(We embrace recovery/recovering stories with the acknowledgement that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are heterogeneous conditions and what works for one person may not (or may :)) work for another. Someone with a success story who has financial ties to the product or technique they used to improve or recover obviously throws another factor into the equation.
We’ve chosen to include those stories for two reasons: (1) a surprising number of people who have recovered or improved greatly do end being associated with whatever helped them and (2) we want to provide information on all legitimate options. Thanks to Linda for sharing her story. )
I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 15 years ago, though I have had symptoms for 26 years. I was extremely tired after the birth of my children and just thought this was the normal tiredness of being a mother with a child who rarely slept.
I was planning to return to work as an occupational therapist as soon as my children started school. I hadn’t realised I had a serious condition or accepted that I may never work again.
My quality of sleep was often disturbed by pain and overactive thoughts. It was very hard to find peace because the intrusion of alpha-waves during deep delta wave sleep1 allows too much stimuli and interferes with deep sleep. If deep sleep is missed, it leads to unrefreshed sleep. Sometimes I could sleep for nine hours and still feel as tired as when I went to bed. Medication didn’t help me with this and often gave me nightmares, or left me even more fatigued the next day.
I believe we all have to work at reducing negative thoughts and my Christian faith has helped me with that. Being close to God has enabled me to recognize that in spite of my weaknesses I am precious to Him. He has taught me how to value the small details in life that are often missed when we are too busy.
Other approaches that helped included changing my diet, the Alexander Technique, light myofascial release massage, hydrotherapy and relaxation.
Freedom from Fibro Summit Encore Weekend – Watch Any Presentation
Watch any of the 40-plus presentations from Dr. Murphree’s Freedom from Fibro Summit for free this encore weekend. If exploring alternative health options is something for you – or if you just want to explore what’s out there – Dr. Murphree’s Summits provide a great overview of the possibilities this large field of medicine presents.
The Summit provides simple techniques to reduce pain and anxiety, provides updates on the latest research, diet options (one of which has helped me greatly), ways to boost energy, the latest on fibromyalgia research (my presentation), etc.
Click here to check out the encore weekend and here to see a prior blog on it.
Then, eight years ago, my condition worsened after a period of severe stress and the pain and fatigue became so severe that I was housebound four days a week. It looked like I would have to use an electric wheelchair for the rest of my life.
A pain management course enabled me to recognize the difference between a good pain that strengthens my muscles and a bad pain that sends me into a relapse. It also taught me to pace myself and to conserve my limited energy. For instance, I would go to bed after taking my boys to school and then rest for two hours in the afternoon. After that I would have the strength to prepare their supper and help them with their homework. I also learnt some deeper relaxation techniques, which were the only times I felt pain free.
Pacing, relaxation and changing what I ate – like stopping simple carbohydrates such as sugar, potatoes and flour – improved my symptoms by 40%, but however hard I tried, I could not seem to be able to improve any further. Then a doctor speaking to our support group mentioned that a small microcurrent device might be helpful.
Initially I was very sceptical about using it but after having read about it, and seeing that there had been many randomised medical trials on it and that it was safe, I decided to give it a go for three weeks.
How the Alpha-Stim Works and Research
The Alpha-Stim has been in use in the US for three decades, but has only recently been introduced to the UK. It is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for the relief of pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression, and works by mimicking the body’s own natural electrical currents and encouraging the cells that are not functioning properly to work again. It doesn’t have the side-effects I often had from medication and has a much lower current than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices – which I found were too strong a current for me.
There are two Alpha-Stim devices:
- The AID which gives gentle Cranial Electrical Stimulation (CES) via ear-clips
- The M which provides CES via ear-clips and Microcurrent Therapy for additional pain relief via probes and sticky electrodes called AS-trodes.
At present, there are over 144 research studies completed on CES. Twenty-eight of these are randomised studies with many more ongoing. The overwhelming majority of the scientific research is extremely positive. No significant lasting side effects have been reported. Four randomised studies have been done on the Alpha-Stim and Fibromyalgia 220.127.116.11
Cort’s recent article on ‘The Pain Brain: Hippocampal Atrophy Found in Fibromyalgia’ suggested that ‘nervous system “burnout” occurs when the excitatory part of the nervous system triggers so much activity that nervous system cells get killed off. It stated that “powered by glutamate and inhibited by GABA, several researchers have proposed that nervous system over excitation could be causing or contributing to the hypersensitive pain state found in FM.”
I asked Dr. J. A. Marksberry if there was any evidence that CES could help the neurotransmitter GABA. He referred me to chapter 19 of the book ‘Bioelectromagnetic and Subtle Energy Medicine’, edited by Paul J. Rosch MD, where it refers to the study6 that shows CES can increase GABA. For more information on the modulation effects (neurological ‘fine tuning’) of CES click here .
