Alpha-Stim: Two Minutes to Stop Smoking


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

Top Fitness Gadgets for 2013

I live alongside a canal, which is a prime running route and these past few days I’ve seen an exponential increase in people giving jogging a go, determined to “finally fit into those jeans”, or some other long-held dream. The numbers gradually dwindle over the month and by early March I can once again walk next to swans, unencumbered by fitness fanatics. That’s obviously because “getting in shape” is a hard, hard task. Fortunately there are some gadgets on hand to help out.


Arctic Cooling Gym Mat
The Arctic Cooling Gym Mat is an all-in-one gaming system offering a wide range of games and exercises to entertain you and hopefully tighten you up a bit in all the right places. 30 sensor fields detect your position on the mat precisely and display your movements on the TV screen so you can interact with the games. There is a two player mode on some games, so you and a training buddy can shape up – or just get involved in a dance-off.

The Arctic Cooling Gym Mat is £45.35 from


Fitbug Air
The Fitbug Air is a wireless activity tracker, which a little dongles that measure every physical thing you get up to (there’s an untapped million dollar industry for whoever makes the first wireless mental activity tracker). The Fitbug Air tracks calories burned, steps taken and aerobic steps (over 100 per minute) so you can see the benefits of your run or walk in real terms. The Bluetooth sync with your phone means that you can also see the benefits in real time so you can track your pace. Fitbug can even send encouraging texts or emails are you a progressing – a handy substitute for friends.

The Fitbug Air can be purchased for £49.99 with a full year’s subscription or £24.99 with £2.99 monthly subscription from


GARMIN Forerunner 10 Watch
The Forerunner 10 watch by Garmin is ideal for anyone who wants to keep track of their speed, rhythm, distance covered and calories burned when running. With a Virtual Partner mode it is compatible with Garmin Connect, where you can share and analyse your details and progress online with other users. The watch is also waterproof to 50 metres and has a customisable screen. Plus it tells the time.

GARMIN Forerunner 10 Watch is available in black, pink or lime green for £98.52 from


iT7s wireless in-ear headphones
I can’t exercise in silence. The last thing I want when exercising is to be alone with my thoughts. Fortunately iT7 make some pretty great wireless headphones, designed specifically for active use. The iT7s headphones feature Bluetooth technology, making it possible for users to listen to music and take calls during workouts, without being tethered to a mobile or music device by an unwanted wire.

The iT7s headphones are available for £99.99 from the Tesco Phone Shop.


E-Lites E80 Regular (G9) Electronic Cigarette Starter Kit
Perfect for anyone hoping to quit smoking or planning to make love to a robot the E80 E-Cigarette Starter Kit is the ideal introduction to electronic smoking. The Starter kit includes the equivalent of 80 tobacco cigarettes, a rechargeable G9 battery and a practical USB charger. Available in Reds (Regular) Golds (Lights) or Greens (Menthol).

E-Lites E80 Regular (G9) Electronic Cigarette Starter Kit – £23.96 from

Stoptober: The gift of giving up

Quitting smoking is an incredibly hard challenge as the lure of free yellow teeth, smelly clothes and lung cancer is much too strong for some people. However, if for some odd reason you’d like to regain the ability to breathe and generally have less poison swimming around your body, the NHS are now leveraging the power of apps to aide you on your journey.


Stoptober (an NHS initiative) is encouraging smokers to give up for the month of October, as people who quit for 28 days are 5 times more likely to stay smoke free. It’s also encouraging people to mass words together with the names of months, a disturbing trend started with Mowvember. Whatever next? Febrewary to encourage you make your own alcohol? AApril to counteract all the drinking in Febrewary?

Stoptober have created a mobile app to support people through their 28 day journey by providing daily advice, crave busting tips, a money saved calculator and a whole host of other supportive information. The app also integrates with web support.

The app makes you enter information about your smoking habits and motivation so you get personalised support – a reminder of how much money you’ve saved, or how your house now longer smells like an armpit. There’s also a daily planner (“Things to do today: Not smoke”) and a series of badges as you progress. You can also share your progress on Facebook who can support you as you keep going (or castigate you as you give in to temptation).

