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Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES):

How does cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) work?

How does CES work?

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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 et al, 1989; Gibson & O'Hair, 1987; Madden & Kirsch, 1987). 42- 46% of the applied CES current enters the brain, with the highest levels of current recorded in the thalamus (Rush &Driscoll, 1968; Jarzembski & Sances, 1970).

CES via electrodes placed over the ear lobes stimulate afferent branches of cranial nerves.   E.g.  facial nerve , glossopharyngeal nerve and vagus nerve. (Sharma & Sarkar, 2018)

Specific electronic frequencies appear to stimulate the brain to manufacture and rebalance certain brain neurotransmitter chemicals, such as endorphins, SEROTONIN, DOPAMINE, NOREPINEPHRINE, and CORTISOL etc.   These may be involved in many stress related conditions. This can affect ones moods and emotions as well as ones cognitive capabilities. (Shealy et al, 1998)

What does CES therapy do in the body?

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 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, 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:

For Those who Would like more Details on CES


Brotman, Philip (1989). Low-intensity transcranial electrostimulation improves the efficacy of thermal biofeedback and quieting reflex training in the treatment of classical migraine headache. American Journal of Electromedicine, 6(5):120-123, Doctoral dissertation, City University Los Angeles, 117 pages, 1986. pdf

Gibson, TH & O'Hair, DE,  (1987); Cranial Application of Low-Level transcranial electrotherapy vs. relaxation instruction in anxious patients; Am. J. of Electromedicine 4(1), 18-21.

Madden, RE, Kirsch DL, (1987, Apr) Low intensity electrostimulation improves human learning of a psychomotor task. American Journal of Electromedicine, 4(2):41-45, 1987. Doctoral dissertation, City University Los Angeles, 95 pages, 1987. Presented at The New Brain Technologies and Accelerated Learning Conference at the University of Hawaii. pdf

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

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

Jarzembski W, Sances AJ (1970) Evaluation of specific cerebral impedance and cerebral current density. Ann NY Acad Sci 170: 476- 490.

Rush S, Driscoll DA (1968) Current distribution in the brain from surface electrodes. Anesth Analg Curr Res 47(6): 717-723.

Sharma K, Sarkar A. (2018) Effects of Cranial Electrical Stimulation on Brain - A Brief Review. Anatomy Physiol Biochem Int J.  5(2): 555659.

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



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General electrotherapy health benefits.   Used systemically and/or locally at specific problem areas of the body, its effective application has many benefits:

Detoxification Wellness / Healthy aging Pain relief 
Relief from insomnia Immune system restoral Anti-Inflammatory
Maximizes cellular energy production Accelerated tissue /bone
/scar healing
Stress Reduction
Muscle relaxation / rehabilitation Increased blood oxygen
/ circulation

There are several reasonably affordable electrotherapy devices available for personal use. The following electrotherapies are those that have received a significant amount of positive feedback:

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) applies specific frequency patterns to the head area, with the following benefits:

Balances neurotransmitters Relieves pain Treats depression
Substance abuse withdrawal Relieves insomnia Relieve stress / anxiety
Anti-Inflammatory Fibromyalgia +++