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


Arthritis Wellness and Prevention Treatment in Orange County, California

Do you suffer from arthritis? Do you have problems with your feet? And do you live in Orange County, California? If so, then you will find the following health information helpful for the treatment, wellness care, and prevention of arthritis flare ups.

Common joints affected by arthritis
Common joints affected by arthritis

There is quite a bit of online information today on arthritis. What I’ve done is aggregate an array of specific information from some popular sites on arthritis, osteoarthritis, and problems with your feet. I’ve copied & pasted some of this content, and identify the web pages and links where the additional information can be found.

Now I am a fan of preventive and wellness health information, including, apps and mHealth applications. As I live in Orange County, some of this health information, particulalrly the drumming, exercise, and massage therapy, is specific to Orange County, California. The rest is general treatment information. I have found to be a great site for wellness & prevention. So, it appears at the top of my blog.

I am also a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator, and offer drumming or “drum circles” for wellness, movement disorders, and wellness care for prevention of arthritis. And I’ve included my information on drumming for arthritis. In 2011 and 2012, I also provided drumming at the Orange County Arthritis Walk at the University of California at Irvine (UCI).

Exercising helps prevent fair ups associated with arthritis.
Exercising helps prevent fair ups associated with arthritis. – Osteoarthritis

(The following content is from site.)

Suggested Lifestyle Changes
• Lose weight if you are overweight; it can alleviate excess mechanical stress on the affected joint(s).
• Avoid intense activities that injure or strain the joint cartilage.
• Exercise. This can actually be beneficial as long as it is performed at a level that does not stress the affected joint(s). Strengthening surrounding muscles will support and protect the joint, and physical activity helps improve and maintain joint mobility and aids weight-reduction efforts. The safest activities are swimming, stationary cycling and light weight training – which put little stress on the joints.

Nutrition & Supplements
Dietary changes may help alleviate or reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Research has shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and the spices ginger and turmeric may help reduce inflammation. Foods rich in antioxidants – plentifully found in most vegetables and fruit – may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.

These food groups help to prevent complaints associated with arthritis
These food groups help to prevent complaints associated with arthritis

• Eat oily fish such as salmon, or try another source of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts or freshly ground flax seed daily.
• Regularly use ginger and turmeric. Ginger tea is a good example.
• Eat generous amounts of organically grown vegetables and fruit every day.
The following are nutrients, botanicals and other compounds that Dr. Weil often recommends for joint health:
• Glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine sulfate provides the joints with the building blocks they need to help repair the natural wear on cartilage caused by everyday activities. Specifically, glucosamine sulfate provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide (called glycosaminoglycan) found in cartilage. Supplemental sources are derived from shellfish. Taken in supplement form, glucosamine may help improve the maintenance of healthy cartilage with an enhanced deposition of glycosaminoglycan.
• Chondroitin. Chondroitin protects the cartilage and attracts fluids that give the tissue its shock absorbing quality.
• Evening primrose oil. A source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which may help maintain healthy joints by modifying inflammation.
• Herbs and spices. Ginger, holy basil, turmeric, green tea, rosemary, scutlellaria and huzhang all have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds known as COX-2 inhibitors.
• Omega-3 fatty acids. Containing primarily EPA and DHA, which have been shown in studies to help maintain bone health and flexibility.

Arthritis Foundation

Overview and traditional information on arthritis.

Arthritis of Feet – Your Foot Health Network

Arthritis Definition

Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body’s joints. Inflammation causes redness, warmth, pain and swelling. There are about 40 million Americans who suffer from arthritis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, estimates that by the year 2020, about 60 million Americans will have arthritis. The primary targets for arthritis are people over the age of 50. Arthritis is a major cause of foot pain because each foot has 33 joints that can become affected by the disease.

SEE web site below for more information:

Drumming & Drum Circle Workshops for the Care of Arthritis (my company’s services)

Drumming for wellness, seniors, arthritis, and movement disorders
Drumming for wellness, seniors, arthritis, and movement disorders

Using the body’s sensory & proprioceptive system, I guide participants in drumming, or drum circles, for physical movement and coordination. This helps in persons with arthritis, movement disorders, brain injury, and to offset the effects of aging. The instruments are used to cue or initiative movement. Your body does the rest. These methods require less brain voluntary thought and cognition, and more your own movement and rhythmic memory.