My Trial of the Alpha-Stim
“I suddenly realized that throughout the entire day, I hadn’t had a panic attack, hadn’t got a headache, my back pain had not increased and I hadn’t needed to use relaxation techniques.” Linda
Two weeks in, I had to go up to London with my younger son only to find he needed another operation on his leg. It was a very stressful day which involved going on the underground train which usually results in a bad headache and is an anxiety trigger for me. When we arrived back at our local train station, I suddenly realized that throughout the entire day, I hadn’t had a panic attack, hadn’t got a headache, my back pain had not increased and I hadn’t needed to use relaxation techniques. These were all firsts for me in recent years.
I couldn’t think of anything which was different except the Alpha-Stim and as the weeks went on, the improvement became more and more dramatic. The ‘fibro-fog’ lifted and for the first time in years I felt I was able to think clearly again.
I remember walking around the woods with our dog and I suddenly realized that the world was clear again. It was like having seen everything in a blur and suddenly finding a pair of glasses. Six months after trying the Alpha-Stim I was able to do a 2 hour hike up a mountain in the Lake District. It was so much better than being sat at the bottom watching my husband and sons go up on their own. Then 15 months later I managed the ten hour flight to San Francisco!
I originally used the AS-100. This has been upgraded to the Alpha-Stim M. I have been using the device now for five years and am 80% improved. I still use the device to maintain the reduction in my pain and fatigue, and my brain fog has gone. I am calmer and no longer have to do the daily relaxation sessions or have afternoon rests. I sleep better and rarely feel stiff in the morning.
I recommended it to other people in our support group and 15 out of 18 people who trialled it found their symptoms improved as well. This encouraged me to set up a clinic to help and advise other sufferers, and so I am working again as a registered Occupational Therapist after being too ill to work for 20 years!
I find I can help 70% of people who come to me with Fibromyalgia and CFS, though sadly not pure ME. I use the device called the Alpha-Stim M that has both the ear-clips and probes and sticky AS-trodes for extra pain relief. I find those of us that have a more all over sensation of pain like achy flu usually only need the ear-clip device called the Alpha-Stim AID. If you’d like to try the Alpha-Stim I suggest you find an Alpha-Stim practitioner who can offer you the chance to try the device. In the US you need a prescription but not in Europe.
I believe God has answered my prayers through this simple device and given me my life back.
For more information on this, and Linda’s multidimensional method for getting well, please click on Microtherapy Clinic.
United States: Some information from the manufacturers website (from Cort)
- Cost: The Alpha-Stim AID costs $795; and the Alpha-Stim M device is $1,195. Many insurance plans that cover durable medical equipment will pay for Alpha-Stim technology.
- The Device: The Alpha-Stim M and AID devices are both about the size of a cell phone, (but a little thicker), and come with everything you need to get started: electrodes and earclip pads (for the AID device) and electrodes for the M device, Alpha Conducting Solution (to ensure a good electrical connection), two 1.5 volt batteries per device (AA for the M, and AAA for the AID), and a convenient lanyard for you to wear the Alpha-Stim device around your neck. It also includes an owner’s manual and a DVD that explains how to use the device and what kind of relief you can expect from it.
United Kingdom (from Linda)
The Alpha-stim M is currently £699 and £582.50 with VAT relief and can be bought on the rent to own scheme for £52.50 per month for 12 months. The Alpha-stim AID is £499 and £415 with VAT relief can be bought on the rent to own scheme for £35 per month for 12 months. People with Fibromyalgia in the UK are eligible for VAT relief. I recommend ideally hiring from a practitioner first, you’ll then be able to try before you buy and learn faster.
Health Rising is not associated with Alpha Stim or Linda’s practice
Keep the Information Flowing
- Musculosketal Symptoms and Non-REM Sleep Disturbance in Patients with “Fibrositis Syndrome” and Healthy Subjects. Moldofsky, Harvey MD; Scarisbrick, Phillip BS; England, Robert BA; Smythe, Hugh MD. Psychosom Med 1975;37:341-51
- The Treatment of Fibromyalgia with Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 7(2):72-78, 2001. Presented at the Fifteenth Annual International Symposium on Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics, Columbia University, New York, October 1999. Lichtbroun, Alan S, Raicer, Mei-Ming C, and Smith, Ray B.
- The Effect of Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) on Pain Associated with Fibromyalgia The Internet Journal of Anesthesiology, 8(2), 2004. Authors: Randall C. Cork, M.D., Ph.D., et al Department of Anesthesiology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA
- Cranial Electrical Stimulation Improves Symptoms and Functional Status in Individuals with Fibromyalgia Ann Gill Taylor, et al. 2011 by the American Society for Pain Management Nursing doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2011.07.002
- A randomizes, controlled, double-blind pilot study of the effects of cranial electric stimulation on activity in the brain pain processing regions in individuals with fibromyalgia. Ann Gill Taylor, et al (using FMRI) Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, Vol 9, issue 1,Pages 32-40, January 2013
- Cerebral spinal fluid and plasma neurochemicals: response to cranial electrostimulation. Shealy, C.Cady, R.Culver-Veehoff, D.Cox, R. et al, J. Neurol. Orthopaed. Med. Surg. 1998;18:94–97
All somewhat hope engendering until you get to the end and discover the price. I’m in the UK. There is no insurance for me and no way I could ever manage to get this technology. Even a trial would be useless, as if it worked, I still could not afford it. I am glad it helped you and others you know.
