Complementary and Alternative Medicine Methods in Addiction Treatment

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Methods in Addiction Treatment


Stephen M. Dolle

CEO, Dolle Communications

Neuroscientist, Drum Circle Facilitator, and Hydrocephalus Survivor

Presented Sept. 9, 2015

Sovereign Health, San Clemente


Presentation on CAM in Addiction


Overview of Addiction

Medical Sequela in addiction

Prospects in Managing Health Complaints thru mHealth

Cognition and Addiction

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Cognitive Accessibility

Neurotransmitters of the Brain

Brainwave States of the Brain

Types of CAM/Alternative Medicine Therapies

Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment

Most Promising CAM Therapies per my Research

Tribute to EMI Records and Godfrey Houndsfield for invention of the CT Scanner
Tribute to EMI Records and Godfrey Houndsfield for invention of the CT Scanner


There are many types of addictions, and many different approaches to the physical and psychological needs of individuals affected by addiction. In this presentation, I examine complementary and alternative medicine and CAM methods in drug & alcohol and other addiction treatment. Sovereign Health is a full service addiction treatment organization serving Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties.

My affiliation with addiction treatment is mostly through my work as a drum circle facilitator, where group drumming, or drum circles, is used as an efficacious method of treatment, and with very good success. My other connection is in living with the condition, hydrocephalus, where I share similar cognitive, sensory processing, and chronic fatigue complaints to addiction.

One of the notable neurological sequela is sensory processing disorder, or SPD. It is often secondary to many neurological and learning disorders. I discuss how alternative modalities might bring relief to SPD complaints in addiction, where I have had very favorable outcomes with drumming and drumming therapy. I am hoping a new detailed look at these modalities might reveal some new prospects.

Cognitive dysfunction in addiction (and neurological disorders) raises additional challenges with cognitive accessibility and intolerance to sounds, lights, scents, and motion, and difficulty understanding instructions, web pages, and product labels. A myriad of protections are possible in mitigating adverse exposure, and in rendering instructions, web sites, and facilities more understandable, and thus accessible.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM, is the term designated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It generally refers to the array of modalities used in adjunct to traditional or Western medicine. Other terms such as alternative medicine, mind-body medicine, and healing medicine, are then used more broadly. I have followed and adopted a number of alternative medicine methods since my early years in mindfulness study (1973). I was influenced by early books from Dr. Wayne Dyer and Norman Vincent Peele, articles about nutrition, philosophy, and spiritual healing.

My Conclusions found the following offer the greatest potential as adjunct treatment:

1. Meditation

2. Alpha Theta Brain Wave Therapies

3. Spirituality, Faith & Belief

4. Psychotherapy guided sensory & movement therapies

5. Therapies (drumming, basketball) coupled with EEG biofeedback*

6. Neurotransmitter (nootropic) supplements

I did not review and discuss supplements and homeopathy. But will be adding these as separate blogs in the coming months.

Current studies report very favorably on meditation and alpha-theta brainwave biofeedback methods – as it allows participants to lower brainwave states into the alpha phase (8-15 Hz), where improved recall of memories necessary for processing trauma & healing is possible.

Favorable results are reported in movement, sensory, and touch (massage) therapies, particularly when a practitioner interacts with dialog and affirmations. This helps to overcome trauma and negative emotions about an illness. It includes EMDR therapy.

The increased availability of EEG reader technology coupled with mobile phones and tablets can be added to therapies and allow enhanced biofeedback in alpha brainwave states. I am excited to try adding EEG wave assessment to basketball and drumming. I currently only track eye and body movements as an estimate of brainwave states.

Nootropic supplements of neurotransmitters is intriguing today with what we know about brain science and the 8-10 neurochemicals at play in behavior, cognition, mood, and energy levels. What is often difficult to ascertain, is determining which neurotransmitters an individual might be deficient in. Nootropics offer consumers the ability to supplement these for improved brain health and performance. An mHealth app might further this assessment to more strategically target low levels.

I’ve practiced spirituality, faith, and belief methodologies since the 1970s with good outcomes, while also witnessing some in my earlier nuclear medicine work. Faith/belief, like so many alternative modalities, can be difficult to corroborate due to user bias to a particular doctrine, practitioner, or technique. Still, my experience and studies report favorable some very outcomes with faith healing. The specific faith or belief  is one of personal preference. Between 1981-1992, I interviewed several thousand patients on illness and belief, and channel that into my mindfulness methods in drumming today.

Photo at Top: The image, while it appears to be from a 1960s record album, is actually created from one of my MRI brain images. I created it as a tribute to EMI Records (record label for The Beatles & Frank Sinatra), who funded the development of the first CT brain scanner in 1971, that garnered the Nobel Prize. It was a testament to innovation!

On November 13, 2015, I published this blog on Nootropics Supplements:

Nootropics Vitamins now able to boost Brain Performance

I published earlier information on alternative medicine and CAM on this blog:

Healing thru Complimentary and Alternative Medicine

Please check back for updates. I will be adding “Discussion” and “Conclusions” sections.

Stephen M. Dolle
Dolle Communications

Stephen Dolle Headshot in a Suit
Stephen Dolle, CEO of Dolle Communications


Types of Addiction


Addictions to Substances (DSM-IV-TR)



•Opioids (like heroin)

•Prescription drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers)


•Cannabis (marijuana)

•Amphetamines (like methamphetamine, known as meth)



•Phencyclidine (known as PCP or Angeldust)

•Other unspecified substances

Addictions of Behavioral (DSM-IV-TR)

•Food (eating)


•Pornography (attaining, viewing)

•Using computers / the internet

•Playing video games



•Spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion)

•Pain (seeking)



Impulse Control Disorders (DSM-IV-TR)

•Intermittent explosive disorder (compulsive aggressive and assaultive acts)

•Kleptomania (compulsive stealing)

•Pyromania (compulsive setting of fires)


Types of Mental Illness (


Anxiety Disorders


Bipolar Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder


Dissociative Disorders

Eating Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Schizoaffective Disorder

*ADHD/autism listed as mental health

Schizophrenia Related Conditions


Dual Diagnosis



Sleep Disorders


Common medical sequela in addiction

  • Cravings
  • Compulsivity
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irrational/aggressive behavior
  • Cognitive dysfunction (memory & learning)
  • Array of neurological complaints, incl. balance & sensory
  • Dual diagnosis mental health disorders
  • Co-occurring general health lung, liver, GI, and other disorders


Brain Pathways involved in Cognition and Addiction
Brain Pathways involved in Cognition and Addiction

Dual Diagnosis vs Co-occurring Disorder Influences

More than 1/3 of people with mental illness also have substance abuse problems. More than 1/2 of drug abusers also report experiencing mental illness.

Co-occurring Disorders

Individuals living with a substance abuse disorder, often have one or more physical health problems such as lung disease, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, plus mental health disorders. Great site

My View on Co-occurring Disorders

Underlying brain pathology is so common and often difficult to detect, and can include undiagnosed prior brain injury, concussion, genetic & environmental disorders. These can occur both as dual and co-occurring  disorders, and contribute to cognitive and sensory dysfunction, and can markedly diminish outcomes and likelihood of relapse. Identification of these is often limited by sensitivity & specificity of the diagnostic procedure, competence of medical staff, and practices in the field, i.e. politics of sensory processing disorder (SPD). Dolle recommends your treatment approach should account for underlying hidden pathology.  Stephen M. Dolle, online writings; Addiction and Cognition, Thomas J. Gould Ph.D., Dec 2010

Management of Complaints and Co-occurring Disorders thru mHealth

Android Apps
Android Apps

I designed an earlier mHealth app for hydrocephalus, and write about mHealth apps today for the care of neurological disorders. Some of these Apple & Android apps include PTSD, migraine, sleep, pain management, diaries, diabetes & asthma, etc. Some are discussed on the blogs and web pages below.

mHealth Method could be new Hydrocephalus App

Weather App helps in Management of Weather-related Migraine

Design and Best Use of mHealth Apps Mood Tracker

Monitoring Form for Hydrocephalus hopes to be new mHealth Mobile App
Monitoring Form for Hydrocephalus hopes to be new mHealth Mobile App


Cognition and Addiction

Large NIH Study on Cognition and Addiction

Drug addiction manifests clinically as compulsive drug seeking, use, and cravings that can persist and recur after extended periods of abstinence. From a neurological perspective, addiction is a disorder of “altered cognition.”

The brain regions and processes that underlie addiction overlap with those involved in essential cognitive functions:  learning, memory, attention, reasoning, and impulse control. Drugs alter normal brain structure and function, and produce cognitive shifts that promote continued drug use thru maladaptive learning.

First Stage: drug use increases and becomes uncontrolled, resulting in drug-induced deregulation of the brain’s reward system (Feltenstein and See, 2008). Normally, dopamine is associated with pleasurable feelings, activities, and sex. Drugs hyperactivate this system and trigger abrupt increases in dopamine and sensations, cueing the user to take more, and promoting a new maladaptive drug association (Feltenstein and See, 2008).

Second Stage: the addictive process poses new clinical symptoms, withdrawal, vulnerability to relapse, with alterations in decision making and cognition. Kalivas and Volkow (2005) reported that drug-induced alterations in signals by the neurotransmitter glutamate from the brain area associated with judgment, the prefrontal cortex, which disrupts cognitive and other processes needed for abstinence.

Circuits involved in drug abuse & addiction
Circuits involved in drug abuse & addiction

Drug use causes changes in the brain and cognition, affecting the striatum, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus (Jones and Bonci, 2005; Kalivas and Volkow, 2005; Kelley, 2004; Le Moal and Koob, 2007). These regions underlie declarative memory, which are key in maintaining a concept of self (Cahill and McGaugh, 1998; Eichenbaum, 2000; Kelley, 2004; Setlow, 1997). Research suggests drug use impact on cognition is far-reaching.

These drugs increase cognition in the first stage: amphetamine, nicotine, and cocaine. (Del et al., 2007; Kenney and Gould, 2008; Mattay, 1996).

The increase can also be a reversal of withdrawal. (Swan and Lessov-Schlaggar, 2007). Cocaine produced similar effects in a study of rats (Devonshire, Mayhew, and Overton, 2007).

Studies show many drugs reshape the communication pathways between neurons (synaptic plasticity), which can contribute to the formation and persistence of maladaptive drug-stimulus associations.

Brain function involved in addiction
Brain function involved in addiction

Cocaine and nicotine induce one form of synaptic plasticity, strengthening neural connections via long-term potentiation (LTP; see Learning in the Mind and Brain on page 8 and Table 1) (Argilli et al., 2008; Kenney and Gould, 2008). Amphetamine can enhance LTP (Delanoy, Tucci, and Gold, 1983).

Marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system, resulting in inhibition LTP and long-term depression (LTD), a form of synaptic plasticity in which connections between neurons become less responsive (Carlson, Wang, and Alger, 2002; Nugent and Kauer, 2008; Sullivan, 2000). Ethanol consistently disrupts LTP while enhancing LTD (Yin et al., 2007).

Morphine inhibits LTP of neurons that exhibit inhibitory control of neural activity via the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (Nugent and Kauer, 2008). Inhibition of GABA activity can lead to an increase in neural activity throughout the brain, stronger associations, and maladaptive drug-context associations.

10 Neurotransmitters in the brain
10 Neurotransmitters in the brain
Neurotransmitters and the drugs they mimic.
Neurotransmitters and the drugs they mimic.

Drugs produce cognition-related withdrawal and makes abstinence more difficult

  • cocaine—deficits in cognitive flexibility (Kelley et al., 2005);
  • amphetamine—deficits in attention and impulse control (Dalley et al., 2005);
  • opioids—deficits in cognitive flexibility (Lyvers and Yakimoff, 2003);
  • alcohol—deficits in working memory and attention (Moriyama et al., 2006);
  • cannabis—deficits in cognitive flexibility and attention (Pope, Gruber, and Yurgelun-Todd, 2001); and
  • nicotine—deficits in working memory and declarative learning (Kenney and Gould, 2008).

These cognitive deficits with withdrawal are often temporary, but long-term use can lead to lasting cognitive decline, depending on the drug, the environment, and the user’s genetic makeup (see Genes, Drugs, and Cognition on page 11).

Long-term cannabis use causes impaired learning, retention, and retrieval of dictated words, with both long-term and short-term users showing deficits in time estimation (Solowij et al., 2002).

Chronic amphetamine and heroin users show deficits in verbal fluency, pattern recognition, planning, and the ability to shift attention from one frame of reference to another (Ornstein et al., 2000).

Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of mental retardation in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). Fetal alcohol exposure increases susceptibility to later substance abuse (Yates et al., 1998).

Prenatal drug exposure can have significant effects on cognition and behavior in a developing child.

Nicotine use is strongly associated with ADHD, where cognitive symptoms are similar to those during nicotine withdrawal, and both have alterations in the acetylcholinergic system (Beane and Marrocco, 2004; Kenney and Gould, 2008). Acute nicotine use can also reverse some ADHD attentional deficits (Conners et al., 1996).

Genetic makeup also influences the way a drug alters cognitive processes.

NIDA Information & Studies on Addiction and the Brain: 15-20 Clinical Studies

Teen Brain Development and Alcohol w/ SPECT

Prescription Drugs used in Addiction

SAMHS A-HRS A Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS )

FDA has approved three newer medications for treatment of substance abuse:

  1. a) buprenorphine to treat opioid addictions in 2002
  2. b) acamprosate to treat alcohol addiction in 2004
  3. c) extended-release naltrexone to treat alcohol addictions in 2006 and opioid addiction in 2010.


Sensory Processing Disorder

Brain health, mental health, and sensory processing disorder will be the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.
Brain health, mental health, and sensory processing disorder will be the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.

First defined by occupational therapist Anna Jean Ayres in 1972 as the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s body and environment, sensory processing disorder makes it difficult to use the body effectively within the environment.

WebMD: Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. It used to be called sensory integration dysfunction.

Wikipedia identifies the senses of vision, audition, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioception, and vestibular system.

Perspectives on Sensory Processing Disorder: A Call for Translational Research – Sept. 2009

Article explores the convergence between two fields: clinical field of sensory integration, and a branch of neuroscience that uses the term to describe specific types of sensation disorders.

Newer technology has allowed a new focus on multisensory integration (MSI), which studies the interaction of two or more sensory modalities.

SPD today includes a variety of subtypes depending on the senses involved and functional impairment.

The clinical field is not unified on the subtypes, one group proposes six subtypes (Miller, 2006; Miller et al., 2007), but individuals may also have a combination of subtypes (R. Picard and E. Hedman). Miller proposes three main categories:

A. Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD): difficulty regulating responses to sensory stimulation. Three subtypes are proposed:

1) Sensory over-responsive (responds too much, for too long, or to stimuli of weak intensity)

2) Sensory under-responsive (responds too little, or needs strong stimulation to be aware of stimulus)

3) Sensory seeking/craving (responds with craving for more or stronger stimulation). All three modulation subtypes have in common difficulty grading or regulating responses to sensory stimuli.

B. Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD): Sensory discrimination disorder refers to difficulty interpreting the specific characteristics of sensory stimuli (e.g., intensity, duration, spatial, and temporal elements of sensations; Miller, 2006; Miller et al., 2007a).

Sensory discrimination disorder can be present in any of the seven sensory systems (i.e., vestibular, proprioceptive, and the five basic senses).

C. Sensory-based Motor Disorder (SMD): Within sensory-based motor disorder, two subtypes are proposed:

1) Postural disorder, which reflects problems in balance and core stability, and

2) Dyspraxia, which encompasses difficulties in motor planning and sequencing movements.

*No NIH or governmental organizations

My Efforts in SPD & Cognitive Accessibility

I became very involved in sensory processing disorder in the years following my treatment of hydrocephalus. My initial complaints were vestibular, and sensitivity to sound and light, especially real chaotic sources. As you will read from my efforts below, I had already been doing research with medical devices and cognition when I became involved in music therapy. I also recall in the first few years following my initial surgeries, doing tai chi, yoga, swimming, chiropractic, and trying a variety of supplements. But, I was very involved in alternative medicine and healing back in the 1980s. And in 1981 while working as a nuclear medicine technologist, I serendipitously developed skills as a medical intuitive. SEE more about my past efforts in alternative medicine in this 2012 blog.

In 2002, I undertook my first study of sensory integration, and two years later, I became involved in drumming, or drum circles. You will read in the following paragraphs of my extensive efforts in sensory processing, and my efforts today in its future of “cognitive accessibility.”

I view sensory processing disorder as a group of neurological (sensory) complaints, or sequela, associated with dysfunction of the brain & body sensory centers as described by Miller The specific sensory center involved then determines the type of functional limitation the patient will suffer. But, sensory processing also involves balance & movement, verbal & non-verbal communications, social integration, and independence.

In my experience, the three most common SPD sub-types are: sensitivity to sound, light, and motion.  And, it is environmental “triggers” of these affected senses that can put you in an SPD crisis. Learn to be aware what your specific triggers are, and the levels needed to affect you. You can keep written notes, or there are PTSD and pain management mobile apps today that can serve as a journal.

Common complaints typically triggered by susceptibility to SPD include:


•irritability/ behavioral challenges

•decreased cognition

•nausea & vomiting

•loss of balance, disorientation

•inability of function

Disorders commonly associated with SPDs include: post-concussion, post TBI, hydrocephalus, migraine, autism, PTSD, ADHD, post tumor, dementia, and varying degrees of drug & alcohol addiction.

I have had limited exposure to SPDs in drug & alcohol addiction. But I know they are somewhat common thru addiction’s long term connection with PTSD. But there’s not much published about it. In fact, there are few studies on SPD outside of PTSD and autism.

I estimate SPD today affects about 1 in 5 Americans, when you include seniors with varying degrees of dementia. The challenge is in raising the level of research and awareness that can lead to new treatments. Over the years, I developed my own methods in warding off the effects of SPD as best I could. And in hydrocephalus like in many of the disorders, SPD seems to be more problematic when migraine and other neuro complaints are at their minimum.

Strategies to moderate SPD levels:

1. Adequate sleep, well managed stress.

2. Regular exercise, esp. one’s w/ changing posture

3. Good diet & nutrition

4. Drink lots of water

5. Have an outlet or activity you find enjoyable

6. Play or listen to music, learn compensatory methods to your triggers

Learn how to engage/focus your attention on other things during exposure to triggers

Cognitive Accessibility in SPDs.Hulk Destroys Tree Shredder
Cognitive Accessibility in SPDs.Hulk Destroys Tree Shredder

My 2002 SPD study led to my becoming involved with music therapy, and later, drumming. After many years of research and efforts in SPD, I created a separate page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with the identified sub-pages.

2002 Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) Study

Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome
Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome

2002 Sensory Processing Disorders Study

The above link is to my 2002 study of SPD I undertook with the metronome on this Boss Recording unit. I confirmed that it is the lack of rhythmic pattern that renders sound much more problematic. I also affirmed that melodic patterns of the same sound were more pleasing, as was also reported in the Mozart Effect. SEE also my blog and web page on sensory processing in football where stadium levels can become problematic.

Seattle Seahawks prepared for Super Bowl.
Seattle Seahawks prepared for Super Bowl.

Dolle Communications/Cognitive Neurosciences

In 2014, I created the following web page on the cognitive neurosciences so as to organize my related online content. Further below are my key web pages that related to sensory processing disorder.

Dolle Communications/Cognitive Accessibility

Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er
Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er

Myself and others have worked to explain sensory processing disorder or SPD. The next step is in protecting cognition in one’s environment, and the “triggers” that make one ill.

It is my contention that specific disability accommodations are protections from triggers and should apply to individuals with SPDs by virtue of a disability, and moderation of known triggers like adverse sounds, lights, scents, etc in public place, affects the individuals use of facilities. Therefore, accommodations via management of adverse triggers should come under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehab Act. Loud TV commercials and sound exposure in one’s home should also be regulated, just as is wheelchair and visual accessibility. Cognitive accommodations should apply to web sites, buildings, and user instructions for a wide range of products. Examples of noise exposure protections are identified below.

Reasonable SPD Accommodations

1. Protection from sudden load audio of TV commercials & programs

2. Construction noise at home, work, and school.

3. Loud music & machinery noise in public places, buildings, health clubs, restaurants, etc.

Technical Difficulties Please Stand By

From 1950-1980, while there were no efforts to make information and technology more user friendly for cognitive accessibility, there were established information practices as a “courtesy” so the user wouldn’t get stressed wondering what was happening to their TV set. This was a common image broadcasters displayed on your TV screen in the event of a problem. Today – you get nothing of the sort. It’s more your problem. Figure it out. – This domain I own currently points to my page above.

Of course, screen ads like the Yelp screen image below is a common accessibility issue today. Such ads diminish accessibility of a web page, and I hope they cease.

Or if you have a cognitive disability and are out shopping for toothpaste, and come across a busy aisle like that below, with similar packaging – prepare to be in that aisle for a while. Hopefully in the future, stores will better organize these displays.

Target.Colgate Toothpaste Screenshot

This cognitive accessibility organization is affiliated with the U.S. government and offers the most up to date information in web design and issues with the internet

W3C Cognitive Research

Individuals with cognitive disabilities are also eligible for special TSA assistance at airports and on airplanes. SEE my blog below on Meet & Assist TSA services.

