What brainwaves have to do with it?

What’s your frequency? Brain theorists believe that certain health conditions may be caused and effected by the 4 or 5 frequencies your brain functions at. What do brain waves have to do with it?

The human brain is made up of brain cells called neurons, which communicate with each other through electrical brain waves. The pattern of brain waves changes depending on one’s level of consciousness and cognitive processing. For example, when one feels fatigued or dreamy, slower brainwaves are likely dominant at that time.

Feeling stressed out? Brain waves may be one of the underlying causes. Some studies indicate that cyclical speeds our brain waves may contribute to ADHD and Hypertension.

Brainwaves are produced by synchronized electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other. Brainwaves are detected using sensors placed on the scalp. Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second) and they are divided into bands delineating slow, moderate, and fast waves.

There are 5 types of brain waves your brain generates:

Gamma waves >40 Hz –
Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, and consciousness

Beta waves – 13–39 Hz
Active, busy thinking, active processing , active concentration, arousal, and cognition

Alpha waves – 7–13 Hz
Calm relaxed yet alert state

Theta waves – 4-7 Hz Deep meditation /relaxation, REM sleep. REM sleep is an exception, with recorded speeds of 30 to 50 Hz, During REM, you experience dream episodes. In addition, neurotransmitters work at forming long-term memory storage.

Delta waves – < 4 Hz Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness Gamma and Beta are associated with wakefulness Alpha, Theta, Delta are associated with relaxation. Awakening from Delta or during a REM is indicative of deep, meditative sleep. They are generated in deepest meditation and dreamless sleep. According to Scientific American, Delta waves typically center around a range of 1.5 to 4 cycles per second. They never go down to zero because that would mean that you were brain dead. But, deep dreamless sleep would take you down to the lowest frequency. Being jolted awake at Delta often results in confusion. During Alpha and Theta, your brain and body are flushed with neurotransmitters that deal with memory and reduced inflammation. A recent 2013 study found that the ADHD brain tends to produce more Theta waves than the brains of average folks. Theta waves are the ones you produce as you’re nodding off to sleep. Or watching a boring TV show or movie. They indicate a state of deep relaxation.

For the study, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 were asked to perform computer tasks that involved perceiving a visual stimulus that would then trigger brain regions involved in decision-making, which then led to physical action — in this case, pressing a button.

Researchers found that the 17 participants that were predominantly diagnosed with the inattentive (IA) subtype of ADHD had the least amount of alpha wave suppression — necessary to filter out visual “noise” in order to make an accurate decision.

In 2014 deviations in brainwaves were said to detect presence/severity of Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the American Nutrition Association, the reason why brain waves are important is because the delta/beta cycle causes an elevation in blood sugar levels and blood pressure throughout the day.

Beta waves in the high frequencies can cause agitation and anxiety perhaps caused by too much dopamine release. Dopamine problems are implicated in ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, bipolar disorders, binge eating, addiction, gambling, and schizophrenia.

Anxiety and panic attacks are associated with decreased alpha waves, increased high beta waves, and can be affected by low delta and theta waves. There is a delicate balance of the chemicals called neurotransmitters required within the body for best emotional and physiological health.

Previous studies showed that people with chronic pain experience abnormal neural oscillations, or brain waves. There are several kinds of brain waves related to different brain regions and various kinds of brain activities. People with chronic pain, it is believed, often may have brainwaves to blame. Stress puts you at Beta waves, putting you on alert. You’re waiting to respond. But, as in the classic movie Forbidden Planet, those monsters can not be fought off. It becomes fight, flight, or die. Over time, the brain and central nervous system learn to continue to put the body into a painful state, which repeats the pain cycle. In a sense, staying in Beta might be associated with chronic pain, with no other explanation. Unfortunately, few studies have been large enough for results to have wide acceptance.

One study at University at North Carolina in 2018 demonstrated promising results that stimulating brains helped reduce lower back pain. While chronic lower back pain has many sufferers, this study had only 30 people. Those aren’t enough to persuade a medical community away from codeine painkillers and surgeries. Yet, this study is one of many small studies showing how brainwaves and chronic pain may be related.

As such, many areas have devised treatment centers and recommendations to help induce alpha waves when beta is out of control.

In an article, published in Medical News Today, there are discussions as to how using EEG bio-feedback helps change brainwave patterns to treat conditions that are now only treated by drugs:

EEG biofeedback may help patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), addiction, anxiety, seizures, depression, and other types of brain condition.

During a biofeedback session, the therapist attaches electrodes to the patient’s skin, and these send information to a monitoring box.

The therapist views the measurements on the monitor, and, through trial and error, identifies a range of mental activities and relaxation techniques that can help regulate the patient’s bodily processes.

Lacking large empirical studies, biofeedback therapy may not be covered as acceptable treatments by some health insurances. It may require 20 sessions at about $100+ per session.

The goal of biofeedback is often to make subtle changes to the body that result in a desired effect. The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) defines biofeedback as a process that allows people to alter their physiological activity in order to improve health or performance. The American Medical Association defines biofeedback as an alternative therapy. The AAPB is the key organization supporting biofeedback as brainwave therapy.

The study of brainwaves has been observed since 1930, when the EEG was developed. Biofeedback has been applied to studies of sensory deprivation, bi-polar issues, and sleep studies. The questionably issues of brainwaves biofeedback within the USA, as opposed to Europe is that applied science is not viewed as valid as medical science.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a biofeedback device, Resperate, for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Resperate is a portable electronic device that promotes slow, deep breathing. However, the FDA doesn’t regulate many biofeedback devices marketed for home use. So…the FDA allows home use of a biofeedback product that, used correctly, may help reduce brainwaves for reducing blood pressure and stress.

I’d recommend using AAPB as a method of finding resources and clinicians for biofeedback. Overall, the integrity of brainwaves has helped people survive over millennia. Reckless use of this method as a cure for many diseases may have other problems emerge. I would like to see further study of brainwaves in large empirical studies to call it a medical utopia.

But many have tried biofeedback and brainwaves therapy. High positive subjective reviews. So if you have chronic hypertension, pain, ADHD, anxiety, and sleeplessness….might be worth a try.