One of the largest challenges of the global health care industry for the 21st century may be managing the psychological and physiological effects of stress. Study after study has demonstrated the negative impact of chronic stress on the brain, including cardiovascular disease, social withdrawal and depression.
Some have turned to pill popping to manage these symptoms. Numerous studies have shown that this can provide some relief to symptoms by inhibiting the stress cycle that takes place as the brain senses and interprets biofeedback from the body. Unfortunately, drug-based treatments carry several adverse side effects, such has drowsiness, as the drugs interfere with other functions of the brain as well. This, along with the bodies ability to build up a resistance to these agents over time, has lead to a counterculture of concerned citizens who are looking for alternatives to the pharmaceutical solutions presented.
As part of this culture, many have adopted the ancient Easter practices of Yoga and Ayurveda medicine to deal with today’s challenges. While meditation, focused breathing, and mindfulness have also been proven to reduce the effects of stress by altering the stress feedback systems in the brain, they can require significant financial investment for training, meditation rooms and regular classes in order to achieve the high level of competence required to make these solutions effective.
As some people look to the past for solutions, others are looking to modern technology to deal with today’s most pressing issues.
The advancement of high-resolution ultrasound and fMRI scanning technologies has given scientists and researchers unprecedented insight into the neurological causes and feedback systems that initiate and drive the stress reflex.
Thync is one company that has invested millions into understanding the stress-feedback cycle and has developed effective neuromodulation-based approaches to managing stress.
They have developed a method for modulating psychophysiological arousal and stress responses by providing electrical signaling waveforms through afferent pathways of cranial nerves to neuromodulatory nuclei in the brain-stem.
Basically, they have developed a way to inhibit the same stress feedback cycle that other solutions target, without the need for medication or costly and time-consuming seminars and training. It does so by directly stimulating the neurons in the neck and head that receive signals from environmental stimuli and stressors without influencing the other higher functions of the brain, such as the sleep-wake cycle, attention or reasoning functions.
“We believe wearables will make it possible to use more of our minds and bodies,” said Thync CEO Isy Goldwasser. “They will give us access to abilities, physical states, and mental states we have already but can’t access at will. We dedicated our company to creating a first of a kind wearable that gives you the power to energize or relax without drinks or pills – definitely a first.”
In the lab, researchers are able to quickly and accurately modify the mood and stress responses of subjects without negatively impacting cognitive ability or reaction time. Now, because of huge public interest in electrical and electromagnetic neuromodulation methods, Thync has applied their four and a half years of research to developing wearable neurosignaling systems and devices that allow anyone to influence and regulate their own mood using pulsed electrical waveforms.
The introduction of a simple consumer grade device that can regulate stress is a game-changer for the healthcare industry. The growing trend toward proven, high-tech treatments for stress was a driving factor in Noosphere Ventures’ recent investment in Thync this past April of 2016.
With “millions of dollars in devices” already sold, it is clear that the groundbreaking work performed by Thync will continue to make it a leader in the wellness-based wearable industry. Their device which can induce states of “calm” or “energy,” have now been proven to be effective and there popularity is rapidly growing.
“The field of digiceuticals and consumer neurostimulation is just beginning,” Goldwasser said. “Halo Neuro is a well funded startup aiming to launch its first product for elite athletes in the fall. There are other small companies vying for funding that are emerging and the field is going to grow exponentially over the next 3 years. We don’t have direct competition from other wearables but rather from drinks and pills that are used routinely.”
Additionally, the early success of Thync’s wearables has demonstrated the financial viability of these technologies.
“We plan to grow the market for our pioneering product – Thync Edition One – and begin development on our second generation product… In terms of markets, we do plan to work with partners to enter at least one EU market and China,” said Goldwasser.
Beyond the financial benefits, Noosphere is excited about the potential for this technology to help the billions of people around the world who struggle to manage the psychological and physiological effects of stress. And, with technologies that can effectively reduce the negative impacts of stress on their brains and bodies, these people will have one less thing to worry about.