TSA Cares Logo
TSA Cares Logo

 My blog below includes several YouTube videos of problematic machinery noise:

New Insights in Sound Sensory Processing Disorder

U.S. Policy & Insurance Politics

There is a tremendous amount of disinformation in SPD, which seems more about politics and insurance reimbursement, than science. I suspect it originates from earlier claims of PTSD from combat, and in children with autism. The way to offset this is with public awareness, activism, and research.

Problematic PR in Addiction, Mental Health, and Neurological Disorders

-the need to turn the image around (esp for cog access), turn a negative into a positive

-compare what Viagra & Sen. Bob Dole did for the embarrassment of ED (erectile dysfunction)

Portugal Legalized all drug use in 2001

2009 Report published by the Cato Institute: Glenn Greenwald, attorney and author

Portugal dramatically improved its ability to encourage drug addicts to avail themselves of treatment. The resources previously devoted to prosecuting and imprisoning drug addicts are now available for treatment programs. Portugal now has the lowest rates of marijuana usage (10%) in people over 15 in the EU. Drug use of all kinds declined.


Neurotransmitters of the Brain

Brain Dopamine Seratonin

The article below discusses 7 key neurotransmitters or molecules of the brain and their role in cognition, happiness, sleep, etc. The author writes on sports psychology. I’ve pasted in a few key paragraphs from the article.

Psychology Today: 7 key neurotransmitter molecules of the brain

1. Endocannabinoids: these molecules work on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors of the cannabinoid system. Anandamide (from Sanskrit “Ananda” meaning Bliss) is the most well-known endocannabinoid. There are at least 85 cannabinoids that have been isolated from the Cannabis plant.  It is felt that each of these alters perception and states of consciousness in various ways. It is likely we self-produce many variations of endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids act to control neurotransmitter release in a host of neuronal tissues, including the hippocampus, amygdala, basal ganglia, and cerebellum.

A recent study at the University of Arizona published in April 2012 suggested that endocannabinoids are most likely the source of “runner’s high.” The study showed that humans and dogs significantly increase endocannabinoids following sustained running.  It not address the potential role of endorphins in runner’s high. Other research has focused on the blood–brain barrier (BBB), which reported that endorphin molecules are too large to pass freely across the BBB, and are probably not responsible for the blissful state in runner’s high.

This latest study offers a more definitive connection with this neurochemical. You have the option to read or download the full study.

Latest 2015 Study on Endocannabinoids and Runner’s High

2. Dopamine: it is a reward-driven neurotransmitter for pleasure. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain.

Dopamine plays a key role in the limbic system, which is involved in emotional function and control. It also plays a part in movement, alertness, and sensations of pleasure.

Many addictive drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of dopamine, leaving these neurotransmitters in the synaptic gap longer. There is evidence people with extraverted, or uninhibited personalities, tend to have higher levels of dopamine than those with introverted personalities. Try and increase your levels of dopamine naturally by being a go-getter idea person.

3. Oxytocin: “Bonding Molecule” (hormone) is directly linked to human bonding, social trust, and loyalty.  High levels of oxytocin correlate with romantic attachment in men. When a couple is separated, the lack of physical contact lowers oxytocin and drives the feeling of longing to be with that person again. Oxytocin levels are typically higher in women. In men, vasopressin (a close cousin to oxytocin) may be more the “bonding molecule.” It is said that those who engage in philanthropy and volunteerism have higher levels of oxytocin.

The strong emotional bonding between humans and dogs may have a biological basis in oxytocin too. And is likely why seniors and widowers live longer happier lives when they keep a dog. If you don’t have a partner to offer you affection and increase oxytocin, pets, dogs and cats fill a key void.

Oxytocin is involved in the control of maternal behavior. A large amount of oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, transported to the posterior lobe of the pituitary and released into the blood.

4. Endorphin: Resemble opiates in chemical structure, and have analgesic properties too. Serum β-Endorphin is an endogenous opioid neuropeptide found in the neurons of both the central and peripheral nervous system. It is one of five endorphins found in humans, the others of which include α-endorphin, γ-endorphin, α-neoendorphin, and β-neoendorphin.

β-Endorphin release in response to exercise has been known and studied since at least the 1980s. Studies have demonstrated that serum concentrations of endogenous opioids, in particular β-endorphin and β-lipotrophin, increase in response to both acute exercise and training. The notion of β-endorphin release during exercise is colloquially known in popular culture as a runner’s high.

Research has shown that acupuncture needles at specific body points can trigger the production of endorphins. In another study, higher levels of endorphins were found in cerebrospinal fluid after acupuncture.

5. GABA: “Anti-Anxiety Molecule” is an inhibitory molecule that slows the firing of neurons and creates a sense of calmness. You increase GABA naturally by practicing yoga, meditation, relaxing activities. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, are sedatives that increase GABA. But these drugs have side effects and pose risks of dependency.

A study in the “Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine” found a 27% increase in GABA levels among yoga practitioners after a 60-minute yoga session, compared to participants who just read a book for 60 minutes. Meditation also lowers beta brain waves to theta waves, reported to aid calm and clear recall of memories.

6. Serotonin:  Plays many different roles in the brain. High serotonin aids self-esteem, feelings of worthiness and a sense of belonging (salience). For this reason, serotonin is mimicked in drug and alcohol addiction, and also in prescription drugs for depression, where they are termed Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Drugs include Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft. The main indication for SSRIs is clinical depression, but SSRIs are frequently prescribed for anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Serotonin also helps regulate sleep.

SSRIs got there name because it was once thought they worked by keeping serotonin in the synaptic gap for longer and make people happier. However, some people never respond to SSRIs. But they do respond to medications that act on GABA, and dopamine or norepinephrine.

7. Adrenaline: real name is epinephrine, and plays a key role in the fight or flight mechanism. The release of epinephrine creates a big surge in energy. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, causes less important blood vessels to constrict ,and increasing blood flow to larger muscles. An “Epi-Pen” is a shot of epinephrine used in the treatment of acute allergic reaction.

An adrenaline rush comes at times of distress or facing fear. It can be triggered on demand with activities that terrify you, or a situation that feels dangerous like a movie. You can also aid an adrenaline rush by taking short rapid breathes and contracting muscles, as weightlifters and athletes often do. The jolt is healthy in small doses.

The chart below list the key neurotransmitters and their role in the human body. I’ve also shared some information from Wikipedia further below.

Wikipedia – Neurochemicals

Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter. Most neurons secrete glutamate. Glutamate is excitatory, meaning that the release of glutamate by one cell usually causes adjacent cells to fire an action potential. (Note: Glutamate is chemically identical to the MSG commonly used to flavor food.)

Acetylcholine assists motor function and is involved in memory.

Nitric oxide also functions as a neurotransmitter, despite being a gas. It is not grouped with the other neurotransmitters because it is not released in the same way.

Eicosanoids act as neuromodulators via the Arachidonic acid cascade.

Discussion of diet and neurotransmitters

The table below discusses the effect of drugs & alcohol on brain neurochemicals:

Neurotransmitters and the drugs they mimic.
Neurotransmitters and the drugs they mimic.

Brainwave States of the Brain

The human brain elicits brain wave signals across neurons which, along with neurochemicals and oxygen blood flow, helps carry out the various functions of the brain. Historically, these brain waves were studied by EEG medical instruments in patients suffering seizures. But today, it has been shown that certain brain waves are most optimal for specific types of activities. Ordinarily this was not something that we could control. But with more recent brain wave research in areas like yoga, music and drumming therapy, EEG biofeedback, and mindfulness, practice has shown that you can execute more control over your brain waves to be happier, healthier, and more productive. Still, brain wave science serves important roles in health and addiction disorders, where along with abnormalities in neurochemicals and behavior, abnormalities occur in brain waves which can be treated with a variety of biofeedback, meditation, music, and other therapies, which I cover in later sections.

Below, is information on the four (4) primary brain wave states recognized today. The chart (further below) identifies additional brain waves on the upper and lower ends of the range. The chart identifies brain waves associated with the primary neurotransmitters.

Four Primary Brainwaves

Beta Waves: frequency range between 12 and 30 Hz. They awaking awareness, extroversion, concentration, logical thinking, active conversation.

Alpha Waves: frequency range of 8-12 Hz arising from synchronous and coherent (in phase / constructive) electrical activity of thalamic pacemaker cells in humans. They are also called Berger’s wave in memory of the founder of EEG. They place the brain in states of relaxation times, non-arousal, meditation, hypnosis

Theta Waves: 4-8 Hz. Day dreaming, dreaming, creativity, meditation, paranormal phenomena, out of body experiences, ESP, shamanic journeys. A person driving on a freeway, who discovers that they can’t recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state – induced by the process of freeway driving. This can also occur in the shower or tub or even while shaving or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage. The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.

Delta Waves: high amplitude brain waves between 0-4 hertz. Delta waves associated with deepest stages of sleep (3 and 4 NREM), known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), and aid in characterizing the depth of sleep.

Meditation increases activity in the left prefrontal cortex. The changes are stable over time. If you stop meditating for a while, the effect lingers.

Brainwave Chart of Neurotransmitters

In my work as a drum circle facilitator, I have been actively involved in altering brain waves since 2010. In group drumming, there is a group “brain wave entrainment” or BWE, where the brain waves of members of the group can act alike, in as little as 8-10 minutes of drumming. BWE in drumming was first identified by Dr. Barry Bitman et. al.

My 2015 blog (and web page) on Drumming in the Workplace describes how drumming can alter brain waves and lead to increased productivity, less stress, and healthier employees at work. The article below discusses how brain waves affect mental health.

2007 Article on Brainwave States thru Meditation

Psychology Today: Alpha Brain Waves Boost Creativity, Reduce Depression

Neuroscientists have made a correlation between an increase of alpha brain waves—either through electrical stimulation, mindfulness, or meditation—and ability to reduce depression & increase creative thinking. The issue is too much Beta wave activity esp related to stress. SEE brainwave feedback info on altering these waves.

Binaural Beats

(Wikipedia) Binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, caused by specific physical stimuli. This effect was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove and earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims coming from the alternative medicine community that binaural beats could help induce relaxation, meditation, creativity and other desirable mental states. The effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone: for example, if 300 Hz was played in one ear and 310 in the other, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 10 Hz.

The brain produces a phenomenon resulting in low-frequency pulsations in the amplitude and sound localization of a perceived sound when two tones at slightly different frequencies are presented separately, one to each of a subject’s ears, using stereo headphones. A beating tone will be perceived, as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. The frequencies of the tones must be below 1,000 hertz for the beating to be noticeable. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately, and no beat will be perceived.

Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing.

Binaural beats reportedly influence the brain in more subtle ways through the entrainment of brainwaves and provide other health benefits such as pain relief.

Types of CAM/Alternative Medicine Therapies

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (CAM), a Division of NIH, provides the following:

Complementary and Integrative Health or CAM is the term created by NIH to identify alternative medicine therapies used together, or in adjunct to, traditional Western medicine.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (CAM)

Complementary and Integrative Health Topic Search

The above list the most recognizable modalities. For modalities outside of NIH and Western medicine, more can be found under alternative or mind-body medicine. You can sign up for emails at:

Western medicine has been critical of alternative modalities, offering very limited support to reports of effectiveness. But a few, they do endorse, namely meditation, biofeedback, acupuncture, music therapy, and some movement and proprioceptive therapies, i.e. equine or horse therapy. As much as I like Wikipedia, they exhibit a bias against alternative medicine, though perhaps some modalities deservingly so.

Wikipedia CAM/Alternative Medicine Portal

NCCAM (5) Classifications of CAM

1.Alternative Medical Systems

2.Mind-Body Intervention

3.Biologically Based Therapy

4.Manipulative Methods

5.Energy Therapy

MD Anderson Cancer Center (Texas) – Complementary & Integrative Medicine

Big web site affiliated with Western medicine, redundant in places.

Healing thru Complimentary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) with New Methods in Drumming

My updated 2012 Blog on CAM, Alternative Medicine, and Healing

Dolle Proposes (6) Categories, (11) Classifications of Alternative Medicine

1. Sound

2. Touch

3. Movement

4. Visual

5. Olfactory

6. Mental

Each identifies a sensory “pathway” to effect the individual.

Dolle Proposes (11) Classifications of Alternative Medicine

1. Mind/behavioral/memory

2. Brain/brain wave

3. Heart & Breath work

4. Body/movement

5. Digestion/colonics

6. Meridian Therapies

7. Neuromuscular

8. Sensory

9. Diet/nutrition/supplements

10. Spiritual/faith/belief/intention

11. Energy

*Each identifies a “mechanism” in the body thru which the modality effects. – Alternative Medicine

One of my favorite web sites for information on alternative medicine*

Psychology Today – mostly CAM Therapies

The major rhythmic disruption in PTSD and complex trauma is circadian rhythm; the 24 hr. sleep/wake cycle that follows the dark/light cycle of the sun’s rising and setting.

Types of Alternative Therapies in Addiction Treatment

The list of alternative medicine therapies below is a comprehensive list from – a very intriguing site. I cannot speak to the effectiveness of many of these in addiction treatment. Still, they are therapies that are in use in the treatment of addiction, and must have some effectiveness.

CAM Therapies most Recognized in Addiction


Neurofeedback – alpha-theta brain wave therapy


Spirituality/Faith & Belief

Individual & Group Psychotherapy – great site w/ lots of info


Animal/Pet Therapy


Auricular therapy – Auricular therapy is a healing practice dating back to the third century where the practitioner uses needles at acupuncture points on the outer ear that correspond to specific parts of the human body.


Body awareness/healing

Brainwave Biofeedback

Breath Therapy – breathing techniques to help reduce stress, get more energy, feel better, and lose weight.

Craniosacral therapy

Creative Arts Therapy


Coloring Therapy

Herbal Therapy





Massage & Bodywork


Spirituality/Faith & Belief



EMDR Therapy

Psychodynamic & Educational groups

Individual Psychotherapy

Family Psychotherapy

Psycho-drama sessions

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy – (EAP) incorporates horses for mental, behavioral health, and personal therapy. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional to address treatment goals.

Rapid Eye Technology – RET is a natural, safe way to release stress and trauma. RET simulates REM sleep, your body’s own natural release system. Home care method:

Recreation & fitness*




Somatic therapy – studies the relationship between the mind and body in regard to psychological past, past trauma, and dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANA)

Sweat Lodge ceremony

Tai chi


Step workshops

Step curriculum is designed to build competencies in four key areas recognized as vital to professional success.

Leadership & Management: Identify, communicate, and influence future outcomes, risks, and impacts. Recognize opportunities for yourself and for others. Implement successful organizational processes in areas such as planning, budgeting, and performance management.

Communication & Relationship Building: Assess situations, identify meaningful solutions, and communicate these solutions to others. Create collaborative environments and offer constructive feedback to help a team achieve its goals.

Personal & Professional Management: Apply self-management techniques to achieve career and personal goals using the process of life-long learning, self-development and managing behavior.

Entrepreneurialism: Identify professional surroundings as a potential marketplace. Acquire the tools to take advantage of one-of-a-kind opportunities within that marketplace, whether as an employee or an individual starting a business.

National Center for Alcohol & Drug Detox

•Sports and Recreation


•Physical Therapy


•Tai Chi

•Nutritional Counseling

•Spiritual Guidance

•Reading and Creativity

•Art Therapy

•Aerobics and Fitness

Spirituality and Belief: My Personal Experiences

Animal Spirits surround Stephen Dolle at this 2009 Full Moon Drum Circle in Laguna Beach, CA.
Animal Spirits surround Stephen Dolle at this 2009 Full Moon Drum Circle in Laguna Beach, CA.

Music Therapy

Alex Doman – Advanced Brain Technologies

Music aides in Cancer Care

RESULTS: Available evidence suggests that music-based interventions may have a positive impact on pain, anxiety, mood disturbance, and quality of life in cancer patients. Advances in neurobiology may provide insight into the potential mechanisms by which music impacts these outcomes.

Music Therapy Reduces Pain in Palliative Care Patients: J Pain Symptom Manage. 2013; 45:822-831

The somatosensory system

The somatosensory systems inform us about objects in our external environment through touch (i.e., physical contact with skin) and about the position and movement of our body parts (proprioception) through the stimulation of muscle and joints. The somatosensory systems also monitor the temperature of the body, external objects and environment, and provide information about painful, itchy and tickling stimuli.

Dolle Communications: Drumming for Addiction

Drumming Therapy – How effective is it in addiction?

-Dolle 2010 paper on addiction

-Dolle blog & web pages on drumming

-Guided methods in drumming mimic Alpha-theta biofeedback

Stephen Dolle facilitating a Drumming for Wellness workshop at the 2010 UCI Women's Wellness Day.
Stephen Dolle facilitating a Drumming for Wellness workshop at the 2010 UCI Women’s Wellness Day.

Drum Circles : How do they work?

Brain Waves and Rhythmic Syncopation

Dolle Communications – Drum Circles & Workshops

Drum Circles in the Workplace – lots of good brain & cognition methods

Drumming for Wellness – includes drumming for addiction

Drumming for Addiction (PDF)

The Brain Science of Basketball – mindfulness, movement, and proprioception therapy

Dolle Communications – Basketball Therapy

Dr. Amen: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services – known for SPECT Brain Scan Imaging

Dr. Lucy Waletzky MD, Psychiatry & Addiction (11 methods covered)

She highlights acupuncture, brain wave biofeedback, and meditation with dramatic success rates.

NIH – Addiction (2 articles)

-acupuncture, electro acupuncture


Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine
Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture – Auricular, or ear, s based on points in the ear are associated with specific parts of the body. Thus acupuncture needles placed in the ear can achieve a therapeutic effect anywhere in the body. Acupuncture is often used to reduce symptoms related to withdrawal and detoxification and may also have a role in relapse prevention by reducing anxiety, craving, irritability, the inability to focus, and muscle aches.

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction

-discussed more methods over 30 yrs of study as outcomes have been so mixed.

Hypnosis in Addiction: Psychology Today

-more effective in pain management, less in smoking, ltd in addiction

Group hypnosis treatment of drug addicts – can be done with drumming

RESULTS: One patient did not complete treatment due to a major operation, the remaining 9 (90%) completed treatment. All patients (100%) completely stopped use of any street drugs and results remained stable for 6 months after end of treatment. Two years after end of intervention, 7 out of the 9 (78%) remained clean of use of heroin, but 2 (22%) returned to partial use; 6 (67%) of the patients returned to partial use of benzodiazepines, none (0%) showed permanent use of marijuana or cocaine.

BrainWave Therapies in Addiction

Planetary Harmonics & Neurobiological Resonances in Light, Sound, & Brain Wave Frequencies; Including the translation of sound to color

Alpha Theta Brain Wave Therapy: reprogramming the brain & belief system, recall of past memories. Review of Peniston protocol w/ EEG, meditation

Neurofeedback mimics Zen monks (meditation increased alpha, reduced to theta).

Dr. Thomas Budzynski found theta states made subjects ‘hyper-suggestable’ (as if in a hypnotic trance) to suggestions for positive changes to behaviour and attitudes.

Brain Wave Biofeedback* (neurofeedback) – Patients learn to alter their brain wave patterns. Training involves restoring a normal pattern of alpha and theta waves disturbed by long term substance abuse. Brainwave biofeedback has shown dramatic success in several studies to prevent relapses from drug and alcohol addiction.

Alpha-theta Biofeedback: “Peniston Protocol” – great results, uses EEG

Large EEG Biofeedback Study on Treatment for Substance Abuse

The bulk of literature to date regarding EEG biofeedback of addictive disorders is focused on alpha-theta biofeedback. The technique involves the simultaneous measurement of occipital alpha (8–13 Hz) and theta (4–8 Hz) and feedback by separate auditory tones for each frequency representing amplitudes greater than pre set thresholds. The subject is encouraged to relax and to increase the amount of time the signal is heard, that is to say, to increase the amount of time that the amplitude of each defined bandwidth exceeds the threshold. A variety of equipment and software has been used to acquire, process, and filter these signals, and there are differences in technique inherent with equipment and software.

The protocol described by Peniston at the Fort Lyons VA is similar to Twemlow and Elmer Green at the Menninger Clinic, with two additions, i.e., (1) temperature training and (2) script. Peniston introduced temperature biofeedback training as a preconditioning relaxation exercise, along with an induction script to be read at the start of each session. This protocol (described as follows) has become known as the “Peniston Protocol” and has become the focus of research in subsequent studies. Subjects are first taught deep relaxation by skin temperature biofeedback for a minimum of five sessions that additionally incorporates autogenic phrases. Peniston also used the criteria of obtaining a temperature of 94° before moving on to EEG biofeedback. Participants then are instructed in EEG biofeedback and in an eyes closed and relaxed condition, receive auditory signals from an EEG apparatus using an international site O1 single electrode. A standard induction script employing suggestions to relax and “sink down” into reverie is read. When alpha (8–12 Hz) brainwaves exceed a preset threshold, a pleasant tone is heard, and by learning to voluntarily produce this tone, the subject becomes progressively relaxed. When theta brainwaves (4–8 Hz) are produced at a sufficiently high amplitude, a second tone is heard, and the subject becomes more relaxed and according to Peniston, enters a hypnagogic state of free reverie and high suggestibility.