I understand. It is expensive…I was disappointed as well!
On the other hand if I can ever dig the money up it appears to have real promise…
Dear Joanna, if like me the Alpha-stim helps you work again and improves quality of life it is worth every penny or dollar. In the UK the supplier offers a rent to own scheme starting at £35 a month for 12 months. Though I do suggest renting from a practitioner first as I find too many people use the settings too high or not for long enough to get good results. Best wishes Linda
I will keep it in mind. At the moment I have a number of other issues that are requiring my time and money. i am glad that it can be rented for a smaller amount, although £20 a month is what I need to have a lifeline for the times I may fall or be paralysed and need some help, which sometimes happens. At the moment, there’s a long list of things that need to be funded and only enough for one or two beyond the basics of food etc.
Hi Joanna, I understand, it breaks my heart when people can’t afford to try the Alpha-Stim. That’s why here in the UK I’m trying to get a greater awareness with medical professionals that the Alpha-Stim is a great treatment and should be available on the NHS.
Kind regards Linda
You can get a cheeper make now , KTS CES device. I’m in England and have just bought one off eBay
All somewhat hope engendering until you get to the end and discover the price. I’m in the UK. There is no insurance for me and no way I could ever manage to get this technology. Even a trial would be useless, as if it worked, I still could not afford it. I am glad it helped you and others you know.
I wish there was a Foundation that helped people out with stuff like this. They foot the bill and it works the patients promises to pay it off over time when they go back to work.
One nice thing about this thing is that it looks like its a one-time expense…(???)
I am very skeptical…
Dear Pam, So was I. I saw that it was safe and there had been good research so I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. I felt FM had stolen the joy from my life, this Alpha-Stim has given it back. Another lady who was extremely sceptical was Margaret she came for a trial and did a long testimonial for her support groups I can send the whole testimonial to you if you like? One comment was ‘I’ve not been like this with anything else I’ve tried, and, believe me, over the years, I’ve tried them all’. Margaret Robson, Regional Fibromyalgia Co-ordinator for Kent. 25/3/11
That’s great news that you feel so much better with this device. My daughter, who has CFS, FM, and IBS, among other things, also has sleep issues. Her practitioner recommended a device called a Fisher Wallace device (www.fisherwallace.com), which I believe does the same thing. It costs about the same, but we haven’t tried it yet. Before one tries it, we wanted to know more about how it exactly raises GABA. And, we wanted to determine if my daughter was actually low in GABA rather than trying the device empirically. I know that others have tested neurotransmitters in urine, and while they don’t match those values in spinal fluid, practitioners have told me that the balance of inhibitory and excitatory transmitters in the urine tracks the balance in other areas of the body. I also wonder what other neurotransmitters it increases. For example, how does the body only increase GABA vs. other neurotransmitters?
Since my daughter is looking to treat other issues right now, I don’t know if it is something we’re going to jump on. But, I’m glad to see that you included research articles for further reading.
If you know the answers to any of the questions I raised, I’d look forward to your response.
I have had CFS and FM for about 30 years. I ( and my partner who has similar health issues) tried the Fisher Wallace device about a year ago. I don’t have any answers for you as to how it raises GABA, but I did want to let you know that it didn’t work out for either of us. It made my partner hyper which worsened his already significant sleep issues and it made my migraines and fatigue worse. We played around with using the lowest setting and using it less, but still had issues. The issues resolved for both of us once we stopped using the device.The company did have a money back guarantee within a certain time period and they didn’t give us any trouble with issuing a refund. I think there was a “restocking” fee and you can find that on their website. The refund policy was a big reason we were willing to try it as we’ve both had many things either have no effect or make us worse. Everyone is different, so hopefully if you decide to try it, it will help. Just wanted to let you know our experience.
Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 – and thanks for mentioning the money back guarantee. I don’t know anything about FIsher Wallace. Alpha Stim says they patented the brain waves they stimulate or something like that. Maybe Linda, when she gets back, has some information on whether there are any substantial differences between the two.
Linda informed me as I published that she was going to be out of internet reach for a couple of days. Hopefully she will get back to you or you might want to try her website as well.
