Imagine a world with no brain disease; no depression, no anxiety, no neurodegenerative disease. And no pharmaceutical pills to get us there.
Scientists may be getting close, but the method of treatment has many people in disbelief.
Could Zapping Away Brain Disease Be More Than Science Fiction?
In 2000, two German scientists, Michael Nitsche and Walter Paulus, concentrated their studies on finding out if electric currents targeted to certain parts of the brain could affect brain stimulation and the function of specific lobes.
The study took off, proving it could move the medical industry by leaps and bounds as some researchers claim this evolutionary science could “reinvent the field of medicine”.
The brain is one giant electrical organ, sending signals all over your body to tell it how to function properly. This method of treatment, now known as elecroceuticals, is able to alter the brain’s currents and signals, something all pharmaceutical pills try to achieve, but have a much slower success rate.
Marom Bikson, biomedical engineering professor, says “People find electricity being applied to treat depression very bizarre, but they find swallowing a pill to treat depression or anything else very natural.”
And if you think about it, pills are manmade drugs to alter our brain, while electricity is all natural. It may seem a bit more like Frankenstein’s way of treating brain disease, which is why many people are straying away from the idea.
A Reliance to Drugs that is “More Cultural than Scientific”
With Big Pharmaceutical companies making almost $90 billion per year on mental health meds alone, it’s a little more than questionable why psychopharmacology research and development has slowed down to almost nothing.
And electrical currents aren’t all that new when it comes to stimulating the brain. The first known patient of the treatment points back to Roman Emperor Claudius who was known to press electric eels into his temples to relieve headaches.
Since then, harnessing electricity and proving its therapeutic effects on the brain have grown immensely. There is now a specific brain stimulation already treating Parkinson’s disease through an implanted device, not unlike a pacemaker.
Other similar technology is being implemented to treatments of epilepsy and other neurological disorders, as well as the after-effects of a stroke.
With almost 20% of Americans on Big Pharma prescription medication for mood disorders and brain disease, there’s a lot of hope that electroceuticals could help alleviate and even cure these diseases without the use of pills.
“Electroceuticals are Going to Change the World.”
Bikson believes they could change the world of medicine. With more research and study, they may just prove to be as effective (if not more) than drugs.
Another study with electroceuticals and brain stimulation is showing there may be a way to improve cognitive abilities.
Dr. Mark George from the University of South Carolina’s Brain Stimulation Laboratory is only one of the many researchers testing ways to make humans learn faster, adapt quicker, and improve memory recall.
Brain stimulation could hold the answer to all brain diseases and human behavior, according to George. “I envision a future where these tools virtually eliminate all brain diseases, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, [and] pain.”
Read more about electroceuticals and a first-person experience account at Motherboard.