Heal Yourself At Home
Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation / CES Therapy

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. NOT INTENDED TO TREAT OR CURE ANY DISEASE: I am a researcher of alternative medicine and not a medical professional. Due to U.S. FDA regulations and various State laws, I cannot make any medical claims for experimenting with electro-therapies. All information on this website referring to healing treatment therapies must be considered theoretical and unproven and for experimental research only.

Disclaimer: I, Shirley Emmons, the soleauthor of Healyourselfathome.com:

Take full responsibility for anything written about the SOTA instruments on this website, which is my sole opinion;

Want it to be known that the manufacturer of the SOTA instruments has not written or endorsed any of the information on this site about cancer or any other modality including any protocols that have been written for use with the SOTA Silver Pulser, Magnetic Pulser or Water Ozonator

Want it to be known that (a) The manufacturers of the SOTA instruments sell electronic test equipment and do not make any medical claims for their devices and (b) I have not been granted license, permission or authority by the manufacturer of the SOTA instruments to make any medical claims for that company.

On this Page:

What is CES?

How does CES work?


CES has Few recorded Side Effects

Applications of CES

How Long and How Often is CES Treatment Needed?

CES Units are Easy to Us

Studies on CES Indicate its Effectiveness

Therapeutic PEMFs Handle Stress Symptoms

For Those who Would like more Technical Details on CES


Related Link:

SOTA Bio-Tuner("Brain Tuner")

What is CES?

CES stimulates the brain with specific frequency patterns, which have been successfully used to resolve depression, insomnia, stress, poor memory and drug addictions –a safe, effective alternative to drugs, CES is an FDA-approved treatment for both situational and chronic anxiety, depression and insomnia. Over 100 human and 20 animal studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CES in treating these and other disorders, including substance abuse and pain

Lichtbroun, Raicer & Smith, 2001; Kirsch & Smith, 2000; Thuile & Kirsch, 2000

CES leaves the user in what psychologists call an alpha state –increased alpha-wave activity in the brain may also be achieved through such as meditation, relaxation, chanting, and hypnotherapy. After CES, people report that their bodies feel lighter, while their thinking is clearer and more creative.

CES is NOT "Shock therapy", it is the application to the head area(using a frequency generator, such as the SOTA Bio-Tuner("Brain Tuner") of a very weak pulsed electrical current for medical and/or psychological purposes -The electrical current used in CES is typically less than 1 mA(11,000 times less than the current needed to power a light bulb). The electromagnetic fields produced by the current used in CES are very similar to the electrical fields naturally present in the body.

No negative effects or major contraindications -have been found from the use of CES to date, either in the U.S. or other parts of the world.

CES has been an international treatment modality for more than 50 years - CES for treatment of anxiety began in the Soviet Union during the 1950's, its primary focus being the treatment of sleep disorders, hence its initial designation as "Electrosleep."

CES is presently an under-utilized therapy -because wehave been conditioned to believe that for every symptom or disease there is a solution in a pill. When it comes to treating anxiety, depression and insomnia, conventional medicine focuses on chemically manipulating neurotransmitter activity in the brain.However, the brain and body are also electrical in nature. Electro-medicine (including CES) is designed primarily to impact the electrical nature of the body.

How does CES work?

The exact physiological mechanism by which CES works is not fully understood and is still the subject of research study

“The cells in your body constantly draw energy from the brain and the Earth's electromagnetic field in an effort to achieve what is called "magnetic resonance." Magnetic resonance occurs when the magnetic frequency in your brain matches a harmonic of the frequencies of the other organs and body tissues.This normally occurs for only brief periods during sleep. During these periods, your body's ability to heal and repair itself, create enzymes, and boost immunity is enhanced”.

-Dr. David Williams, Alternatives, March 2004

–   It appears that CES influences areas of the brain called the thalamus, hypothalamus and the reticular activating system (the part of the brain believed to be the center of arousal and motivation).

Brotman, 1989; Gibson & O'Hair, 1987; Madden & Kirsch, 1987.

Specific electronic frequencies appear to stimulate the brain to manufacture and rebalance certain brain neurotransmitter chemicals, such as endorphins,SEROTONIN,DOPAMINE, NOREPINEPHRINE, andCORTISOL etc. - that may be involved in many stress related conditions. This can affect ones moods and emotions as well as ones cognitive capabilities.

