Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the Alpha-Stim an experimental device?
A: No. The Alpha-Stim is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and Pain. There is more research supporting Alpha-Stim than any other type of device like this, and even more than most drugs. No significant side-effects have ever been reported in almost three decades of use. Many insurance companies will now even provide some type of reimbursement because of these facts.
Q: Is this a TENS?
A: TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is a broad category. Just like analgesics cover everything from aspirin to morphine, the TENS category encompasses everything from your older milliampere TENS devices that use the sheer power or force of electricity to block pain, to newer, more effective microcurrent stimulators which use mild currents, much like those naturally found in the body, and augment the body's bioelectrical control systems for longer lasting, more effective pain management. Beware of cheap imitations of microcurrent technologies that do nothing more than lower the output, leaving out the therapeutic benefits of specifically designed waveforms. The Alpha-Stim 100 is classified as both a TENS for pain and a CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulator) for anxiety, depression, insomnia and related disorders. It employs a unique, proprietary waveform, proven effective through a host of clinical studies and decades of successful treatment.
Q: Am I supposed to put the felts on top of the one's already attached to the new earclips or new probes?
A: No. You must remove old felt electrodes and clean the surface of the metal contacts before applying new felt electrodes.
Q: What causes the metallic taste in my mouth or flashing lights when using CES or treating on or near the head?
A: Close proximity to the nerves governing taste or the optic nerve in case of the flashing lights can stimulate these nerves causing the metallic taste or stroboscopic effect. This is not cause for concern and is normal in many patients. The flashing lights will go away when the stimulation is discontinued. If the metallic taste persists, rinse your mouth with water and it will go away.
Q: Would Alpha-Stim help me in my sports training?
A:Many professional sports teams, as well as many colleges and universities use the Alpha-Stim both to enhance and potentiate the benefits derived from their training program, and to treat pain, sprains, strains, and muscle imbalances that arise during training, practice or performance. Professional athletes also use the CES (ear clip) function to help focus their mind for competition.
Q: My best friend puts his Alpha-Stim on his dog who is very nervous. Is that okay?
A: Some veterinarians do use and prescribe Alpha-Stim for use on animals, especially horses, dogs and cats. Have your friend check with his dog's veterinarian.
Topic B: Clinical Application of Alpha-Stim Technology
Q: Sometimes when I use the Alpha-Stim I feel a slight stinging sensation that makes me uncomfortable.
A: Turn the current down just below the point that the sensation is bothersome and continue to treat yourself at that current level.
Q: Some people tell me that if they turn their Alpha-Stim all the way up when they are using the ear clips, they feel like they've just had a double martini. Is that harmful?
A: We do not suggest you keep the current so high that it causes unpleasant feelings.
Q: I have had depression for 20 years. Will I have to use the Alpha-Stim every day for the rest of my life?
A: No. When your neurotransmitters are balanced and the depression is gone, you will only need to use it from time to time when your life's circumstances suggest that the depression might come back. Some people who have recovered from anxiety or depression find it best to use the Alpha-Stim two or three times a week for 20 minutes to prevent another episode. Others put it on a shelf in the closet and only get it down when they feel out of sorts.
Q: I have a friend who wants to come off of his antidepressant drugs. Will the Alpha-Stim help with that?
A: The Alpha-Stim will be a big help with that, but he should only come off his medication under medical supervision. Some physicians who are withdrawing hospitalized patients from such medications will withdraw them very quickly, some even "cold turkey," while using the Alpha-Stim an hour or more each day. That would be dangerous for most persons who were not under constant clinical supervision. Physicians usually encourage outpatients to come off their medication a little at a time, reducing it by small amounts every four or five days, and using the Alpha-Stim daily during that process. Withdrawal can take weeks or months, done this way, but it is much safer, and the patients ultimately get there in the long run, which is what they wanted to do in the first place.
Q: Can I use the Alpha-Stim too much? If I use it too many hours a day, or use it turned up too high, will it hurt me?
