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

The science of caffeine and exercise: Can coffee improve your workout?

 

By Neil Clarke

Caffeine is one of the most researched substances reported to help athletes perform better and train longer and harder. As a result, professional and amateur sportspeople often take it as a performance-enhancing “ergogenic” aids for a wide range of activities. These include intermittent exercise such as football and racket sports, endurance exercise such as running and cycling, and resistance exercise such as weightlifting.But while most research looks at the effects of pure caffeine consumed as tablets with water, in the real world most people get their caffeine from coffee, energy drinks or other products like special gels or chewing gum. So will drinking a cup of joe before your workout actually make a difference? The answer could depend as much on your genes as what kind of coffee you’re drinking.

Scientists think caffeine affects the body chemical adenosine, which normally promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. Caffeine ties up the receptors in the brain that detect adenosine and so makes it more alert.

But it may also increase stimulation of the central nervous system, making exercise seem like it involves less effort and pain. In high-intensity activities such as resistance training or sprinting, it may increase the number of fibres used in muscle contractions, meaning movements can be more frequent and forceful.

Faster, higher, stronger

Research has shown that pure caffeine can help endurance athletes run faster and cycle for longer. It can help footballers to sprint more often and over greater distances, and basketball players to jump higher. It can help tennis players and golfers to hit the ball with greater accuracy. And it can help weightlifters lift more weight.

The evidence for caffeine’s effects on sprinting is more mixed. Limited improvements have been found for events lasting under three minutes. But for races of around ten seconds, caffeine can improve peak power output, speed, and strength.

An increasing number of studies have also shown that coffee can be used as an alternative to caffeine to improve cycling and competitive running performance, and produce similar results similar to pure caffeine. In fact, coffee may even be more effective at improving resistance exercise than caffeine alone. Similarly, drinking energy drinks containing caffeine before exercise can improve mental focus, alertness, anaerobic performance and endurance performance.

But drinking coffee isn’t like taking a measured dose of caffeine. The amount of stimulant in a cup, and so how it affects you, will depend on the blend of coffee and how it is brewed. Studies have shown consuming either 0.15g or 0.09g of caffeinated coffee per kilogram of body weight can improve performance. So a dessert spoon of coffee granules rather than a traditional teaspoon is probably best.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that each piece of research shows caffeine improves athletic performance of a group of people as a whole. But we also know that genetic factors have a big influence on our responses to caffeine and not everyone reacts in the same way. This means consuming caffeine won’t necessarily improve your performance.

Potential downsides

In fact, you could end up feeling nauseated and jittery at a time when, if you are competing, you are already feeling anxious. And, as caffeine’s effects can linger for up to five hours, taking it too late in the day could disrupt your sleep, which is a big factor in health and fitness in general. This means it’s important to practice with caffeine during training sessions or friendly fixtures before using it for an important event.

Some have also suggested that you should abstain from caffeine in order to enjoy a better effect on your performance when you consume it for exercise. But maintaining your normal intake will prevent any possible withdrawal symptoms and still provide benefits if caffeine is taken before exercise. Its effects peak between 30 and 75 minutes after ingestion.

Finally, it’s a a commonly held belief that caffeine is a diuretic that will lead to dehydration because it makes you produce more urine. But a number of studies have shown that this isn’t the case with moderate amounts of coffee, cola or any other caffeinated beverage, which help keep you hydrated like any other drink.

Explore more:

To explore medication-free options to support health, wellbeing and peak performance in study, work and sports, please feel free to visit our home page here

About the Author and source material:

Neil Clarke is Principal Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at Coventry University. This article first appeared in the academic discussion journal, ‘The Conversation’ on 26th February, 2018. It is published here under CCL copyright provisions. To view the original article, together with all active links and references, see here

Low Fat or Low Carb, which diet is better?

Finally, the Answer… 

By Timothy Boyer Ph.D.

Do you argue with your friends over which diet is better, low-fat or low-carb? Then here’s the final answer to a dieting question that has been as divisive as our politics.

A new study that pitted the low-fat diet against the low-carb diet for weight loss with a focus on whether a person’s genetics and their insulin levels could be predictive of which diet is better for them, was published in the journal JAMA recently and appears to have an answer to this dieting question: both work about the same, regardless of dieters’ genotype and insulin abilities.

According to Stanford Medicine News, lead study researcher Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine, the answer to discovering successful weight loss may not be about finding that one perfect diet for everyone, but rather, making dieting more customized.

“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet-it worked great-and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn’t work at all…It’s because we’re all very different, and we’re just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what’s the best diet, but what’s the best diet for whom?”

Here’s a YouTube video about the study:

The Overall Study

1. Roughly a 50:50 mix of 609 participants between the ages of 18 and 50 were randomly selected for a low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet lasting one year.

2. Each individual was tested at beginning of the study to determine whether their genetics or their insulin response could be associated as predictors of weight loss by the end of the study.