Shealy et al, “Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma neurochemicals:response to CES”, J. of Neurological and Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery, 1998

CES substantially reduces muscle tension-as shown by EMG recordings. There are reports of changes in heart, blood pressure, galvanic skin responses and increased peripheral temperature, consistent with positive autonomic effects, which maintain homeostasis in the body

Heffernan M., “The effect of a single cranial electrotherapy stimulation on multiple stress measures”, The Townsends Letter for Doctors and Patients, 1995

CES seems to stimulate the vagus nerve - producing a state of parasympathetic nervous system dominance, a system which has a general calming effect on the body. This is certainly consistent with the effects observed with CES.

CES normalizes the body's electrical fields that are disturbed with injury or pain - This has been measured on EEG (brain wave tracing).For example, people with moderate to severe pain from osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) are found to have ABNORMAL brain wave activity. After 5 minutes of CES treatment, brain waves were virtually normal, and pain was reduced by more than 50%. It has been found that individuals whose brain waves improved the most had the greatest pain relief.

Heffernan M, “The Effects of variable microcurrents on EEG spectrum ans pain control”, Canadian J. of Clin. Medicine, 1997

It is postulated that CES restores normal electromagnetic communication between cells - This may have the effect of regulating cellular differentiation, tissue repair, and immune system function.

For more detailed information on how CES affects the body -

At the end of this article, see:

For Those who Would like more Technical Details on CES


CES is contraindicated in pregnancy and for individuals with demand-type cardiac pacemakers (built pre-1998)

Care needs to be taken with individuals on anti–hypertensive medication - as CES can lower blood pressure.

CES can be used in conjunction with medication, psychotherapy, biofeedback and other therapies - It often augments the effects of other treatments.

CES has Few recorded Side Effects

CES is relatively free of side effects

–   Headache, skin irritation or vertigo, occurred in less than 1% of subjects and were temporary

–   In contrast, side effects and addiction of medicines are not uncommon -Anti-anxiety drugs often leave the patient in a stupor.With 50 years of use, hundreds of research experiments, and hundreds of thousands of users, CES has been demonstrated to be 100% safe.


Applications of CES

Life adjustment problems often lead to some degree of anxiety,

which tends to affect the health of our body

Some of the resulting psychogenic illnesses –are:

✔ Substance abuse withdrawal syndrome - from alcohol, street drugs, nicotine, prescription drugs;

✔ Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain

✔ Pre-menstrual syndrome;

✔ Attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity , panic disorders;

✔ Migraine, tension headaches;

✔ TMJ dysfunction;

✔ Pre-competitive and performance anxiety

✔ Tic dolereaux (severe facial pain)

✔ Bruxism (teeth grinding);

✔ Stress induced asthma

✔ Hives

✔ GI disorders, ulcers or gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

CES is not represented as a cure for these illnesses, but its ability to successfully address the anxiety, depression, and insomnia underlying these disorders, plays a major role in the healing process.

General Benefits

-Ability to Focus

-Lucid Dreaming

-Deep Relaxation

-Centering and Calmness

-Better Sexual Performance

-Deeper, more Restful Sleep

-Reduced Nervous Energy

-Enhanced Creativity

-Improved Attention Span and Concentration

-Increased Mental and Physical Energy

-Reduced Negative Behavior Patterns

-Short Term Memory Improvement

Insomnia - CES speeds time to fall asleep, increases time spent in deepest (stage 4 - delta) sleep and amount of time in bed spent asleep. CES does not necessarily put a person to sleep, but accomplishes these sleep pattern changes for those with insomnia.

Anxiety - CES improves both state and trait anxiety. State anxiety is situational; for example, stress from undergoing a dental procedure. Trait anxiety is more engrained in the personality. Drugs only work as long as they are taken but CES has demonstrated excellent long-term effects on trait anxiety.

Depression - CES helps prevent rebound depression in patients being weaned off anti–anxiety medication.While medication may be effective in treating symptoms of anxiety or depression, it interferes with the re-establishment of hormonal homeostasis in the brain. In contrast, CES restores balance to the brain.

