Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Relaxation, Peace of Mind, and Restful Sleep Brought to You by the CES Ultra
Q: Why haven't I heard more about CES?
A: CES, which stands for Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, has been a relatively unknown and underused technology due to the fundamental Western bias in favor of pharmaceuticals. Within the last ten years, we have come to better understand the connection between brain function, neurotransmitters, and electrical stimulation. As our knowledge of this area grows and newresearch findings emerge, so too will the popularity and increased usage of CES.
Q: Is CES safe?
A: CES has an excellent safety record. Published literature on the subject does not report any negative effects or major contraindications from its use, either in the U.S. or abroad. The National Research Council has deemed CES "a non-significant risk modality."
Because the only source of current for the CES Ultra is a common nine-volt battery, its intensity is limited to 1.5 milliamps – what you would use to operate a small toy or penlight. Even the unit’s maximum intensity has not been shown to be not harmful. However, until you become fully acclimated to the unit, we suggest that you maintain the amplitude at a lower setting.
Q: How does it work?
A: Researchers believe that CES works by indirectly stimulating tissue in the brain’s hypothalamic area. (The exact physiological mechanism is still being researched.) This causes the brain to manufacture various neurohormones, restoring its state to pre-stress homeostasis.
Q :How is the current transmitted?
A: You have two options: You can either place pre-gelled electrodes below each ear (after plugging the electrodes’ wires into the unit’s jack), or you can attach ear-clips, fitted with felt or conductive rubber electrodes, to your earlobes.
Q: How is the CES Ultra different from other CES units?
A: The CES Ultra is the premier unit on the market that features the original 100 Hz configuration that most of the CES research has been done on. Other units may claim to carry the 100 Hz but do not have an accurate rendition of the configuration on which most of the research is based.
There are also certain "underground" instruments on the market, particularly on the Internet. Contrary to their anecdotal claims, most have no scientific evidence behind them. Many are nothing more than low-cost pulse generators of dubious quality, and have not been fully evaluated for either efficacy or safety. They are not registered with the FDA. Often billed as "for research purposes only," they cannot legally be called "medical devices" or make any medical claims.
Q: What is the experience like to use the CES Ultra?
A: Most people find CES a pleasurable experience. The most you will ever feel is a gentle tingling sensation that you can control with a simple turn of the knob.
Increasing or decreasing the amplitude does not affect how efficient the treatment is for you. Research shows that CES operates effectively at both lower and higher levels of stimulation, even at a level so low that you can’t feel a thing. A common approach is to turn the amplitude to the point of sensation, turn it down slightly below that point, and leave it there for the remainder of the session. Your own comfort level always dictates the amplitude.
Q: Is CES user-friendly?
A: Yes. The CES Ultra is very easy to use: All you need to do is, 1) Attach either the ear-clips to your earlobes or the electrodes to your neck just below your ears, 2) Insert the lead-wire into the unit’s jack, 3) Turn the unit on and dial it to the desired amplitude, and 4) If you want to, set the timer.
Q: Does CES work for everyone?
A: Nothing works for everyone. But CES is effective for most people.
Q: What immediate results can I expect?
A: Most people experience results almost immediately after treatment. Others notice a response after several days. This relaxed-but-alert state usually remains for an average of 12 to 72 hours after the first few sessions. With regular use, it’s possible for the patient to habituate to this preferred state of consciousness.
Q: How does CES affect sleep?
A: CES has been approved for the treatment of insomnia. Within the first day or two, you should notice that your sleep patterns begin to normalize, with fewer and shorter periods of awakening during the night. You’ll enjoy going to sleep more quickly after you retire for the night and a greater feeling of being rested when you awake in the morning. CES users often report an increase in vivid dreaming, resulting from compensation for lost REM sleep. Buts sleep patterns normalize – within the next two or three nights – this should become less frequent.
Q: What additional long-range changes should I expect?
A: CES Ultra users report that depression and mood swings become less frequent, as do irrational anger, irritability, and poor impulse control. You’ll find mental confusion due to stress begin to subside. Your ability to focus and concentrate on work will become easier and more efficient, with visibly enhanced cognitive processing. As your concentration and memory improve, recalling information and learning in an accelerated manner should return to normal pre-stress levels.
Q: When should the CES be used?
A: You can use the CES Ultra when you awaken in the morning, go to bed at night, and/or during the day in particular situations. You can use it both as an adjunct to meditation each morning or during stressor moments that occur unexpectedly in the course of a day – those times when you "lose it." Using the unit in those situations – even for as little as ten minutes – can help curb anxiety. In addition to activating actual bio-electrical changes, it serves as a reminder that you can be with yourself in a different way – a positive affirmation that you have the power to change your emotional state and be willing to create the time and the space to do so. Ultimately, each person finds for him/herself how best to incorporate CES into one’s daily routine.