A: Since the Alpha-Stim works at a level of electricity similar to the body's own bioelectricity, no known harm can come from its overuse. On the other hand, it is always best to use it according to the directions provided by your licensed health care practitioner, or the directions for use that come with the device. Most people find that it is actually more effective for chronic conditions when used every other day; just two or three times per week. However, in acute conditions it may be used more than once a day. It may be helpful for you to order our training video if you do not already have it. If for some reason you do not get a positive clinical response from it when used following our protocols, contact your health care practitioner, or call our trained medical support staff at 1-800-367-7246 in the USA and Canada, or (940) 328-0788. Or you can email us your questions at email@example.com. Together we can often devise other, more effective ways of using your Alpha-Stim for your specific needs.
Q: I get the best results if I use my Alpha-Stim for one hour, three times a day, and at night when I go to bed. Am I using it too much?
A: If that is how you get your best results, you have found the key to how you should use the Alpha-Stim for your condition. Keep in mind that the procedure will likely change over time as you continue to improve, and you may find yourself using it for only 10 or 20 minutes a couple of times a week in order to stay at your peak level of functioning.
Q: If I use my Alpha-Stim more than 20 minutes twice a week, my pain (or anxiety or depression or insomnia) will not stay gone.
A: Good. You have found the best way to use the Alpha-Stim for you. Many people have found that some hiatus between treatments gets better results. That is why we recommend using it every other day on a maintenance basis.
Q: When I use the ear clips, I sometimes get light headed or even dizzy. I don't like that feeling. Is it necessary to feel that in order to get benefit from the treatment.
A: You do not have to feel unpleasant feelings in order to get the benefits of Alpha-Stim CES treatment. When you first put apply it, be certain you have the current level set to "0", then gradually turn it up until you just begin to feel slightly light headed or dizzy. At that point, turn the current back down until the dizzy feeling goes away, and continue to treat yourself at that level. If you feel dizzy again, turn it down again, but never less than "1". With the Alpha-Stim microcurrent technology, more is not necessarily better. However, the lower the current the longer it will take. Generally, if the current is set at less than "2", it will take more than 20 minutes. Some people will need an hour or more, especially for the first few treatments.
Q: While I have heard about and seen people get an immediate effect from treatment, I always feel better the next day after I use the Alpha-Stim, and I need to use it for several hours at a time. I am not complaining, because it does work well for my anxiety, but why don't I get an immediate effect?
A: While it is true that most people get an immediate effect, in some rare cases people have a delayed effect like yours. In most of the cases where people get a delayed effect, they also have trouble with prescription drugs. In all these cases we have found one thing in common. The person who has a delayed effect from Alpha-Stim treatment also has a delayed effect from anesthetics. Usually, when you receive anesthetic injections from your dentist, you are sufficiently numb for the dentist to drill your tooth in a few minutes. For some people, this can take one-half hour or more. Usually the dentist will make a big deal about it because it is so rare. If you have a delayed response to anesthetics, you'll probably also have a delayed response to Alpha-Stim. You will also need to use it longer.
Q: It says in the instruction manual not to use the Alpha-Stim within three hours of going to bed. My friend uses hers when she goes to bed at night. She says it helps her sleep better, and she puts it on again if she wakes up too early in the morning and it helps her get back to sleep.
A: The Alpha-Stim relaxes your body and focuses your mind. If you are going to bed thinking about a problem, the mental focus may actually keep you awake. That is why we do not recommend using it just before going to bed. However, some people can fall asleep with it on. It is like caffeine, some people can drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks just before going to bed, while others are doomed to staying awake all night if they have a sip of caffeine after 12:00 noon. If the Alpha-Stim does not keep you awake, it is okay to use it before going to bed.
Q: Do I need to order earclips even if the pain is in my legs?
A: The earclips are used for CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulation), the registered indications for which are anxiety, depression and insomnia. However, anxiety, depression and insomnia are typically evident, especially in chronic pain syndromes. Where the cause of pain may originally be in an extremity like your arm or leg, the pain is perceived in the brain. Pain is a complex central nervous system event and treating the site alone is only addressing half the problem, and missing the most important half. You may want to read abstracts of research on this that have been done utilizing CES applications in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes like severe spinal pain and fibromyalgia.
