NuCalm: The Basics
NuCalm is clinically proven to naturally relax the brain and body within minutes, without drugs. This patented technology addresses the brain circuitry in the limbic system, the hypothalamus and the brainstem responsible for producing stress and anxiety. NuCalm works specifically on the body’s inhibitory system, the GABAergic system. This device is bio-mimetic in that it resets the naturally occurring negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which when properly functioning is supposed to shut off and stop releasing cortisol from the adrenal glands after the end of a stressful event. NuCalm is comprised of three discrete steps that work together to entrain brainwaves to the frequency of the first stages of sleep and create parasympathetic nervous system dominance. People in this state are physically unable to have an anxious response. Within moments of application, users will begin to feel relief from the ‘fight-or-flight’ sympathetic nervous system response and their stress hormone (cortisol) levels will begin to decline as the HPA axis is inhibited.
Stress is a biological response to the stimulus of a threat, either real or perceived. During an acute stress response, two parallel pathways are activated to prepare the body for flight-or-flight, the sympathetic adreno-medullary (SAM) arm of the autonomic nervous system and the HPA axis. Both systems can be triggered in a bottom-up manner from the brainstem by critical homeostatic perturbations, like respiratory distress, pain or inflammation – real threats. They can also be triggered in a top-down fashion from the limbic system, particularly from the amygdala, by psychogenic stressors, either innate or experiential – perceived threats. The SAM triggers the release of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from the adrenal medulla into the bloodstream. As these hormones circulate through the body, respiratory rate and heart rate accelerate and blood pressure increases to maximize the delivery of oxygenated blood to vital organs. This alerts the body to speed up, tense up, become hypervigilant, and take action. In parallel, the HPA axis is required to trigger 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, prompting them to release cortisol, the well-known stress hormone. The release of cortisol can increase the production of epinephrine, as well as, trigger the glucose release from protein stores to supply the body with energy. Once the fight-or-flight adrenaline response is activated, the mind cannot rationalize itself or self-regulate until the threat is removed and time passes.
If the body is constantly in sympathetic dominance with high cortisol levels it is experiencing long-term or toxic stress. Chronic stress and anxiety are the greatest threats to your health and longevity and are estimated to affect nearly one-third of the population. They are characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. Cognitive components include feelings of fear, apprehension, indecision and/or worry. Somatic or physical symptoms of stress can consist of heart palpitations, headaches, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, muscle tension and/or frequent infections. Emotional and behavioral consequences of stress may comprise irritability, depression, loss of confidence, restlessness, appetite changes, insomnia and more. These are similar symptoms for a person suffering from PTSD or addiction. It is essential to treat the underlying autonomic dysfunction before the symptoms of chronic stress can be alleviated and NuCalm has this potential.
The neurophysiologic manifestations of NuCalm include the following:
- Rapid induction of a parasympathetic hypnogogic dissociative state
- Sustained, steady parasympathetic dominance throughout the experience
- Rapid return to a functional state (motor skills, attention, and full cognition) with no lingering negative post-sedative effects
NuCalm was developed to resolve stress at it’s source for subjects suffering from acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and addictive disease.
A NuCalm overview by the inventor, Dr. Blake Holloway
The NuCalm Biosignal Processing Disc
Mechanism of Action
The NuCalm® Biosignal Processing Disc simplifies the process of activating the parasympathetic nervous system, by tapping into the body’s Pericardium Meridian with particular electromagnetic (EM) frequencies.
Traditional Chinese Medicine explains that Qi (light energy) flows through the body along particular pathways, or Meridians, to maintain health. Everything in the world as we know it vibrates with a particular pattern, thus living systems produce electromagnetic (EM) frequencies endogenously that differ depending on the level of health or disease. It is hypothesized that if you can restore the frequencies that travel through the Meridians you can reinstate optimal physiology. Each NuCalm disc holds the EM frequency patterns of GABA and its precursors to deliver a pure biological signal to your body. When placed on the inside of your left wrist, at your Pericardium-6 acupuncture point, the disc sends a signal to the pericardium of your heart to activate local parasympathetic nerve fibers, which then transmit the signal to your brain telling it to increase vagal nerve output and begin the process of slowing down the body. The disc stops your acute stress response, so the brainwave entrainment with NuCalm’s neuroacoustic software is always reliable and efficient at getting you into theta brainwave range, where restoration and relaxation can take place.
The GABAergic System
Balancing the Brain’s Neurochemistry
A properly functioning GABAergic system is vital for relaxation, restoration and balance. NuCalm helps reduce stress, promote recovery and generate calm by working at the root causes of the problem – the imbalanced neurochemical and neuroelectrical systems. With NuCalm, the GABAergic system is activated by specific electromagnetic frequencies related to GABA and its precursors that are delivered to the body via the NuCalm Biosignal Processing Disc.
