Category Archives: Wellness

CES and Addiction

Ann N. Dapice, PhD (Lenape/Cherokee) has long been a proponent of the use of CES ( cranial electrical stimulation) for the treatment of addiction. The following is an excerpt from her presentation at the World Diabetes Congress in Melbourne, Australia recently.


For more than 10 years we have had evidence that relapse to chemicals occurs when brain waves are irritable (Anderson, et al., 1999; Bauer, 2001). Thus chemical abuse happens when people self-medicate. Inexpensive micro current cranial electro-therapy stimulation, or CES, run by a 9-volt battery, balances neurotransmitters and brain waves, has long been FDA accepted, double-triple blind researched, is without negative side effects , yet remains largely ignored. Research demonstrates the positive result of CES on anxiety, depression and PTSD—frequently co-occurring diagnoses with alcoholism and diabetes. Similarly, we have known that good proteins, fats and carbohydrates are required for functioning brains and bodies. When we “prescribe good diets” to build necessary neurotransmitters and balance brain waves allowing neurons to work effectively together, we are prescribing chemicals—every bit as much as “prescription drugs” but without negative side effects. These are less costly solutions.

There are still many unanswered questions. Why do some become addicted to alcohol, certain foods, nicotine, sex, risk-taking (taking down the world economy)—while others don’t? Never mind the selling of these addictives in the marketplace or that risk-taking in business is rewarded—while shamed in gambling. Religious groups will deny certain substances to their believers while over-indulging in others that are just as destructive. Fatty meals at church suppers may produce endocannabinoids given physiological process (Piornelli & DiPatrizio, 2011). People eat these who wouldn’t think of using marijuana.

I never planned to focus on alcoholism and diabetes. I knew about neither as a child—although I did know about obesity in women who worked hard physically for long hours, showing that exercise is necessary but not sufficient. My first memory of diabetes was a college classmate who would give herself extra insulin so she could eat as much ice cream as she wanted. As a college professor I often lunched with two colleagues, one a “recovering alcoholic,” now Type 2 Diabetic, who would “shoot up” as much insulin as he could to eat as many desserts as he wanted (SLIDE of syringe). The other colleague, on ADHD medication, would purposely wait until after lunch to take his Ritalin so it wouldn’t lower his appetite. He loved to eat! He now has TTD. When we began our non-profit American Indian organization focusing on addiction and mental health issues, we quickly discovered we had depressed diabetic patients as well. We attended addiction conferences where tables were heavily loaded with sweet pastries—and diabetic elders were gathered around in wheelchairs with amputated limbs, laps filled with plates of high carb foods. (SLIDE)

About a decade ago a colleague from Australia, also using CES for addiction, visited our office and said she was shocked to see such obesity in the US. We had begun working with a variety of researchers across the world regarding the origins of addictions. We learned that hunters and gatherers and peoples who last received grains had the greatest levels of alcoholism since they had no evolutionary time to adjust to the grains (Mathews-Larson, 1991) — just as some people are lactose intolerant today. Corn was essentially the grain of the Americas but across tribes it was treated with lye or lime calcium to release the protein and thus was not the infamous “high fructose corn syrup” we know today. North of Mexico, American Indians were told to stop treating their corn with lime or lye and to use wheat flour, dried milk and other commodities given them. Indians north of the border soon had far more alcoholism and TTD than Indians from the same tribes in Mexico. That has changed rapidly since US products moved into Mexico and the entire world with the highly desired and storable high fructose products (Lustig, 2012, Popkin, 2007).

Before European encounter, Indians only used tobacco as sacred medicine. It took Europeans’ desire for frequent use, growing large amounts first through slavery, then the industrial revolution, to make it a global addiction. Thus tobacco dependence came through colonization—even from a plant originating in the Americas. The abuse of corn and tobacco caught Indians in the same tangled web of corn products and tobacco addiction. Both contribute to the ravages of alcoholism and TTD worldwide.

