The Nucalm before the storm

21 August 2020

NUCALM is the NEW CALM

In keeping with our perpetual goal of bringing you the latest advancements in therapeutic strategies to elicit the most from your visits to The Chiro Hub, we have been avidly testing the latest addition to our collective line-up in the form of a brilliantly invented device called NuCalm.

NuCalm is a patented technology that addresses the brain circuitry in the limbic system, the hypothalamus and the brainstem responsible for producing stress and anxiety. In fact, Nucalm holds the world's first and only internationally patented neuroscience technology for clinically balancing and maintaining the health of the autonomic nervous system without the use of drugs, with the capability of measurably lowering stress and improving sleep quality.

The creator, Dr. G. Blake Holloway, built his invention on an international base of knowledge that combines traditional, ancient, and modern approaches to life and medicine and spent 8 years researching and developing it. He worked diligently to evolve the proper sequence and timing of steps before introducing the technology in 2010.

Stress, Stress, Stress....and more Stress....

Up until now, you've most likely heard the term 'stress' used excessively and being labelled as a contributor to every condition under the sun! So if you were asked to describe exactly what stress is, how would you explain it? At the most basic level, stress is:

A biological response to the stimulus of a threat, whether real or perceived.

During an acute stress response, two parallel pathways are activated to prepare the body for 'fight or flight'. The sympathetic adrenomedullary (SAM) arm of the autonomic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Both systems can be triggered in a bottom-up manner from the brainstem by critical homeostatic perturbations such as respiratory stress, pain or inflammation - real threats. They can also be triggered in a top-down manner from the limbic system, particularly from the amygdala, by psychogenic stressors, either innate or experiential - perceived threats.

So essentially, our amygdala (reptilian brain) which evolved over 40 million years, is responsible for the perception of emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and the ability to control aggression. Our adrenal cortex, frontal cortex and pre-frontal cortex and our ability to manage emotion, constructive logic and think in a manner that is not emotionally attached is 4 million years old, signifying quite a discrepancy - it's no wonder we struggle!

The SAM arm triggers the release of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from the adrenal medulla into the bloodstream. Respiratory rate and heart rate are then accelerated and blood pressure increases as these hormones circulate throughout the body to maximise the delivery of oxygenated blood to vital organs. Your body is then alerted to increase speed, tension, hypervigilance and essentially be ready to take action.

Correspondingly, the HPA axis triggers a series of hormonal signals to maintain this state of hyper-alertness. The hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) which signals the anterior pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone travels to the adrenal glands which prompts them to release cortisol. The release of cortisol can increase the production of epinephrine as well as trigger glucose release from protein stores to impart energy for the body to use readily.

More importantly, once the 'fight or flight' adrenaline response is activated, the mind cannot rationalise itself or self-regulate until the threat is removed and time passes. If the body is constantly in sympathetic dominance with high cortisol levels, long-term , toxic stress is experienced. This chronic state of stress and anxiety and dysfunction of autonomics is a major threat to health and longevity and can be essentially seen as the pervasive root of many disease states. In fact, the CDC (centre for disease control and prevention) states that stress is the primary cause of 85% of all disease.

Stress may be characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional and behavioural components:

Cognitive - feelings of fear, apprehension, indecision, worry

Somatic - heart palpitations, headaches, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, muscle tension, frequent infections

Emotional/behavioural - irritability, depression, loss of confidence, restlessness, appetite changes, insomnia and more!

How do we tend to cope?

Without delving too deeply into the science, antidepressants aim to increase the availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and adrenaline, which are linked to mood and emotion. The various drugs on the market do that in different ways. When we look at prescriptions for mental health, local statistics are staggering, considering our population size!  Of the 39.0 million mental health-related prescriptions provided in 2018–19 in Australia, with 86.3% of these prescribed by GPs, 27.6 million (70.9%) were for antidepressants.  This shows a disturbing proliferation of drug use that does not deal effectively with the underlying issue, in that it is applying a CNS suppressant to an ANS-based issue! This is followed by antipsychotics (10.7%), anxiolytics (9.0%), hypnotics and sedatives (5.6%) and psychostimulants, agents used for ADHD and nootropics (3.8%).

