NuCalm Is A Powerful New Tool To Mitigate Stress
NuCalm is a neuroscience technology to help reduce stress and balance the autonomic nervous system. Cumulatively, 30-minute daily sessions will improve your quality of sleep and subtly sharpen your mental clarity. You will be unquestionably calmer; your thinking will be more creative and your judgment clearer.
As our readers know, we are on a committed quest to find the best tools and modalities to boost our health and promote longevity. Among the many important truths we have learned: health is compromised by stress. The statement seems obvious, but it is probably under-appreciated. Stress is a major factor in over 95% of all cases of disease—not physical stress, but mental and emotional stress. There is extensive research showing a strong correlation between stress, psychological factors and cancer. The majority of people are “sympathetic dominant”, meaning they spend too much time in the “fight or flight state.” As a result, the nervous system is out of balance, preventing the body from restoring and repairing itself, and preempting peak mental and physical performance.
As we learned in biology class, when our lives are at risk, the “stress response” kicks in and activates the “fight-or-flight” response or what is called the sympathetic nervous system. This initiates a chemical reaction that floods the bloodstream with cortisol and activates our major muscle groups, senses, and vital organs to perform at peak levels to fight, flee, or freeze. It all happens automatically, at the subconscious level. The “stress response” has kept us alive for thousands of years. The problem is that we are no longer fleeing saber-tooth tigers. Today’s triggers are not life threatening, yet our midbrain does not discriminate. Faced with an endless queue of emails or a traffic jam in mid-town, our body reacts like our life is on the line and floods us with cortisol. Some of us are better at mitigating perceived stressors than others, but we all face the challenge of curtailing this outdated “fight or flight” response.
Breathing, meditation and practicing mindfulness are all powerful anecdotes—if you can find the time to do them—but the reality is they are not very practical. To be effective and consistent they require years of training and unusual discipline. But advances in neuroscience are making balancing the autonomic nervous system a vastly easier and faster task. When we visited Dr. Michael Galitzer in California in August, he introduced us to NuCalm, a neuroscience technology that allows you to, in essence, turn off stress. We are no strangers to neurofeedback (see WILTW December 12, 2013), so the concept appealed instantly. While the results have been cumulative, the benefits were obvious after our first session. We were noticeably more serene when we left Dr. Galitzer’s office, so much so that the flight home to Sun Valley that afternoon did not stir even an inkling of our usual in-flight anxiety.
Here’s what the NuCalm system entails: A disc is placed on an acupuncture point on the left forearm 1 ½ inches from the wrist. The disc delivers the frequency of GABA into the body. That frequency travels to the brain via the heart meridian and vagus nerve. GABA is the neurotransmitter of relaxation. Visual stimulation is blocked out with a light-blocking eye mask. With noise-cancelling headphones, you listen to music that has been created with neuroacoustic software to entrain brain wave function to the relaxed Alpha and Theta states. No conscious breathing, visualizations or mantras required.
NuCalm relaxes the body within minutes, priming the GABAergic system, which is responsible for slowing down internal systems and preparing the body for sleep. Concurrently, the brain-heart-lung connection is activated to optimize diaphragmatic breathing, oxygen-rich red blood cell flow, and muscle recovery. As a result, the old limbic area of the brain is able to experience a state of perceived safety and comfort, which triggers parasympathetic nervous system dominance. Now, the frontal cortex can experience synchronicity and flow throughout the entire body. This enables a state of deep relaxation. For us, it has been some of the deepest, most restorative relaxation that we have known—possibly ever. There is an utter clarity after the session, none of the lingering fog that follows an afternoon nap. These periods of deep relaxation are essential for creating optimal health and wellness. The body can only heal itself when it is in a state of parasympathetic nervous system dominance.
NuCalm’s effectiveness was first noticed in dental offices—a highly anxiety-provoking setting for many people. Patients who had a NuCalm session prior to a procedure reported greater satisfaction and less discomfort in the chair. Now, the system is being adopted by professional athletes looking for a competitive edge. We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep, but we also know how difficult it is to log the requisite hours given the hectic pace of life. Research by Dr. Chung-Kang Peng at the Harvard Medical School has shown that a 45-minute NuCalm treatment is equivalent to more than two hours of deep, restorative sleep. Imagine the power of accessing restorative sleep through technology—meditation in a box. Technology’s impact on health is unquestionably one of the biggest trends of the 21st century. NuCalm offers a first pass at what is and what will be possible looking ahead.