What Should You Know About Biofeedback?

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback training teaches how to consciously change and control the body's vital functions that are normally unconscious, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure, through information provided by electronic devices.

Biofeedback is a relatively new field. It was only during the late 1960's that scientists believed that normally unconscious, autonomic functions could be voluntarily controlled.
Barbara Brown, Ph.D., at the Veterans Administration Hospital in California, Elmer Green, Ph.D, and Alyce Green of the Menninger Foundation in Kansas first used EEG biofeedback to observe the various states of people practicing yoga. Another person instrumental in bringing attention to biofeedback was Joe Kamiya, who taught subjects how to attain states of euphoria without drugs.

Biofeedback is currently used by physicians, physiologists, kinesiologists, and psychologists.

How Biofeedback Works

Electrodes, which look like stickers with wires attached to them, are placed on the client's skin. The client is then instructed to use relaxation, meditation, or visualization to bring about the desired response, whether it be muscle relaxation, lowered heart rate, or lower temperature. The biofeedback device reports progress through a change in the speed of beeps or flashes, or pitch or quality of the tone.
The results of biofeedback are measured in the following ways:
  • skin temperature
  • electrical conductivity of the skin, called the glavanic skin response
  • muscle tension, with an electromyograph (EMG)
  • heart rate, with an electrocardiograph (ECG)
  • brain-wave activity, with an electroencephalograph{EEG)

Conditions Treated by Biofeedback

In alternative medicine, biofeedback is particularly useful with can help with stress-related conditions where there is sympathetic or adrenal stress.
It is also useful for conditions where there is inadequate control over muscle groups or muscle dysfunction. Conditions treated with biofeedback include:
  • stress
  • headaches
  • asthma
  • muscle injury
  • pain relief
  • insomnia
  • TMJ
  • high blood pressure
  • digestive disorders
  • attention deficit disorder
  • incontinence
  • poor posture
  • tennis elbow
  • golfer's elbow
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • hyperactivity
  • Raynaud's disease
  • ringing of the ears
  • constipation
  • twitching of the eyelids
  • esophageal dysfunction

Using Biofeedback

If you're considering trying biofeedback, make sure to consult your physician first. Avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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