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Cranial electro Stimulation

Delivering tiny electrical currents to the brain could help women with breast cancer head off side effects from chemotherapy.

By Stacie Overton, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent (Ivanhoe Newswire)
Delivering tiny electrical currents to the brain could help women with breast cancer head off side effects from chemotherapy.

Cranial microcurrent electrical stimulation may sound like a primitive torture system, but it’s the newest tool in cancer care. Ivanhoe has just learned that this technique -- already FDA-approved for other health conditions -- could make chemotherapy easier for women with breast cancer. Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Nursing in Charlottesville are currently enrolling women in a study to determine how this therapy can complement standard care.

Debra Lyon, R.N., Ph.D., says: “Cranial electrical simulation works much as a homeostatic regulatory type of therapy. We’re not changing the climate or the energy field in the body, except to re-normalize it.” The small device is non-invasive and uses electrodes attached to the ears. It is worn for one hour a day and most patients say they can’t even feel it. The device is already approved for insomnia, depression and anxiety. Patients in the study will wear the stimulation device for one week before and one week after each chemotherapy infusion cycle.

The device emits tiny electrical currents -- similar to those found naturally in the body -- to reduce symptoms such as pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression. Lyon says, “There’s a pretty high incidence of psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety [among women with breast cancer].”

Lyon says one theory as to why this works is that it affects a serotonin pathway in the brain. She tells Ivanhoe she’s excited to be studying a complementary therapy that differs from the typical drugs used to treat some of these symptoms. She says, “If we can compliment traditional treatments in a way that doesn’t add any burden to a patient, then certainly we think that the modalities that we’re testing -- including the cranial stimulation -- have the potential for reducing the pharmacological management of these common distressing symptoms.”

SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Debra Lyon, R.N., Ph.D., UVA School of Nursing Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies