What is Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Cranial electrotherapy stimulation can be used to treat insomnia.
Cranial electrotherapy stimulation can be used to treat insomnia.

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation is a procedure in which probes are attached to the ears and an electrical current is passed through the brain. The idea of passing current through the brain makes many people think of electroconvulsive therapy, but cranial nerve stimulation uses a much lower level of electricity, and is far less invasive. The risks associated with this procedure are also low; patients may experience nausea or dizziness when the device used is turned up, but these symptoms do not linger.

Cranial electrotherapy may be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia patients suffering with neck pain.
Cranial electrotherapy may be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia patients suffering with neck pain.

While cranial electrotherapy stimulation is non-invasive and does not appear to have a potential to be harmful, there is some debate about how it works, and whether or not it works at all. The theory is that by passing electricity through the brain, it is possible to alter the electrical currents which are normally present in the brain. Studies using cranial electrotherapy stimulation seem to show that the pattern of brain waves does indeed change during stimulation, so the procedure is certainly doing something to the brain.

Cranial eletrotherapy stimulation may be helpful in the management of depression.
Cranial eletrotherapy stimulation may be helpful in the management of depression.

Medical devices used in cranial electrotherapy stimulation have been approved in the treatment of stress and insomnia. CES, as it is also known, appears to have a benefit for some patients who experience insomnia and sleep disorders. It can also be beneficial for stress in some cases. People also claim that it can be effective in the management of depression, some types of addiction, and pain disorders. While the efficacy rate for people with chronic pain is low, when it does work, it can work very well.

Research suggests that cranial electrotherapy stimulation may benefit people who have treatment-resistant mood disorders.
Research suggests that cranial electrotherapy stimulation may benefit people who have treatment-resistant mood disorders.

Some companies sell medical devices which can be used in cranial electrotherapy stimulation for home use. This is not highly recommended, as it is important to receive the right dose of electricity at the right intervals. While it is difficult for people to hurt themselves with devices designed for home use, they may not experience much of a benefit either. Instead, it is advisable to go to a medical professional who offers cranial electrotherapy stimulation.

People suffering from chronic pain may gain immense relief from cranial electrotherapy stimulation, although the efficacy rate is very low.
People suffering from chronic pain may gain immense relief from cranial electrotherapy stimulation, although the efficacy rate is very low.

During sessions, patients can remain fully dressed. Their ears will be lightly wiped down before the probes are attached, and they may lie down or sit. Some patients actually fall asleep during cranial electrotherapy stimulation sessions, while others report a feeling of relaxation. Sessions are repeated on a scheduled base or as needed, and the intensity of the electric current may be adjusted over the course of treatment to address changing needs on the part of the patient.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Cranial electrotherapy stimulation can be used to treat insomnia.
      By: Dan Race
      Cranial electrotherapy stimulation can be used to treat insomnia.
    • Cranial electrotherapy may be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia patients suffering with neck pain.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Cranial electrotherapy may be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia patients suffering with neck pain.
    • Cranial eletrotherapy stimulation may be helpful in the management of depression.
      By: tab62
      Cranial eletrotherapy stimulation may be helpful in the management of depression.
    • Research suggests that cranial electrotherapy stimulation may benefit people who have treatment-resistant mood disorders.
      By: ivolodina
      Research suggests that cranial electrotherapy stimulation may benefit people who have treatment-resistant mood disorders.
    • People suffering from chronic pain may gain immense relief from cranial electrotherapy stimulation, although the efficacy rate is very low.
      By: michaeljung
      People suffering from chronic pain may gain immense relief from cranial electrotherapy stimulation, although the efficacy rate is very low.