As we age, or after onset of arthritis or movement disorders, precise voluntary control of actions like walking often becomes compromised. Drumming can be done in one’s home and also in group settings. Participants are taught to initiate action on cue of a rhythm. I usually begin with simple recognizable rhythms participants can easily play, and give movement cues on either the upbeat or downbeat. Cues can also be carried out by tapping of the hands, fingers, feet, and other body parts, which can also be applied to body turns, steps, and bending to pick things up. This is helpful in arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), post stroke, and most movement disorders.

I teach rhythmic patterns to help with stepping and turning you would normally do in the home and in everyday activities, and utilize tapping on the thighs and hips to correspond with turning, stepping, and bending to pick things up. This method engages the less voluntary actions of the cerebellum to cue the legs and feet with less of a physical challenge. Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), post TBI, or stroke who have a lot of difficulty standing and initiating walking, can use this rhythm and cue method to better their mobility. Those with autism require more hands-on instruction and specific rhythms.

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 and rhythm training helps individuals better use their body as an extension of their brain’s cognitive function. By relieving some of the load on the brain, you effectively become smarter. My drumming methods also teach participants to conceptualize rhythm & movement, and carry out progressions with the body. This is critical in sports play and movement. It awakens the “primal brain.” Along with the body’s sense of time and space, our brains track precise rhythmic patterns and communicate these signals to our limbs to walk, talk, and perform specific actions. You move with significantly less dependence on voluntary thought after undergoing my rhythmic training. You’ve heard stories of people who stuttered, yet could sing beautifully. Or could dance, but could barely walk. The secret is in body’s ability to connect with rhythm.

A myriad of physical therapy and balance training methods are used to help with movement, strengthen the body, and strengthen the brain’s role in movement. Below, I’ve authored an extensive blog on the science and mindfulness of basketball.

Science of Basketball

In basketball, athletes work tirelessly on hand, eye, and footwork syncopation to pass & shoot with pin-point accuracy. Rhythmic training helps participants of all levels. See what it can do for you!
Drumming for Basketball.unlimited potential,picsay1

Top 10 Exercises for women with rheumatoid arthritis

Exercise is important for women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because the right exercises can help relieve joint pain and build muscle strength. There are three main groups of exercises women with RA should incorporate into their regular fitness routine: stretching, strength training and cardio. Here are 10 exercises that every woman with RA should be doing on a regular basis. Read more on their site below.

Exercise, Massage, and Complimentary Medicine (CAM)

Northwest Community HealthCare

Suggestions from their Reflections Spa

 Signature Massage: Provides blood and oxygen circulation to the joints improving inflammation, using essential oils to penetrate the dermal layers to relieve stiffness and pain.
 Thai Massage: Providing the same benefits as a Signature Massage by using modalities of stretch and acupuncture points.
 Thai Herbal Bag Massage: Using heat, oil and medicinal herbs to penetrate deep into the joints to reduce inflammation.
 Reflexology Massage: The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology is a therapy focusing on the feet, and is a popular modern holistic therapy to relieve pain and stress. Reflexology massage therapists believe that different areas on your feet and hands correspond to other parts of your body, and massaging them stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to heal itself.
 Hot Stone Massage: Heated stones are the vehicle to allow the penetration of oils and heat into the entire body.
 Hand & Foot Paraffin Treatment: We use paraffin oils and heated mitts for the hands and/or feet to reduce inflammation and stiffness.


Exercising in warm water has many benefits. The warm temperature (92°) of our therapy pool increases blood flow to muscles, which helps the muscles relax. As your muscles relax, you will be able to exercise more comfortably. The buoyancy (what causes you to float) helps support the arms as you slowly move them through the water in an almost effortless fashion. Buoyancy also greatly decreases the amount of body weight placed on the back, hips, knees and feet. When you stand in waist-deep water, only 50% of your body weight is put on the lower part of your body; in neck-deep water, only 10%. Walking and leg exercises may be done with little or no weight on the painful joints of your lower body.

 Aqua Flex -A warm water class designed to improve joint range-of-motion, flexibility and balance. Stretching with gentle movement, proper joint and muscle group alignment and overall well-being will be the focus.
 Aqua Arthritis-Following the guidelines of the Arthritis Foundation of America, Aqua Arthritis instruction emphasizes exercising at your own pace. This warm water class is designed to allow for range-of-motion, endurance and flexibility exercises. All classes take place in the warm water therapy pool.
 Tai Chi-Gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi are one of many alternatives to help those with arthritis find pain relief. The movements of tai chi are gentle, graceful, mystical — and a safe way to relieve arthritis pain and gain balance, strength, and flexibility. Tai chi is one of many alternative therapies that can provide relief from arthritis pain.