The use of alcohol for stress management is also based on its effect on neurotransmitters. Alcohol increases GABA activity at a subtype of the GABA receptor known as GABA-A. It is thought that alcohol acts as a positive allosteric modulator - this means it binds to a site on the GABA receptor separate to where GABA binds, and increases the effect GABA has when it binds to the receptor itself. The immediate effect of this action is typically inhibition of neural firing. Alcohol also inhibits the activity of glutamate receptors, once again reducing the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters. It has other effects also, such as: increased serotonin receptor function; enhancement of glycine receptor function; inhibition of adenosine reuptake; inhibition of calcium channels, activation of potassium channels and modulation of acetylcholine receptor function,

Imagine being able to address a significant proportion of our medicated and alcohol dependent culture by using a technology such as NuCalm, without the negative impact and side-effects of these substances!

So firstly, how is it possible to measure the stress load we are experiencing? In one of our previous blogs, we detailed a very useful assessment technology that measures stress levels in the form of Heart Rate Variability.  We regularly use this technology for our clients, as it is such an advanced analysis on the status of the autonomic system. There are also some useful applications now on the market that allow you to self-test your Heart Rate variability using a bluetooth enabled monitor and an app on your device. In clinic, we also CorSense - a finger sensor designed to be highly accurate but also straightforward to use, as a means of checking HRV

Secondly, what strategies do YOU currently have in place to manage and mitigate your stress levels?

Introducing the use of Nucalm

Why use Nucalm? If an individual has been under significant stress for an extended period of time, a passive modality may be necessary before they can learn to de-stress on their own. If they are suffering from a severe stress disorder such as PTSD, their bodies and minds have essentially forgotten how to relax. Providing a safe, comfortable guided environment where they can truly relax and naturally breathe more deeply can feed into the memory of being able to relax. It can be extremely difficult for those who have experienced acute, chronic stress to simply stop and 'relax' – this has very little meaning to an individual unless it’s brought forward and induced through a modality such as Nucalm.

Additionally, when we are constantly in sympathetic drive, it’s impossible to access cognitive thinking. In this state, we are merely reacting to life and not thinking. Nucalm addresses this paradigm by inducing a parasympathetic dominance, where cognitive ability returns and the perspective now to life is to RESPOND to it, rather than be REACTIONARY, resulting in a generally healthier position. Rather than experiencing a feeling of being trapped in this cyclic pattern of high stress and poor sleep, Nucalm is a non-drug solution that is able to 'flip the switch' to stop the flood of cortisol and transition away from the stress response, into a state of deep relaxation and restoration.

Our midbrain does not discriminate whether we are in a life-threatening situation or not. So, when you have a conflict at work, an argument with a spouse, your teenager won’t listen to you, or you are late and stuck in traffic, your body behaves as if your life is in danger and floods you with cortisol. In these circumstances, this phenomenon is 'over-kill', unhealthy, and seemingly outdated. Despite all that we know about stress and the importance of managing it, as a society we are more highly stressed than ever before - especially in this unprecedented era of COVID-19! It makes complete sense to enlist a modality such as NuCalm to help put things into perspective.

It’s not impossible to interrupt this response by pausing and practicing a mindfulness technique or breathing exercise, but it’s highly improbable to have a significant effect without years of training and unusual discipline. However, it is critical to health to create these habits to effectively manage stress, maintain balance, and increase stress resilience. Nucalm allows us to override this basic human survival programming without the need to train like a monk.

What makes Nucalm so special?

Nucalm works specifically on the GABAergic system, the body's inhibitory system by being bio-mimetic - it resets the the naturally occurring negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When this is properly functioning it inhibits the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands after a stressful event. In other words, it quickly takes people out of their catabolic breakdown mode and shifts them into a healthy build-up mode so they can heal and recover as quickly as possible.

Repeated NuCalm use can alter the psychoneuroendocrine regulation of the immune system to improve immunosuppressive status. Whilst using NuCalm, people in this state are physically unable to have an anxious response!

