Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How much does the Alpha-Stim® cost?
A: Prices are available at the MCH Medical Alpha-Stim® Store.
Q: Why is Alpha-Stim® technology so expensive?
A:It is actually very cost effective when compared with drugs or other interventions such as surgery, or even the cost of seeing a chiropractor, acupuncturist or a biofeedback therapist. Let's look at the daily cost of treatment: $895 divided by 365 days in a year equals $2.45 per day (if it is only used for one year). 365 times the 5-year warranty equals 1825 days. $895 divided by 1825 equals just 50¢ a day. There are certainly cheaper devices on the market -- but most of them have no research at all to support their effectiveness. You really have no idea if they'll work for you. And we are known for our customer service. Check out the warranty of other Microcurrent devices. Alpha-Stim® devices have a is 5 year warranty.. Most other units offer only a 1 year warranty.
Q: Will insurance pay for alpha-Stim®?
A: Many plans that cover durable medical equipment will pay for Alpha-Stim® technology. However, many plan administrators and case managers are unfamiliar with Alpha-Stim® technology and, since it is broadly classed along with cheap TENS devices, they assume it is just another TENS. If a claim is denied, it is important to work with your doctor and insurance company to educate them on the benefits of this technology. Alpha-Stim® technology is supported by more clinical studies than many drugs and is proven efficacious for its registered indications. Some insurance carriers have mistakenly classed Alpha-Stim® technology as an investigational device. We can provide them with clearance to market this technology by regulatory agencies in Europe (CE mark) the USA (FDA), Canada, and other countries. As this technology may be new to your insurance carrier, it is important not to take "no" for an answer. Your doctor knows the validity of this technology or would not have prescribed its use in your case. It is cleared to market and deserves proper reimbursement. As a manufacturer, we have limited clout with the insurance carriers. However, the more doctors and patients who request proper reimbursement for this valuable technology, the more inclined they are to listen. In the end, this technology will produce significant savings for the insurer over drugs, surgery and secondary and tertiary problems caused by other types of medical intervention.
Q: Does Medicaid/Medicare pay for Alpha-Stim devices? How do I file my claim?
A: Unfortunately at this time, Medicaid and Medicare do not pay for Alpha-Stim® devices.
Q: Is Alpha-Stim® a TENS?
A: Alpha-Stim® technology is nothing like TENS. All white pills are not alike. Nor are all 5 mg white pills alike. Just like the chemical ingredients that make up drugs differentiate one from another, it is our unique proprietary waveform that makes Alpha-Stim® technology so effective. TENS has limited effectiveness, and just like eyeglasses, TENS has no residual effect -- it only works while in use. But the biggest problem with ordinary TENS is tolerance, just like in drugs where you have to constantly increase the current to a point where it becomes ineffective at safe levels. Alpha-Stim® technology treatments can usually be given in only a few minutes a few times a week. The results are long-lasting and cumulative. Alpha-Stim® technology is also less expensive than even the cheapest TENS when long term use of TENS electrodes are factored in. Alpha-Stim® felt electrodes may be reused on a single patient.
Q: What does the Alpha-Stim® do?
A: There are three Alpha-Stim® devices. The Alpha-Stim® 100 treats localized pain on the body, and anxiety, insomnia and depression (See Alpha-Stim 100 Product Brochure). The Alpha-Stim® SCS treats anxiety, insomnia, depression and decreases the perception of pain by “treating the brain” (See Alpha-Stim SCS product brochure). The Alpha-Stim® PPM treats localized pain only (See Alpha-Stim PPM product brochure).
Q: How are the Alpha-Stim® devices used?
A:The Alpha-Stim® 100 and SCS use ear clips electrodes for 20 minutes to an hour, anywhere from daily to 3 times a week to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. The Alpha-Stim® 100 treats pain with self-adhesive electrodes or probes on an as-needed basis. The Alpha-Stim® 100 also uses probes which is faster and more effective than the self-adhesive electrodes. Probes treat pain efficiently using Dr. Kirsch’s 2 – 5 minute protocol. Put another way, the Alpha-Stim® 100 treats the body and brain, and the Alpha-Stim® SCS treats the brain. It is important to treat the brain for pain, as well as the painful areas of the body directly.
Q: If Alpha-Stim® technology is so good, why have I never heard of it before?
