March 8, 2011

048 What is Biofeedback? [1 February 2010]

Biofeedback is a general term for a variety of techniques that help you learn to control certain normally involuntary functions of the body, such as heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure and even brain waves, in order to improve your health.

Sensors connected to your body translate a physiological measurement into a visible or audible signal (like lights or a bell). You then try to improve the measurement by changing your thoughts, emotions or behavior, learning what works and what doesn’t. Eventually you learn to continue the effective behavior without the benefit of the device.

Applications of biofeedback include:
• reduce anxiety and stress
• lower high blood pressure
• reduce muscle tension and pain
• eliminate tension and migraine headaches
• control urinary incontinence
• increase circulation with Reynaud’s disease

Advantages of biofeedback:
• safe, painless and non-invasive
• no negative side effects
• may reduce or eliminate need for drugs
• alternative to drugs in pregnancy
• gives people more control over their health

Biofeedback devices can be quite simple or very complicated. A good example of a simple device is the once popular mood card. Pressing your thumb onto the card caused it to change color depending on your skin temperature which is an approximate indicator of your state of relaxation.

More complex electronic devices, called electro-dermal screening (EDS), measure galvanic skin resistance to detect energy imbalances in the body. Some highly advanced computerized EDS devices perform what is called “quantum biofeedback”. These are related to biofeedback, but are not considered part of “classical biofeedback”. I’ve owned several EDS devices over the years and am currently using a quantum biofeedback device. More on this topic next week…

This This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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