How to Activate Your Mental Pharmacy

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Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is what you experience when, long after an injury is gone, the pain still hangs around, like an uninvited guest sleeping on your couch. In many ways, it’s the most overlooked epidemic of our time. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain—almost one in three of us. A little less than half of chronic pain sufferers say it disrupts sleep. Most have trouble concentrating, get depressed, and have less energy because of pain.

For thousands of years, humans have been taking opium-based painkillers. Indeed, opium might have even been the world’s first painkiller. It’s the perfect drug: If you are in pain, it takes the pain away; and if you aren’t, it makes you high as a kite. Probably the most famous opium tincture goes back to the 1500s and was popular well into the 1900s.

Why does it work so well? In the early 1970s, using animal brains, scientists discovered that our brains seem to have special receptors specifically adapted to accept and process opium, which is partly why it’s so addictive. It didn’t take these scientists long to ask the obvious question: Why would we have receptors for a drug that exists only in poppy plants? Unless, our brains make something like it as well.


The answer to that question came from a team in Scotland in 1975: Humans do have a form of homemade opioids called endorphins—our own little hidden opium dens tucked away in our brains. When your body releases endorphins, they bind to specialized receptors that trigger two actions. First, it blocks the neurotransmitters that cause you to experience pain; second, it makes your brain release more of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes you to feel pleasure.

Living with chronic pain can be intolerable. Even after taking the maximum dose of painkillers, the hurting soon returns with a vengeance. You want to do something, anything, to stop the pain, but whatever you try seems to fail—and the fear of addiction is always haunting you.

Brainwave Entrainment

But, what if there’s a better way? And, what if it’s 100% natural and has been used clinically since 1958?—it’s call brainwave entrainment and it uses just light and sound. The first machine was the Brain Wave Synchronizer, created by Sidney Schneider, and was used primarily for reducing pain in patients during dental procedures or undergoing surgery.

Fast forward to today and we have BrainTap, a light and sound brain training device that has the potential to increase the production of Beta-Endorphins by 25% in a single session. This production of your body’s own pain-relieving substance can help you cope with pain, and has a side benefit of making you feel happier and more relaxed.

Mindfulness Meditation

In hopes of taking advantage of these natural pain relievers, hospital pain clinics have started recommending mindfulness meditation to help patients cope with the suffering arising from diseases such as cancer (and the side effects of chemotherapy), heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. It is also used for back problems, migraines, fibromyalgia, celiac disease, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and even multiple sclerosis.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent, with accomplished meditators reducing pain by over 90 percent. The only problem is, meditation is not an easy skill to acquire. It takes time, effort, and discipline. BrainTap, on the other hand, is a passive experience—it’s meditation done-for-you. Studies have shown that generally within 10 minutes of light and sound entrainment, you can create the same brainwave patterns as Zen meditators with many years of experience, which means you can get all the benefits of meditation without years of disciplined practice.

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