3. In the first eight weeks of the study, participants were told to limit their daily carbohydrate or fat intake to just 20 grams, and then increase the amount slightly in steps until they found an amount that they found acceptable, but still was low-carb or low-fat. Afterward, those on a low-fat diet reported a daily average fat intake of 57 grams; those on low-carb ingested about 132 grams of carbohydrates per day.

“We wanted them to choose a low-fat or low-carb diet plan that they could potentially follow forever, rather than a diet that they’d drop when the study ended,” said Gardner.

4. After one year, average weight loss (in both groups) was 13 pounds; however, with a lot of variability as some lost up to 60 pounds and others gained 15-20 pounds.

5. No associations between the genotype pattern or baseline insulin levels and a propensity to succeed on either diet were found after analyzing the data.

6. Study shows that the fundamental strategy for losing weight with either a low-fat or a low-carb approach is similar: Eat less sugar, less refined flour and as many vegetables as possible.

Those who lost the most weight – regardless of diet type – attributed their weight loss to mindful eating.”On both sides, we heard from people who had lost the most weight that we had helped them change their relationship to food, and that now they were more thoughtful about how they ate,” said Gardner.

Future research will focus on uncovering other data that may show differences between those who lose weight and those who don’t while dieting to find some indicators/predictors for personal weight loss customization.

Explore more: To explore medication-free options to support health, wellbeing and peak performance in study, work and sports, please feel free to visit our home page here

About the author and source material: This article, written by Dr Timothy Boyer, first appeared on 21st February 2018, in the health news publication EmaxHealth. It is published here under CCL copyright provisions. To view the original article, together with active links, see here

References:

  • Stanford Medicine News “Low-fat or low-carb? It’s a draw, study finds”
  • JAMA 2018; 319 (7): 667-679 “Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association with Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial” Christopher D. Gardner et al.

Processed foods cause cancer: Fact or food snobbery?

Uncritical media coverage ignores problems with study

By Marie-Ann Ha

Eating highly processed foods may be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, according to a new study published in The BMJ. The study was widely reported in the media – mostly uncritically. But there are a number of problems with the study’s design – perhaps the biggest being the assumption that people’s eating patterns remain constant throughout their lives.The researchers used data from a large cohort study, called NutriNet-Santé, that tracks the eating habits and health of thousands of French people. People were included in the current study if they had been part of the cohort for two to six years. Their dietary intake on joining the study was assumed to have been their standard eating pattern for life. I know that my diet now is not the same as it was in my 20s – and I suspect that’s true for most people.

Another flaw with the study is the lack of distinction between people of different incomes. Studies have shown that poor people are at greater risk of cancer – and whether this is due to lifestyle, stress or access to medical care is not really known. But a lower education level, lower physical activity and poorer diet quality are known to be associated with poverty. In this latest study, these factors were all associated with a higher “ultra-processed” food diet, yet income levels were not allowed for in the analysis.

Most readers will be familiar with the term “processed food” – it covers everything from crisps to ready meals. However, the authors of this new study used a new classification most people won’t be familiar with: “ultra-processed food”.

What constitutes ultra-processed food turns out to be rather arbitrary and required a committee to decide which foods fit this category and which don’t. And there appears to be no scientific basis for their decisions. For example, mass-produced bread was included in the classification, but artisan bread was excluded, even though there would be very little nutritional difference in most cases.

The media lapped it up

The study certainly gave some lovely headings, from “Ultra processed foods linked to cancer risk” to Processed foods are driving up rates of cancer, which also suggested that eating these foods are a particular risk to women due to risk of breast cancer.

Cereals were mentioned in several news outlets to increase the risk of cancer, as they had been classified as ultra processed. One interesting claim was that food ingredients in processed foods are invented by food technicians. Certainly the Food Standards Agency would have some concerns if this were the case. Most journalists reported the findings first – and the very cautious response from nutritionists right at the end.

But a single study is not proof of anything. There needs to be several studies with clear outcomes before this level of certainty is warranted. And this study has a lot of flaws, particularly in the classification of the foods. It certainly does not show that any foods cause cancer. It does suggest that there may be a link between processed food and cancer – but whether it is directly from the food, or indirectly from lifestyle factors or poverty is not clear.

Food and nutrition give eye-catching headlines – and bad news stories suggesting we are all going to die from commonly eaten food seem to be very popular. Of course, journalists have to sell papers and academics have to get funding, but trying to turn foods into poisons by stating that individual foods or food groups are “bad” or cause cancer simplifies an extremely complex system to a point where the information given is misleading.

Explore more:

To explore medication-free options to support health, wellbeing and peak performance in study, work and sports, please feel free to visit our home page here

About the Author and source material:

The author of this article is Marie-Ann Ha, wgho is Senior Lecturer in Nutrition at Anglia Ruskin University. The article first appeared in the academic discussion journal, ‘The Conversation’ on 16th February, 2018. It is published here under CCL copyright provisions. To view the original article, together with all active links, see here