Q :How often should CES be used?
A: Use it until the symptoms disappear. If using it with a new patient, most all symptoms begin to fade after 10 minutes to three days of treatment 1 hr/day. Most all symptoms are alleviated by the tenth to fifteenth day of daily treatment, 1 hr/day. Some addiction treatment clinics use it on patients 24 hours/day (when not in the shower), and some patients want to self-treat for many hours at a stretch. This is not harmful. CES is not addictive, and when the symptoms subside, patients often stop using CES on their own volition.
Q: Where can CES be used?
A: The CES Ultra is about the size of a cell phone. Clients report using it just about anywhere and under a variety of circumstances. You can use it at home while watching TV, doing the dishes, or at the office while poring over a report. But CES should be treated as more than an aside – as one more task, squeezed in between others. It is an important reminder of the need for inner quiet. Though you need not interrupt your usual activity for CES, its results are generally enhanced by setting aside a special time for its use alone.
Q: What is the suggested length and frequency of treatment?
A: During the first month, the recommended usage is 30 to 45 minutes once or twice daily. Once symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely, the frequency of treatment may be reduced to two or three times weekly. Individuals undergoing psychiatric treatment or suffering from severe anxiety and extremes of compulsive behavior often benefit from more frequent and prolonged application.
When symptoms of depression or anxiety have lessened or disappeared, it is important to have continuous access to the unit as a tool for relapse prevention on an as-needed basis. It is helpful that you work closely with your physician/licensed healthcare provider to determine the role CES plays in your overall treatment program.
Q: Are there any contraindications or side effects?
A: Hundreds of CES units have been and are used in hospitals and clinics, and thousands have been in use by patients in their homes for more than 38 years. No major side effect has been noted or called in to physicians or the FDA from units similar to the CES Ultra device. There are no known contraindications for use of CES. There are, however, circumstances in which its safety has not been tested. CES should not be used without on-going clinical supervision by severe depressives, epileptics, those known to be pregnant, or by individuals with implanted electronic devices such as cardiac pacemakers or insulin pumps. The induced relaxation response resulting from use of CES does not in any way impair reaction time. It is recommended, however, that CES not be used while operating dangerous or complex equipment or while driving. Less than three percent of CES users report a slight headache. This is usually alleviated by simply turning down the current. If the headache recurs during ordinary use, cease using the unit and consult with your healthcare provider.
In 1976 the U.S. National Research Council studied CES at FDA’s request. They determined that no significant risk could be involved in putting such small amounts of current through the head, even over time.
As with the use of any medical device, the physician/licensed practitioner should be informed of any medication or neurotransmitter blockers the patient is taking as well as the employment of cardiac pacemakers or other electronic devices as mentioned above. CES is not a substitute for professional counseling, meditation, or constructive relationships. Used in conjunction with those efforts, CES assists you in attaining a balanced emotional state.
Q: What research is there as to the effectiveness of CES?
A: Many of the approximately 1,000 articles on CES therapy are listed in four reviews put out by the Foreign Service Bulletin of the United States Library of Congress. This is in addition to the wealth of physiological and bio-engineering data on electro-sleep and electro-anesthesia, including 18 experimental animal studies. Human research studies on CES currently number more than 100. Its efficacy has been clinically confirmed through 28 established psychometric tests, computerized EEGs and topographical brain-mapping. Meta-analyses yielding positive results from the use of CES have been conducted at the University of Tulsa and the Harvard University School of Public Health. No significant negative side effect has ever been seen during a study or follow-ups of up to two years later.
Q: What is the current legal status of CES?
A: Outside of the United States, CES is an over-the-counter device, available without a prescription and with few restrictions. In the U. S., it may be secured only on the order of a licensed health care practitioner (M.D., N.D., D.O., PhD. Psychologist, or Chiropractor, depending on a given state’s regulations).
I began having sleep problems when I started my new job as a teacher and my husband started shift work. I found it hard to fall asleep and I was waking up much too early and then I was unable to get back to sleep again.
Sleeping pills are not an option for me because sometimes they leave you tired and I have to be alert at my job during the day. After using the [CES Ultra] for less than 30 days, I have found I am able to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep until my alarm clock actually goes off. When I get up I feel well rested and able to take on my day.
~ Jennifer B