drug and need to gradually increase the dose to achieve a good effect (perhaps beyond the safe dose level),  you end=up having to increase the TENS current to a point where it becomes ineffective at comfortable (or safe) levels.

Alpha-Stim treatments can usually be given in a matter of minutes, repeated a few times a week. The results are long-lasting and cumulative, this is to say that the build-up over time. Alpha-Stim is also less expensive in the long-run, than even the cheapest TENS devices because the AS-Trodes™ (on the Alpha-Stim M model) may be re-used by a single user.

Because of the way the Alpha-Stim waveform delivers its effect, Alpha-Stim can be used alone, along with other therapies or as an adjunct (or support) to medication, without the risk of drug interactions. There are no serious adverse effects, no risk of addiction, and more than 100 research studies over 35 years that prove the safety and effectiveness of this low level electrical prescription brain therapy.

The effects of Alpha-Stim, in more detail:

On-going research has indicated that the Alpha-Stim® microcurrent waveform activates particular groups of nerve cells that are located at the brainstem. These groups of nerve cells produce the chemicals serotonin and acetylcholine which can affect the chemical activity of nerve cells that are both nearby and at more distant sites in the nervous system.

By changing the electrical and chemical activity of nerve cells in the brainstem, Alpha-Stim® induces neurological ‘fine tuning’ or “modulation” of nerve activity,towards a so-called alpha state, which can be measured on EEG (electro-encephalograms) brainwave recordings. This promotion of alpha brainwave rhythms are accompanied by feelings of calmness, relaxation and increased mental focus. The neurological mechanisms that are occurring during the alpha state therefore decrease stress-effects, reduce agitation, stabilise mood, and regulate both sensations and perceptions of particular types of pain.

These effects can be produced after a single treatment with Alpha-Stim, and repeated treatments have been shown to increase the relative strength and duration of these effects. In some cases, effects have been stable and permanent, suggesting that the electrical and chemical changes evoked by Alpha-Stim® technology have led to a durable re-tuning back to normal function. In more specific, clinical terms, Alpha-Stim® CES engages the serotonergic (5-HT) raphe nuclei of the brainstem. 5-HT inhibits brainstem cholinergic (ACh) and noradrenergic (NE) systems that project supratentorially.

Key: Blue Arrows = inhibitory interactions; Purple arrows = excitatory interactions; Yellow X = suppressed pathways/interactions.

This suppresses thalamo-cortical activity, arousal, agitation, alters sensory processing and induces EEG alpha rhythm. As well, 5-HT can act directly to modulate pain sensation in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, and alter pain perception, cognition and emotionality within the limbic forebrain. These effects are illustrated, below, in the diagram.

A note on Alpha-Stim’s proven safety:

Alpha-Stim® has proven its safety in 95 research studies, published reports and ongoing research, physician and patient surveys. Over 30 years, studies involving 8,800 people have reported only minor side effects. The two most common of these were headaches (reported by 1 in every 1000 patients) and skin irritation at the electrode sites (reported by 7 in every 10,000 patients, and only seen in light-skinned people).

To explore more about Alpha-Stim and the Oasis Pro, please visit the CES section of our main website, which you may find here