If you sign up you also get a Stoptober pack which includes a calendar, gum and a Stoptober stress toy to help keep your hands busy.

Department of Health Stoptober app is now available in the iTunes app store and Google Play.

Sign up at Stoptober

Nicorette’s ActiveStop anti-cigarette iPhone app

If you’re one of the seven million UK smokers who attempt to kick the habit every year, your best Christmas present could be Nicorette’s ActiveStop anti-cigarette iPhone app. Or hypnotherapy.

The free app contains five features designed to aid smokers in giving up: target setting, a wish list, distractions, achievement sharing and information.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Tela Chhe

Target setting falls under the “Personal Journey Map” section. It’s like a calendar devoted to cigarettes – you set your own personal goals and then keep an eye on your progress. It even produces graphs to keep you informed of your improved health, as well as calculating the money you’ll have saved since beginning to quit.

With the decreased expenditure, you may need an outlet for your spare cash. Nicorette has thought of this, including a reward scheme in the app. The wish list feature provides you with space to fill in items to treat yourself to, once you’ve achieved your targets. It’s more than just a list – it integrates with the journey map to automatically inform you when you’ve earned a treat. It’s a cute idea, and mixing personal and commercial satisfaction may genuinely increase the incentive to give up.

If you’re feeling particularly down, however, there’s nothing like a human support network. That’s why ActiveStop lets you update Facebook and Twitter right from the app. Once you’ve reached a goal, you’re able to post it online for your friends and family to comment on.

There’s also a games section – although one that probably won’t win any awards. The games and puzzles are pretty basic, but they’re really here to draw attention to a larger issue – people who quit smoking tend to look for something to do with their hands. The idea is that after a while, users might realise that sometimes they’re not simply craving a cigarette, but something fiddly and distracting to do with their hands.

Finally, there’s a massive resource for articles, facts and tips to do with smoking. If they don’t help you quit, at least they’ll help you in pub quizzes. Examples include the fact that two-thirds of smokers want to quit the habit, while it usually takes a person between five to seven attempts to successfully kick the habit. The app might prove some much needed support, then.

SOWAT portable ashtray

Any environmentally friendly invention has to be admired. We can all realise the use and relevance of the solar panel, the wind turbine and the electric car because it is obvious to even the most lay of planet-keeper that what they are doing is essentially good; that there is worth in their existence. Beneath such obvious examples, there is a whole industry of products being invented by eco-minded individuals desperate to do their bit to help save the world whilst making a sly buck. Thus, it is just as important that we recognise the job that they are trying to do, and that if all these inventions did click and become household names then it’s a bit more likely that we’ll still have a half-decent planet kicking around in 200 years.


Joining this industry is the SOWAT ashtray a portable ashtray from France. The SOWAT (standing for Smoke Only With AshTray) is basically a plastic holder/clip for your fag packet. You slip your packet in and, running adjacent of the back of the pack is a small pop-out tray. This, in theory is where you stash your smoked cigarettes, which you can then dispose with later in an appropriate place. And therein lies the raison d’être of the SOWAT; it is there to stop the everyday smoker putting their 11 o’ clock fag out in the street. According to the press release, some 7,000 cigarettes are dropped in the Square Mile every day, whilst a mind-boggling 845,000 tonnes of butts are discarded worldwide every year. C2C, the Lyon-based team behind the SOWAT wanted to end this and accordingly, after carrying out what they describe as ‘extensive studies of smokers behaviour’, have developed this wee (1.05 ounces heavy) gadget that will rid our streets and rivers of fag-ends as smokers worldwide do the diligent thing and put their C-Sticks back in their pockets.

Of course, the only problem I can see with the device is that smokers (and bear in mind I am one) are among the most self-centred, most foolish band of brothers and sisters on the planet. They are, lets not forget, regularly doing something that very well might kill them sometime in the not-so-distant future. If they care so little about themselves, are they really going to inconvenience themselves to carry around a little device that looks like its been designed for drug dealers to smuggle their quarry into nightclubs? Of course they’re not. Still, the good people behind SOWAT have created a device that reduces smokers’ damage to the planet and that is no bad thing.