A: Alpha-Stim® technology is marketed through independent distributors, trade shows and conferences, and our website. We currently have a few hundred distributors representing Alpha-Stim® technology worldwide, and that number is increasing every year. As a result, some geographical areas are better covered than others. And, that is why I am here now – to bring you and your patients the benefits of Alpha-Stim® technology. Our results are published on our website, including the 55 independent research studies the prove Alpha-Stim® technology is effective at treating pain, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Q: Why doesn't my doctor know about this?
A: Doctors are educated in institutions largely funded by pharmaceutical companies with multi-million dollar (and larger) budgets. These large co mpanies have the resources to continue to educate doctors after they graduate, serve their internships and go into private or institutional practices. Smaller, innovative device companies such as EPI have had to build awareness through word-of-mouth and participation in medical conferences not dominated by pharmaceutical interests. It is not the doctor's fault that these new technologies take longer to become known. It is the nature of healthcare in the US and the nature of the medical profession which is necessarily cautious in adopting new methods of medical intervention. Also, more and more, patients are taking charge and taking responsibility for their own healthcare and their doctors about technologies such as Alpha-Stim® which offer unprecedented efficacy without the negative side effects of drugs. Eventually, doctors will utilize technologies such as Alpha-Stim® as a first line of defense, especially in treatment of chronic disorders where the long term effects of drugs can cause secondary and tertiary problems, sometimes worse than the ones originally treated. Doctors that are on the cutting edge of the will seek us out, but many need to hear about the benefits from patients who are willing to take charge of their own well being.
Clinical Application of Alpha-Stim® Technology
Q:. How often do I use Alpha-Stim®f or anxiety, insomnia, depression or pain?
A: Most people will see at least some improvement in pain or anxiety in a single treatment. There are exceptions to this, such as fibromyalgia, which could take several weeks. It takes two to three weeks to start to see a significant change in severe depression. Insomnia is somewhere in between, about one or two weeks. The treatment is cumulative meaning that a series of treatments build upon one another to create better and longer lasting results.
Q: I have had depression for 20 years. Will I have to use the Alpha-Stim® every day for the rest of my life?
A: No. When your neurotransmitters are balanced and the depression is gone, you will only need to use it from time to time when your life's circumstances suggest that the depression might come back. Some people who have recovered from anxiety or depression find it best to use the Alpha-Stim® two or three times a week for 20 minutes to prevent another episode. Others put it on a shelf in the closet and only get it down when they feel out of sorts.
Q: Sometimes when I use the Alpha-Stim® I feel a slight stinging sensation that makes me uncomfortable.
A:Turn the current down just below the point that the sensation is bothersome and continue to treat yourself at that current level.
Q: Would it hurt me if I use Alpha-Stim® longer than 20 minutes?
A: No, but more is not necessarily better. Some people actually achieve better results from Alpha-Stim® technology when it is used for the minimum time necessary to feel better, 2 – 5 minutes with the probes – and then only two or three times a week. Fibromyalgia patients must use it daily. Severely depressed patients must use it daily as well.
Q: I get the best results if I use my Alpha-Stim® for one hour, three times a day, and at night when I go to bed. Am I using it too much?
A:If that is how you get your best results, you have found the key to how you should use Alpha-Stim® technology for your condition. Keep in mind that the procedure will likely change over time as you continue to improve, and you may find yourself using it for only 10 or 20 minutes a couple of times a week in order to stay at your peak level of functioning.
Q: When I use the ear clips, I sometimes get light headed or even dizzy. I don't like that feeling. Is it necessary to feel that in order to get benefit from the treatment.
A: You do not have to feel unpleasant feelings in order to get the benefits of Alpha-Stim® CES treatment. When you first put apply it, be certain you have the current level set to "0", then gradually turn it up until you just begin to feel slightly light headed or dizzy. At that point, turn the current back down until the dizzy feeling goes away, and continue to treat yourself at that level. If you feel dizzy again, turn it down again, but never less than "1". With the Alpha-Stim® Microcurrent technology, more is not necessarily better. However, the lower the current the longer it will take. Generally, if the current is set at less than "2", it will take more than 20 minutes. Some people will need an hour or more, especially for the first few treatments.
Q: While I have heard about and seen people get an immediate effect from treatment, I always feel better the next day after I use the Alpha-Stim®, and I need to use it for several hours at a time. I am not complaining, because it does work well for my anxiety, but why don't I get an immediate effect?