Applied Kinesiology

Applied kinesiology use the principle of muscle strength to evaluate subconscious thoughts, body energy, and meridians for signs of manifesting physical and mental health disorders. Seems to also access meridian & hypnosis mechanisms.

Applied Kinesiology Information on Use in Chiropractic and Osteopathic Medicine

Applied Kinesiology on Wikipedia

*critical of AK per American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Definition: A manual muscle test in AK is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies a force. A smooth response is sometimes referred to as a “strong muscle” and a response that was not appropriate is sometimes called a “weak response”. This is not a raw test of strength, but rather a subjective evaluation of tension in the muscle and smoothness of response, taken to be indicative of a difference in spindle cell response during contraction. These differences in muscle response are claimed to be indicative of various stresses and imbalances in the body.


Basketball Al Light of Spirit

Clear your Brain: 5 Neuroscience Ways to Clear Your Mind – by Bergland

1. Distraction

The mind can only really think of one thing at a time. When you concentrate your attention on one thing, you inevitably engage the parallel act of ignoring other things.

The February 2015 study “Attention Drives Synchronization of Alpha and Beta Rhythms between Right Inferior Frontal and Primary Sensory Neocortex,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers at Brown identified how the brain achieves optimal inattention by changing the synchronization of brainwaves between different brain regions. The researchers hope that by harnessing the power to ignore, that people with chronic pain will have new cognitive tools for reducing pain.

2. Mindfulness

People can learn how to manipulate their alpha rhythms in the somatosensory cortex as they switch their attentional focus though mindfulness training.  The results of their latest research expand our understanding of how mindfulness might possibly operate using the mechanism of redirecting attention via control of alpha rhythms in the brain, which can help people ignore depressive thoughts.

3. Suppression

Two opposite ways to forget bad memories. During memory suppression, a brain structure called dorsolateral prefrontal cortex inhibited activity in the hippocampus, a region critical for recalling past events. Understanding these mechanisms may help understand disorders of memories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

4. Substitution

If suppression doesn’t work, you might want to put on your “rose-tinted glasses” and try substitution by using your imagination to pretend you’re in a different place or experiencing something else.

The researchers at Cambridge found that memory substitution was supported by caudal prefrontal cortex and midventrolateral prefrontal cortex. These are two regions typically involved in bringing specific memories into awareness in the presence of distracting memories.

5. Meditation

Meditation significantly improved functional connectivity in the brain’s network active during introspective thought such as retrieving memories. They also observed trends of less atrophy in the hippocampus.

Fadel Zeiden is exploring the specific brain mechanisms that influence meditation’s ability to reduce perceptions of pain and the experience of anxiety.

Best CAM for Pain Management

Yoga, Acupuncture, EEG biofeedback, Massage Therapy, Tai Chi, Deep Tissue Massage

NIH Analysis Shows 40% of Americans Are In Pain – Aug. 2015

A new analysis of data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has found that most American adults have experienced some level of pain, from brief to more lasting (chronic) pain, and from relatively minor to more severe pain. The analysis helps to unravel the complexities of a Nation in pain. It found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2 percent) experience chronic pain—that is, they had pain every day for the preceding 3 months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain. Those with severe pain are also likely to have worse health status.

23.4 million adults (10.3 percent) experience a lot of pain.

126 million adults (55.7 percent) reported some type of pain in the 3 months prior to the survey.

Pain is one of the leading reasons Americans turn to complementary health approaches such as yoga, massage, and meditation—which may help manage pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed by prescription drugs and other conventional treatments.

Yoga to Relieve Chronic Pain – by Villemura

Reduced gray matter volume can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, and decreased cognitive functioning. Hyper-connectivity of white matter tracts between brain areas associated with negative emotions and pain perception can hardwire these corresponding states of mind.

The researchers used diffusion tensor brain imaging to analyze gray matter volume and the integrity of white matter tracts. Bushnell hypothesizes that increased size and connectivity of the insular cortex is probably the most important brain factor regarding changes in an individual’s pain tolerance and thresholds.

Yoga appears to bulk up gray matter through neurogenesis and strengthen white matter connectivity through neuroplasticity. After assessing the impact of brain anatomy on pain reduction, Bushnell believes that gray matter changes in the insula or internal structures of the cerebral cortex are the most significant players involved in chronic pain.


Rest & recreation – many of the massage therapies plus eg. reading, fishing

Social Integration – BWE, help love & trust

Group Therapy


Music Therapy

Art Therapy


Movement Therapy, proprioception, athletics, Tai chi, basketball (adding rewards, fun sounds to baskets)

Touch therapy, massage, Watsu, (Dog Whisperer techniques)

CAM for Sleep Irregularities

Insomnia & Circadian Rhythm sleep irregularities

-Valerian root, melatonin, Acupuncture, meditation, exercise

Light Therapy

Bright light therapy is the treatment method most often recommended for patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs as a result of reduced exposure to sunlight in the fall, winter and spring.

Blocking glasses for blue light before bed, light therapy, light restriction, more

Relaxing the mind & body before bedtime

Conclusion – (to be finalized soon)

The two most promising CAM therapies from my review are Alpha-Theta brain wave biofeedback, and Nootropics Supplements. On Nov. 13, 2015, I published a separate blog on Nootropics – linked below.

1. Meditation aided with sensory interventions

2. Alpha-Theta Brain Wave Therapy – Peniston protocol w/ EEG, meditation,

3. Spirituality, Faith & Belief

4. Psychotherapy guided sensory & movement therapies

5. Therapies (eg. drumming, basketball) esp. coupled with EEG biofeedback

6. Nootropics Supplements


I may be reached in Newport Beach, California at:

Stephen M. Dolle
Neuroscientist and Drum Circle Facilitator
Dolle Communications – Newport Beach, CA
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com


The Good Bad News about PMS and Women’s Brains

List of common symtpoms of PMS
List of common symtpoms of PMS

I am writing this blog about PMS and the brain as a response to psychologist, Robyn Stein Deluca’s TED Talk on PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome. And I do so in honor of Brain Awareness Week 2015.

TED Talk by Robyn Stein DeLuca: The good news about PMS

Let me share that I am shocked at Robyn’s unscientific approach to the syndrome of PMS, which is reported to be associated with a spectrum of physical and emotional health problems. In my 23 years of public health brain research, and in my drumming for the brain work with special populations, including, women’s health, I’ve seen countless examples of how physical disorders actually affect brain health, and how disorders of the brain affect physical health. It’s no longer a mystery. The real question is, what to do about it? So I left the comment below on Robyn’s TED talk page. I hope she and others read it.

Brain health and mental health is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.
Brain health and mental health is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.

Let’s use 2015 Brain Awareness Week to take a fresh look at PMS.

Migraine headache can get you out of your routine
Migraine headache can get you out of your routine

As a scientist, my gut sense is that PMS is rooted more in the brain’s sensitivity to changes in hormones. For instance, women are far more affected by thyroid, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. They are more likely to feel empathy and have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin. Women also are able to “entrain” their menstrual cycles readily to each other, which is a function of their sensitivity. So, it would seem with this increased sensitivity to emotions, hormonal changes, and activities going on around them, that women could also suffer problematic physical changes in the brain and body from this resulting sensativity. Interestingly, I suspect there are similarities with PMS to that of PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, where for one cause or another, an individual’s brain is less able to process sensory information, and the results are physical changes in the brain, and eventually, in their overall health. Where PMS is a women’s syndrome, PTSD more disproportionately affects men.

Excedrin is used to help manage pain associated with migraine headache.
Excedrin is used to help manage pain associated with migraine headache.

Migraines more disproportionately affect women likely due to their higher hormonal activity and lower hydrostatic pressure in the brain from lower blood volume, and brain pressures. I’ve written about how weather apps and web sites can help in managing weather induced migraine headache.

Weather Apps helpful in Managing Weather Related Migraine Headache

Barometric Pressure graph reveals steep drop and rise which can trigger micraine headache
Barometric Pressure graph reveals steep drop and rise which can trigger micraine headache

Weather related low barometric pressure then is also more likely to induce migraine and hypotensive states in women, than in men. And, the slight loss of blood associated with menstruation, can cause a slight drop in blood pressure and exacerbate migraine syndromes. Together with each woman’s unique psychological makeup, these factors lend itself to a problematic cause & effect of mechanisms that impact brain health in women. Conversely, PTSD seems to affect women far less than men. So it would seem there are some unique health advantages to women’s physiology and brain health.

In support of women’s health, I put on drum circles and drumming events for women’s groups, and for women and others in the workplace.

Drumming for Wellness

Women were ecstatic at this year's women's drum circle at an Orange County area temple.
Women were ecstatic at this year’s women’s drum circle at an Orange County area temple.

Drumming for Workplace Wellness

Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.
Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.

Women tend to suffer fewer problems with homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction, than their male counterparts.

Homelessness Affects Men far more than Women
Homelessness Affects Men far more than Women

This appears to be rooted in differences in the male versus female brains. One difference is with the neurochemical, oxytocin, widely regarded as the “love hormone,” which is found in higher levels in women than in men. But men who are active in community outreach and charitable activities, tend to have higher oxytocin levels. There is now an oxytocin nasal spray which has been greeted with mixed results. More recently, when I consider the plight of area homeless people and their associated mental health challenges, I can’t help but wonder whether oxytocin spray might help them, or whether their helping at an area outreach project might boost oxytocin levels, and help normalize wider brain function. Change has to begin somewhere. Here’s a related study:

Outreach can raise Oxytocin Levels (The Guardian)

In September 2015, I gave an in-depth presentation on how methods of alternative medicine can be used in drug and alcohol addiction, and covered related sensory processing disorder and cognitive accessibility. I also own the domain for

Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er
Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er

Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine
Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine

In my 23 years of being involved in brain care and public health as both a patient and researcher, I’ve seen countless examples of how the prevailing views can be wrong. And Robyn’s dismissal of PMS as a physical syndrome, would appear to be wrong. I also think an mHealth app, coupled with blood work, counseling as needed, exercise, and wellness strategies, could be very helpful in management of PMS.

mHealth Apps in Neurology
mHealth Apps in Neurology

I am concerned with how Robyn Deluca glosses over the obviousness of PMS as NOT having “measurable medical sequela.” Instead, she attempts to label it a mental health or psychiatric disorder.

Avoidable deaths from medical errors in the U.S.
Avoidable deaths from medical errors in the U.S.

