Products with Greek letters in their names tend to go one of two ways. They either become super popular and important (Omega watches) or flop massively (Betamax, Nu Coke*). So what will happen with the Alpha-Stim – can it actually help people stop smoking?
Flirting with the realm of science fiction, the Alpha-Stim clips onto your earlobes and pumps microcurrents into your brain to cure cigarette addiction in as little as two minutes. Based on a technology used to get rock stars off heroin addiction, the Alpha-Stim can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression and stress, although it has shown some of the best results on addition.
The device fires 50-100 microamps of electricity through the ears, which increases the frequency of alpha brain waves. The enhanced alpha waves are said to help induce a relaxed state that calms the nervous system. The exact mechanisms by which the Alpha-Stim produces these effects, however, are not fully known – so it’s still possible that it’s a secret mind-control device.
The best estimate is that the microcurrent waveform activates particular groups of nerve cells that are located at the brainstem – the groups that produce serotonin and acetylcholine. These two chemicals are widely known for their ability to improve human moods.
A big backer of the product, Dr. William S Eidelman witnessed the device being used on 2000 smokers, and recorded an average drop in the strength of cravings from 8/10 to 0/10 in as little as two minutes. Patients had to use the device 3-7 times a day to start with, but by Day 4 the number of required sessions had dropped, and between weeks 1 and 4 cravings had stopped entirely.
Eidelman is a bit of a controversial character – he shot to fame in 2004 after the Medical Board of California looked to revoke his license for promoting the use of marijuana to patients. The case was thrown-out, however, and the American continues to promote less-traditional forms of medication like the Alpha-Stim. Unlike cannabis, however, the Alpha-Stim is fully FDA-approved
Patrick Strudwick, from The Telegraph, tried an earlier version of the device in 2010, and said good things about the unit – although he noted that drinking alcohol and using the Alpha-Stim was not recommended.
Oh, and it’s also recommended for use with horses.
Find out more at Alpha Stim.
*Artist license taken with the spelling of New Coke