Integrative Health Blog

Biofeedback for the Brain

Posted by on Tue, Feb 17, 2015

Ana Vargas M.D. (Mex.)             

            

Biofeedback is a collection of different techniques that help develop “conscious physiological -psychosomatic self-regulation”. In other words, it is a method that teaches us to “activate” the relaxation response, by practicing to control heart rate, breath rate, blood pressure, muscle tension or body temperature. 

Developing the Mind/Body Connection

The clinical application of Biofeedback was scientifically relevant because it challenged the old notion that the control of physiological processes by the autonomic nervous system was merely involuntary. We learned that we can develop conscious control over those processes, that we can voluntarily influence our bodily responses. The final goal is to help control stress and its many effects on the body (i.e., high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more). “The premise is that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind”.

These techniques are quite unique in that they were developed using modern electronic technology. The latest development of biofeedback applications is Brain wave biofeedback or Neurofeedback, which represents the most readily available application of neuroscience and the culprit of self-regulation techniques.

Neurofeedback has shown to improve autonomic regulation (“involuntary” physiological responses), promote brain competencies (i.e., attention and memory), help remediate functional disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression), and enhance optimal performance (i.e., musical and athletic performance). These technological advances are exciting news and are promising drug-free alternatives for many conditions that until now remain a challenge to conventional approaches.

How Neurofeedback Works

Imagine been able to modulate your mental processes by balancing brain wave frequencies so that you are not overcome by anxiety or depression, by training certain frequencies so that your attention and memory improve and you can perform better at work or school. It is all possible! Moreover, now with the addition of brain mapping the training can be more accurate since we can record the electrical activity of the brain and observe which frequencies are imbalanced and in which location.

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Tags: neurofeedback, brain health

The Advantages of Neurofeedback Therapy

Posted by on Wed, Nov 13, 2013

Chas Gant MD, PhD

Balancing  the Brain

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, drug-free therapy which has been found in many peer-reviewed studies to be effective for a wide range of medical and psychiatric disorders.  This is not surprising when one considers that the brain is the command and control center for the body’s nervous, endocrine (hormones) and immune systems.  Neurofeedback as a stand alone treatment essentially ignores all of the causes of chronic medical and psychiatric disorders, such as allergies (e.g., celiac/gluten), infections (e.g., Lyme/candida), metabolic imbalances (e.g., diabetes/hypertension), toxicities (e.g., heavy metals/pesticides), nutritional deficiencies (e.g., magnesium/omega 3 fatty acids) and the genetic vulnerabilities to all of this.  Neurofeedback as a stand alone treatment makes no claims about treating  the big killers, cancer, cardiovascular disease and addictions, and simply balances the command and control center, the brain, and lets those benefits cascade down through the nervous, immune and endocrine systems to effect astonishing benefits. 

I call this the top-down approach, because neurofeedback is a treatment at the top of the body (the brain) and its benefits are realized down below in the body.  Of course, the bottom up approach, addressing the underlying immune, allergic, metabolic, nutritional, infectious and genetic causes of chronic medical and psychiatric disorders is still important, and when both a top-down and a bottom-up approach are combined, the outcomes appear to be more promising than ever.

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Tags: neurofeedback, brain health