[ Reducing pain with brainwave entrainment || The science of pain control with audio visual brainwave entraiment || The magic of Gamma brainwaves for pain control || Choosing the right brainwave entrainment session for pain relief ]
[Any decision to use information in this article as inspiration to try or add an alternative to medication to your pain control activities, should always be done with medical supervision and the advice of your doctor]
Having been at the mercy of pain for many years and knowing others also suffering from chronic or acute pain I can relate to you if you find yourself here reading this searching for answers.
Naturally there are a number of things you can focus on to help with pain control and relief. From exercise and meditation, to diet and better sleep practices.., to hypnotherapy and related therapeutic methods. Hydration (drinking enough water) is obviously also important but often overlooked.
Of note is the strong correlation between insomnia (lack of sleep) and pain especially chronic pain (ongoing, lasting longer than a few months) so please read the ‘better sleep series’ of articles on this website for advice on that.
Technology and pain relief
There are a number of technological devices on the market that promote healing of pain also.
Some are lacking much science to back them up like high frequency sound therapy such as RIFE frequencies and Solfeggio frequencies. But the theory behind them that all physical and indeed mental conditions have an associated frequency to them is both logical and worth further exploration in my opinion.
TENS (electric currents) and pEMF (electromagnetic fields) devices have more clinical application evidence although unfortunately some use at home versions of this are potentially underpowered compared to the medical grade devices used in the studies.
People do still get positive results though. No technology should be discounted at all.., it’s definitely worth further experimentation and worth your focus to learn about all options if you experience pain.
Infrared devices have a number of science backed applications also. In fact aside from pain control, the red end of the light spectrum has more studies ongoing or published than probably any other form of light spectrum frequency. Some of these are discussed in the articles called ‘In LIGHT we trust’ on this website.
Audio visual entrainment or brainwave entrainment devices used for pain control have scientific evidence as well and this method will be the main focus of this article.
In summary, there are options that work for some people and not for others.
And that is the key to anything of potential benefit to health mentally or physically. There is no one silver bullet to cure everyone of everything.
That said, if you get little or no benefit from medication or get too many side effects from the medication that you do take, then adding or substituting a non drug alternative to your toolbox of pain relief is certainly worth exploring.
This of course should always be done under the advice and agreement of your doctor or specialist.
And I will show here both peer reviewed science and personal experience in a unique industry that give some very promising positive results in pain control with light and/or sound.
Reducing pain with brainwave entrainment
Using brainwave entrainment for pain control or more specifically, audio visual brainwave entrainment for pain control is nothing new historically. Unfortunately as with most alternatives to drugs.., such technology gets little funding or exposure.
Why would a device like any of the ones mentioned above and more specifically sound and light machines have a positive effect on pain?
There are a number of possibilities to answer that including the statement that pain is ‘felt’ in the nervous system including the brain more than it is felt in the body. Without the signals from nerves telling your brain that something is wrong.., you would not feel anything.
This is what most pain relieving medications attempt to interrupt. IE: They work by stopping the signal from nerves activating the neurochemical experience of pain.
Pain is of course usually there for a positive reason to tell you that something needs attention. It’s when that pain continues past the point where healing has taken place that is becomes un-useful.
So anything that can change or interrupt the neurology and/or brain activity has the potential to reduce or stop pain.
And this is one of the things that audio visual brainwave entrainment can do.
What specifically does this type of stroboscopic light and sound technology do that applies to pain control and relief?
How can brainwave entrainment help with pain
Change the frequencies of the brain: Brainwaves can be altered to those more conducive to comfort and away from those shown to be present in EEG tests when pain is present. Specific brain frequencies also effect the production or inhibition of chemicals like serotonin and beta endorphins.
Delta brainwaves for example, have recently been found to be a state where the space between neurons actually increases increasing toxin removal from your brain. Gamma brainwaves stimulate the brains microglia immune system.
Synchronise both sides of the brain: An imbalance between left and right hemispheres (sides) of the brain can cause increased cortisol and other stress related hormones. For migraines though.., there is evidence to suggest that the opposite is true (see below) in that de-synchronising or purposely creating an imbalance can help.
Release stress and anxiety: Physical tension and pain are closely related to mental tension and entrainment is an effective way to relax deeply.
Improve sleep: Insomnia and a lack of sleep are strongly associated with chronic ongoing pain in particular. Brainwave entrainment can have significant positive effects on how deeply and how long you sleep.
Increase cerebral (brain) blood flow: Increased blood flow has been shown to be the result of photic (light) driven brainwave entrainment in particular and this can alleviate pain.
Distraction/dissociation and immersion: The experience of a light and sound session will make it easier to let go of thoughts and habitual patterns and focus elsewhere.
It’s worth noting here that sometimes, the opposite strategy of giving more attention to pain can decrease it. Especially if you then manipulate the sensations by altering the modality of association.
By that I mean for example, mentally changing the pain from a throbbing sensation to a colour and then changing the colour.