I think PMS should be labeled an actual disorder, a bit like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where both are a collection of physical complaints secondary to stress and sensitivities in physiology. The medical field seems intent on denying the existance of both of these, as it similarly has with SPD. I have found shooting baskets to be a wonderful mindfulness therapy for stress and SPD related complaints, and authored this blog.

Sports Science vs the Brain Science of Basketball

Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball
Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball

Over the longer term, untreated brain health issues can result in the development of sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which is a collection of real neurological complaints that the U.S. government continues to refute today. I’ve written a great deal on this topic.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves
Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves

Apparently, PMS is a heated topic. I was attached by a fellow reader after I initially posted my impressions on Robyn’s conclusions on PMS. I hope those of you with firsthand experience who work with PMS patients will continue to voice your views against the politics of medicine.

Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for the FDA's Hydrocephalus STAMP Conference in 1999.
Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for the FDA’s Hydrocephalus STAMP Conference in 1999.

To learn more about my work, contact me at Dolle Communications.

Stephen Dolle
Drum circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist
Public Health Advocate
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Web site: Dolle Communications
Telephone: (949) 642-4592

Our Capacity for Change is Rooted in your Higher Power, Free Will, and Social Media

The power of FREE WILL is a brain science supported mechanism to enable change within ourselves, and to further change proposed by others. Change can occur in small or even very large groups in almost an instant. Change occurs by movement, sharing, and adoption of collective thought. In neuroscience terminology, it begins via a process in the brain termed “brain wave entrainment,” and messages are received and assimiliated from others.

The four levels of brain wave states are shown in this illustration
The four levels of brain wave states are shown in this illustration
A schematic showing how brain wave entrainment occurs.
A schematic showing how brain wave entrainment occurs.

The brain wave entrainment can come from a friend, a stranger, a parent, a teacher, or even an individual during a violant assault. The change is best adopted and sustainable when done via “free will.” But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. There are many people undergoing psychotherapy treatment today for actions and emotions “forced” them months and years earlier, to which they seem to have no free will to change. This typically is a rebound response to a traumatic event that the individual was forced to entrain with, and have become confused as to how & why they entrained with the messenger.

Young children captivated by their play in a drum circle
Young children captivated by their play in a drum circle

Since the beginning of time, persons in positions of authority have acted to control others, using a variety of teaching and team-building methods that have been passed on in families, among populations, and among professions, including, churches. Entrainment is both a genetic, and a conditioned mechanism. We generally control it by whom we associate with. And as modern life and personal protections have evolved, we’ve generally had more rewarding experiences with this, and increasing quality of life. At it’s best, change is most effective if done freely and under conditions of “free will.” And free will must be permitted culturally in terms of accepted social and religious traditions, and in accordance with governing laws and regulations.

Drumming and the Brain.diagram

I believe religious traditions in particular carry tremendous weight in granting permission to participate in certain types of activities. And when these barriers are removed, one can truly exercise FREE WILL to receive and assimilate information from others via brain wave entrainment, and ultimately, to CHANGE and grow from this experience. In a nutshell, we learn by engaging and assimilating outside information.

I have been putting on group drum circles, or “drumming,” since about 2006. Free form assimilation of drum circle play in an “impromptu” setting occurs through improvisation, listening, assimilating, and playing of the instruments. The neuroscience mechanism by which this occurs is termed “brain wave entrainment.” Studies have shown that in a free form or impromptu drum circle, participant’s brain waves will begin to act alike in as little as 8-10 minutes. If it is a prearranged and rehearsed piece, it could potentially occur sooner. This occurs in group activities like sports too, where entrainment is furthered through “coordinated movements,” particularly ones with a set pattern and timing. The fascinating aspect of brain science and learning, is that we are designed to process information in patterns, especially, reproducible “rhythmic” patterns, as human brain waves move across the brain in patterns. The more order and pattern our information is, the easier the assimilation and ultimately, learning.

Early Mayan Basketball
Early Mayan Basketball
Basketball Kevin Durant
Basketball Kevin Durant

However, brain wave entrainment occurs in everyday life far more than you might realize. In order to process information around us into our five senses, we must assimilate the information into recognizable brain wave patterns, or create new ones so we may understand and store it. We entrain while reading a book or working on a project. We entrain in conversations with others, particularly persons we love and trust. Familiarity greatly improves entrainment because we would already have permission to entrain, and this permission makes it more likely that the assimilation will be done under free will. If we believe and accept what the individual is sharing, entrainment occurs much more readily.

The inspiration for writing this blog originally came while writing a blog on how group drum circles can be helpful in reforming the behavior of gang members. After I finished it, I had dwelled and apparently, “prayed” on trying to understand the brain mechanism that binds gang members together. And then it occurred to me how easily we can be “tricked” or coerced into doing things that we might otherwise not normally do. And then it was a revellation of sorts where I understood the mechanism, and first wrote this blog. In my initial publishing, featured the design of the human brain as done by our creator, or God. And then I applied this to present day where social media is now used in brain wave entrainment. It is a matter of debate or conjecture whether it was a creator, or God, or evolution that helped up develop brain wave entrainment so that we could communicate, work as a group, and be more fit to survive. Since this idea initially came to me like a revelation, I kept that theme in much of this piece.

Combating Gang Violence thru Group Drumming and the Psychology of Human Behavior Members

In my revelation, there was no sensation of religion or religious practice. It was more about seeing what is possible thru group thought and behavior. I applied analysis from what I know of science, physics, and human behavior and work in the neurosciences, especially, my work with drum circles. I felt coming together in collective thought under conditions of FREE WILL was the most determinnig factor for change and learning.

I reasoned how we are free to love, to hate, or empathetic, and a gamut of many other thoughts and feelings. But I felt our most powerful learning environment is when we come together for mutually agreeable reason. Our defenses are down. We’ve offered our attentiveness. And now all this is remaining is sharing the information, and assimilating it into action. In free will, results can also be tragic too. People are often misled into agreeing to activities and relationships that end up very badly. It is often difficult to know this will be the outcome as it is occuring, freely entrained with another individual or group of individuals. This has occured in religious sects and churches too. Ultimately, it is free will and our choices that define our connections in life, and possible connections with a higher power.

Prosperity is based on sound information.
Prosperity is based on sound information.

What I find truly fascinating is the study of human behavior and human potential when given free will to ACT without constraint, without consequence, and without coersion, in which path each would choose. There IS irrefutably a connectedness force on earth amongst us that when we assemble in large numbers, we can greatly influence one another. With all of our advances in technology and now social networking, this effect can occur without a group of people physically being together. The power for change is in our collective thought, and today is now possible thru the power of social media. For good or worse, change still comes down to our ability to have free will.

Let’s switch reasoning for a moment and speak about about how this cause & affect and free will applies to LOVE. When we freely act to express love w/o any expectation of something in return, other than the feeling of that moment, we are acting selflessly out of love. I believe this also applies to the power of faith, when you believe in something unknown without any expectation of getting something in return. Perhaps just feeling the connection is all we are seeking. But I believe there’s more.

Great pic NHF members affected by hydrtocephalus at a 2015 Orange County fundraiser.
Great pic NHF members affected by hydrtocephalus at a 2015 Orange County fundraiser.

There has to be a reward for expressing ourselves freely, through a mutual action to unite and collectively change each, to change others, and affect change around us thru a collective thought and “knowing.” In a lifetime, if this happens to you once, or even twice, you are lucky. It is that powerful. Some say it is connecting to the Holy Spirit. Others say it is extraordinary brain activity now termed trance states. But since the beginning of time, this thrill has been perhaps the most elucive experience in life. And has led many a person to do things they later regret.

I recently felt that this collective power of thought and free will to experience life is the communion that God wants for us in life, to “complete” him (or her). I believe this is why we are here, to learn to complete this en route to a greater mission. This free will of human behavior is what sets us apart from every other bit of life here on earth. We are the only ones with free will, the wherewithall to assemble knowledge, and the ability to freely act upon it. It is truly powerful when we come together and collectively choose the same thought or action, which can be for good or evil. Evil is powerful too as it can trick us into entrainment and collective thought. But evil relies on deception, or a “false connection.” Still, evil finds power over victims via human connectedness.

Living plants tend to speak for you letting you know everything is OK.
Living plants tend to speak for you letting you know everything is OK.

Brain wave entrainment happens with plants & animals too. Plants have been shown to respond to human words, thoughts, and touch. Human & animal brains are equally capable of entrainment and influence thru group behavior. In group behavior, we mirror other’s thoughts & actions, sometimes unaware what we are doing. Entrainment is exciting. Entrainment becomes addictive! People and animals can get caught up in group brain wave entrainment, and do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do. This is termed “group hypnosis.” Most of the time it’s a good thing. But sometimes it isn’t. The difference between good and bad behavior is similar to a drug getting you high versus your natural endorphins. One is organic, while the other is cause & affect.

Drumming in the Workplace

Drum circles help to reduce stress and stimulate the brain for optimal function in the workplace
Drum circles help to reduce stress and stimulate the brain for optimal function in the workplace

I have had many great experiences during my drum circles where drummers freely come together & play, not knowing what we’ll play. We trust the process, and the music and spontaneonity just happens. This also widely occurs at sporting events, parties, war, rioting, prayer, and even mourning.  The real power in free will is coming together in communal agreement to change or create ideas and product. When done this way, what’s produced is often self-sustaining. But evil & trickery has benefits too, in controlling others. But it uses a false premise and connection, and it will collapse on itself when put under stress, i.e. why criminals often turn on each other.

Drumming for Wellness

Stephen Dolle facilitates a drumming for wellness workshop at a private home in Orange County
Stephen Dolle facilitates a drumming for wellness workshop at a private home in Orange County

FREE WILL is the most powerful force known to man. But are yet to put it to the test! We’ve only been in communal world thought now for the last 50-75 years. With advances in social media, we will be able to harness communal thought for great social change. I hope that it is for the good. Let’s hope that it is done freely, as that is God’s will for us.

If you are interested in contacting me, please contact me via the information below.

Stephen Dolle

Dolle Communications

Email: contact [at]

Treating Ebola is a lot like Playing in a Drum Circle

Team members awaiting instruction in the Ebola care setting
Team members awaiting instruction in the Ebola care setting

Having spent 17 years in nuclear medicine in various medical settings, including, in some of the earliest testing for AIDS, I see remarkable similarities in what medical personnel face in Ebola care, and what drummers must contend with in the group play of a drum circle.

To outsiders, a drum circle may appear more like a bunch of wanna be hippies banging on drums & such around a make shift venue. But to seasoned percussionists and drum circle facilitators such as myself, I view it as much much more. In fact, the group dynamics and adapting to changing conditions in an Ebola care setting, is what makes group play in a drum circle so special.