Let's delve deeper into the different elements of Nucalm technology:

Nucalm involves three main steps that work together to 'entrain' brainwaves to the same frequency as the first stages of sleep, creating parasympathetic nervous system dominance.

Step 1 - Neuroacoustic software - Binaural Beats:

  • A binaural beat is the tone (or frequency) perceived by the brain when two different tones very close in pitch are being sent to the listener’s ears simultaneously and interfere with one another, resulting in them producing a third tone which is the difference between their pitches.
  • The pitch difference is usually very insignificant (no more than 30 HZ), but once recognized it becomes a low-frequency pulse for the brain and makes it follow this pulse.
  • The lowest frequency the human ear can detect as a sound is 16 HZ. Everything lower than that will be perceived as rhythmic pulsation while the brain follows the frequency.
  • The use of binaural beats has been shown in a recent meta-analysis to have robust evidence regarding its efficacy on memory, attention, anxiety and analgesia (Garcia-Argibay et al, 2018).
  • When an individual is stressed, their brain wave function is in the high beta range (33-38Hz).
  • The technology of this form of brain entrainment guides brain wave function to a lower beta frequency and alpha brain wave dominance, however the primitive midbrain survival function is very robust following 1000s of years of evolution. Therefore binaural beats cannot entrain a stressed brain down to alpha until the adrenals fatigue and brain wave function naturally slows down - this could normally take 15 minutes or 2 hours depending on an individual's physiology
  • The effect of binaural beats can be profound but is not consistently predictable and the brain typically develops a tolerance for the pattern after several exposures, which is why the binaural beats you will find on many apps or other programs lose their effectiveness after a few uses.
  • The reason NuCalm is so different is due to the sophistication and complexity of the combined biochemistry and software physics and algorithms, meaning that tolerance will never be developed, hence the reason it is so powerfully effective! In fact it can quickly, predictably and consistently slow down brain wave function to theta zones - EVERY time and on EVERYone - within three to four minutes, regardless of context or circumstances. This is incredible!
  • How? It uses biosignaling to neutralize the stress response and then utilizes the most sophisticated physics entrainment to lock you in!
  • Alpha activity is associated with relaxation, greater awareness, and the production of serotonin, a type of mood balancing hormone. It increases naturally when your eyes are closed, which is a reason the NuCalm eyemask component is important for the brainwave entrainment. Theta activity is associated with light REM sleep, dreaming, meditation, deep restoration, and the replenishment of hormone reservoirs. The alpha-theta crossover state is a combination of both alpha and theta brainwave lengths, in which all of these therapeutic effects can take place.

Step 2 -  Biosignal Processing Disc:

  • This element of the NuCalm system was released in late 2019 and was the result of 4 years of research by Dr Blake Holloway.
  • GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.
  • All cells of the human body communicate through frequencies. The biosignal processing disc holds the electromagnetic frequency patterns of GABA and its precursors to deliver a pure biosignal to your body. Essentially these patterns signal the neurotransmitters responsible for
  • When placed on the inside of the left wrist, on the Pericardium-6 acupuncture point, the disc sends a signal to the pericardium of the heart to activate local parasympathetic nerve fibres, which then transmit the signals to the brain, initiating the process of increasing vagal nerve output and slowing down cellular actions.

Step 3. - Light-blocking eye mask will help eliminate visual stimuli and maintain a deep state of relaxation.

The combination of these three components provides a fully immersive experience, erasing stress and anxiety to achieve a deep level of calm.

Some of the many follow-on potential benefits of Nucalm include:

  • Management of anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Lowered risk of addiction
  • Priming ability for other therapy
  • Regulation of circadian rhythms
  • Reduction and management of chronic inflammation
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Increased dream activity
  • Accelerated recovery
  • Rebuilding of relationships
  • Cellular maintenance
  • Increased mental focus
  • Maintenance of autonomic nervous system balance
  • Side-effect free alternative to sleeping pills
  • Consolidation of long-term memory
  • Activation of the brain-heart-lung connection to optimize diaphragmatic breathing
  • Improved mood/emotional state
  • Stimulated and enhanced digestion
  • General wellness

As you can see, it has the potential to be the ultimate 'biohack'! More significantly, with over a million NuCalm sessions worldwide, there has not been a single reported adverse event – that is, no one has ever reported a serious negative event related to a NuCalm session. Most people will experience positive side effects, such as increased energy, improved sleep quality and an overall reduction in stress.