Q: Do I use the earclips before or after I treat my pain?
A: We recommend utilizing the CES application with the earclip electrodes after treating with the probes or AS-Trode™ self-adhesive electrodes with our pain protocols. The CES application is found to be so effective that it may reduce or eliminate the pain prior to completion of the pain protocol. This makes it difficult to ascertain whether you are treating the correct area (this can be useful in determining more exact physiology of the problem underlying the pain).
Q: After treatment for my back pain, I sometimes feel stiff. What can I do about that?
A: You do not need to do anything. The stiffness will reside, and we're certain you prefer it to pain. Stiff is a magical word meaning "stop" Alpha-Stim treatment for that day. The stiffness will wear off soon.
Q: I have heard that it is a good idea to treat my surgical scars. How do I do that?
A: Scar treatment is sometimes necessary in order for you to get a good effect from Alpha-Stim treatment. Scars function as randomly-placed resisters in your bio-circuitry. The Chinese knew this thousands of years ago and incorporated it into acupuncture as the Mother-Son Law. German physicians discovered it 50 years ago and call it Neural Therapy. Neural Therapy is now taught in the United States. To use the Alpha-Stim to treat your scars, place the AS-Trode™ electrodes on each end of the scar and treat at about 300 microamperes at 0.5 Hz for at least ten minutes per scar, at least four days in a row. You may feel a surge of energy after you treat your scars. This may also increase your pain, as breaking up bio-resistors will wake up your whole body, including your pain. Treating your pain with the standard Alpha-Stim 100 pain treatment protocols will alleviate your pain after scar treatment.
Q: Should I take nutrition supplements and vitamins when I use the Alpha-Stim?
A: The Alpha-Stim, when used on your body for pain cessation or control, does this in large part by initiating the repair process in the injured tissues. It does this by, among other things, increasing the amino acid transport and protein synthesis in the area. It can not do this if the necessary amino acids are not present in the blood stream when you use your Alpha-Stim. Similarly, when Alpha-Stim CES is used, it will effect a balancing of your neurotransmitters by stimulating the brain to make more of those you do not have enough of, until their level has increased to the extent they and the other neurotransmitters can mutually control each other's production. The Alpha-Stim can not help your brain make neurotransmitters if the building blocks for them are not present in the blood stream. So it is very important to eat a balanced diet while using the Alpha-Stim, and that includes the major amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. We think everyone should take dietary supplements. You should also drink plenty of water as it is necessary for electrical conductivity in your body.
Q: What kind of food should I eat in order to get all the things necessary for body or neurotransmitter repair?
A: Your health care practitioner is your best local source of information regarding what is required and how best to find it. You can also get helpful information from your local health food store. In general, you should eat natural, preferably organic whole foods, at least 40 percent raw fruits and vegetables. To optimize digestion, do not mix proteins and carbohydrates, eat fruit alone one-half hour before, or two hours after other foods, and avoid white sugar and white flour. You should also avoid artificial sweeteners, especially if you suffer from headaches. You can safely use Stevia or Xylitol for sweetening, available at your local health food store.
Q: Is it normal for my ears to turn red after I have used the earclips?
A: Any electrical stimulation can cause skin irritation and it is usually mild and self limiting. This is more prevalent in fair skinned people or those with sensitive skin. If a problem persists, consult your medical professional or try an alternative method of application such as applying the AS-Trode™ self-adhesive silver electrodes to the mastoid process (the bony area behind the ears), or even the shoulders. The stimulation can dilate the vascular system in the area which will turn the skin red.
Q: How long do the electrodes last? Mine aren't sticky any longer. Can I tape them to my body?
A: Electromedical Products International, Inc. has gone to great lengths to research and procure the best possible electrodes for use with the Alpha-Stim. We are concerned primarily with efficacy and you should be too. The adhesive gel on the electrodes is the conductive medium insuring proper contact and distribution of the electrical signal with the body. There are many variables which cause this gel to lose its effectiveness including humidity, amount of hair or sweat on the skin, and cleanliness of the area where applied. When the gel begins to lose its ability to adhere properly to the skin, it is time to get new electrodes. Trying to extend the life by taping them to the body may be inviting limited or negative results. Always use fresh electrodes applied to a clean, dry skin surface and only use AS-Trode™ brand silver electrodes designed for use with the Alpha-Stim.