In group drumming, the team concept in play is of the utmost importance. Each drummer or participant learns to trust in their fellow drummers to play their part that leads to the entire group sound & effectiveness. Each drummer, just as in medical personnel in Ebola care, bring their own expertise to the group setting. But, it is the interpersonal dynamics, communication, and discipline in the art that gives both the drum circle and Ebola care setting its exceptional qualities. Both also rely on a high degree of improvisation to adapt to rapidly changing variables. Communications in these setting are of the utmost importance. Each setting calls for heightened intuitive and interpersonal skills. And it is in these regards that Ebola care and group drumming have so much in common.

Group drumming owes much of its early development to the practice of “shamanism,” and similar mind-body healing arts which have been reported under anthropology. These modalities also form some of the earliest practices in modern medicine. And so it is today, that we find these practices continuing to intertwine as we contend with the complex dynamics in the Ebola care setting, and in trusting oneself and others around you. And in many cases, the biggest obstacle is in interpersonal dynamics.

Facilitating Women's Evening at Chabad Temple
Facilitating Women’s Evening at Chabad Temple

I’ve been in hundreds of different drum circle and medical settings, and I can share that more than any other factor what leads to success, is the willingness of participants to set aside egos, trust in their fellow team members, and work for the good of the whole. Without this trust and willingness to stay in the “now”, mis-steps will most definately occur, and can dramatically effect the group outcome.

In my nuclear medicine work, I routinely worked with radioactive materials and infectious diseases, where protocol was critical, but you adapted to ever-changing conditions. As a result, I was inter-dependent upon my co-workers to make the appropriate decisions at key times in support of my efforts. And this is exactly what happens in a drum circle. The drummer participants are continually listening to and observing the moves of their fellow participants, and adjusting their play to what they see and hear from others in the group. The better you listen, the better the group play. There are over 150 different pieces of world percussion that are played in drum circles. And each participant will have varying exerience with these instruments, much as different medical personnel have in an Ebola care setting.

Because of the group dynamics in group drumming or drum circles, drumming workshops can be well adapted to a wide array of settings, including, team sports like football & basketball, military & police training, high risk operations like oil drilling, and many different business and technical settings.

Contact me at to learn more.

Stephen Dolle
Drum Circle Facilitator

How the Internet is like one big DRUM CIRCLE

Internet Access Screenshot

Have you ever viewed the Internet as a big DRUM CIRCLE? Think again.

Drummers play and perform at this drum circle every Sunday at Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, CA
Drummers play and perform at this drum circle every Sunday at Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, CA

In this TED talk, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet gives his view of a world-wide & open Internet, with free and open participation on the web. I’ll take the Internet a step further, and equate it as one massive “drum circle,” where each user freely makes their own contribution, and then the whole is more than the sum of the individual parts. Some of the TED Talk comments here support my reasoning. Still others describe the Internet further as an integral part of the “noosphere,” the collective thought of all people on Earth.

Prosperity is based on sound information.
Prosperity is based on sound information.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee TED Talk

Additional resources on his vision

Description of the Noosphere

Internet controlled drum circle at Calit2, University of California in Irvine

Drumming is based on brain science!

This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music
This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music

Drumming in the Workplace

Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.
Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.

Drumming for Wellness

Seniors came alive in this 2010 drum circle for wellness and movement.
Seniors came alive in this 2010 drum circle for wellness and movement.

Drumming Case Study in Autism

Drumming with Children aids Movement and Coordination
Drumming with Children aids Movement and Coordination

Contact me for more information.

Stephen Dolle
Drum Circle Facilitation
Dolle Communications
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com

New Research Touts Benefits of Medical Marijuana in Neurological Disorders

The Domentary series Weeds by Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN
The Domentary series Weeds by Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN

CNN – Weeds by Dr. Sanjay Gupta

I have provided a brief update on Oct. 31, 2016 to this blog about the CNN TV program Weeds, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Please see my update and additional links on this topic further below. Dr. Gupta had presented some compelling medical evidence of some benefits of medical marijuana in neurological and seizure disorders, as well as benefits to those undergoing chemotherapy for treatment of cancer.

In contrast to what many may think, the true medicinal aspect of marijuana, or cannabis, is not in the THC, the component that makes you high. Rather, it’s in the cannabinoids, a substance found both in the plant and as a neurotransmitter in the human brain. However, a rather complex purification process is required to produce the cannabinoids from the marijuana plant, which is produced as an oil for oral consumption.

One of the big challenges with medical cannabis, in my view, is in determining which strains and forms to use for your own medical challenges. This web site below list information on how to select your cannabis strain. And below, is a chart to assist in selecting a strain. – How to Select the Best Cannabis Strain for your Medical Condition

Weedmaps Medical Marijuana Ailments Cannabinoids Chart
Weedmaps Medical Marijuana Ailments Cannabinoids Chart

The most well known political victims with the use of cannabis in the last several years was Charlotte, a 2 year old girl living with a progressive seizure disorder. It was her story and the growers in Colorado that really got the cannabinoids out of these plants, and catapulted these new uses in the U. S.

Charlotte’s Story on CNN

This cancer site below has been involved in research studies with cannabis and the role of cannabinoids in the human body.

Role of Cannabinoids in the Human Body

According to the center and published research, there are two different types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body, CB1 and CB2, found in different locations and which do different things. CB1 is mostly found on cells in the nervous system, including certain areas of the brain and the ends of nerves throughout the body, while CB2 receptors are mostly found in cells from the immune system. Because of their location in the brain, it’s thought that CB1 receptors are responsible for the infamous ‘high’ (known as psychoactive effects) resulting from using cannabis.

My Own CBD Oil Trial

In 2016, I underwent my own trial of CBD oil from a recognized supplier over a two month period. This entailed two different blends of CBD: A 4:1 blend of CBD/THC, and a 24:1 blend of CBD/THC. I tried doses between 5-20 drops at a time and placed it (sublingual) under my tongue. Most of my trials were in the morning. But I also tried it in the afternoon and evening. MY RESULT: I had hoped it might help with fatigue and/or sensory (SPD) sound challenges. However, I did not find any “measurable” improvement in my complaints during my trial with these CBD products. Each vial cost me $60. And this was not covered by insurance. I was provided a prescription letter by my neurologist. My purchase and correspondence was done online. And the two vials shipped to me via mail.

As for my other supporting online material on cannabis and other forms of alternative medicine, below is a blog I authored in Sept. 2015 on alternative medicine in addiction treatment, where I discussed cannabinoids and neurotransmitters, plus I’ve written about sensory processing disorder and cognitive accessibility. In the blog below, I also discuss the challenges that addiction and other neurological disorders pose in cognitive accessibility. Further below, is a blog I’ve authored on sensory processing disorder.

Complimentary & Alternative Medicine Methods in Addiction Treatment

Brain Dopamine Seratonin

 New Insights in Sensory Processing Disorder

Drum circle shakers come in all sizes and flavors, including, fruits and vegetables
Drum circle shakers come in all sizes and flavors, including, fruits and vegetables

Below, is my web page on drumming for wellness, which I have found to be very helpful in neurological disorders, movement disorders, stress-reduction, and general wellness. And below that, is a case study I wrote up on my experience with drumming in cerebral palsy and autism.

Drumming for Wellness

This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music
This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music
Stephen Dolle facilitates a drumming for wellness workshop at a private home in Orange County
Stephen Dolle facilitates a drumming for wellness workshop at a private home in Orange County

Drumming Therapy experience in Cerebral Palsy and Autism 

As for productivity, my No. 1 blog on this topic is how drumming and drum circles improve brain function and productivity in the workplace.

Drum Circles in the Workplace

Drum circles help to reduce stress and stimulate the brain for optimal function in the workplace
Drum circles help to reduce stress and stimulate the brain for optimal function in the workplace

Now it should come as no surprise that the country who has done the most amount of cannabis research is Israel. And the developed country that has done the least, is the United States. And for good reason, it is illegal to do research on it in the U. S.

Below, is a link to Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the world renowned expert on medical cannabis:

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

I’m not trying to make a political statement other than to report on what Dr. Gupta is sharing on CNN. The most compelling benefits in his reports have been in seizure disorders in children, which may well be a variant of x-linked hydrocephalus, where the children often have marked developmental and birth anomalies. In addition, many patients with hydrocephalus suffer seizures, with reports ranging up to 1/3 of those with hydrocephalus. It would seem cannabis could offer benefits to these individuals with hydrocephalus.

Lastly, below is a blog I authored in late 2015 on Nootropics, which are vitamin supplements that help to raise levels of neurotransmitters and related chemicals in the brain, as well as improve memory and productivity.

Nootropics help improve Brain Function and Productivity

Nootropics boost Brain Function and Performance
Nootropics boost Brain Function and Performance

You be the judge as to whether you think you might benefit from newer strains of cannabis and CBD oil. I would like to see further research done to better understand the types & amounts needed to provide benefits in a range of disorders. Unfortunately for me, this single trial of CBS oil did not produce any measurable benefit. But I feel that it is likely that further research will lead to new information on its use in illness.


Contact me for more information on speaking, consulting, or to schedule a drum circle.

Stephen Dolle
Dolle Communications
Drum Circle Facilitation, Neurological Hydrocephalus Consults, mHealth
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com

Basketball helps homeless thru rhythm and the brain

Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications
Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications

I gave a basketball lesson to a homeless man @ my area park today. And he really got made. Research shows basketball, drumming, and other physical movement activities can help the homeless. In addition, the resulting dialogue from the activity further aids the brain & mental health.

I shoot at the court twice a week and run a series of movement, balance, and applied kinesiology (AK) drills to help with health issues due to my hydrocephalus (brain) and stress. I normally don’t like to shoot or involves others, as it can be a distraction from a good work out, esp. homeless people who frequent this park. Sometimes I also incorporate drumming too. But without instruments, I incorporate my rhythm & movement thru timing of footwork, dribbling, moving, and shooting. So when this homeless guy walked up today hoping to play, he didn’t realize he was walking into my basketball CLASS!

Activities such as basketball, and drumming too, highly involve muscle memory, or proprioception. Though movement originates in the brain, once started and the body engaged, your body and muscle memory take over thru rhythmic movement, patterning, footwork, and shooting. An auto-pilot of sorts of body movement with little thinking (ideally). If you follow sports, you will hear a lot of experts speak about the importance of footwork. And footwork along with dribbling is something I work rigorously on the court, and which I worked with this gentleman today.

In the homeless population, activities like basketball and drumming are ideal for confidence, self-esteem, and managing stress. It is widely recognized that movement engages the hemispheres of the brain, and quiets the mind. And in these regards, basketball, drumming, and rhythmic movement are then good for mental health. Back in 2011-12, I put on drumming at the Friendship Shelter in Laguna Beach for just these reasons, and sharing my knowledge.

