Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES), also known as Cranial Electrical Stimulation and Cranial Electrostimulation, falls under the branch of alternative medicine called Electromedicine, which treats both physical and psychological conditions with varying levels of electrical current (Kirsch, 2006). Cranial Electrical Stimulation is the application of a very low level alternating electrical current generated from a battery that travels to the brain via strategic stimulation points on the ears.
Although the exact mechanisms of action for Cranial Electrical Stimulation are not known, pulsed electrical currents are believed to affect the limbic system, the reticular activating system, and/or the hypothalamus (Gilula & Kirsch, 2005) and to stimulate regions that control pain messages, neurotransmitter creation, and hormone production via the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (Kirsch & Smith, 2004). It is believed that electrical stimulation releases additional endorphins in the body and over time is able to reprogram the brain to reassess and redirect pain signals that are generated by the brain, effectively managing chronic pain. The ear provides the largest surface skin area to be able to access the key nerves in the body.
Varying the stimulation frequency affects the release of enkephalins and dynorphin (J.S.Han, substance abuse textbook 2004). Low frequency (2-4Hz) accelerates the release of enkephalins to interact with μ- and δ- receptors whereas high frequency (100Hz) accelerates the release of dynorphin to interact with κ-receptors.
The auricular neurostimulation therapy using the stimulation device is a very simple yet advanced method to apply CES to the human body. It does not interfere with the patient’s daily life while it is in use.
Cranial Electrical Stimulation and Autonomic Nervous System Monitoring Technology work very well together. Chronic pain is intimately associated with the autonomic nervous system. As a result, monitoring the autonomic nervous system while treating the patient with cranial electrical therapy provides a quantitative indication of the baseline pain prevalence and its subsequent improvement with the CES treatment.