A: While it is true that most people get an immediate effect, in some rare cases people have a delayed effect like yours. In most of the cases where people get a delayed effect, they also have trouble with prescription drugs. In all these cases we have found one thing in common. The person who has a delayed effect from Alpha-Stim® treatment also has a delayed effect from anesthetics. Usually, when you receive anesthetic injections from your dentist, you are sufficiently numb for the dentist to drill your tooth in a few minutes. For some people, this can take one-half hour or more. Usually the dentist will make a big deal about it because it is so rare. If you have a delayed response to anesthetics, you'll probably also have a delayed response to Alpha-Stim® technology. You will also need to use it longer.
Q: It says in the instruction manual not to use the Alpha-Stim® technology within three hours of going to bed. My friend uses hers when she goes to bed at night. She says it helps her sleep better, and she puts it on again if she wakes up too early in the morning and it helps her get back to sleep.
A:Alpha-Stim® technology relaxes your body and focuses your mind. If you are going to bed thinking about a problem, the mental focus may actually keep you awake. That is why we do not recommend using it just before going to bed. However, some people can fall asleep with it on. It is like caffeine, some people can drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks just before going to bed, while others are doomed to staying awake all night if they have a sip of caffeine after 12:00 noon. If Alpha-Stim® technology does not keep you awake, it is okay to use it before going to bed.
Q: Do I need to use ear clips even if the pain is in my legs?
A:The ear clips are used for CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulation), the registered indications for which are anxiety, depression and insomnia. However, anxiety, depression and insomnia are typically evident, especially in chronic pain syndromes. Where the cause of pain may originally be in an extremity like your arm or leg, the pain is perceived in the brain. Pain is a complex central nervous system event and treating the site alone is only addressing half the problem, and missing the most important half. You may want to read abstracts of research on this that have been done utilizing CES applications in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes like severe spinal pain and fibromyalgia.
Q: Do I use the ear clips before or after I treat my pain?
A: We recommend utilizing the CES application with the ear clip electrodes after treating with the probes or AS-Trode™ self-adhesive electrodes with our pain protocols. The CES application is found to be so effective that it may reduce or eliminate the pain prior to completion of the pain protocol. This makes it difficult to ascertain whether you are treating the correct area (this can be useful in determining more exact physiology of the problem underlying the pain).
Q: After treatment for my back pain, I sometimes feel stiff. What can I do about that?
A:You do not need to do anything. The stiffness will reside, and we're certain you prefer it to pain. Stiff is a magical word meaning "stop" Alpha-Stim® treatment for that day. The stiffness will wear off soon.
Q: I have heard that it is a good idea to treat my surgical scars. How do I do that?
A: Scar treatment is sometimes necessary in order for you to get a good effect from Alpha-Stim® treatment. Scars function as randomly-placed resisters in your bio-circuitry. The Chinese knew this thousands of years ago and incorporated it into acupuncture as the Mother-Son Law. German physicians discovered it 50 years ago and call it Neural Therapy. Neural Therapy is now taught in the United States. To use the Alpha-Stim® technology to treat your scars, place the AS-Trode™ electrodes on each end of the scar and treat at about 300 microamperes at 0.5 Hz for at least ten minutes per scar, at least four days in a row. You may feel a surge of energy after you treat your scars. This may also increase your pain, as breaking up bio-resistors will wake up your whole body, including your pain. Treating your pain with the standard Alpha-Stim® 100 pain treatment protocols will alleviate your pain after scar treatment.
Q: Is it normal for my ears to turn red after I have used the ear clips?
A: Any electrical stimulation can cause skin irritation and it is usually mild and self limiting. This is more prevalent in fair skinned people or those with sensitive skin. If a problem persists, consult your medical professional or try an alternative method of application such as applying the AS-Trode™ self-adhesive silver electrodes to the mastoid process (the bony area behind the ears), or even the shoulders. The stimulation can dilate the vascular system in the area which will turn the skin red.
Q: How long do the electrodes last? Mine aren't sticky any longer. Can I tape them to my body?