The NCH Wellness Center offers exercise programs designed for those with arthritis, and include:

 Personal Training-Wellness Center Personal Trainers give arthritic clients new hope by developing exercise programs that are designed to improve strength, function, joint symptoms and mood! Research has demonstrated that both exercise and resistance training are highly beneficial for those with arthritis.
 Nutritional Education-Researchers continue to look at the role diet plays in arthritis. While evidence is accumulating, anyone with arthritis can benefit from a diet that provides adequate nutrients to prevent deficiencies. Our Registered Dietitian (RD) offers nutritional education to help you manage your arthritis symptoms.

Stem Cell Therapy

Dr. Magaziner – Stem Cell Treatment

Stem cell injections for osteoarthritis
Bone defects are one of the most serious problems patients and doctors are facing and leading stimulus for new research centering on the need for new tissue regeneration therapies. Studies on mesenchymal stem cells are changing the way we treat bone diseases. Stem cells have been used for the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta, hypophosphatasia, osteonecrosis of the femoral head, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Dr. Marc Darrow – Stem Cell Institute
Stem Cell Prolotherapy

Popular Massage & Reflexology Centers in Orange County, CA

Family Wellness Acupuncture – 80+ Yelp reviews
4950 Barranca Pkwy, Ste. 301
Irvine, CA 92604
Tel. (949) 836-2857

Jade Foot Massage – 100+ Yelp reviews – Reflexology
14409 Culver Dr
Irvine, CA 92604
Tel. (949) 651-6168

Olala Reflexology – 283 Yelp reviews
9950 Bolsa Ave. Ste F
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel. (714) 775-8588

Tustin Foot Massage – 57 Yelp reviews
17582 E 17th St
Ste 101
Tustin, CA 92780
Tel. (714) 869-6989

My Head 2 Toe – 116 Yelp reviews
2200 Harbor Blvd
Ste D220
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Tel. (949) 650-0051

Drumming by

Availability of Patient Medical Apps in U.S. now under new FDA Regulations

After more than 75 years, medical questionnaires that patients use to share information to physicians, are yet to innovate. Here’s what our FDA is doing now in regards to this innovation. See the accompanying story link.


Having spent many years in clinical nuclear medicine, and more recently, the neurosciences, I always viewed myself as an innovator. But, when I’m a patient undergoing any type of medical treatment, I’m less forgiving of an industry’s unwillingness to innovate, and their insistence to hold the marketplace hostage for their failures.


Way back in 1997, some 5 years and four failed surgical attempts later to get one of my CNS brain shunts to correctly drain CSF fluid needed for my hydrocephalus condition, I designed a patented a software-based monitoring system & named it the “DiaCeph Test.” It was to be a stand-alone software device. Fourteen years later, the DiaCeph Test still sits on a shelf, while new diagnostics needed for hydrocephalus and many other disorders, are not brought to market. This, and tech monitoring of many other disorders today, could be done via mobile phone apps.


Here’s the link to info on my DiaCeph Test, though it’s not been updated in a while:


Also, visit your Android or Apple store to see what’s available today.


My frustration boiled over recently as I was passed between physician specialists and a slew of lab and other diagnostic tests. Truly the medical field is failing to innovate both in the collection of relevant patient information, and in IT systems that should be mining patient tests results for the appropriate steps to follow. Widely today, physicians still use the same patient questionnaires that were introduced over 75 years ago. And no to very few clinical apps have made much of a dent in care in the doctor/patient relationship. And with all the money spent in health care in the U.S., and all of the political wrangling over Obama Care, why is no one talking about these key failures to innovate, and the difference it could make in care today?


I’ve enclosed a link to an industry story on the Food & Drug Administration’s new law and guidance regarding health apps. It remains unclear whether these regulations will help or hurt the cause for innovation. But it is certainly a story and topic you should follow, at least if you think there’s chance you might need medical treatment any time soon.


Of course, you could seek alternative medical care for what ills you, such as the drum circles and healing (that I do), or chiropractic, meditation, energy work, essential oils, vitamins & herbs, and energy water, to name a few of the alternative options that are available today. These each have some efficacy in bringing about positive outcomes. But, if you have a serious or more chronic illness, you probably want a more proven medical treatment. But, you’ll need supporting technology to make this all work, and you had better stay atop these developments in the industry, and in Washington.