Pain relief - CES is very effective for pain relief.A few documented, responsive chronic pain states are:

✔ Arthritis

✔ Headaches

✔ Fibromyalgia -Fibromyalgia patients with severe chronic headaches, who had failed to respond to biofeedback, low tyramine diet, physical therapy and local injections, were treated with CES.About half of the 75 subjects had a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of headaches. This study also found an overall decrease in the sensitivity of six main tender points on various body parts

✔ Lower back pain

✔ Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

✔ Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction syndrome

✔ Migraine - CES found to reduce frequency, intensity and duration of migraine headaches.

✔ Cancer Pain - In every case there was a positive effect in decreasing pain applying CES treatments to severe intractable cancer pain that failed to achieve relief with heavy medication and surgery (studies conducted by the Division of Otolaryngology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio)

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation - CES helps to get through the psychologically and physically demanding period of withdrawalby reducing the common withdrawal symptoms of extreme anxiety, depression, and insomnia, regardless of the involved substance. CES has been studied with people recovering from addictions to alcohol, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, morphine and barbiturates. CES studies have found that recovering addicts have:

–    Reducedanxiety, hostility, depression and confusion;

–    Improved planning, self esteem, assertiveness, decision-making skills, expression of feelings, energy levels, IQ and capacity for intimate contact;

These beneficial effects bring a 50% reduction in recidivism for substance abusers (over two years of study). It seems that when a person turns to drugs, the brain gives up making its own pain-killers (endorphins), but putting a weak electromagnetic signal into the body, especially the head area, stimulates the brain into producing endorphins again. Amazingly, the craving for the drug disappears in 3 to 10 days and without withdrawal symptoms.The only drug that can not be kicked so quickly is tobacco, considered by many to be the most addictive substance known to man.

Other Applications:

✔ Phobias

✔ Closed head injuries

✔ Bronchial asthma

✔ Excess acid secretion by the stomach

✔ Bulimia and anorexia nervosa

✔ Anaesthesia - Double blind, placebo controlled studies have found CES to reduce anxiety and the requirement for anesthesia during dental procedures;

✔ Neurological Diseases - Research points to the conclusion that many neurological diseases share similar electro-physiologic anomalies, which can be found in brain waves of the following neurological disease states:

–    Multiple Sclerosis

–    Alzheimer's

–    Parkinson's

–    Cluster and other headache syndromes

–    Migraine

–    Severe PMS/Menstrual related symptoms

–    Tremor Disorders

–    Insomnia / Sleeping disorders

–    Depression

–    Undiagnosed muscle twitch

–    Anxiety

–    Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

–    Schizophrenia

–    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

–    Epilepsy

CES is Not Just for the Sick

You don't have to be "sick" or "losing it" to realize the benefits of CES -Using CES in stressful situations, perhaps for as little as 10 minutes, can help curb anxiety and serve as a reminder that one needs to be oneself in a different way.

–   CES quiets the mind.

–   CES is especially helpful in preparing for examinations or as an accelerated learning tool - such as when memorizing blocks of material.

–   For the athlete readying for competition -it helps create a state of relaxed awareness helping them prepare for maximum performance.

–   Many use CES to assist in their creative work

How Long and How Often is CES Treatment Needed?

Response to CES treatment is very individual -Treatment effects tend to be cumulative -When brain neurotransmitters are back in balance no further improvement will be noticed.

–   People often feel relaxed and alert from a CES treatment - This state may last for 12 to 72 hours after the first few treatments. Initially, treatments are more frequent, then as results are seen, the frequency of treatments can be tapered off to an "as needed" basis.

–   Results in treating anxiety are usually long lasting, provided 4 to 6 treatments have been given - Typically, anxiety is reduced during the initial treatment (Some cases - up to a day after treatment);

–   Mild depression and mild chronic pain conditions generally remit after 10 days of treatment;

–   Deep seated, endogenous depression may require 3 or more weeks of daily treatment

–   Insomnia:20 minutes once daily tapering to 3 treatments per week after two weeks. Optimal treatment time is within 3 hours before sleep (e.g. 4-7 p.m. if bedtime is10:00 p.m.). Primary treatment affect is in Stage 4 (delta) sleep;

–   Maintenance treatments of 20-minute sessions are sometimes needed 2 to 3 times per week

CES Units are Easy to Use

Most CES units, such as the"SOTA “Bio-Tuner" are user-friendly and painless - After clipping the electrodes to your ear lobes and inserting the lead wire into the jack, it's very simple. The SOTA "SOTA “Bio-Tuner" features an on-off knob that also controls the amplitude (turning it to the right increases the amount of current). Start with a low current and gradually increase it.