Replicable and easy: Sometimes we have the knowledge to do what we need to do but don’t do it. This technology by it’s ease of use and consistency is conducive to sticking to a plan of action. And it’s doing something consistently that leads to long term results.
The science of pain control with audio visual brainwave entrainment
Shown here are links to a few research studies showing the positive results of using flickering light and/or sound for pain control and relief. Also sometimes referenced are other studies that have no direct online link to them (EG: PDF documents of research studies).
There is evidence for more than one frequency range as being useful and I suspect that the specific frequency is less important than most of the above reasons for the effectiveness of this technology.
That said, there is also evidence of specific frequencies actually being a possible marker for the susceptibility of people to experience pain.
Theta (4-8Hz) and low Alpha (8-10Hz approx) have been shown to have a stronger amplitude (amount of movement from a fixed neutral point.., hence strength) in those people who are likely to experience more pain. That does not mean you should avoid those frequencies.., it is simply an indication that the neural balance of brainwaves is in fact correlated with comfort or discomfort.
For example, people on morphine show the biggest increased change in Delta waves reinforcing the idea that Delta and sub Delta waves and comfort are often linked.
The frequencies of pain relief
High Alpha (10-12Hz approx), Low Beta/SMR (12-15Hz), Gamma (36Hz and up) and slow wave Delta (less than 4Hz) are the main frequencies studied and found to be useful in treating pain.
Alpha and low Beta/SMR frequencies have shown positive results for pain control. In my experience however of considerable research and interaction with hundreds of people directly and thousands of people indirectly, two ranges of frequencies stand out.
The most useful frequencies for pain relief with the most impressive results are the lowest and highest commonly measured frequencies of Delta and Gamma.
Slow wave Delta is often lacking in people as they age or lack quality sleep. And particularly with chronic pain that is ongoing.., this lack of sleep and pain can end up in a feedback loop where both effect each other in a negative way.
Slow wave Delta (which is primarily part of our deep sleep brain activity – non REM sleep) is also associated with memory consolidation, recovery and repair of both body and brain cells and even with detoxing the brain. The following study although primarily focused on insomnia, had chronic pain as closely linked.
Significant improvements in sleep were found and a lowering of pain also resulted over the duration of the study. The protocol used was a one month of sound and light for 30 minutes starting at 8Hz Theta and reducing down to 1Hz low Delta.
In this next study, 18 out of 20 participants had less pain during a typically extremely painful procedure by using light based slow Delta wave entrainment.
The drugs normally used in this procedure have pretty unpleasant side effects.
This next one shows 24 out of 27 participants getting complete headache or migraine relief from only 5 minutes of treatment. The control group using a placebo got no relief at all.
Alpha wave stimulation is one of the most common frequencies and protocols studied.
A lack of Alpha brain activity (8-12Hz) has been linked in a number of studies with cognitive disorders and challenges also.
Increasing Alpha activity has also been shown to have positive results in reducing symptoms of alcoholism and PTSD while reducing stress related hormones like cortisol and beta-endorphins.
Close to Alpha in frequency and also shown to be effective not just with pain but with de-stressing and being focused is the SMR range of frequencies (12-15Hz).
SMR (Sensorimotor Rhythm) frequencies are considered the idling state of the brain. IE: The balance point at which the mind and body are relaxed but ready for anything.
This biofeedback study (close relationship to entrainment) using SMR successfully helped people suffering with Fibromyalgia. This condition is an extremely uncomfortable all over body pain that often includes tiredness or even chronic fatigue, headache, anxiety and stress, insomnia, and inability to focus.
The positive results were better than the current most popular drug treatment.
The magic of Gamma brainwaves for pain control
Gamma brainwaves have shown some pretty impressive results in relieving pain. On the same subject of fibromyalgia, sound alone has also been shown effective for the relief especially in the 40Hz Gamma range.
In fact Gamma waves (not to be confused with Gamma radiation) have a lot going for them. They are involved in memory formation, flow states, trance and meditation and even potentially in slowing or reversing mental decline as we get older.
On the subject of pain.., Gamma has been found to be the frequency of choice for people when the choice is given. IE: If the person is given the ability during a study to adjust the flicker frequency of light (for photic studies), the majority of them end up choosing a frequency in the Gamma range.
This could be in part due to what’s called the flicker fusion threshold. As the speed or rate of the flickering or strobing frequency reaches a certain point it becomes almost like a constant light source where there is no perceptible flicker at all.
On average this starts to happen at about 60Hz and above, although even at around 40Hz the flicker is minor and therefore less likely to cause any irritation for people already in pain. Sound stimulation can have a similar threshold.
The study below on 50 people with painful fibromyalgia is of particular interest.
In it, the people in the control group got significant reductions in pain as well as the actual study group. This would normally lead to a failed test result.
