Biofeedback: Brain Over Body 

Biofeedback: Brain Over Body 

You may have heard that if you think a certain way you can change a certain outcome. When it comes to your systemic functions, you may be able to take steps to benefit your health through practicing biofeedback. 

Biofeedback is a technique that, with the help of a biofeedback therapist, can teach you ways to lower your heart rate, decrease a stress response, quell pain, and even nurse a headache. Once you have mastered the biofeedback technique, you can use it for the rest of your life. 

Control Your Health Without Meds

We have become such a pill popping society that more and more people are beginning to see how detrimental this can be. Rather than get to the root of the cause with alternative remedies, pharmaceutical medications are prescribed on a daily basis which include side effects that people just do not want to experience anymore. Biofeedback is a safe, non-invasive, completely natural practice that has been studied and linked to easing a variety of health symptoms. 

Harvard Medical School posts a list of health problems biofeedback can be applied to which includes:

  • Chronic pain
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Digestive disorders, including constipation
  • Incontinence (both urinary and fecal)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias)
  • Addiction, including to alcohol
  • Epilepsy
  • Paralysis and certain movement disorders
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Sleep disorders
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Bedwetting (enuresis)
  • Attention-deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Anxiety disorder

Harvard describes the process:

“During biofeedback training, sensors attached to your body detect changes in your pulse, skin temperature, muscle tone, brain-wave pattern or some other physiological function. These changes trigger a signal a sound, a flashing light, and a change in pattern on a video screen that tells you that the physiological change has occurred. Gradually, with the help of your biofeedback therapist, you can learn to alter the signal by taking conscious control of your body’s automatic body functions.”

Once a patient becomes familiar with this process, it could very well become second nature and used in everyday situations such as: car traffic, an argument, or unexpected crisis. 

Reduce: Anxiety, Stress, and Depression

Biofeedback has been studied for easing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. Some say that these symptoms are often intertwined and that biofeedback is an excellent practice for tackling all three. 

A study of biofeedback applied to nursing students in high stress training was published in Nursing Research and Practice which concluded,

“Biofeedback training has demonstrated to be an effective form of intervention to help graduate students in public health nursing significantly reduce their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression after 4 weeks.”

Special Devices 

There are several wearable or interactive computer/mobile devices that can help monitor biofeedback. These can be used in-office for training sessions by a therapist to determine systemic progress and, once a patient is familiar with using these devices, they can eventually be utilized at home.  

The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) has approved the use of biofeedback and biofeedback devices. From the FDA CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Title 21 for Subpart F – Neurological Therapeutic Devices, 

 “A biofeedback device is an instrument that provides a visual or auditory signal corresponding to the status of one or more of a patient’s physiological parameters (e.g., brain alpha wave activity, muscle activity, skin temperature, etc.) so that the patient can control voluntarily these physiological parameters. The device is exempt from the premarket notification procedures in subpart E of part 807 of this chapter when it is a prescription battery powered device that is indicated for relaxation training and muscle reeducation and prescription use,”     

Some of the devices used in biofeedback include:

  • Electroencephalograph (EEG)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Electrodermograph (EDG)
  • Heart rate variability (HRV)

It is important to seek out proper devices as there are some out there that make biofeedback claims but do not function properly according to biofeedback protocol. This is why using a professionally trained therapist is essential.

Learning to voluntarily control involuntary body processes is as important as going to the gym to workout your muscles. Biofeedback offers the opportunity to focus your brain on specific ailments allowing for a re-training of learned ways. In essence, this refers to the many societal constraints that have been placed on each generation, essentially ignoring compromising health cues. Rather than succumb to using medication or ignoring a condition because you are tough, biofeedback lets you take control of your health on your own terms.