Enjoy the reading.


Free drum circle and Q&A on drumming and healing at Temple of Light Healing Fair

Free drum circle and Q&A on drumming and drumming and healing at the Temple of Light “Holistic Healing Fair” on Sept. 8, 2012, from 12-5pm.

I will provide information & the opportunity for visitors to play hand percussion instruments and learn about drum circles, and drumming and healing. This is normally a $20 class, but is free during the Holistic Healing Fair. Drum Circle is 2-4pm.

Event information on Facebook:

Stephen Dolle

Healing thru Complimentary and Alternative Medicine with new methods in Drumming

Animal Spirits surround Stephen at this 2010 Drum Circle
Animal Spirits surround Stephen at this 2010 Drum Circle

Who are we? What are we doing here? Why do I get sick and feel pain? What are the limits of the human mind? Why do we have conflict? What happens after we die? These are perhaps the most common questions asked about human life.

The photo above of me playing at a full moon drum circle was taken in 2009 as I led a group of some 200 drummers. I have changed my header to this blog several times looking for the perfect “image” to best explain what occurs in spontaneous healing (it’s often not spontaneous, rather is over a day or few days) from mind-body practices. When I saw the above photo, I was intrigued by the clarity and number of unusual  shapes in the flames of the bonfire. There were quite a few other photos too. Some refer to this as “animal spirits.” I really have limited knowledge of animal spirits, only know about it from books I’ve read. But what I do know, is about mind-body and intuitive healing from over 40 years of experience and study. Many of these occurred in my medical work, and 5-10 occurred as near spontaneous healing in my own personal health.

Stephen Dolle Headshot in a Suit
Stephen Dolle Headshot in a Suit

My experience in health and wellness spans 17 years as as a nuclear medicine technologist (1976-1992) where I interviewed several thousand patients – the majority having cancer, my work as a drum circle facilitator (since 2004), my work as a neuroscientist as a medical device consultant/mHealth developer/patient advocate, and personal health consults I’ve provided to friends and family over the years. I enrolled in pre-med at the University of Cincinnati in 1973. However, my heart wasn’t in it, in large part because I had witnessed several remarkable intuitive events that I could not explain. 

I have benefitted from a variety of alternative medicine modalities that date back to the 1970s. While I have undergone twelve (12) brain shunt surgeries with CNS shunts for hydrocephalus, I never abandoned my mind-body medicine roots. My earlier work in nuclear medicine enabled me to develop an mHealth solution for hydrocephalus in 1997. And by 2004, I began to innovate new health solutions using Western Medicine, mHealth, and the healing arts (mind-body medicine). Perhaps one of the more novel health methods I personally use is applied kinesiology (AK) and cranial adjustments (dev by osteopathic medicine), where I perform a self-assessment and adjustment of my cranial misalignment caused by my hydrocephalus and chronic meningitis. I do not currently provide “medical intuitive” consults. But I provide neurological consults for hydrocephalus, advice on mHealth, and am developing several new drumming programs – including a novel program for basketball. Drumming is an extraordinary tool to facilitate “change.

I initially wrote this blog in 2012 and have updated it multiple times, including, this update of May 11, 2016. I now realize it should be re-written and re-organized – time I could apply to a book on the subject. I enjoy WordPress as I can link related blogs. I have done my best today to tie in the most important points of this discussion. 

There are many mind-body or healing arts practices today. They are listed under quite a number of alternative health subjects. The most widely used are: Alternative Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine, the Healing Arts, and Mind-Body Medicine. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of books and stories on the subject.

Complimentary & Alternative Medicine or CAM was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bridge the gap between Western Medicine and accepted methods of alternative medicine. Within Western medicine, CAM is usually limited to traditional modalities like acupuncture, meditation, music therapy, and massage.

In September 2015, I spoke on Alternative Medicine and CAM in Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health of Orange County. I had been wanting to write an up to date paper on alternative medicine, and the addiction presentation provided the opportunity. In that blog, I list most of today’s modalities with supporting information. Feel free to open up this blog on alternative medicine methods in addiction treatment.

Many healing modalities, but just a limited number of mechanisms thru which healing occurs. Further below, I discuss man of these.

I also now face a personal health challenge that Western Medicine has not been able to resolve. So, I am driven in part by this in my quest to discover new and more effective mind-body techniques to benefit my own health.