Hi Scotty, looking at the website for the Fisherwallace device it seems to have a different pattern of current and it is much higher. I use a very low setting for CES and find most of my clients need the lower setting. The electrodes look awkward to wear. I often use my ear-clips when working and going on the London Underground, I wouldn’t want to do that with their electrodes. The Alpha-stim uses a unique bi-polar square wave form invented by Dr Kirsch. It balances neurotransmitters, so those that are too high it’ll reduce and those too low it’ll raise. Also watch out as I’ve seen other CES devices quote research that was conducted on the Alpha-stim and not their own device. Regards Linda
Thanks for letting me know about the differences between the Fisher Wallace and the Alpha Stim devices. Can you point to any specific literature as to how these devices, in general balance out neurotransmitter imbalances? This info might be included in the original references in the posting.
I’m aware that some compounds (e.g. amino acids) can raise or lower either a particular excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmitter by affecting the appropriate neurotransmitter receptors. And, I do understand that we are electrical beings so we will respond to electrical stimulation (e.g. currents). But, I’m not sure the neurotransmitters “know” how to get in balance after application of an electric current.
I know that we all don’t have to know about how electricity works to be able to operate a toaster, and I do agree with others that if this technique works for them, that ‘s great. But, before recommending it for others, I would like to know more of the science behind it. Perhaps the manufacturer’s website would have more info too.
Thanks for your further info.
Hi Scotty81, I do know that the experts don’t know all the answers. Some of the answers are on this website: http://www.alpha-stim.com/healthcare-professionals/history-of-the-waveform/
I can send you more information from the book ‘Bioelectromagnetic and Subtle Energy Medicine’, chapter 19. and I can put you in touch with Dr Jeff Marksberry who has a far greater understanding of the science.
From my own point of view I was so pleased to come across the Alpha-Stim as it has changed my life, I used to try the medication the doctors suggested and they definitely don’t know all the pro and cons. They didn’t help so I stopped them but the Alpha-Stim did help and I had a few tiny side-effect compared to the dreadful ones from medication. I’ve now been using the Alpha-Stim almost daily for 5 years and I know of others who have used it for much longer with only beneficial results. If I can help further please let me know?
Linda asked me to add this:
Hi Scotty, looking at the website for the Fisherwallace device it seems to have a different pattern of current and it is much higher. I use a very low setting for CES and find most of my clients need the lower setting.
The electrodes look awkward to wear. I often use my ear-clips when working and going on the London Underground, I wouldn’t want to do that with their electrodes.
The Alpha-stim uses a unique bi-polar square wave form invented by Dr Kirsch. It balances neurotransmitters, so those that are too high it’ll reduce and those too low it’ll raise.
Also watch out as I’ve seen other CES devices quote research that was conducted on the Alpha-stim and not their own device.
This is just to say that I am a super skeptic and had a similar round of doubt and hope with a machine my acupuncturist/ND used in my therapy called a Bemer. It is a PEMF machine. I could tell it was helping me though it put me to bed for a day after. After a year of searching and agonizing I bought one used on Ebay at a very good price. They are very expensive new and the most recent model is even stronger than the 3000 model which was strong for me. The new ones, the Classic, are $4000!
At first I was too ill to use it often even on the lowest setting. But after a single day of madness when I helped my husband move logs I had horrendous trigger point pain for three months before I began to try the Bemer. Within three treatments the trigger points were gone. It is recommended for fibro also, which I do not have but my friend with fibro tried it once and said it was burning her tender points. She did not try it again but the burning on my trigger points is a sign of the pulse going into the point and relaxing it.
In addition the pulse is designed to get the sticky blood cells (as I understand it, one of our issues) to loosen up and it gets the capillaries open and taking oxygen via the loosed cells to the extremities. This is actually why I bought it. I have peripheral neuropathy and thought my oxygen starved hands and feet needed all the help they could get.
To give you a sense of my finances and my lifestyle, it cost about the same as I paid for my current old car. But it was worth it and I use it now every day. I am convinced it is a great tonic and only contributes to my healing. My doctor reports that he has RA an other patients that are similarly enamored.
This story is just to say that some of these machines are real health supports and not horse manure even while the companies are selling, selling, selling and profiting.
Thanks for telling your story Kate and congratulations and good luck on further improvement 🙂
Hi Kate, I hadn’t heard of the Bremmer, but think I tried a similar mat before I was introduced to the Alpha-Stim. I think the mat I tried must have been more gentle than the Bremmer. I’m glad you found some improvement. Sadly I think most of us with FM and CFS would find it too strong. The Alpha-Stim is much more gentle. I found this interesting review on the internet: Conclusion taken from http://www.bemer3000review.com/ Bemer 3000 Does have good research and some people get good results, but there is overwhelming evidence that people with severe allergies, chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, etc, should seriously consider looking for another device. But if you are in good health and overall not suffering with any sensitivities, the Bemer may work for you, but I would recommend trying it first before buying.
Is it available in Canada?
I noticed on her website that it is available in Canada.
I’m looking into this and I’ll send you a contact for Alpha-Stim in Canada as soon as I can.
Hi, The references at the bottom of the page are old (1975) and one of then have been publised in a pseudojournal “Journal of Science and Healing”. How can we trust this treatment? It looks like, it’s just bussiness!!! We are millions suffering with pain and you just want our money….that’s not fair.