SOTA Bio-Tuner("Brain Tuner")

Studies on CES Indicate its Effectiveness

Effects of CES on anxiety and depression -Dr. Ray Smith, a leading researcher in CES, shared some amazing statistics after measuring the effects of CES on anxiety and depression in hundreds of patients. He has used daily 1-hour treatments, 5 days per week.

After 7 treatments - 96% of anxiety patients are free of anxiety.

After 10 to 13 treatments - 94% of patients have resolution of depression.

Long Lasting Effects - Dr. Smith has seen these results maintained for 12 months after treatment in 111 patients. 33 patients were followed for 13 to 20 months after treatment and were still cured.

CES has consistently demonstrated reductions in anxiety -in studies that have used 27 different psychometric (pencil and paper) tests including the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory.

Slowing of brain waves and respiration rate, as well as reduction in blood pressure - are physical signs of stress reduction that have been documented with CES treatment in studies that have measured the physiological manifestations of anxiety before and after CES treatment.

Chronic Stress Symptoms - One placebo-controlled study evaluated the effects of CES treatment in 20 individuals with chronic stress symptoms of at least a year's duration. All of them had failed to respond to medication. Muscle tension, heart rate and finger temperature were measured BEFORE, IMMEDIATELY AFTER, and 1 WEEK FOLLOWING a single 20 minute CES treatment:

✔ Immediately after treatment- Muscle tension and heart rate decreased and finger temperature increased in those receiving active CES treatment but not in the placebo (sham CES) group.

✔ One week after treatment - those who had received active CES treatment still had significantly reduced muscle tension and heart rate! This is one of the many advantages of CES over medications. Medications only work as long as they are taken, whereas the effects of CES are cumulative and lasting.

The long-term benefits of CES were demonstrated in another study - which examined the effects of CES on individuals with stress related attention deficit disorder (8 out of 23 subjects had a primary diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder). CES treatments of 45 minutes duration were given daily for 3 weeks. The treatments resulted in reductions in anxiety and depression and improvement in IQ. 18 to 20 months after treatment, CES benefits were still retained, as demonstrated by maintenance or improvement of IQ scores!

Drug Addictions - Effectiveness of using CES was established by a Chinese acupuncturist, Dr. Wen, in Hong Kong in the 1970s.By using CES on hundreds of patients at a clinic, most of whom were on drugs of one kind or another, alcohol, nicotine, heroin, etc, consciously or unconsciously trying to relieve stress, Dr. Wen helped them "kick" their drug habits.

Therapeutic PEMFs Handle Stress Symptoms

PEMFs using known beneficial frequencies prevent and manage stress reactions in the body - Not only do they activate the parasympathetic "relaxation response" nervous system, but they increase blood flow and oxygen levels at a cellular level. A daily PEMF routine will reduce the physiologic response to stress such as irritability, headaches, hypertension, gastritis, arrhythmias, depression, fatigue, immune deficiencies, etc.

–   Excerpts from “Effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) on STRESS”- By William Pawluk, MD, MSc.:

Research, on humans and animals, has shown that:

✔ PEMFs generally decrease the excitability of the nervous system and corrects emotional reactions accompanying stress - PEMFs produce a number of anti-stress changes in the body, both to:

(a) Ward off stress (create stress resistance)

(b) Decrease the hormonal, immune, neurologic, soft tissue, cardiac, vascular, low pH and low-oxygen damage caused by stress.

From this perspective, very low-level PEMFs used regularly should be able to prevent or reverse many of the effects of stress that all of us experience daily.

✔ PEMFs alter stress response by acting directly on the nervous system, glands, cells, tissues and organs:



✔ Sympathoadrenal system (SAS) is activated by stress

✔ Inhibit activation of the SAS.