So, when decided to let this homeless guy join me today, he became part of my class, and I proceeded to give him tips and direction on shooting. The move I gave him, the move he wanted to know. It was an off day for me as I’m not feeling that great. But still I was able to shoot well enough that he saw I know what I’m talking about. And it is cool to watch this at work. As the guy began to improve and complete some shots, his success drew happiness, appreciation, and dialogue, and then he began to reminisce about his father growing up, and playing sports in high school. I bet he hadn’t seen his family in a long time. He had a friend with him too, but this man was not sober or well enough to join us. But he seemed to benefit from our positive energy and his friend’s joyfulness on the court.

Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome
Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome

Please SEE my 2002 cognitive neuroscience study on sound and sound processing in sensory processing disorder, or SPD, where I employed a Boss recorder and metronome a conducted a review of some 50 rhythmic patterns. I later correlated improved tolerance to white noise sound from participation in group drumming.

In June 2015, after initial publish of this blog, I authored an in depth related blog:

Brain Science vs. the Sports Science of Basketball

I’ve also undertaken some efforts with cognitive accessibility with the following domain which currently points to the cognitive accessibility page on my web site:


Cognitive currently under construction
Cognitive currently under construction

DolleCommunications Blog on Cognitive Accessibility and Sound Sensory Processing

Here is a cool story of outreach using basketball to help the homeless, entitled

Jesus, Basketball, and the Homeless

Contact me for more information on speaking, consulting, or to schedule a drum circle.

Stephen Dolle
Dolle Communications
Drum Circle Facilitation, Neurological Hydrocephalus Consults, mHealth
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com

Why rhythmic progressions are key to muscle memory, player effectiveness, and reducing injury in sports

Proproioception of Movement
Proproioception of Movement

Athletic skill, like that necessary for everyday movement, is based on muscle memory, also known as “proprioception.” We ultimately achieve optimal muscle memory thru “rhythmic progression” of the patterns that are needed in an activity. I also discuss proprioception and movement in my blog on basketball.

Drumming for Basketball.ball drills1
Drumming for Basketball.ball drills1

Sports Science vs Brain Science of Basketball: Where does the Shot come from?

With newer limits on NFL workouts in the pre-season, there have been an increase in non-contact injuries. Why? Because of faded memories of the prioception of the movements innvolved. Too offset this, you need to do more rhythmic progression work to re-establish muscle memory of the required athletic movements. The Examine story below points to some of the problems.

Mysterious Non-Contact Injuries Plague NFL Teams

With the big increase of non-contact related football injuries felt related to not enough pre-season drills and such, I sensed the cause was due to insufficient rhythmic progression work this pre-season. These are the fine motor movements and timing needed in running and defending routes and such on the field. These need constant mental and physical re-connecting, especially 4-5 months off the field.

And I speak from not only having played and coached athletics, but also from my research and work with drumming, and in rehabing from a 1992 brain  injury. In the latter, I came to personally realize how important rhythmic movements are in everyday life.

Stephen Dolle speaking on drumming and rhythm at Wright State University
Stephen Dolle speaking on drumming and rhythm at Wright State University

Since 2004, I’ve been involved in drumming and have studied rhythm and movement, sensory processing and cognition, and mobile mHealth apps. I found drums & rhythm particularly beneficial in movement, balance, and coordination. I eventually created exercises with bells, shakers, and clave to help with sophisticated movements.

In 2008, I began incorporating basketball into my rhythm & movement work, and noted ways it helped body movement and spatial awareness, beyond drumming. I then began to use basketball “free throws” and outside shooting as “applied kinesiology” or AK in stress management and mental focus. AK is what chiropractors use in evaluations, and is also used by psychiatrists and psychotherapists in helping clients to overcome emotional trauma. At its core, AK is a “truth test,” as negative thoughts weaken you physically, and distract you mentally from an activity.

Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications
Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications

When you examine athletic preparation in sports from football to baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, and the like, the one constant pre-game work-out is rhythmic progression and repetition of the movements of that sport. Repetition helps to put the movements back into muscle memory, while making it easier to execute without “thinking.”

Drum circle beats helps players with timing, stress management, and symptoms associated with concussion.
Drum circle beats helps players with timing, stress management, and symptoms associated with concussion.

My advice to those involved in athletics is to never cheat on your rhythmic progression warm-ups. These warm-ups and AK methods also help prepare your mind so you play more effectively, using more of the mind more for strategy, and muscle memory for execution. Being in a clear mental state does the rest.

Whatever your athletic requirements or movement needs, never forget the importance of preparation with rhythmic progressions. Best way to reach me is by email.

Stephen Dolle
Dolle Communications

Drumming & Rhythmic Therapies in Health & Obesity: Comment on Dr. Peter Attia’s TED Talk on obesity

I commented on my efforts w/ drumming in health, obesity, and movement disorders to Dr. Peter Attia’s TED talk on obesity:

“I do research and put on special drumming workshops for a variety of disorders. I believe that our weight and body types are very much tied to the mind-body connection and our daily movements, in that our rhythmic movements are a reflection of the relationship between the mind and youth/health. Body movement determines in large part how we burn calories and maintain weight. When you make conscious decisions in support of health and youth, your body moves more youthfully, affirming to your brain of youthfulness, which you’ll reward with more rhythmic movement.

This biofeedback mechanism conditions the mind to sustain good health. Research has also shown that rhythmic activities/exercise balance brain waves between the brain stem and frontal lobe, thereby controlling stress. The cycle of rhythmic movement, brain health, and body reward then becomes self-sustaining. Without it, aging, gain weight, and depression tend to set it. Interestingly it is near impossible to be in a depressed state during rhythmic movement. Most all physiologic mechanisms in the body operate per rhythmic cycles, as do all planetary movements and aspects of the universe. Hence the mathematic model of our universe and it’s connection to human health and movement!

In disorders or injury where movement is compromised, you can undertake specific movements with the hands, fingers, and other body parts to nourish the brain’s need for rhythmic movement. Where this is not readily possible, meditation and visualization of movement can be helpful in this cycle of health needs. Movement activities (therapies) are also extremely helpful in mental health disorders. Movement therapies can become cumulative, self-sustaining, and autonomic within the body, and can alter one’s metabolism. These specialized programs are readily available thru my drumming and neuroscience practice.

Dr. Peter Attia’s TED Talk on his New Insights in Obesity & Diabetes:


Drumming Therapy helps Children with Autism, ADHD, and ADD with Focus and Initiation of Action.
Drumming Therapy helps Children with Autism, ADHD, and ADD with Focus and Initiation of Action.

Last week on June 11, 2013, I held a drum circle at a group home for persons with schizophrenia. This was my first time conducting a therapeutic drum circle for this specific population and disorder, though I’ve put on drum circles in senior living homes and homeless shelters where some were schizophrenic. In my nuclear medicine work (17 years), I encountered this in some of my procedures and clinical workups. And in coaching of some 20 youth sports teams, I encountered a variety of behavioral issues.

This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music
This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music

I undertook some pre-event research of published works on the use of drumming and music therapy in schizophrenic populations. Mostly what I found via the Internet was with using music therapy, and most of this focused on supporting happiness and self-worth, where the latter was widely used towards sustaining employment.

With little published on the use of drumming here, I mostly relied on my broad experiences in drumming and in the neurosciences. I felt if today’s group were made happier by the drumming, then I would have achieved most of my goal. But there are also going to be family present. And I knew family would have questions, and attendees may well have questions too. There was also some pre-event discussion on how this mighty become an ongoing workshop. Still, I was undecided on which methods I would use today. I felt I should just go with the flow, and see what jumps out at me. And it did.

A schematic showing how brain wave entrainment occurs.
A schematic showing how brain wave entrainment occurs.


As I arrived, I was welcomed by my own heightened intuitive senses, and I picked up on many of the thoughts, energies, and emotions of the attendees and family. This may have been precipitated by a recent hectic schedule and limited sleep, but it could well have been due in part to a long talk I had the day before on traumatic brain injury. I relied upon my “intuitive direction” on how to facilitate this event, some of which I discuss in my blog below

Mind-Body Healing and the Prospects thru Drumming

Nonetheless, I was feeling highly insightful, and it led to some really warm discussions on earlier rock music and drummers, and this paved the way for my use of an “informative” approach with the drum circle, where I spoke and discussed the instruments, something I normally don’t do a lot of. It was a “busy” drum circle as we were in a fairly cluttered room with lots of furniture, some 15 people anxious and curious to play, and a lunch in waiting upon our finish. Below is a photo of me putting on another drumming workshop at a private home – that I share so readers can see what a “drum circle” is about. Privacy laws would prohibit me from sharing photos of patients/clients at a group home.

Stephen Dolle facilitates a drumming for wellness workshop at a private home in Orange County
Stephen Dolle facilitates a drumming for wellness workshop at a private home in Orange County

We got started on a simple rhythm. But, just as it was starting to gel, one of the attendees (John) jumped on the tan tans (bass) I had moved aside, and said I didn’t feel they’d fit without a skilled drummer to lead, as I would facilitate from djembe. As you might imagine, the bass killed the rhythm. I regrouped, and this time assigned John to play a simple bass pattern. But that didn’t work either, so I had to emphatically put the tans aside.

Drumming helps seniors engage and raise spirits for better health
Drumming helps seniors engage and raise spirits for better health

Over the next 45 minutes, we played a number of rhythms, and I think all were pleased. Then we enjoyed a nice pot luck lunch and social, followed by the group’s scheduled support session that I did not participate in. I was told after that the drumming seemed to cause a lot more participation and dialogue that usual. And the parent who arranged for my drum circle shared he felt the drumming really benefited them today.

I’m not able to provide photos of this event to due privacy reasons, but I have written other blogs that discuss the scientific challenges and integrative medicine mechanisms that are similar to that see in schizophrenia. The science of movement in basketball is very applicable to this disorder, as movement helps quiet the mind. Drumming for addiction is similarly applicable. As is drumming for autism. My related blogs include:

Drumming Case Experience in a Child with Autism & Cerebral Palsy

The Brain Science of Drumming in the Workplace

The Brain Science of Basketball

Complimentary Medicine and Drumming in Addiction

New Insights in Sensory Processing Disorder


Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is Power

As I reflected back on my drum circle and session, it occurred to me that what this group really wanted and needed from me – was acceptance and HEALING! Drumming turned out to be the activity that brought everybody, and it was the service they paid me for. As a drum session facilitator, I felt rewarded to be able to work with this group.

Contact me for more information on my services.

Stephen Dolle

Contact Stephen Dolle