More recently, we have Robert Lustig’s (2012) analysis of the similarity of metabolism in TTD and alcoholism . We also have growing suspicion, if not clear evidence, that “diet” sweeteners tell the tongue to prepare the pancreas to secrete insulin. Diet drinks used by the obese and diabetics seem not to help with obesity and continue the desire for sweet tastes—whatever the physiological process.

Our experiences in research and practice have shown that people can change their diets and addictions—no longer even “like” the tastes of foods and substances that destroy their minds and bodies. They can use simple and inexpensive CES to normalize their brain waves. We can show them how, stop telling them they have to “bottom out” or that they are spiritually defective. Clinicians need to help addicted people reason, not rationalize, the consequences of their addictions. Most people have diseases and illnesses of some kind—and we don’t blame them. But we use tremendous shame and blame in response to alcoholism, obesity and diabetes. Most of us have addictive preferences and while we are not responsible for our genetics (Propping, et al.1981; Begleiter &Projesz, 1988), or prenatal environment (Whitaker & Dietz, 1998), we are responsible for the consequences of our addictions. Working with the unique needs of each client we can help clients respond effectively to their brains and bodies—just as we have accomplished overproduction of bad foods and substances in the world. That is our work now.

The Rationale for the use of CES in a Wellness Program

Many medical experts say that stress is a major cause of illness in the modern world. Some estimate that as much as 90% of illness is caused by stress, and all agree that stress, if present in an ill person, can only make the problem worse. For example, the perception of pain is greater in patients who are experiencing a painful condition. Persons suffering from addictions have a much more difficult time during the drug abstinence syndrome, in which they try to wean themselves from an addicting drug, when they are under stress.


People also can suffer from difficult mood disturbances when under stress, and those can affect the well being of both them and of others who live or work closely around them.

Why is stress so harmful to the health of a person? The late Professor Selye completed many years of research which showed that when persons encounter a strongly negative situation they enter physiologically into a fight or flight mode. That is, their normal reaction is to mobilize physical resources so they can attack the situation causing the fear, or to successfully get away from it by running. Those body changes involve the sympathetic nervous system in which the heart beat is speeded up, the breathing rate is altered, the blood flow leaves the abdominal area in favor of getting more blood to the striated muscles in the legs, and so forth.

Significantly, those physiological changes are brought about by changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter system, which is deliberately thrown out of homeostatic balance in order to energize the physical changes required to meet the challenge. Of greater significance, surely, was Dr. Selye’s finding, first in laboratory animals and then in humans, that if a person could not escape the situation that was threatening him, the homeostatic imbalance remained, until over time the imbalance became permanent.

Unfortunately, while the physiological changes that enable one to fight or flee are very adaptive when the person needs them to handle an emergency, they are very destructive if they remain after they are no longer needed. One can see why they would tend to remain if the threatening situation came from an ongoing job situation, or perhaps from a difficult period in ones marriage, or from having to spend hours driving in heavy traffic on a daily basis. It can also be caused by psychological things such a worrying about physical changes in one’s body that one dislikes as one ages, or the protracted mourning of a lost friend or loved one. Watching daily news broadcasts over the family television set can surely do the same.

A very insidious effect of stress is to encourage and support the body’s inflammation system. This is often measured by the CRP (C-Reactive Protein, high sensitivity) blood test, and when the inflammation system is in high gear it contributes to and supports many areas of physical dysfunction such as increased rates of cancer, heart attacks and stroke, diabetes, arthritis and a lowered immune system, among many others.

In the presence of a stress response that refuses to go away, the problem is how to change it and put the person’s biochemistry back into homeostatic balance in order to ward off further harm to the body. There are many approaches to this, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, supportive nutrition, and so on. One very direct approach, and one with which more dramatic results are sometimes seen sooner, is cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES).