Highlights of Mind-body Healing Blog

1. Overview of Alternative Medicine and Mind-Body Medicine

2. Interviews with Several Thousand Patients battling Cancer (1981-1992) – The Connection with Illness to your Thoughts and Beliefs 

3. Experiences with Spontaneous Healing

4. Experiences with Self-Hypnosis – Discovering the Subconscious Mind

5. Understanding the Placebo Effect widely seen in Pharmacology Studies

6. Can Mindfulness Prevent Injury and Illness?

7. Drumming Methods helpful in Healing

8. Basketball, Mindfulness, and Movement Therapies


Brain Illustration.Biological Psychology

Components needed for Mind-Body Healing (all healing arts)

  1. Your Brain and Related Functions
  2. Your Mind and Consciousness
  3. Your Personal/Spiritual/Religious Beliefs
  4. The types of Practices you Undertake that Resonate best with You
  5. A Supportive Physical & Social Environment conducive to Healing
  6. Self-Care via Diet, Exercise, Brain Health, and minimizing Substance Abuse
  7. Time and Commitment to Mind-Body Practices

Our brains are far more capable than we know. It is the occasional extraordinary event that draws our curiosity. Some will stop there. Many will explore further.

Earth Lagrangian Gravitational Lines
Earth Lagrangian Gravitational Lines

Given our connection to the planets and stars, it is likely that gravitational and planetary forces play a role in our health in this earthly dimension.

Earlier Experiences in Mind-Body Medicine and CAM

I was first exposed to alternative and mind-body teachings in 1971 thru books on ESP, psychology, philosophy, sales and motivation, and mindfulness. While in pre-med in college, I delved into psychology, and eventually chose NOT to go on to medical school. Instead, I took a one-year internship in nuclear medicine technology. I continued to read about philosophy, mindfulness, and mind-body medicine in books by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dale CarnegieZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In 1978, I became involved in new studies on spirituality, music, and nutrition. That same year, I had a compelling tarot card reading that indicated I should move out West. As I was working in nuclear medicine, I was inclined to validate these methods with science as best I could.

Major Breakthrough in 1981 helps me overcome Peripheral Neuropathy

I had a major metaphysical breakthrough in 1979 that led to meeting my wife. Two years later, I had my 1st validated mind-body healing experience that led to unexpected skills, or abilities, as a medical intuitive – corroborated in my work as a nuclear medicine technologist.

This healing experience came courtesy of a 3-week trial of Bufferin undertaken for pain associated with a peripheral neuropathy disorder. The healing trial spanned 6-12 months as I was being passed around from doctor to doctor. I had 8-10 years of reading books & articles on allergies, healing, spirituality, and nutrition. So I knew what was possible! Executing it was another story, however. Arguably, it was “serendipity.”

For as long as I could remember, I had a severe allergy to “aspirin” and would break out in hives from just the slightest bit of aspirin. I’d had become so disfigured at times, I became unable to function or go out for several days to a week.

It was earlier in 1981 when Dr. Horwitz, a Hoag Hospital radiologist I worked with, suggested I try a high dose regimen of Bufferin to help with pain that had become so disabling it had begun to limit my work. There were no NSAID drugs at that time. And I did not want to take opiates. I had read a number of articles on allergies and the use of mind-body mechanisms to overcome them. I knew at the core of even my allergy, there was a long held mis-directed belief that caused the hives. I knew I needed to only confront this unconscious memory and “change” my belief concerning it.

My neuromuscular or peripheral neuropathy was diagnosed by way of abnormal EMGs of both arms & legs, and a positive muscle/nerve biopsy of my left lower leg. Both of my legs had become thin and atrophied in appearance from the nearly 10 years I suffered these complaints. This was about June 1980. The Hoag neurologist informed me I would have to change careers and find a desk job to accommodate the loss of muscle tone in my back and legs. He told me I would also no longer be able to play sports.

So, for several weeks, I prayed and meditated on this allergy to aspirin, and “asked” the higher power that I be able to take Bufferin for several weeks to possibly help with my pain. I had very modest expectations. But like most types of change, I needed a push or catalyst — and this came one day by way of delayed test results & frustration in my rheumatologist’s office – that caused me to storm out and never return. On that day, I took responsibility for my health! And it changed me life!

