Why I run Electricity through my Brain: tDCS

tDCS pic‘I’ll let you do that then,’ says hubby as I excitedly unpack my batteries, ready to hook my brain up to electricity. ‘That’s going no where near my brain.’ He looks something akin to horrified.

‘This is for Hana, habibi,’ I say, plugging in the electrodes, ‘I need to try  it out, how can I not now I know about it? If anything happens to me-‘ OK… so initial conversations around the tDCS were a little dramatic but mostly misinformed. Unlike I’d previously thought, there is a lot of science and years of successful clinical practice behind tDCS, as you will see below.

Brain healing brain healing brain healing!

Brain Hacking, Brain Modulation, Neuromodulation – those words! You all know why I love those words – for me they hold the promise of a potential cure for Hana.  I have a strong feeling that healing her brain may lie in the futuristic development of an electronic device like the tDCS.

The idea of stimulating the brain with an electrical current has been an obsession of mine ever since I read Norman Doidge’s “The Brain’s Way of Healing” – as you know, after reading that I contacted the gorgeous Fred Kahn and headed to Toronto to get Hana low level laser therapy (LLLT). I knew the LLLT would be part of the puzzle but I still had more pieces to find: there was something else in the book that I wanted for her but couldn’t get – the PONS. The PONS is an electrode that sits in the mouth and ‘re-sparks’ neural circuitry  through electrical currents and  has had phenomenal effects on brain healing. But I couldn’t get one:

Then with joy and amazement I stumbled across the tDCS and decided – in the interests of my ongoing endeavours to research the best ways to heal Hana’s damaged hypothalamus -to try it on myself.

tDCS is used for a myriad of health conditions from traumatic brain injury,  autism, ADHD, depression, Parkinson’s, pain syndromes and more! One thing to note is that it is currently understood as working on the cortical areas of the brain (Hana’s brain injury starts in the cortical regions, where the surgeon had to plough through brain tissue to reach the original tumour) but the worst damage is  in the deeply situated hypothalamus. Yet! Don’t forget that the brain, although it can be ‘compartmentalised’, functions as a whole. In the same way a drug can have local and systemic affects, so too could an electric current… applied specifically to the brain. Thus, I hope that by stimulating damaged cortical areas, deeper areas of her brain could ultimately be healed…

This sounds super dangerous! Is it?

No! Seriously! There are currently many scientific studies on tDCS looking at it’s uses in PTSD, Stroke, ADHD, Autism, Depression, Migraine, Working Memory – and many more. The use of electrical stimulation for ‘healing’ is first thought to be the use of the Torpedo fish back in ancient  AD! Since then, over the centuries the concept of utilising electricity for healing has occured to the odd genius along the way. However, with the invention of the battery tDCS became possible.

Transcranial direct current stimulation has been used safely, consistently, with good outcomes by many healthcare practitioners for years (so why don’t we all know about it? Ahhh yes! You can’t patent battery power and put it in a pill bottle!). Side effects are absolutely minimal and studies have shown tDCS to be a very safe, non-chemical way to treat a variety of health issues.

What is tDCS?

“Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a safe and non-invasive technique that is able to directly influence cortical excitability through the application of very low electric currents.” Frontiers in Psychology 2015

Different areas of the brain are targeted by differing placements of the anode and cathode (+/- charge). Anodal placements are thought to cause an increase in excitability of the neurone and cathodal placements reduce the excitability of neurons in the cortical areas the electrodes are applied to. You can see how and why this would cause neuro-plastic changes to brain, any ‘work’ the brain has to do results in neurological re-wiring.

Wowzers! So how the hell could I not test this?

Initial research I conducted online made tDCS seemed a bit scary as I could only find consumer platforms where individuals were treating themselves either for ‘brain hacking’ purposes or for health and wellness (particularly depression). You know very well that I am pro the ’empowered consumer’ – and I fully understand individuals wanting to improve their health take matters into their own hands. I am one of those consumers. So of course you will see health care professionals in their professional capacity declaring that no one should try tDCS without medical supervision – they have to say that, but as an empowered consumer willing to move science forward myself when it comes to it – I was prepared to ignore this official medical stance and test tDCS on myself.

However, I was very pleased to then discover that there are many health care professionals who utilise tDCS as an integral part of their clinical practice, in particular, I was very lucky to come across this phenomenal Aussie pioneer of tDCS, Nerida Saunders who has been using tDCS for nearly 10 years. She is a psychologist and offers training to fellow health care professionals at tDCS Australia and I thank God/The Creator/The Source of All That is –whatever – for people like her.

By the way, here is some useful info:

ABC Catalyst Program (documentary on tDCS).

I also recommend this awesome blog: Speakwisdom. In particular see this post on depression and tDCS – he thinks it’s almost criminal that tDCS is still an unknown treatment for depression. Yep.

How to use tDCS?

I choose to get some initial training from Nerida, and will definitely get more. However I have also gleaned a lot of information from the internet on placements for certain conditions. Of interest to me, for Hana at least, are placements relevant to chronic pain syndromes. I have a personal interest in looking at the aspects of tDCS that impact on meditation and trance (particularly as ‘trance’ was a sensation I accidentally experienced during my first treatment). I also had a three day headache after my first 20 min treatment (it felt so good while I was doing it I didn’t see the need to take it off, the ensuing headache told me to go slower next time!).

What does it feel like?

For me, it feels amazing actually. I feel extremely peaceful and relaxed with tDCS, clearly there is an endorphin release for me during treatment. But: I am prone to going a bit ‘trancey’ (at least with areas I’ve tried) and secondly, I have noted a transient increase in irritability 1-2 hours post treatment, so I’m making good note of this unwanted symptom.

Where to get a tDCS?

You can make your own device at home, which is what many brain hackers have been doing for aeons. Yet, in the age the empowered consumer (not patient!) who have taken their health and wellness into their own hands, there are some companies that manufacture these devices. But, they can’t advise you on ‘how to use them.’  I found out about Brain Stimulation from Dave Asrepy, the inspirational founder of Bulletproof, and I got my device from Brain Stimulater.

What next?

Further research, further education and further testing  – there is HEAPS to read up on this topic including the myriad of different cranial placements. I truly believe the future of brain healing lies in the realm of ENERGY so I’m watching the field of electro-ceuticals unfold with great optimism. Obviously I’m watching the field’s developments with placements that may impact upon obesity and metabolism – these studies are underway.

That’s all from me today! Read more about me here and don’t forget to say hi on Facebook. Share if you care – as I said, I can’t believe I didn’t know about tDCS before this, there are many who could benefit from the knowledge so please help illuminate and spread the word. Lots of love and light, namaste lovely readers, NN xx

 

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