✔ Prevent decreases in nonspecific stress resistance (ie. Warding off stress)

✔  Increased sympathetic nervous system arousal increases catecholamines - such as ADRENALIN and NORADRENALIN

✔ Plasma catecholamines ADRENALIN and NORADRENALIN DECREASE - PEMFs do this by acting on the hypothalamus and increasing urine excretion of ADRENALIN.

✔ Stress quickly and significantly decreases the white blood cell count (even stress caused by lack of sleep and travel) - and thus compromises the immune system.

✔ Immune System Mechanisms Improve: Neutrophils increase gradually. Neutrophil metabolism and superoxide production are increased significantly.

✔ Stress can cause blood CORTISOL to double or even triple (amount of CORTISOLl in the blood indicates the degree of stress present).


✔ Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) plays a key role in the body's adaptation to stress

✔ PEMFs cause Ascorbic acid and SEROTONIN concentration levels to nearly double at one month of exposure -By the third month, ascorbic acid concentration returns to the pre-exposure level, while serotonin remains significantly increased. Thus, by enhancing ascorbic acid function, PEMFs may also be useful in acute stress situations.


For Those who Would like more Technical Details on CES

The following is a Chapter Reprint from:


Daniel L. Kirsch, Ph.D., D.A.A.P.M.

The Textbook of the American Academy of Pain Management

CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 2001 Revision.

Chapter ©copyright 2001 by D. L. Kirsch, Mineral Wells, Texas.

All Rights Reserved



Orange high-lighting has been added

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is the application of low-level, pulsed electrical currents (usually not exceeding one milliampere), applied to the head for medical and/or psychological purposes. It is primarily used to treat both state (situational) and trait (chronic) anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress related and drug addiction disorders, but it is also proving indispensable for treating pain patients (Lichtbroun, Raicer & Smith, 2001; Kirsch & Smith, 2000; Thuile & Kirsch, 2000).

Drs. Leduc and Rouxeau of France were first to experiment with low intensity electrical stimulation of the brain in 1902. Initially, this method was called electrosleep as it was thought to be able to induce sleep. Since then, it has been referred to by many other names, the most popular being transcranial electrotherapy (TCET) and neuroelectric therapy (NET). Research on using what is now referred to as cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) began in the Soviet Union during the 1950's.

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation is a simple treatment that can easily be administered at any time. The current is applied by easy-to-use clip electrodes that attach on the ear lobes, or by stethoscope-type electrodes placed behind the ears. In the 1960's and early 1970's, electrodes were placed directly on the eyes because it was thought that the low level of current used in CES could not otherwise penetrate the cranium. This electrode placement was abandoned over 20 years ago. Recent research has shown that from 1 mA of current, about 5 µA/cm2 of CES reaches the thalamic area at a radius of 13.30 mm which is sufficient to affect the manufacture and release of neurotransmitters (Ferdjallah, 1996).

Anxiety reduction is usually experienced during a treatment, but may be seen hours later, or as late as one day after treatment. Although in some people it may require a series of five to ten daily treatments to be effective. Severe depression often takes up to three weeks to establish a therapeutic effect.

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation leaves the user alert while inducing a relaxed state. Psychologists call this an alpha state. The effect differs from pharmaceutical treatment in that people usually report feeling that their bodies are more relaxed, while their minds are more alert. Most people experience a feeling that their bodies are lighter, while thinking is clearer and more creative. A mild tingling sensation at the electrode sites may also be experienced during treatment. The current should never be raised to a level that is uncomfortable. One 20-minute session is often all that is needed to effectively control anxiety for at least a day, and the effects are usually cumulative. If the patient can only tolerate a small amount of current (<200 µA), due to vertigo or nausea, more time is required. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation may also be used as an adjunct to anxiolytic or anti-depressive medication, but the dosage of medication should then be reduced by approximately one-third. It is also proven to be an effective complimentary treatment along with psychotherapy, biofeedback training, and surgical anesthesia (Kirsch, 1999). For people who have difficulty falling asleep, CES should be used in the morning to avoid the possibility of increased alertness that may interfere with sleep.

Most people can resume normal activities immediately after treatment. Some people may experience an euphoric feeling, or a state of deep relaxation that may temporarily impair their mental and/or physical abilities for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks, such as operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, for up to several hours after treatment.

