The Body Electric By: Tim Culbert, MD, Medical Director, Integrative Services at PrairieCare Medical Group

Apr 11, 2016 by Timothy P. Culbert, MD, FAAP

Electricity plays an important, continuous role in a successfully functioning body—and brain. Our cells run on electrical charges and changes. Of note for those of you that are adventurous and want to learn more, there is an entire museum right here in the beautiful Twin Cites dedicated to role of electricity in health and wellness—“The Bakken”.  I used to go there to study there during medical school and got quite interested in all of the “interesting” devices. (The Bakken: A Library and Museum of Electricity in Life” next to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.

It is no wonder that modern science has harnessed the power of electricity and created therapeutic tools that utilize electrical phenomena to treat mental health related symptoms.  There are a variety of “healing technologies” available to the consumer that can help improve mood, reduce anxiety, increase attention, enhance sleep and reduce pain.

A recent article in Minnesota Monthly ( featured a technology that the Integrative Medicine Team in Chaska uses frequently called “Cranial Electrotherapeutic Stimulation” or CES. A person can attach the small ear clips to each earlobe, turn up the electrical stimulation to a comfortable level of “tingling” and enjoy a 20 minute session of relaxation. It is  like the CES device “meditates your brain” for you, which is kind of nice. The machine actually passes an electrical current across the cranium from ear to ear, in a certain frequency and rhythm that elicits “alpha waves” from your brain, the same waves you get when you meditate! The electrical stimulation also results in the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter implicated in feelings of happiness/calmness.

Some other new gadgets available to us all that utilize electrical body signals to assess and treat issues related to attentional and emotional regulation include:

Muse – A new brain Wave measurement and EEG biofeedback device –

This is a new high-tech brainwave sensing headband that teaches you how to keep brainwaves in a better balance to promote focused attention,  by providing audio feedback to the user

Inner Balance-A new Heart Rate Variability measurement and training tool for emotional regulation—

This is an updated technology available for iPad and iPhone, that uses an ear clip sensor to measure your pulse and then analyze and display heart rate patterns that reflect whether you are in a rhythmic or “coherent” state of nervous system balance (associated with positive emotions and regular breathing) or a more “disorganized” heart pattern (associated with negative emotions and stress). You can then practice emotional regulation “techniques” to shift this heart rate pattern (and with it your emotional state) as needed!

Although technology can definitely be a problem sometimes, it is good to know that some of these newer technologies can utilize electricity to either measure body/brain phenomena (Muse and Inner Balance), or to deliver healing electrical pulses (CES) and can be used to assist and enhance healing of the body and mind.

(no endorsement of products noted herein is implied)

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