CES involves passing small currents of electricity across the brain. CES usually involves no more than a single, volt battery, and while a pleasant tingle can sometimes be felt when it is turned up high, in very successful double blind studies, it is turned down so low it is never felt at all by the subjects.

When researchers at a University Medical School in the U.S. used biochemicals to deliberately throw the neurotransmitters in the brains of animals into chemical imbalance, the animals reacted with very strong signs of stress. That stress reaction remained intact for seven days after the chemicals were removed and the animals were put back on their normal routine of food and water. If half the animals were given CES following the removal of the chemicals, however, the stress response in the animals returned to normal in three to four hours, instead of the seven days their fellow subjects required, showing that CES speeded up the return to homeostasis very quickly.

Another way this was shown was in groups of several hundred alcoholic patients who had suffered memory loss due to their years of drinking. While as late as the early 1970s this was thought to be due to permanent brain damage, it was discovered that three weeks of daily CES treatment for 45 minutes per day could bring their memory function completely back to normal.7 Since this finding was not in accord with the permanent brain damage theory held at the time, other researchers began to test alcoholic persons who had not received CES and found that they, too, could come back to normal intellectual functioning without CES, but it took two years of total sobriety!

Once they were back within homeostatic balance, studies of the use of CES with other addictions have shown that homeostaticaly balanced addicts tend to return much less for additional treatment, and have fewer episodes of additive like behavior over the succeeding months or years.8 Many of them leave their addictive substance permanently.

So while studies are not presently available that show the relation of CES treatment to a reduction in heart attacks, strokes, or various illnesses, the studies that have been done show that CES can very dramatically alter the stress system that underlies most of these disorders. And since significant negative side effects have never been found from the use of CES with thousands of patients around the world, CES would seem to be a very important place to begin for those persons who wish to maintain their body’s normal homeostatic balance in order to assure continued good health and well being.

by Ray B. Smith, Ph.D.

Presented by

Is it true that certain foods worsen anxiety and others have a calming effect?

Coping with anxiety can be a challenge and often requires making lifestyle changes. There aren’t any diet changes that can cure anxiety, but watching what you eat may help. Try these steps:

  • Eat a breakfast that includes some protein. Eating protein at breakfast can help you feel fuller longer and help keep your blood sugar steady so that you have more energy as you start your day.
  • Eat complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains — for example, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals. Steer clear of foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and drinks.
  • Drink plenty of water. Even mild dehydration can affect your mood.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. The immediate effect of alcohol may be calming. But as alcohol is processed by your body, it can make you edgy. Alcohol can also interfere with sleep.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine. Avoid caffeinated beverages. They can make you feel jittery and nervous and can interfere with sleep.
  • Pay attention to food sensitivities. In some people, certain foods or food additives can cause unpleasant physical reactions. In certain people, these physical reactions may lead to shifts in mood, including irritability or anxiety.
  • Try to eat healthy, balanced meals. This is important for overall physical and mental health. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and don’t overeat. It may also help to eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, on a regular basis.
cesultra food

Changes to your diet may make some difference to your general mood or sense of well-being, but they’re not a substitute for treatment. If your anxiety is severe or interferes with your day-to-day activities or enjoyment of life, you may need counseling (psychotherapy), medication or other treatment.

Most people today veg out before a TV. Better you should do it at the kitchen table with a bowlful of greens.

You can’t be healthy without eating well. The cornerstone of that belief is “You are what you eat,” meaning your diet directly affects your total being.

Looking to buy into the concept? A good place to begin is with your veggies. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, they promise to lower your risk for osteoporosis, stroke, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other causes of mortality.

Wow! Bring ’em on!

CES has been shown to reduce the levels of stress hormones.

There are numerous CES studies in which CES has been shown to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body. Usually this reduction is found to be in connection with a rebalanced relationship between stress related hormones and other hormones with which they are normally in balance in non stress states.