Q: Can the Alpha-Stim be used along with drugs my doctor has prescribed? Can it help reduce my need for pharmaceuticals?
A: Although the Alpha-Stim is safe and effective for use in the treatment of its registered indications, caution should be exercised when using CES with certain types of drugs, such as medication for high blood pressure. As the CES relaxes you, it brings your blood pressure down. If a drug then kicks in and lowers it even further, it can become too low. It is easy to regulate use of the Alpha-Stim but this is not so with drugs. Also, if you are trying to get off of drugs you feel may be damaging to your health, it is important that you do so under a doctor's supervision. Many drugs cannot just be dropped but must be reduced gradually. The Alpha-Stim can help accomplish this and is a safe, effective method, but drugs are not, so caution must be exercised and, again, involve your doctor in the process.
Topic C: Other questions related to Alpha-Stim technology
Q: Will insurance pay for this?
A: Many plans that cover durable medical equipment will pay for the Alpha-Stim. However, many plan administrators and case managers are unfamiliar with Alpha-Stim technology and, since it is broadly classed along with cheap TENS devices, they assume it is just another TENS. If a claim is denied, it is important to work with your doctor and insurance company to educate them on the benefits of this technology. Alpha-Stim is supported by more clinical studies than many drugs and is proven efficacious for its registered indications. Some insurance carriers have mistakenly classed the Alpha-Stim as an investigational device. We can provide them with clearance to market this technology by regulatory agencies in Europe (CE mark) the USA (FDA), Canada, and other countries. As this technology may be new to your insurance carrier, it is important not to take "no" for an answer. Your doctor knows the validity of this technology or would not have prescribed its use in your case. It is cleared to market and deserves proper reimbursement. As a manufacturer, we have limited clout with the insurance carriers. However, the more doctors and patients who request proper reimbursement for this valuable technology, the more inclined they are to listen. In the end, this technology will produce significant savings for the insurer over drugs, surgery and secondary and tertiary problems caused by other types of medical intervention.
Q: Is this covered under Medicare/Medicaid?
A: Typically, these programs will want you to rent for a few months to demonstrate efficacy, after which they will only pay a nominal amount. For financially distressed patients we, and many of our Authorized Alpha-Stim Distributors, offer Rent-to-Own programs, or Quality Assured Previously Owned units at a reduced cost (Note: Quality Assured Previously Owned units have been quality tested and replenished with all new accessories and are subject to availability. However, they only come with a One Year instead of a Five Year Limited Warranty). Ask your local Authorized Alpha-Stim Distributor or EPI (in areas where we do not yet have an Authorized Alpha-Stim Distributor) about these options.
Q: Why doesn't my doctor know about this?
A: Doctors are educated in institutions largely funded by pharmaceutical companies with multi-million dollar (and larger) budgets. These large companies have the resources to continue to educate doctors after they graduate, serve their internships and go into private or institutional practices. Smaller, innovative device companies such as EPI have had to build awareness through word-of-mouth and participation in medical conferences not dominated by pharmaceutical interests. It is not the doctor's fault that these new technologies take longer to become known. It is the nature of healthcare in the US and the nature of the medical profession which is necessarily cautious in adopting new methods of medical intervention. Also, more and more, patients are taking charge and taking responsibility for their own healthcare and their doctors about technologies such as Alpha-Stim which offer unprecedented efficacy without the negative side effects of drugs. Eventually, doctors will utilize technologies such as Alpha-Stim as a first line of defense, especially in treatment of chronic disorders where the long term effects of drugs can cause secondary and tertiary problems, sometimes worse than the ones originally treated. Doctors that are on the cutting edge of the will seek us out, but many need to hear about the benefits from patients who are willing to take charge of their own well being.