Monthly Archives: August 2017

CES as an Aid in Learning

Ref: Paul G. Swingle, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Private Practice

Microamperage stimulation on cranial and other acupuncture meridian has been found to be a very effective method for potentiating neurotherapeutic treatment of a variety of disorders. Stimulation has been found to be particularly useful with disorders that are characterized by deficiencies in brain activity in the occipital regions. Research in our practice has also shown that stimulation of particular points enhances the amplitude of slow frequency brainwaves. Our research has also shown that cranial stimulation markedly increases information retention.


We discovered that CES helps with retention of learned material quite by accident.  In our Practice many clients receive CES units to help with depression, sleep problems, anxiety and addictions.  We started to hear from clients that they felt that they were able to remember things they had read more readily when treating themselves with the CES unit.  They assumption that we made was that the improved retention was a secondary effect of the CES because of the person being more relaxed.  Since the clients who received the CES units would be those who had Theta deficiencies in the back of the brain we thought that anxious clients would be those who benefited from using CES while studying.  However, we also started getting reports from clients that the CES treatments had an invigorating effect and when used mid-afternoon would minimize the typical afternoon slump in attention that many people experience.  I treated myself with the CES after lunch time and did feel that I was more alert and attentive.

We decided to test the effects of CES on learning with a non-clinical population.    The first study (Swingle and Swingle, 200x) looked at vocabulary learning with a young woman who was learning a second language.  The CES was .5 Hz delivered on the earlobe during study sessions.  All sessions were 35 minutes in length and the task was to memorize words from a list.  The client was asked to list all the words she recalled two days after the memorization session.  Without the CES the young woman was able to list 26% of the words whereas with the CES she was able to list 41% which seemed to be a huge benefit to learning the material.

The second study (Swingle and Swingle, 2XXX) looked at the effects of CES on learning vocabulary with a group of ESL (English as a Second Language) students.  Three different conditions were studied:  First a group of students who had a standard three hour classroom study (Group 1); second, a group of students who had 1.5 hours of individual study with CES on the earlobes (Group 2); third, a group of students who had 1.5 hours of individual study with CES presented at location P6 (Group 3).  The stimulation frequency was 100Hz and was continuous during the study period.  The amount learned was measured in two ways.  First, the students were asked to define the word (i.e., give the word meaning) and second, they were asked to use the word in a sentence.  The percentage of correct definitions was 31.5%, 78.3%, and 81.0% for Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3, respectively.  The percentage of words used correctly in a sentence was 35.7%, 75.0%, and 83.3% for groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively.  Thus, the data indicate that CES is a very effective aid to learning and further that the stimulation is at least as effective when applied to the acupuncture point Pericardium 6 as when presented at the more conventional earlobe site.

Reasearch: Cranial Electrotherapy for Seizure Patients

Research attention turned to patients with acquired closed head injuries, resulting from such things as motorcycle accidents, falls from high elevations on construction projects, inoperable brain tumors, etc. That group drew special attention because the majority of them were known seizure patients and little was known of the effects of Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) on seizure patients. Under the supervision of a research physician, 21 closed head injured patients living in a supervised care home were selected for a double-blind study.


It was found that the cognitive function score improved significantly in the treatment group, as measured on the POMS. Following the study, the 11 patients in the two control groups (sham treatment, and wait-in-line control for any placebo effect in the sham group) were also given CES for three weeks.

During the study one of the subjects who had a cerebral malignancy had a seizure and was immediately removed from the study by the study physician. Later it was found that he had received sham treatment. Upon the insistence of his parents, he also received actual CES treatment for three weeks following the study and neither he nor any of the other CES treated patients experienced a seizure.

Years before in the District of Columbia, when alcoholic patients returned to the Center for additional treatment, if they had a history of withdrawal seizures, policy mandated that they not be given CES while in the program. Later it was learned that a major addiction treatment center in New Orleans that was associated with a local university, specifically ordered CES for the treatment of those patients during withdrawal to prevent seizures. They stated that they had successfully used CES as a preventive for withdrawal seizures for several years, with 100% success in more than 300 patients.

A pilot study for a large, double-blind study of the treatment of seizure patients with CES is underway. It can be stated that there has been no seizure activity reported to the FDA as a negative side effect from CES treatment over the last 30 plus years.


Smith, R.B., A. Tiberi, and J. Marshall, (1994). The use of cranial electrotherapy stimulation in the treatment of closed-head-injured patients. Brain Injury

Rosenthal, Robert. Meta-analytic Procedures for Social Research. (Newbury Park:Sage Publications, 1991).

Cranial Electrotherapy: Possible Mechanisms of Action

When a new medical treatment comes on line, there is pressure to explain how it works. While CES has been in medical use for more than 60 years (it came into being as “electrosleep” in Europe in 1953), there has been no definitive, settled explanation of its mechanism of action. Some of the theories that are more or less active at present are as follows:

The Nervous System.

The major present concept is that the body functions via a more or less hard wired nervous system. In this theoretical system, the body is neuronally wired to receive incoming stimuli via its afferent neurons, send them to the central nervous system, which then sends out response stimuli via its efferent neurons. One touches a finger accidentally to a hot surface and the finger is immediately jerked away from the hot stove, for example.

Since the neurons don’t ordinarily physically touch, the neural wiring functions via synaptic endings on the neurons in which the pre synaptic membrane discharges neurochemicals from stored vesicles into the synapse between the neurons and these stimulate receptors on the post synaptic membrane (the receiving membrane of the neuron next in line to fire) and that neuron fires the next neuron or the sensitive membrane on a muscle receptor, and so forth.

To work as efficiently as it was designed to work, all the neurons must be intact, and all the neurochemicals that are involved in the neurological firing patterns have to be in balance with all the others. If one neurochemical is out of balance, either it over fires or under fires the system for which it is responsible, in which case physical or emotional symptoms of one kind or another arise. For example, if there is not enough dopamine, Parkinson like symptoms develop. If there is not enough serotonin, depression results, etc.


Acupuncture Theories

Energy is known to flow through the collagen connective tissues of the body, and some areas of the body are more sensitive to energy incoming to that system than others. These sensitive areas are known as acupuncture points, and CES may well supply energy to that system, though not necessarily by stimulating those points directly.

CES electrodes are placed at various places on the head so that the stimulating current is allowed to pass through the head. CES current has been shown to spread around the head and scalp while also going through the entire brain, though canalizing alongthe limbic, or “emotion” brain.

As anyone knows who has placed CES electrodes on the mastoid processes behind the ears and turned the current up, one tends to get an involuntary grin when the current spreads to the facial muscles, and similarly, there can be light flashes keeping time with the CES pulse as the energy passes through the ocular apparatus in the eyes. For this reason, it is very likely that any acupuncture points on or about the head would receive sufficient stimulation, wherever they are located, to respond to CES stimulation. For example,in some therapeutic strategies, several of those points on the face are said to be dramatically activated by merely softlytapping on them with the finger tips.

Read more – Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, A Monograph By Dr. Ray B. Smith, Ph.D.