March 11, 2010 Jeanne Rust

Neurofeedback: The King of Holistic Treatment

Thousands of people have benefited from neurofeedback, a therapeutic training tool that is very effective in the treatment of ADD, ADHD, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, head injury, substance abuse, eating disorders and chronic pain. Not only does neurofeedback alleviate a variety of emotional problems and physical ailments, but it does so without invasive procedures or the need to take expensive and potentially addictive medications.

QEEG Brain MapsNeurofeedback improves the formation of essential neuro-pathways in the brain, actually reconditioning and retraining brainwave patterns. Psychological testing and brain mapping (QEEG) show any abnormalities in brain function. During the training sessions, clients learn to normalize their brainwave patterns through feedback, coaching and practice.

During typical neurofeedback training, sensors are placed on the scalp and/or ear lobes. An EEG unit provides instantaneous audio and visual display of brain wave activity. This "feedback" allows the individual to alter brain activity, increasing or decreasing certain frequencies in order to function most efficiently for the task at hand. The client literally learns how to train the brain to function with greater control and stability through self-regulation.

Frank H. Duffy, M.D., a Professor and Pediatric Neurologist at Harvard Medical School, stated in an editorial in the January, 2000, issue of the Journal of Clinical Electroencephalography that scholarly literature now suggests that neurofeedback "should play a major therapeutic role in many difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used. It is a field to be taken seriously by all."

Neurofeedback can also be used for performance enhancement, improving memory skills and increasing concentration, and focusing abilities. When combined with conventional treatments, neurofeedback results in very low relapse rates as it seems to function as a form of "mental antabuse." The overall success rate of neurofeedback training is reported to be more than 85% for some disorders, including eating disorders and substance abuse.

Neurofeedback has been used in the treatment of alcoholism, helping clients achieve relaxed states by increasing alpha and theta brainwaves and reducing fast beta brainwaves. A 1990 study by Peniston and Kulkosky found that after four years, 80% of alcoholics treated with traditional methods had relapsed, whereas 80% of the experimental group who received neurofeedback in conjunction with regular treatment were still sober. Since over 40% of all eating disordered patients also have issues with substance abuse, neurofeedback is an extremely effective treatment modality.

For the treatment of ADD and ADHD, Rossiter and LaVaque (1995) found that 20 sessions of neurofeedback produced the same improvements in attention as taking Ritalin. A 2002 study with a one- year follow-up by Monastr, et al, discovered that neurofeedback was far superior to Ritalin.

Neurofeedback's time has come, and more and more treatment centers and pain clinics are confidently offering neurofeedback to their clients. Mirasol pioneered the use of neurofeedback in the treatment of eating disorders and remains a center for research on the use of neurofeedback as an alternative to psychotropic medications. Not all medications need to be eliminated – indeed, they are absolutely necessary in many cases. But we have also found that people can actually retrain their brains so they may use much lower dosages of medication and even in some cases none at all.