Read more here

The Use of CES in the Maintenance of Health and Wellbeing

Following the initial research in the U.S., several units began to be sold for clinical use before the 1976 Amendment gave the FDA control over medical devices. The Amendment gave the FDA power to determine the safety and effectiveness of medical devices prior to allowing them into the U.S. marketplace, and all electrosleep devices which were on the open market prior to the Amendment were grandfathered and left on the market, with a provision that the FDA could call them in later to have them show their safety and effectiveness, a process costing up to an estimated $800 million.

The FDA also decided to call electrosleep devices Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation devices, since by then their clinical uses had expanded from sleep to include depression and anxiety. A preliminary look at CES by the FDA’s Neurology Panel in 1978 suggested they should be accepted for the safe and effective treatment of addictions, and that the other treatment claims should be looked at again as more research became available.

When one looks back at specific neurotransmitter systems that are influenced and possibly rebalanced by CES one finds himself confronted directly with the body’s neurohormonal stress system.

Stress is caused by a person entering a dangerous fight-or-flight situation, and is relieved when the person is no longer in that situation. To operate effectively in such a situation, the body has to dramatically shift its neurohormonal balance out of its normal homeostasis. Stress, in that situation, is very healthy and can even be life saving, such as when a person runs out of the path of an automobile that is swerving toward him out of control, or jumps away from a snake, poised to strike, suddenly encountered on a trail in the woods.

Chronic stress, however, is a different matter and occurs when a person is living in a threatening situation he can not escape… a job, an unfortunate relationship, driving daily in dangerous commuter traffic, watching the evening news on T.V., with every “Oh, my god,” story the news producer can find to put on (“if it bleeds, it leads”14). When under chronic stress, the body’s neurohormonal system does not come back into its normal homeostatic balance, and the resulting imbalance is said to cause up to 90% of the physical illnesses brought to the attention of physicians.

Major symptoms of a system under chronic stress number among them, insomnia, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, various compulsive behavior disorders, not the least of which are the various addictions in which the person uses various drugs (or medications) in an effort to alter the neurohormonal system back to a more acceptable level. Physical problems also increase, such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and infections such as colds and flue, among any number of others.

And where does CES treatment interface with this syndrome? From the earlier animal and later human research,17 CES can best be described as an adaptogen, in which CES acts to increase the body’s resistance to adverse influences by reestablishing the homeostatic balance between the body’s various neurotransmitters that have been thrown out of balance by chronic stress. In basically rebalancing the physiological system, CES influences a wide range of physical, chemical and biochemical factors that have a normalizing effect on the body. CES, then, acts to alleviate stress, and in the process improve all kinds of conditions that have been generated by that stress.

For example in 18 studies of insomnia, the average improvement was 62%, in a similar number of depression studies, the average improvement was 47%, while in 38 studies of anxiety, the average improvement was 58%. Those were the average improvement scores. In 31 double blind studies of various psychological problems, while the average improvement was found to be 56%, the range of improvement went from a low of 23% to a high of 91%, a treatment effect never seen in pharmaceutical treatment of those types of disorders.

Highly positive treatment effects have also been found in other areas of dysfunction, such as in persons recovering from the effects of addiction, in children and adults suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, in persons suffering from stress related memory loss, and in patients suffering from headaches and other types of stress related pain syndromes. And more importantly, no significant negative side effect has ever been reported in more than 46 years of CES research and treatment in the U.S

More recently, following the Vietnam War the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is being given much attention. During World Wars I and II, the disorder was known as shell shock and thought to be caused by the immediate stress of battle. The cure, at the time, was to let the men lie quietly in or just outside the medical tent away from the battle area, and rest until their nerves settled down.

Once the syndrome was described, it was discovered that perhaps 25% or more of persons who have never been in the military have experienced PTSD. It has been precipitated by such things as child abuse or other childhood trauma such as emotional abandonment by parents or parental surrogates. In older persons and adults it has been precipitated by serious car accidents, major surgery, rapes, muggings, and in general by any other event in which the person felt helpless during an event he/she perceived as life threatening. Nine times more females than males are now known to experience PTSD, and up to 75% of persons suffering from fibromyalgia have PTSD either currently or in their background.