At present, there are over 100 research studies on CES in humans and 20 experimental animal studies (Kirsch, 1999). No significant lasting side effects have ever been reported. Occasional self-limiting headache (1 out of 450), discomfort or skin irritation under the electrodes (1 out of 811), or lightheadedness may occur. A rare patient with a history of vertigo may experience dizziness for hours or days after treatment.

Most cranial electrotherapy stimulators are limited to 600 µA. To put this into perspective, it takes one-half of an ampere to light an ordinary 60 watt light bulb. To truly compare the work done per second by these two different currents, we must multiply the currents by the respective voltages that drive them. The product of current x voltage is a measure of the rate of generation of energy, and is referred to as the power output. By definition, when a device outputs one ampere of current with a one volt driving force, the power output of the device is one watt. Therefore a device producing a maximum output of 600 µA is limited to about 11,000 times less power than the light bulb: (600/1,000,000)amperes x 9 volts = 0.0054 watts. Some people do not even feel this amount of current.

As in many areas of biology and therapy, the evidence of CES effectiveness is empirical. It is generally believed that the effects are primarily mediated through a direct action on the brain at the limbic system, the hypothalamus and/or reticular activating system(Brotman, 1989; Gibson & O'Hair, 1987; Madden & Kirsch, 1987). The primary role of the reticular activating system is the regulation of electrocortical activity. These are primitive brain stem structures. The functions of these areas and their influence on our emotional states were mapped using electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation of the periaqueductal gray matter has been shown to activate descending inhibitory pathways from the medial brainstem to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, in a manner similar to ß-endorphins (Salar, 1981; Pert, 1981; Ng, 1975). Cortical inhibition is a factor in the Melzack-Wall Gate Control theory (Melzack, 1975). Toriyama (1975) suggested it is possible that CES may produce its effects through parasympathetic autonomic nervous system dominance via stimulation of the vagus nerve (CN X). Taylor (1991) added other cranial nerves such as the trigeminal (CN V), facial (CN VII), and glossopharyngeal (CN IX). Fields (1975) showed that electrocortical activity produced by stimulation of the trigeminal nerve is implicated in the function of the limbic region of the midbrain affecting emotions. Substance P and enkephalin have been found in the trigeminal nucleus, and are postulated to be involved in limbic emotional brain structures (Hokfelt, 1977). The auditory-vertigo nerve (CN VIII) must also be effected by CES, accounting for the dizziness one experiences when the current is too high. Ideally, CES electrodes are placed on the ear lobes because that is a convenient way to direct current through the midbrain and brain stem structures.

From studies of CES in monkeys, Jarzembski (1970) measured 42% to 46% of the current entering the brain, with the highest concentration in the limbic region. Rat studies by Krupisky (1991) showed as much as a threefold increase in ß-endorphin concentration after just one CES treatment. Pozos (1971) conducted mongrel dog research that suggests CES releases dopamine in the basal ganglia, and that the overall physiological effects appear to be anticholinergic and catecholamine-like in action. Richter (1972) found the size, location, and distribution of synaptic vesicles were all within normal limits after a series of ten, one-hour treatments in Rhesus monkeys. Several studies in stump-tailed macaques and humans revealed a temporary reduction in gastric hypersecretion (Reigel, 1970; Reigel, 1971; Wilson, 1970; Kotter, 1975).

A recent review by Kirsch (1999) of 106 human studies involving 5,439 subjects (4,058 receiving cranial electrotherapy stimulation, while the remainder served as sham-treated or placebo controls) revealed significant changes associated with anxiolytic relaxation responses, such as lowered reading on electromyograms (Gibson, 1987; Forster, 1963; Heffernan, 1995; Overcash, 1989; Voris, 1995), slowing on electroencephalograms (Braverman, 1990; Cox, 1975; Heffernan, 1996; Heffernan, 1997; Krupitsky, 1991; McKenzie, 1971; Singh, 1971), increased peripheral temperature, an indicator of vasodilatation (Brotman, 1989; Heffernan, 1995), reductions in gastric acid output (Kotter, 1975), and in blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and heart rate (Heffernan, 1995; Taylor, 1991).