The brain’s chemical messengers or neurotransmitters are either excitatory, inhibitory or modulatory. The main excitatory neurotransmitter is glutamate, and its role is to potentiate signals forward and increase neuronal activity. The major inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), inhibits nerve activity by preventing signals from moving forward, thus calming the brain. The common neuromodulatory neurotransmitters are either serotonin or dopamine. Serotonin has many important roles within the brain some of which contribute to mood, learning, and memory. Dopamine is most well-known as the reward or pleasure chemical. Many studies have associated various neurological disorders with either the excess or deficit of a specific neurotransmitter. For example, increased dopamine levels have been found in people with addiction disorders, whereas decreased serotonin levels have been theorized to contribute to depression. Chronic stress is related to an improperly functioning GABAergic system that can no longer control the over-excitation and hyperactivity in the brain. Balance in neurochemical levels is the key to optimal brain health and function.
Brain Wave Lengths
What are brain wave lengths and how does NuCalm work with them?
The brain consists of millions of brain cells forming trillions of connections. These building blocks of the brain, called neurons, communicate with each other through chemical and electrical signals. When masses of neurons send synchronized pulses, they oscillate and produce a wave-like effect or a brainwave. Brainwave frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Higher order brain activity will produce high-frequency brainwaves, such as beta or gamma waves. When we are awake, talking and in a normal working consciousness, we are in the beta brainwave length. As shown in the chart, delta brainwaves are the slowest and are dominant when we are in a deep sleep. As with all things in life, having a balance in brainwave activity is key to achieving optimal health and performance. We don’t want to spend too much or too little time in any frequency range.
NuCalm’s patented technology aims to bring your brainwaves into the frequency range from alpha to deep theta depending on the track you are listening to. 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. NuCalm can deliver alpha to theta frequencies through its neuroacoustic software, which is explained further on, to entrain and sync the brain electrical activity to these frequencies specifically.
Sometimes the brain will dip into the delta state, especially if the user is very sleep deprived, but NuCalm’s main goal is to get the user into the state right of the verge of sleep and wakefulness. This is the optimal recovery zone of the body, and spending enough time in this state every day is essential to our health. This is the state where the parasympathetic system thrives and replenishes our body’s resources that were depleted with stress and sympathetic dominance. Typically, people describe their NuCalm experience as being aware of their surroundings while simultaneously feeling like they are in a deep sleep with slowed breathing, lower heart rate, a heaviness to the body, and with no movement.
Because NuCalm slows your brainwaves, so fast and so reliably, your body is able to receive many of the benefits of restorative sleep without actually being asleep.
NuCalm Neuroacoustic Software
The science behind NuCalm’s neuroacoustic software is remarkable and complex. Let us try and understand the why and the how behind this exciting neurophysics.
Dr. Blake Holloway, the inventor of NuCalm, spent several years immersed in the intriguing and exotic arena of bio and neurophysics. His objective in inventing NuCalm was to design a software that would have direct physiological outcomes to combat stress and anxiety in the brain.
He believed that focusing on the brain’s electrical activity and finding a way to entrain the brainwaves to a particular frequency, such as alpha or theta, could be a targetable physiological phenomenon that would aid his mission of combating anxiety. He began by researching bio and neurofeedback training, which are therapies that require patients to train, in a reward-based manner, their breathing, heart rate or brain electrical patterns to reach the desired therapeutic levels. This type of training was shown to be very effective in lowering heart rate, respiration rate and brainwave frequency, but it required active effort and more time from participants.
In search of a more passive way to entrain brainwaves, Holloway researched evoked potentials. These are spikes in brain electrical activity observed in response to the presentation of a stimulus, whether it be visual or auditory. Multiple stimuli delivered a certain amount of times per second, mimicking the desired brain frequency level, could create evoked potentials in the brain at that same frequency level. For example, Holloway tested the effect of flashing a light 10 times per second (10Hz) and saw that the brain would sync into the alpha rhythm (8-12Hz). This research led him to finally implement auditory evocation to obtain a frequency following response with binaural beats.
To create an auditory evoked response at a frequency range between 4-12Hz (from theta to alpha), it is a little more difficult because human ears cannot receive sounds delivered under 20Hz. This is where the binaural beats come into play. This method involves simultaneously delivering two tones with different frequencies into the left and right ears (ex. 250Hz to right ear, 255Hz to left ear). These sound waves will initially meet in the superior olivary complex, a structure in the brainstem, where they will interfere constructively and create a resultant beat frequency calculated by the difference between the two tones’ frequencies (ex. 255 – 250 = 5Hz beat frequency).
The beat frequency at any level can then be transmitted to and perceived by the auditory cortex of the brain. Repeated presentations of binaural beats will create repetitive auditory evoked potentials which will induce a frequency following response in the brain, meaning multiple neural networks will begin oscillating at that specific beat frequency. This brainwave synchronization has been verified in electroencephalography (EEG = brain electrical activity imaging) studies conducted by Holloway and Solace Life Sciences. This is the applied NuCalm method to entrain the brain to flow from everyday beta brainwaves of consciousness to deeply healing and restorative theta brainwaves. The creative collaboration with music producer Dan Selene adds a further level of complexity to the tracks, integrating music to the neuroacoustic physics to augment the outcome.
Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls the involuntary bodily functions – pupillary response, heart rate, respiration, digestion, and sexual arousal.
The ANS is comprised of the parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is activated when you are in a state of “fight or flight.” The parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” stage.