The next day, I took my first tablet of Bufferin – AND I did NOT break out in hives. Then, I took another. And another! And there were no hives. Over the next 3 weeks, I took the maximum dose of 8 or 12 tablets per day. Whatever was the label’s listed maximum dosage at that time, that’s what I took.

Pain Relief from Bufferin: Could it be the Placebo Effect?
Pain Relief from Bufferin: Could it be the Placebo Effect?

By the end of my 2nd week on this Bufferin dose, my back and leg pains were remarkably improved, so much so, I was able to leap about my department’s exam rooms and lift heavy patients without limitation. Two weeks earlier, I could barely stand on my feet.

In the months that followed, I discovered when my complaints returned, all I needed do was “think” about the Bufferin and how I felt when taking it – the pain and weakness would quickly go away. This really caught my attention and led me to explore this apparent “Placebo Effect” further. So, over the next few months, anytime I experienced an ailment, a cold, an injury of any kind, etc., I would treat it through a mind-body conversation. I would look at my complaints, have a brief discussion with myself over it, and then tell it to go away. But this wasn’t the only change in my life. I soon realized I could see or “sense” illness in my patients and clinical work in nuclear medicine.

At that time, I had been working as a nuclear medicine technologist at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach for about 2 years. But I had been a technologist since 1976. I performed about 6-8 diagnostic & therapeutic procedures per day – each of which I worked up clinically. Apparently, with my change in consciousness from this healing experience, I could now sense the type and location of illness, eg. spread of metastises in my cancer patients while in the imaging room and in my brief clinical workup – before results were available and reviewed by the radiologist. Today, this is referred to as “medical intuitive.”

Our ability to effect social change is rooted in God, the Holy Spirit, and in Brain Science.
Our ability to effect social change is rooted in God, the Holy Spirit, and in Brain Science.

I could see the illness usually by simply talking to the patient. I eventually began to share this with Hoag physicians and co-workers. But, I had to be careful as the prevailing views about this then were that it was “quackery.” And I did not wish to be disciplined. I also could not share any results with patients. However, on occasion I would impart a healing affirmation or blessing to a patient. I had many wonderful discussions and thousands of patient interviews over the next eleven years (1981 to 1992) of imaging work.

1981 was many years before CAM would become accepted by Western medicine. And at that time, there were really no or few opportunities to do this for a living, which I was very interested in pursuing. So instead, I spent the next 10 years applying my mind-body methods to film & theatre acting, vocal work, and my own imaging business, plus became involved in a wide array of spiritual, health, and wellness healing modalities. If you get a chance, please also visit my in-depth blog on the brain science of basketball where I delve into the role of “mindfulness” of movement and proprioception in athletics.

Science of Basketball – My Mindfulness & Fitness Methods

Your Basketball Spirit Guide may help more than you know during Shooting
Your Basketball Spirit Guide may help more than you know during Shooting

Surviving the Challenges of a Major Neurological Disorder

Pain management and mindfulness in Shunt Revision
Pain management and mindfulness in Shunt Revision

In 1992, I developed the condition hydrocephalus after an auto accident in Costa Mesa, CA. In the past, I was able to manage any illness in-part with mind-body methods. But the hydrocephalus affected my cognition, making mind-body practices very difficult.

From 1992 to 2013, I underwent a total of 12 brain shunt surgeries with many related complications. I did fairly well considering the health challenges I faced.

I remain involved in the care and treatment of hydrocephalus, the cognitive neurosciences, mHealth apps, and putting on drumming workshops. I use the term “nuts & bolts” to describe my work with Western Medicine, i.e. methods which can be corroborated and reproduced by science, and CAM methods as healing via “the unseen,” referring to methods that are not well corroborated by pier reviewed medical studies. Many of my methods in drumming are now being corrborated today.

2012 (near) Spontaneous Healing of an Abdominal Fungal Rash

A fungal type rash followed a routine shunt revision and laporoscopy, was treated w/ corticosteroids, but only abated one day after a mindfulness session where I commanded it to go away.
A fungal type rash followed a routine shunt revision and laporoscopy, was treated w/ corticosteroids, but only abated one day after a mindfulness session where I commanded it to go away.

In March 2012, I experienced a near spontaneous healing of an abdominal fungal rash that arose from my complete VP shunt revision of Feb. 12, 2012. My peritoneal catheter had been revised by inflating my abdomen with air (laporoscopy technique). But it left a fungal rash at the site of both fenestrations that spread all over my abdomen and chest. The image shows it at 7 days post op. Sorry for the graphic illustration!