Some of the references are old and some are new. You chose not to focus on the 1001,2003 and 2011 references. I don’t think it’s necessarily true to say because some references are old and one of them is in a pseudoscience journal that it’s just business and they just want your money. Yes, it is a business and they do want your money! but it may work as well.
Thanks Cort, I agree sometimes we are prescribed old researched medication rather than new sometimes the old works better! I asked Dr Kevin White (author of ‘Breaking thru the fibro fog’) who has read most of the research on FM and conducted some of his own research, to review the latest research on the Alpha-Stim as I wanted an unbiased view rather than the views from the Alpha-Stim suppliers.
He wrote his comments on this blog, overall he was favourable and thought the RCT research was sound see:
Cort’s article is said to be written by a Linda Horncastle.
On Linda’s site she says her name is Linda Horncastle and that she is is a registered HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) Occupational Therapist. No registration number is given.
Upon searching the HCPC on-line register for occupational therapists, the response is that there is no one of that name registered there..
I hope someone can clear up this confusion.
I am interested in buying a micro-current devices but always research the person or firm selling things before taking inquiries further. Caveat Emptor
Dear Suella, my registration number is OT10834
Thank you for this update Linda. It looks like the search engine at your Health and Care Professions Council site is now fixed. I appreciate you getting in touch with e personally and we’ll continue our conversation privately.
I hardly think it’s fair to do a background check on Linda. I applaud Linda’s simple reply to you, I wouldn’t have her restraint. She is a FMS sufferer just like the rest of us. And as Cort said in the preface to Linda’s story, it will work for some and not others. Linda is not trying to sell you this device for profit so I have no idea why you would do such a thing. If you don’t trust, that is your problem. I am quite offended by your actions!
Here is an interesting article linked to by one seller of the Alpha-Stim system:
They conclude that the technology is evolving and becoming more efficacious and likely to achieve more and more mainstream acceptance. Also that increasing complexity due to advances in the technology and its application, will probably require increased training of health professionals and patients, to achieve full benefit.
I will be watching these developments with an open mind.
Another technology being recommended by some, is PEMF – pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.
The practitioner I go to for HBOT sessions of 90 minutes, also gives me 20 minutes on a PEMF mat, they are very convinced it is efficacious for fibro.
Thank you Phil, electrical therapy is not new it has been around for 1000’s of years. It is getting better refined as they find out we need far less current than was previously thought to aid recovery. The Alpha-Stim uses a lower 0.5 Hz than other electrical devices I seen. I find 0.5Hz usually works better for fibromyalgia than when I try higher Hz. I find the higher Hz is better for conditions like arthritis.
Thank you, my fellow ‘runners’ for sharing your imput as we continue on life’s course 🙂
I am definitely going to run this by my friend/neurologist 🙂 Having had a Spinal Cord Stimulator (leads at C-2) implanted for neck & shoulder pain go terribly awry in me in 2010 and removed the following year, I have become wary of being within close proximity of Electromagnetic Fields.
(I know it sounds crazy because all the hardware has been removed…..but my neck pain increases significantly when around towers or inside grocery stores, restaurants, offices, ie).
On the other hand, I have become a true believer regarding the human electrical system……for lack of another term. I am in the US and will ask either my neurologist or pain management doctor for a script. It IS a lot of money, but If I could reduce the additional cervical pain, or even improve my sleep, that may help me with all the other challenges that come with this race…..CFS/Fibro/PENI(S). (I shared the latter acronym with my husband Cort 🙂 He just LOL…. 🙂
Going to check Ebay also!
Hi Kat, I met a doctor last week who is very involved with research into the effects of electromagnetic fields eg masts and radar and our sensitivity to it. I tentatively told her about the Alpha-Stim expecting her to be anti it. To my surprise she was very excited when I told her the Alpha-Stim works at 0.5Hz. My physics expertise is not close to her knowledge and I hope to learn more from her. What I do know is my sensitivities have greatly reduced since using the Alpha-Stim.
I just removed a comment from someone who, without supporting evidence – said the alpha stim a con or something to that effect.
“Dumping” like that is, however, not conducive to a good discussion. It turns off discussion – makes people afraid to post. I would rather the website engage in informed, if sometimes heated :), discussion..
If you’re skeptical – it’s fine to express that. If you have some reason or evidence that something won’t work – that’s fine too.
Thanks for your consideration.
You go Cort! Thanks for doing this. I know we all wrestle with all sorts of emotions with these dreadful diseases but none of us need to fend off angry, inappropriate opinions that help none. I do not need any more assaults to my system what ever way they come.
You do an incredible service for us all and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.
I would like to know how long each day you wore this device? Was it 24 hours a day/7 days a week? Or just hours/day? Every day? How is it different from using a TENs device? Thanks.
