Bonus: It's free.
You’re out with friends or family, about to have an amazing day, and, suddenly, you feel it ... that twinge in your temples that means the thing you dread most is about to happen.
You panic inside. It’s time to either hit ultra-meds or retreat to a cool, dark and quiet place to ride out the pain. So much for that day of fun, right?
Research now shows there are other, non-medication related, ways to stop a migraine in its tracks — specifically, an emerging form of treatment known as “binaural beats.”
When listening to binaural beats, “… two different tones are played [one in each ear]. These tones differ in frequency on the left and right side. The human brain perceives the frequency difference as an inaudible periodic beat, often referred to as a binaural beat.”
Here’s the science behind how it works:
There can be powerful, transformative, and healing effect when your attention shifts left and right over your body’s midline, known as "crossing the midline."
Another clinical treatment based on crossing the body’s midline is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). I’ve personally experienced EMDR as a patient in my own trauma recovery, sometimes using a light bar to guide my eyes left and right, sometimes using buzzers in my hands that alternate left and right, and sometimes using music that plays in headphones, alternating over and over between left ear and right ear.
EMDR's proven effectiveness comes from crossing the midline with only a music player and headphones, which is exactly what happens with binaural beats.
Further, binaural beats allow you the added bonus of being able to dial in the precise frequency you need for the specific issue at hand, be it a migraine, PTSD, anxiety release, etc.
First, take a minute to visit Brainwave Hub on YouTube, or install an app like Brainwave Tuner Lite on your smartphone. Grab your headphones and find a quiet place; you’ve going to want to pay attention.
Here’s what’s about to happen, AND where things get interesting:
“This beat is indirectly perceived as opposed to directly heard since it is below the range of human hearing. For each brainwave sequence the frequency of this perceived beat has been engineered to precisely match a target brainwave frequency.
“After a few minutes of use, the listener’s own brainwaves will begin to synchronize with this binaural beat, inducing states ranging from deep sleep to intense concentration and focus. This process is called brainwave entrainment.”
Do binaural beats work?
The more precise question is: “How well do binaural beats work on YOU?” I encourage you to try a few and see for yourself.
The best apps allow you to listen to your favorite music while the binaural beat plays behind it (you can’t hear the actual beat, remember?). That’s a good thing because listening to the beat-creating sounds can be less-than-enjoyable for some people.
Most of the binaural beats available on YouTube already have some ambient music in them. You will have a better response if you like the ambient music you hear, so choose based on the music that makes you most comfortable.
My own experience with binaural beats is all positive. It’s fascinating to put myself into a power nap and wake up feeling energized and ready for whatever comes next.
In order to stop migraines, you will see the most success if you start listening as soon as possible when you feel the migraine appear.
Here are some of the benefits attributed to binaural beats:
- Headache relief (duh!)
- Pre-exercise energy
- Stress reduction
- Anger relief
- Concentration difficulties and ADHD
- Reduce anxiety
- Power nap
Are binaural beats dangerous?
As with all sound, listening at a very high volume can damage your eardrums. I recommend over-the-ear headphones to minimize potential damage. The very best headphones are the noise-cancelling ones, but they can be expensive.
Whichever headphones you use, please make an effort to be kind to your ears: they’re the only ones you get.
I’d like to know what’s working for you. If you are already a user or just getting started, leave a comment to let everyone know how it’s going.