However, whilst determining stress using HRV readings around your NuCalm session, and with HRV being such a powerful biomarker that can bring together subjective and objective data, when measured on its own without any other context, although able to predict the general state of your nervous system, it can only hint at all the reasons that may be affecting your state in that moment.

NuCalm's power is that it can change your state in that moment and HRV will show this change.

However, these particular reasons that affect you may persist, which is why we recommend investing in a complete consultation with Dr. Yazbek, where we can further explore how all the pieces fit together regarding the physiological manifestations that are appearing in your general day-to-day health. With the availability of the most comprehensive functional pathology investigations, our advanced diagnostic technologies and unique, creatively curated neurological examinations, SO MUCH MORE can be elicited to understand the most effective, tailored treatment schedule designed specifically for your needs. 

Overall, NuCalm is one of the most remarkable, interesting neuro-technologies we've introduced to our selection of therapies and we cannot wait for you to experience its sensational results. When stacked with our infrared photobiomodulation therapy (which you can read about HERE), or as a simultaneous add-on to your remedial massage session, you now have a way to experience the deep calm it induces, as a complete respite to the ongoing turbulence of LIFE!!

Addressing your psychology and physiology in this manner can have profound long-term effects and as you may now recognise, our aim has always been to cover every facet of your health, making our clinic a TRUE HUB!

Appointments are available in clinic now, CLICK HERE to book in.

We look forward to seeing you continue your health journey with us!

References:

https://www.nucalm.com/x/lc-content/uploads/2018/10/fulltext_depression-v5-id1095-1.pdf

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia/report-contents/mental-health-related-prescriptions/prescriptions

Garcia-Argibay, M., Santed, M. A., & Reales, J. M. (2019). Efficacy of binaural auditory beats in cognition, anxiety, and pain perception: a meta-analysis. Psychological research83(2), 357–372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-018-1066-8

Jin, Z., Mendu, S. K., & Birnir, B. (2013). GABA is an effective immunomodulatory molecule. Amino acids45(1), 87–94. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-011-1193-7

Su, S., Jimenez, M. P., Roberts, C. T., & Loucks, E. B. (2015). The role of adverse childhood experiences in cardiovascular disease risk: a review with emphasis on plausible mechanisms. Current cardiology reports17(10), 88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11886-015-0645-1

Khandaker, G. M., Zuber, V., Rees, J., Carvalho, L., Mason, A. M., Foley, C. N., Gkatzionis, A., Jones, P. B., & Burgess, S. (2020). Shared mechanisms between coronary heart disease and depression: findings from a large UK general population-based cohort. Molecular psychiatry25(7), 1477–1486. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0395-3

Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Doyle, W. J., Miller, G. E., Frank, E., Rabin, B. S., & Turner, R. B. (2012). Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America109(16), 5995–5999. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1118355109

Tolahunase, M., Sagar, R., & Dada, R. (2017). Impact of Yoga and Meditation on Cellular Aging in Apparently Healthy Individuals: A Prospective, Open-Label Single-Arm Exploratory Study. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity2017, 7928981. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/7928981

Boonstra, E., de Kleijn, R., Colzato, L. S., Alkemade, A., Forstmann, B. U., & Nieuwenhuis, S. (2015). Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Frontiers in psychology6, 1520. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01520

Padmanabhan, R., Hildreth, A. J., & Laws, D. (2005). A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery. Anaesthesia60(9), 874–877. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2044.2005.04287.x

Morikawa, H., & Morrisett, R. A. (2010). Ethanol action on dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area: interaction with intrinsic ion channels and neurotransmitter inputs. International review of neurobiology91, 235–288. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0074-7742(10)91008-8

https://www.nucalm.com/science-of-nucalm/