The efficacy of CES has also been clinically confirmed through the use of 27 different psychometric tests. The significance of CES research for treating anxiety has been reconfirmed through meta-analyses conducted at the University of Tulsa by O'Connor (1991), and by Klawansky (1995) at the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health.

Seventeen studies conducted follow-up investigations from one week to two years after treatment (Brotman, 1989; Brovar, 1984; Cartwright, 1975; Flemenbaum, 1974; Forster, 1963; Hearst, 1974; Heffernan, 1995; Hochman, 1988; Koegler, 1971; Magora, 1967; Matteson, 1986; Moore, 1975; Overcash, 1999; Patterson, 1988; Smith, 1999; Turaeva, 1967; Weiss, 1973). Sixteen of 16 (100%) reported that at least some of the subjects had a continued improvement after a single CES treatment, or a series of CES treatments. The other follow-up report only commented on safety (Forster, 1963). None of the 17 studies revealed any long term harmful effects.

When restricted to anxiety populations or studies that measured for physiological and/or psychological changes in anxiety, there are 40 scientific studies of CES, involving 1,835 patients. Thirty-four of the 40 (85%) studies reported efficacious results in the treatment of anxiety. Five of the studies on CES (all using the Alpha-Stim) support the effectiveness for managing anxiety during or after a single treatment (Gibson, 1987; Heffernan, 1995; Smith, 1999; Voris, 1995; Winick, 1999).

None of the 6 of 40 (15%) anxiety studies categorized by the authors as having negative or indeterminate results were recent, five were done in the 1970's, and one in 1980. Three showed both actual treatment and sham groups to improve significantly, most likely because both groups were also taking medications (Levitt, 1975; Passini, 1976; Von Richtofen, 1980). One was a depression study in which the author noted that acute anxiety was not relieved and again, the study did not control for medications (Hearst, 1974). One reported no significant change on anxiety or depression scales, but subjective insomnia improved (P<.05) during active treatment (Moore, 1975). Only one study conducted on a population of insomniacs, with an average duration of symptoms for almost 20 years, did not show any significant change at all in any parameters (Frankel, 1973). [Perhaps the device used in Frankel's study was defective.]

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation has been well researched and clearly proven to be the most effective, and safest method of treatment for anxiety, and anxiety-related disorders. It is also highly effective for depression and insomnia, muscle tension, fibromyalgia and headaches.As an increasing number of patients seek alternatives to the side effects and potential addiction to mood-altering pharmaceuticals and controlled substances, CES offers a viable solution. It is easy enough to offer CES in a psychologist's, dentist's or physician's office, clinic, or hospital, and chronically stressed patients will find it cost-effective over time to own their own CES device.


In addition to the primary claims for anxiety, depression insomnia, and pain, CES has been researched with significant results for many other conditions. Smith and Shiromoto (1992) showed it to be highly effective in blocking fear perception in phobic patients. Favorable results have also been reported for labor, epilepsy, hypertension, surgery, spinal cord injuries, chronic pain, arthritis, cerebral atherosclerosis, eczema, dental pain, asthma, ischemic heart disease, stroke, motion sickness, digestive disorders as well as various addictive disorders including cocaine, marijuana, heroin and alcohol abuse(Wharton, McCoy, & Cofer, 1982; Schmitt, Capo, et al., 1984; Smith, 1975; Smith, 1982; Patterson, 1983; Daulouede, 1980; Gomez & Mikhail, 1978; Brovar, 1984; Feighner, Brown, & Olivier, 1973; Overcash & Siebenthall, 1989).

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FS) are two significant pain diagnoses from primary central and autonomic nervous system etiologies that respond best to CES (Alpher & Kirsch, 1998; Lichtbroun et al., 1999). Adding somatic treatment with MET to these two conditions does not seem to improve the outcomes.

Besides specific pathological disorders, there are a growing number of studies being conducted that show increases in cognitive functions. Michael Hutchison (1986) discussed several mind enhancement techniques in his book Megabrain, devoting chapter 9 to CES as a tool for attaining higher levels of consciousness. Sparked by Hutchison, Madden and Kirsch (1987) completed a study that demonstrated CES to be a useful tool for improving psychomotor abilities. Smith (1999) demonstrated that CES significantly improved stress related cognitive dysfunction, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), after only three weeks of treatment, and maintained the effect through an 18-month follow-up assessment.