I find the most important thing is to use the ear-clips. Most of us with Fibromyalgia or CFS need to use it for at least 1 hour. I still use mine most days as a maintenance type treatment as I have a busy life. Some people need to use it daily for 3 weeks and then perhaps 2-3 time a week. It depends on the type of pain you have and what your perpetuating factors are to how much you need to use the probes and sticky AS-trodes if at all. I think I have PC3 as described by Dr Andrew Holman where my symptoms are perpetuated by an irritation of the spinal cord when the neck goes into extension. I also have loads of trigger points. The Alpha-Stim calms these pains enough that I can work again. I wish it would totally get rid of all my pain and it does with some people, but I’m happy with the 80% improvement I have managed so far with the Alpha-Stim, diet and posture awareness.
As regards TENs
It is not the same as TENS. Microcurrent is different to other traditional electrical devices, such as TENS – this type of current will travel around the traumatises cell only offering relief and not treat the area. TENS works like a ‘hammer action’ distracting the messages going to the brain, this usually stops once the device is switched off. The effect of microcurrent therapy is cumulative. The TENs current is much higher and acts like a hammer action distracting the nerve cells. I found this an extra stimulus that was too high for my already stressed body. Those of us with FM and CFS already have an overactive ‘fight and flight response’ we don’t need any extra adding to this. The Alpha-Stim produces alpha-waves that leave a calm and alert feeling.
Some more information
I am happy to hear about Linda’s success with the Alpha-Stim device. I personally did not do well with it. We are all different and I am particularly sensitive to drugs, energy medicine, etc. I had a bad reaction after using it for 2 days – I became very depressed. Depression is something I have only experienced a couple times in my life so this was a bit scary, however it lifted after a week. The good news is that I was able to return my device and get a full refund so the experiment didn’t cost me anything but a week of feeling bad.
Dear Darden, Well done for trying the Alpha-Stim it takes us a lot of energy to try a new treatment. I always tell my clients that I can help about 70% of us with FM and CFS. I’m sorry you weren’t in this group. I also find too many people try with too high an intensity level so I do hope you were given good instruction. Less is often more with the Alpha-Stim unlike many medications.
I’ve recently read a new book out by Canadian psychiatrist Norman Doidge called “The Brain’s Way of Healing” and I wonder if some of his descriptions about brain plasticity and healing may apply to devices like the one(s) mentioned here. Some researchers are finding that adding stimulation to the brain (via sound, or light, or electrical waves etc) provide input that the brain needs to organize if it’s gotten chaotic (he describes two women who recovered from severe traumatic brain injuries that included brain fog, pain, and difficulty walking etc). I found his arguments persuasive and fascinating. This is new territory we are headed in and, albeit a bit scary for many of us given how sensitive we’ve been when trying various treatments, it’s also exciting to see what we are learning about the nervous system and brain functioning.
PS – the book on brain plasticity also describes how these and other approaches have been helping people with many different chronic illnesses improve, regain function and manage their diseases even if they are not cured (MS, Parkinson’s, autoimmune eye disease and more)
I have used the Alpha Stim for 19 years, it has helped me with the fibromyalgia pain and I just replaced the original after 18 years. Expensive yes, my health insurance covered the full cost first time, I have no response yet for this purchase And, there are older models refurbished that are sometimes available. It is worth a try for 2 to 4 weeks. It has never allowed me to reach the point where I could return to work but that is truly wonderful.
Hi, my research has indicated that CFS sufferes (myself) don’t get much stage 3 or 4 sleep. The rare nights my sleep is deeper, my days are much better. I have formulated a hypothesis that if someone could create a device that could mimic the waves occurring during deep sleep, it might be beneficial, so I will try to do some more research on this device
There is some research that suggests that there are ultra slow delta waves in people with CFS http://www.meassociation.org.uk/2012/07/research-ultra-slow-delta-sleep-wave-power-in-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-july-2012/ While the link from Linda’s article suggests that the Alpha-Stim slow down delta waves, so that could well explain why it doesn’t work in some people. The GABA connection is interesting too – I’ve reacted badly to drugs that affect GABA: Stemetil for nausea & Low Dose Naltrexone. In her article Linda suggests it doesn’t work for pure ME – not sure what she means by this. I think I’m still going to give it a try though, nothing to lose for renting one for a while and trying very low settings.
Thank you for that link, I hadn’t seen it before. Dr Lesley Parkinson who treats people with the Alpha-Stim in London, UK thinks the Alpha-Stim may not work with some people with ‘pure’ ME because it can’t help the perpetuating effects from viral infection. If there is additional symptoms of lack of deep sleep and over active ‘fight and flight’ response then there should be some improvement in these areas. I feel it’s worth a try I find it helps the majority of people I see and the reaction from those it doesn’t help is usually just no improvement and no ill effects. Very occasionally extremely sensitive people(and I mean extremely as I know how sensitive we usually are!) may have some minor side-effects and these are short lived. Some people have side-effects if they haven’t been taught how to use the device properly, I find too many people think if they turn the intensity up it’ll work better, less is more with the Alpha-Stim.
