Using Sound Therapy to Treat High Blood Pressure, Migraines and More

Researchers from Wake Forest University's School of Medicine have presented a pair of recent studies to the American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension 2016 Scientific Sessions demonstrating early success of a revolutionary new diagnostic and treatment for a variety of stress-related disorders ranging from high blood pressure to migraines to depression to insomnia.

The team, headed by study author Hossam A. Shaltout, uses sound waves to measure electrical activity and to detect imbalances between the left and right brain. Based on the theory that such imbalances reflect improper regulation of the autonomic nervous system that is responsible for controlling unconscious bodily functions such as breathing and heart rate, once detected numerous conditions can be treated by restoring a proper balance.

The treatment involves a computer detecting the imbalance, determining the dominant brain frequencies, and then the use of a software program that coverts these brain frequencies into auditory tones, which are played back to the patient who listens to these sounds through headphones.

Calling these sounds a "reflection" of the brain's activity, the researchers say that the brain recognizes that the tones reflect what is going on and that once a patient starts hearing the tones, electrical patterns tend to shift towards an improved balance.

The technology is called "high-resolution, relational, resonance based, electroencephalic mirroring" or HIRREM, and while the researchers are hesitant to yet consider the process a "medical device" or actual treatment, the results of their two small-scale studies are very encouraging. The first study involved ten participants and the results
demonstrated lowered blood pressure levels and reduced anxiety and insomnia. Those in the study saw their systolic blood pressure reduced from an average of 152 to an average of 136 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), and their average diastolic pressure was reduced from 97 to 81 mmHg. The second study included 52 patients, who saw improvements to insomnia, headaches and mood.

These first two studies are part of a much larger research program, and currently a study including over 400 participants is being conducted. It has been noted that the first two studies did not include a control group or a group that received a placebo for
     
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purposes of comparison. But, the early findings are considered very encouraging for the development of new, non-invasive, medication-free treatments for a wide variety of debilitating conditions.

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