A:Electromedical Products International, Inc. has gone to great lengths to research and procure the best possible electrodes for use with the Alpha-Stim® technology . We are concerned primarily with efficacy and you should be too. The adhesive gel on the electrodes is the conductive medium insuring proper contact and distribution of the electrical signal with the body. There are many variables which cause this gel to lose its effectiveness including humidity, amount of hair or sweat on the skin, and cleanliness of the area where applied. When the gel begins to lose its ability to adhere properly to the skin, it is time to get new electrodes. Trying to extend the life by taping them to the body may be inviting limited or negative results. Always use fresh electrodes applied to a clean, dry skin surface and only use AS-Trode™ brand silver electrodes designed for use with the Alpha-Stim®.
Q: Can the Alpha-Stim® technology be used along with drugs my doctor has prescribed? Can it help reduce my need for pharmaceuticals?
A: Although the Alpha-Stim® technology is safe and effective for use in the treatment of its registered indications, caution should be exercised when using CES with certain types of drugs, such as medication for high blood pressure. As the CES relaxes you, it brings your blood pressure down. If a drug then kicks in and lowers it even further, it can become too low. It is easy to regulate use of the Alpha-Stim® technology, but this is not so with drugs. Also, if you are trying to get off of drugs you feel may be damaging to your health, it is important that you do so under a doctor's supervision. Many drugs cannot just be dropped but must be reduced gradually. The Alpha-Stim® can help accomplish this and is a safe, effective method, but drugs are not, so caution must be exercised and, again, involve your doctor in the process.
Q: Am I supposed to put the felts on top of the one's already attached to the new ear clips or new probes?
A: No. You must remove old felt electrodes and clean the surface of the metal contacts before applying new felt electrodes.
Q: What causes the metallic taste in my mouth or flashing lights when using CES or treating on or near the head?
A:Close proximity to the nerves governing taste or the optic nerve in case of the flashing lights can stimulate these nerves causing the metallic taste or stroboscopic effect. This is not cause for concern and is normal in many patients. The flashing lights will go away when the stimulation is discontinued. If the metallic taste persists, rinse your mouth with water and it will go away.
Q: Can you use probes on the head?
A: Yes. Alpha-Stim® technology is safe enough to use anywhere in any way. Dentists use Alpha-Stim® technology routinely, not only as an anxiolytic, but also to control orofacial, temporomandibular and postoperative pain using probes or electrodes on the head. Of course it is advisable to use caution around the eyes and treating around the eyes may result in seeing the current in the form of flashing lights as the optic nerve converts the signal into light. Also treating around the mouth may cause a metallic taste from dental fillings, but that goes away with one sip of water.
Q: Can you use ear clips and probes or electrodes at the same time?
A:Yes, but we usually advise against it. It is always best to evaluate the pain during each treatment with the probes or electrodes. Since CES can reduce or eliminate pain by itself, it may be impossible to determine if an adequate peripheral treatment has been completed if CES is done simultaneously or prior to using the probes or electrodes. With severe or acute pain, however, it is sometimes best to leave the AS-Trode electrodes in place for an extended period, even 24/7, at a low current of 100 microamperes and add CES once or twice a day.
Q: Can you use Alpha-Stim® technology with magnet therapy?
A: No. Electrical and magnetic fields interfere with each other so magnets can alter the Alpha-Stim® waveform rendering it ineffective.
Q: Can you use the Alpha-Stim® 100 for auricular therapy?
A:Yes, if you know auricular therapy. The ear clips can be placed over the areas corresponding to the musculoskeletal system (i.e., spine and extremities). This usually relieves pain within 30 seconds but we recommend using our recommended protocols for the best and longest lasting results.
Q: Does channel 2 have a 100 Hz setting in the Alpha-Stim® 100?
A:Yes. Sliding the Channel 1 frequency control over to 100 and the Channel 2 frequency control to the Channel 1 setting will result in Channel 2 being set at whatever the frequency of Channel 1 is set for.
Q: What kind of food should I eat in order to get all the things necessary for body or neurotransmitter repair?
A:Your health care practitioner is your best local source of information regarding what is required and how best to find it. You can also get helpful information from your local health food store. In general, you should eat natural, preferably organic whole foods, at least 40 percent raw fruits and vegetables. To optimize digestion, do not mix proteins and carbohydrates, eat fruit alone one-half hour before, or two hours after other foods, and avoid white sugar and white flour. You should also avoid artificial sweeteners, especially if you suffer from headaches. You can safely use Stevia or Xylitol for sweetening, available at your local health food store.
Q: Should I take nutrition supplements and vitamins when I use the Alpha-Stim®?