Every night I play continuously, Dr Jeffrey Thompson’s CD Delta Sync Sleep system, it is very very helpful. I recently listened to Dr Patricia Carrington on the Tapping Summit, her tapping technique for SLEEP was the Best I have tried, I am using that before going to bed…I rate it A++++++++ ★★★★★ . We really need a variety of tools to manage these conditions as well as diet and awareness of food intolerances. Never give up
I agree, we have to try many different avenues to manage our symptoms. Thank you for bringing up Tapping. I always promise myself I will look into it and I’ve yet to do it.
I love hearing your story. Nothing brings me joy like hearing about someone getting relief from this horrible thief that takes away our lives, friends and income.
I won’t go into all the details, but I began taking Methadone for my Fibromyalgia last year. I had been hospitalized twice with in 5 months last year and was at the end of my rope, so I finally gave in. The reason I chose Methadone was because everyone I encountered who had Fibromyalgia and was working was taking it. I figured it I was going to take the huge step of daily pain medication I wanted it to make a big difference. The difference was nothing short of miraculous. I went from venturing out twice a month to going out everyday. However the only relief I get is relief from the achy flu like symptoms. However, this gave me the chance to parse out specific problems which were causing me pain and having them treated. For example my back pain didn’t lessen. I had and MRI and two major findings have been fixed. There are many other examples of this.
So hearing that there is an electrical device which may do the same thing for me as Methadone is doing is very exciting. I do not want to take this drug, but I refuse to go back to wasting my life away and feeling suicidal constantly.
I am going to check into the possibility of doing a test with this device. You mentioned it also calmed your panic attacks. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and if this device could take the place of the medication I take for that as well I’d be thrilled.
Thank you so much for bringing this information to us. I am so happy for you! And while it may not work for me, after experiencing how much my life has been approved, it certainly is worth a try!
Dear Lorraine, Thank you for your comments. I’m glad to hear you have found Methadone has helped and now you know the Alpha-Stim can be another possible tool to add to your recovery tool box that you can try in the future. I’m always open to try new thing to get the last 20% of my pain lower. Another tool I have recently added to my tool box is posture tips from Sue Horton (PT to Dr Andrew Holman). I have just written an article about this in the UK Fibromyalgia magazine. The best tip I find from this is to imagine you are putting the lower tips of your shoulder blades in the back pockets of your trousers. Another tip is to learn how trigger points can refer pain in the body. All the best Linda
Thank you for your comments Linda.
One of the things I have not done enough of is guided meditation and your tips on posturing are helpful as well.
Recently I began drinking alkaline water and I am amazed at how much it has helped me. I was unable to get up from a chair or a sofa without multiple starts and straightening up was incredibly painful. After drinking the water for just one day I was surprised to notice I was getting up on the first try and with no pain. After drinking it for a week the pain in my back was diminished a bit as well. Unfortunately my foot pain continues to be the one thing which holds me back and it’s so frustrating! I would recommend that anyone who has chronic pain issues try drinking alkaline water. I don’t know where this will take me, but I’m thrilled to continue with anything that helps.
I will be searching to see if I can find a practitioner who will let me try .Alpha Stim M. If it helps at all I will find a way to get the money.
Thank you so much for this information Linda. I hold your same thought that the more tools we have the better. Methadone has restored so much of what I lost, but I’m only about 50%. I don’t know if it’s good to hope to get where I was before the catastrophic events took my life from me, but I will continue to try to improve my condition day by day.
Good for you Lorraine, I hadn’t heard about alkaline water I’ll give it a go. I’m still trying to get those last 20% of symptoms down. Where do you live and I’ll try to find out if there is an Alpha-Stim practitioner near you and then leave it to you to contact them?
Kind regards Linda
Just to follow on from the comments regarding the Alpha Stim and CES technology in general;
I’ve been researching these device lately, I suffer from CFS and have done for 20 years but have managed to improve my functioning quite well over the last decade.
Whilst the Alpha Stim has proven to work in this case it should be taken into account that CES devices all do a pretty similar thing.
In the US they’re only licensed by the FDA for use at 0.5Hz or 100Hz. I believe that the Alpha Stim stimulates at 0.5Hz.
Any device can hit this frequency, the only difference between devices is the waveform, AS uses a patented waveform. It’s arguable how much of an affect the different waveforms will have.
Things get interesting where there are devices for sale from other countries, so in Canada there are various CES devices available that use many different frequencies as they don’t have to worry about the FDA.,
Still the cost tends to be of a similar nature and has been discussed on here for many it is just unaffordable.
I came accross the following website yesterday:
They sell a CES device for $250 Canadian dollars. This device has a frequency setting of 0.5Hz like the AS, it also provides another in the Alpha frequency band and it used to have a 100Hz one that has now been changed over to 40Hz with what seem like good results. 40Hz is the frequency of gamma waves, and in our brains we tend to lack these if depressed and as we get older, so stimulating at this frequency makes sense.