Cranial electrotherapy stimulation devices are generally similar in size and appearance to TENS units, but produce very different waveforms. Standard milliampere-current TENS devices must never be applied transcranially. CES electrodes can be placed bitemporally, forehead to posterior neck, bilaterally in the hollow just anterior to the mastoid processes, or through electrodes clipped to the earlobes. The ear clip method, developed by the author, is the easiest and possibly most effective electrode placement.

The electrodes must first be wet with an appropriate conducting solution. When using ear clip electrodes, apply them to the superior aspect of the ear lobes, as close to the jaw as possible. Start with a low current and gradually increase it. If the current is too high the patient may experience a painful stinging sensation at the electrodes, dizziness, or nausea. If any of these three symptoms arise, immediately reduce the current and the symptoms will subside in a few moments. After a minute or two, try increasing the current again, but keep it at a comfortable level. It is okay for the patient to feel the current as long as it is not uncomfortable.

The ideal treatment time is 20 to 60 minutes, but some patients may achieve the full benefits of a CES treatment within 10 minutes. Many dentists use it instead of nitrous oxide gas to help relax patients during dental procedures (Winick, 1999). Sometimes these dental procedures last for hours with the patient undergoing CES treatment the entire time.

Although CES treatment is indicated for insomnia, because of the increased alertness some patients find it difficult to fall asleep immediately after a treatment. Accordingly, it is recommended that CES be used at least three hours before going to bed. Also, in most cases after daily treatments for the first week or two, treating every other day is usually more effective than daily treatment.

The CES Experience

During the treatment, most patients will experience a subjective change in their body weight. They may feel heavier at first and then lighter, or they may feel lighter initially. The patient may feel worse during the heavy cycle and this feeling can last for hours or even days in rare cases unless extra treatment time is given. Therefore it is important to continue the treatment if the patient feels heavier at the end of the allotted time, even if it has already been 20 minutes or more. Continue for at least two to five minutes after the patient feels lighter. Not all patients will be aware of these weight-perception changes.

Following CES, most people feel better, less distressed, and more focused on mental tasks. They generally sleep better and report improved concentration, increased learning abilities, enhanced recall, and a heightened state of well-being

Psychologists first described these general feelings during the 1970's as an alpha state of consciousness. Meditation, biofeedback training, relaxation instructions, chanting, hypnotherapy, and certain religious rituals also produce such states. This is not the same as the alpha brain wave frequency of 8 to 13 Hz. Often, practitioners are confused by device representatives who claim that their particular device will output and entrain a brain to the alpha frequency. There is no evidence to support that CES devices work on an entrainment principle.


There have not been any significant lasting harmful side effects reported in any of the research literature from either MET or CES. As with all electrical devices, caution is advised during pregnancy, and with patients using an older model (pre-1998) demand-type pacemaker.In addition, it is recommended that patients do not operate complex machinery or drive automobiles during and shortly after a CES treatment.


Microcurrent electrical therapy and cranial electrotherapy stimulation are electromedical modalities that use low level currents that usually do not exceed one milliampere. Beneficial effects have been reported for a wide variety of pain, psychological distress, and addiction-related disorders.

Pain is a complex process encompassing the entire nervous system. To achieve optimal results through electromedical intervention, the peripheral and central nervous systems should both be treated. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation induces a relaxed, alert state. It is a primary modality effective for controlling anxiety, depression, insomnia and generalized stress ubiquitous in pain patients. In addition, there is mounting evidence that CES can enhance cognitive functions. Because of its safety and effectiveness, the combination of MET and CES used with the protocols described here are highly recommended for a broad range of pain and stress-related disorders.



DISCLAIMER: The content on this website is intended for informational, and educational purposes only and not as a substitute for the medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of a licensed health professional. The author of this website is a researcher, not a health professional, and shall in no event be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, punitive or other damages arising from any use of the content of this website. Any references to health benefits of specifically named products on this site are this website author's sole opinion and are not approved or supported by their manufacturers or distributors. COPYRIGHT 2009-2017