But in this case it shows (as alluded to by the researchers) that Gamma could well be non frequency specific in it’s help with pain control. This conclusion is made because the control group were still given Gamma stimulation, but in a random fashion instead of a steady frequency.
Other studies using alternative frequencies in the Gamma range support this idea.
Headache and migraine relief
For migraine headaches, cluster headaches and PMS pain the evidence points to part of the problem potentially being an over synchronisation of both sides of the brain. Similar interestingly to what happens when someone has a seizure although the two are not related past that.
It would make sense then that to de-synchronise the hemispheres/sides of the brain might change what is felt. And studies show this to be true.
The easiest way to do this is with photic/light based Brainwave entrainment and covering one eye. Doing this with each eye in turn back and forward seems to be the effective method. 10 minutes at a time has been used with good results.
Is this de-sychronisation needed to get a positive result? In my experience and in the results of other studies the answer is no. But it does give another option to try if you suffer with such pain.
This particular study on synchronisation and migraine headache actually used flickering light to induce a migraine for the purposes of the study and what was observed was this over synchronisation effect. The non migraine group had by comparison a reduction in this hemispheric synchronisation.
Brainwave entrainment for migraine relief is one potential use that deserves more study. In this next study, there is an average of a 44-53% reduction in the number of migraines experienced after 30 days of Gamma based brainwave entrainment use.
And in this one, using a variable frequency where Gamma was most often chosen, from a total of 50 migraines during the study, 49 were reduced and 36 were completely stopped.
The time in pain reduced in all cases, and also the number of migraines reduced in a set period of time. Considering how debilitating and hard to stop migraine headaches can be.., this and the other studies I have seen are impressive beyond any medications that show on average far less success.
Add to that the first hand experience of myself and the people I have interacted with getting often fast effective relief and I would consider it worth exploring further.
PMS pain relief
Relief from PMS symptoms using Gamma brainwave entrainment is another area worth further exploration. And again I have interacted with women who have gotten significant relief from using sessions with this protocol where an 80% reduction was experienced after just two sessions.
The potential here is massive.
Some results have shown that this may also be helped by using one eye at a time as with the migraines, although experience shows that normal both eye stimulation can be effective too.
This study highlights the benefit of self regulated (again mostly Gamma was chosen) light based entrainment procedures for women suffering from long lasting and severe PMS symptoms. They used the device for approximately 17 minutes a day.
There was an average 76% reduction in pain and associated mood swings, depression, and food cravings etc. 71% had no symptoms left at all.
This is a result greater than the current most popular relaxation techniques and medication (or placebo result) which typically only achieves a 10-30% symptom reduction.
Choosing the right brainwave entrainment session for pain relief
As I mentioned above.., having researched audio visual brainwave entrainment and interacted directly and indirectly with many people over the years I’ve seen what works more consistently. The protocol I would suggest you try with your doctors approval, is one of using either slow wave Delta, or higher wave Gamma, or both.
Everyone is different so no one protocol will work for everyone but there are some that are more likely to work than others.
Assuming your diet and movement/exercise habits are OK, the next thing to be aware of is your sleep patterns and the ‘better sleep series’ on this website will give you a number of idea’s to help with that.
Entrainment options to try
From there you have options. If all you have access to is sound technology then you will find on youtube some isochronic tone or Binaural beat recordings. In the Alpha range go for approx 10Hz, in the SMR range try 14 or 15Hz.., or in the Gamma range (usually isochronic tones only) try 40Hz as this is more common. Be aware that research does show light technology to be more effective in general than just sound.
Slow wave auditory tones are less likely to be effective as they can be quite intrusive compared to light. Don’t rule it out as an option though especially if you can find one that uses a type of white or pink noise as the base of a sine wave auditory tone.
If you have access to a stroboscopic light machine or audio visual entrainment device then all the options are available as well as hybrid sessions.
Depending on the type of pain I would first try a simple slow wave (preferably a sine wave rather than a square wave) or Gamma wave session into both eyes.
If the pain is migraine based or you find the both eyes protocol ineffective then use a Gamma session (or hybrid) into one eye at a time for 5-10 minutes each. Alternate from eye to eye and continue for 5-10 minutes after you get relief.
If you’ve had no relief after about 30 minutes then you may not get success with that session. That said, if you are comfortable and happy to go longer then there is no harm in that.
What next for pain relief
Combine the entrainment session with slow rhythmic breathing to maximise the benefit (see the article on breathwork on this website – linked below).
The roXiva RX1 hybrid session called ‘Soothing pain relief’ is a great place to start if you have access to one or can book a session. Both slow wave and Gamma are used in that session.
Also read the two articles called ‘In LIGHT we trust’ which outline colour therapy and it’s use in healing and pain relief (link below).
In summary, don’t give up! The very thing you have not yet tried could be the very thing that changes your life when it comes to pain control and relief.
No-one should have to live with physical (or mental) pain when there are so many options to explore but it does take persistence and an open mind sometimes.
So explore away and may you find the solution that works for you.