A: The Alpha-Stim®, when used on your body for pain cessation or control, does this in large part by initiating the repair process in the injured tissues. It does this by, among other things, increasing the amino acid transport and protein synthesis in the area. It can not do this if the necessary amino acids are not present in the blood stream when you use your Alpha-Stim® technology. Similarly, when Alpha-Stim® CES is used, it will effect a balancing of your neurotransmitters by stimulating the brain to make more of those you do not have enough of, until their level has increased to the extent they and the other neurotransmitters can mutually control each other's production. Alpha-Stim® technology can not help your brain make neurotransmitters if the building blocks for them are not present in the blood stream. So it is very important to eat a balanced diet while using Alpha-Stim® technology , and that includes the major amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. We think everyone should take dietary supplements. You should also drink plenty of water as it is necessary for electrical conductivity in your body.
Results with Alpha-Stim® Technology
Q: How long should it be before I would see results from…
A: Usually during the first treatment. However. It can be three weeks before you see maximum improvement as Alpha-Stim® treatments have a cumulative effect.
A: Usually during the first treatment. However. It can be three weeks before you see maximum improvement as Alpha-Stim® treatments have a cumulative effect.
A:Improvement is usually seen in one or two weeks.
A: This is a problem that takes longer to resolve. It often takes three weeks or more to see a significant improvement in depression.
Q: What percentage of people get relief from anxiety, insomnia, depression or pain?
A: Approximately 9 out of 10 people overall get significant results (93% based on survey data). But perhaps even more impressively are the results the 90+% of people actually got. The effect size, also known as percent improvement is quite large. Most people will experience their symptoms diminish at least 50% after just 3 weeks of use. Most pain and anxiety patients will feel relief from their very first treatment.
Q: How long does it last?
A: The effects are long-lasting and cumulative. Sixteen longitudinal studies showed long-term beneficial effects. However in some cases, depending on the problem being treated, Alpha-Stim® technology may have to be used on a long-term or indefinite basis to manage the problem.
Q: Would Alpha-Stim® technology help me in my sports training?
A:Many professional sports teams, as well as many colleges and universities use the Alpha-Stim® both to enhance and potentiate the benefits derived from their training program, and to treat pain, sprains, strains, and muscle imbalances that arise during training, practice or performance. Professional athletes also use the CES (ear clip) function to help focus their mind for competition.
Q: Can it help me feel my numb feet again?
A: Pain is hyperesthesia. Numbness is hypoesthesia. And paresthesia is altered sensation. All three are treated equally well with Alpha-Stim® technology . Numbness can actually be more disabling than pain for some people.
Q: I have a friend who wants to come off of his antidepressant drugs. Will Alpha-Stim® technology help with that?
A:Alpha-Stim® technology will be a big help with that, but he should only come off his medication under medical supervision. Some physicians who are withdrawing hospitalized patients from such medications will withdraw them very quickly, some even "cold turkey," while using Alpha-Stim® technology an hour or more each day. That would be dangerous for most persons who were not under constant clinical supervision. Physicians usually encourage outpatients to come off their medication a little at a time, reducing it by small amounts every four or five days, and using Alpha-Stim® technology daily during that process. Withdrawal can take weeks or months, done this way, but it is much safer, and the patients ultimately get there in the long run, which is what they wanted to do in the first place.
Other questions related to Alpha-Stim® technology
Q: I am planning on taking my Alpha-Stim® with me on a trip next week. Will the airport X-ray machines cause any damage? Should I check it in or carry it through the security? I am a little concerned about getting it damaged by the X-rays.
A: Alpha-Stim® technology will not be affected by airport X-ray machines. Feel free to carry it on or check it.
Q:. Why doesn’t Alpha-Stim® have rechargeable batteries?
A: Rechargeable batteries do not discharge evenly. The waveform produced by Alpha-Stim® technology is very specific and an unstable power supply may alter it affecting the results. Because it is generally not used for long periods of time, the cost of batteries are low anyway, so it is always best to use quality alkaline batteries.
Q: My best friend puts his Alpha-Stim® on his dog who is very nervous. Is that okay?
A:Some veterinarians do use and prescribe Alpha-Stim® technology for use on animals, especially horses, dogs and cats. Alpha-Stim® has been very effective in treating dogs, cats and horses for pain, anxiety and depression. Have your friend check with his dog's veterinarian.