It is now known that PTSD represents a basic split off of parts of the brain in which the emotional trauma was recorded, so that the waking brain remains unaware of it. The problem is that the part of the brain storing the memory often reactivates during sleep and the event is recalled in very stressful nightmares. Also, during the day, any number of small stimuli that occur can reactivate that section of the brain, and a flashback occurs. Accompanying a nightmare or flashback, the entire sympathetic nervous system is called into play and the resulting stress, both physical and emotional can be overwhelming.

Because so many things can trigger a flashback, the person slowly but surely closes off ever more sections of the day to day experience and activities in order to not provoke an episode. The brain actually becomes phobic of those activities that can act as triggers, and closes them off from its daily activities and awareness. The person, as a result, remains in hyper aroused alert status, with an ever narrower life view and experience. To those looking on, the person become quieter, less sociable, and tends to limit activities in all areas of his/her life more and more.

CES treatment in PTSD should have a pronounced effect in that PTSD symptoms always increase when the person is under stress of any other kind. Also, the research with CES in phobic patients indicates that phobic fear can not be experienced while CES treatment is in progress, and at least for a time thereafter.21 It is the panic felt by patients when the phobic areas are roused, with the accompanying uncontrolled system wide sympathetic physiological arousal that gives them their greatest fear and dread. To have CES available during those times of panic should be very helpful immediately, and contribute markedly to a longer term cure as those feelings of helplessness dissipate via its use. Also, researchers are warned not to encourage the patient to call up the traumatic event(s) until they have a ready brake or safe spot they can go to if the emotion gets too high and might go out of control otherwise.22 CES might well act as a brake that the patient could use if he could not readily break off the traumatic imagery and get to his safe spot mentally.

For this reason, it has been suggested that the use of CES during desensitization therapy such as Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET), a therapy found very effective in treating PTSD, should allow desensitization therapy proceed at a much more rapid rate, and possible be much more effective if it reduced or eliminated the fear while the desensitization was in process. It should also be helpful for use during the several other major forms of PTSD treatment that are presently being used.

If nothing more, CES should reduce or eliminate many phobic areas within the personality, allowing the person to come down from his hyper aroused state and begin interacting in more areas of his life experience once again. That would be a type of desensitization therapy process on its own.

Clinical experience has shown that PTSD patients initially never go out without their CES device handy for use at a moment’s notice. The presence of the device gives them a needed feeling of security they can not get in any other way.

Similar uses could be mad of CES in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, whose symptoms also become more pronounced as the patient comes under ever greater amounts of stress. A type of desensitization treatment, Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) has also been found of real value in treating OCD. In this treatment approach, the patient and the therapist record various stimuli that trigger the OCD response, and rate them in terms of emotional valence. They then attack those with less emotional impact by having the patient put himself in the presence of the stimulus, then deliberately refrain from performing the compulsive ritual that is usually attached to the stimulus. Over several trials the patient habituates to the stimulus and it loses its effectiveness in triggering the self-protective, anxiety reducing OC response.

As the therapy progresses, the patient goes on to those stimuli of ever increasing emotional impact. It might well be that CES, in helping the patient control his anxiety when facing each stimulus until such time as it habituated could also synergize this therapeutic approach and shorten the time to recovery.

How much treatment is required to produce these effects with CES? Patients respond to differing amounts of CES treatment, depending on which of their neurohormonal systems CES is intended to rebalance. And while effects begin to be felt from the first treatment, almost all patients are expected to come back within normal homeostatic limits with 60 minutes to 1 hour of treatments every day for 14 to 21 days, depending on the availability of any required neurohormonal precursors in their diet, their level of activity and so on.

By Ray B. Smith, Ph.D.