Anyway I hope for some of you this will provide an affordable option, it has for me, I wasn’t prepared to justify spending the amount required for various commercial devices but I can manage CAD272 with the shipping.
Also I’m very keen to try to use the device to stimulate the Vagus nerve via the tragus in the ear as discussed in another topic on this site. I’m hopeful that could prove to be beneficial in itself.
If I get good results I will report back, although I’m going to be adding in a couple of other protocols too, one of which is Low Level Light Therapy, where infrared light is shone into the brain using LEDS. Once again I’ve purchased a reasonably inexpensive device for that purpose, so it may be impossible to pinpoint where any improvements are coming from specifically.
Best of luck to you all.
Thanks very much for the info – Matt – please keep us posted and good luck!
Has anyone actually tried the AlphaStim or one similar? I went on eBay a few weeks ago to see if someone had listed one at a discounted price, but no one had 🙁 I am another who is very interested in anyone’s results.
Please keep us posted! 🙂
Maybe 11 of us could contribute $25 each toward its purchase and then draw a “winner” from the hat. That way we could see trusted results for a nominal investment. If the winner doesn’t get a positive outcome then pass it on to #2 and so on.
Anyone else interested?
Hi Matt, not sure if you’ll see this comment. How did you get on with the cheaper CES device? Thanks
Hi Matt, Thank you for the information. I’m always interested in finding a device that might be cheaper as I was very sad when the US put their prices higher. Though in the UK the supplier does offer a very good scheme of paying for a device over 12 months at £32 a month. I use the Alpha-Stim M that gives me the option of 0.5Hz, 1.5Hz and 100Hz. I find 0.5Hz is sufficient for my fatigue and occasional 1.5Hz when I’ve a headache. I concerned that there is no research yet for the Harmonizer especially when using microcurrents on the brain. I would really like to know how you get on and the type of improvements you notice as it breaks my heart when I come across people who can’t afford the Alpha-Stim.
You’re correct on the subject of lack of specific research for the product. On the one hand there’s general research for CES that gets clumped together and then there is manufacturer specific research.
Personally I don’t hold ill feeling towards companies like Alpha Stim for pricing their products as they do, they need to make a profit to make everyone’s time and effort worthwhile and they’ve been doing it for a long time. And part of that price is research and their whole marketing strategy that has brought this technology to people’s attention, better to have it available for all these years than not at all.
Having said that we’re in a changing world where information is freely available and the manufacturing of goods, especially electrical ones, has never been as relatively cheap.
There’s also a culture of self experimentation, brain hacking etc where people will take an educated risk when applying treatments to themselves, especially when they suffer from conditions that aren’t easily treatable. The technology of CES devices is pretty simple, there may be some difference around the waveforms and really that is about the only area that companies can try to differentiate their products.
So I’m personally pretty comfortable in trying this product on myself.
For those looking for a cheaper option but still feeling more comfortable with an FDA approved product then the CES Ultra costs USD349. So that’s another option that is a little more affordable.
I’m one of those people that fits into the pure ME category so we’ll see if any benefits occur, it does make sense to me that fibromyalgia would respond more favourably mainly due to impaired neuroplasticity that is likely to occur in those with ME as part of the chronic immune response to viral trigger.
Keep up the good work, it really does strike me that CES in general could be great for people with a host of difficult to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression etc it’s just as we all know ME is a step further along the track in terms of (lack of)responsiveness to most interventions.
Thank you for sharing Linda 🙂 I have forgotten about asking my Neuro about this as I am in the U.S. and maybe would qualify for partial coverage $$$.
I definitely pulled the wrong cost for the Device. It will take many more of us to chip in if we pooled our funds. I like your idea Cort of finding a benefactor who would front the cost with the agreement we would make payments if the trial was successful. If it weren’t, we would merely return it.
I wonder if putting the idea on one of the fund raising sites would be effective? If I can remember I’ll check it out.
With regard to the Hippocampal Atrophy…
I didn’t remember your post Cort…about the Hippocampal atrophy. Several years ago one of my MRIs indicated such. I haven’t had another to compare it to since. I realize it is theorized as an indicator of epileptic seizures also, but, anyone know….is it suggested the Atrophy precede or follow Fibro?
My name i Sal. After a bout of COVID, I have been diagnosed with FM.
I’m reaching out because I’m looking at alternative therapies that might enable me to return to my job which I loved so much. I’m wondering if you could update me on how the alpha is working for you (if it is still).
I’ve looked at the Alpha Stim website and in Canada we have the AID and the M models. Can you let me know which one you’re using?
I’m desperate for a solution that does not involve medications.
Your advice is most welcomed.
I used the Alpha Stim Aid 2 times at 1.5 for 40 minutes. Today, the second day, I feel so tired and I have a headache. Can you give me your advise?
Thank you very much.