I was prescribed Betamethasone Dipropionate cream, a corticosteroid, and had been applying it for 6 weeks. It had spread even up to my chest. One Saturday morning in March 2012, I lay in bed and expressed my frustration as to why it hadn’t gone away. In that moment, I recall looking at the rash and saying, “You need to go away.” I thought it, and I meant it too. I didn’t commit any additional thought to it for the rest of the day. In the evening as I prepared for bed and removed my shirt, I noticed the rash was gone. Completely gone! Not a trace. I recall experiencing a wonderful feeling of calm.

From my years of reading and being involved in healing practices, I best explain this healing as a mindfulness affirmation, where my affirmation was also a command that the rash to go away. This was a bit different than my practices of the 1980s, when I held dialog with my body, injury, or illness, and gave instruction and asked that it be healed. On this day in 2012, I commanded it to go away. That’s a bit different mindset. I’m sure there are healing experts who might better explain this. This is my best recollection and understanding of the healing mechanism.

2010 Spontaneous Healing of Injured Shoulder at my YMCA Gym

I experienced an instantaneously healing in my right shoulder during one of my workouts here
I experienced an instantaneously healing in my right shoulder during one of my workouts here

The following is a spontaneous healing of my right shoulder that occurred in 2010 while working out in my area YMCA gym. I have had rotator cuff problem in my (non dominant) right shoulder for 30 plus years and it had been limiting the amount of dumbell weights for several months. Earlier I had a fantastic chiropractor who could help with adjustments. I’d been dealing with several months of pain and limitation that was especially problematic while lifting dumbell weights.

On this day, I was doing my normal routine, but with only about half the weight. And “something” occurred in between reps as I glanced over and caught a glimpse of a pretty buff guy who was lifting a lot of weight. In that instant, I had a moment of enlightenment, where for no particular reason I said to myself, “I can do that too” (lift heavy weights). And I instantantly began lifting my usual past weight, twice as much as when limited by pain. But now all pain was gone. In an instant, something happened in my consciousness where my shoulder became healed (at least from pain). I chronicled this on my Facebook Fan page where I attempted to explain it. I admit it came amid a more stable period of mental and physical health– that I think lends itself to healing. I feel the healing mechanism is self-hypnosis by way of conscious affirmation with the subconscious mind. There are many techniques for “healing.” In hypnosis and self-hypnosis, you modify your subconscious belief system.

Most Eastern healing methodologies follow “meridian theory,” which follows a map of the body’s energy fields. This also involves one’s physical and spiritual influences. Chiropractic medicine takes this a step further by adding “diagnostic” evaluations with a practice termed “Applied Kinesiology,” or AK, which uses the muscle reflext test. Chiropractors use AK as biofeedback to test and treat a variety of injuries & conditions. It is also used by practitioners in psychotherapy.

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

Applied Kinesiology is also involved in the body’s responses during drumming via an array of physiologic & meridian field interactions – which includes thru movement, emotion, vibrationconnectedness, and brain wave entrainment. I’ve written extensively on drumming for the brain on my web site and blog. I host a dedicated web page on the Cognitive Neurosciences with links to my papers, blogs, and related web pages. – Cognitive Neurosciences

Other methods of biofeedback measurement include assessment of breathing, heart rate, brain waves, body temperature, and blood flow in the fingertips (i.e. the color Stress Card). I found AK testing easy to use and reproduce. It is also used in truth assessment. Other methods of truth assessment include heart rate monitoring (i.e. lie detector tests), voice, hand-writing, and eye contact analysis.

Taiko Drummer sets the Time, Rhythm, and type of Movement
Taiko Drummer sets the Time, Rhythm, and type of Movement

The effectiveness of CAM therapies is in part dependent on the level of “engagement,” or how well the individual believes and interacts with the methodology. In taiko drumming, for instance, there must be considerable engagement of the physical and emotional self. This is true in hand drumming & drum circles too. I incorporate these methods in my health and wellness drumming. CAM’s effectiveness can sometimes rival that of Western Medicine. In both, you must believe and have a desire to be healed. You can also choose to fight your treatment, where you will see poor outcomes. Reciprocally, you can be healed through your belief in a sugar pill, known as the “placebo effect.” The favorable response rate of the placebo effect in prescription drug studies ranges from 15-40%. Plant Therapy, like that seen in the photo below, is also useful in mind-body healing.

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.

There is considerable evidence in support of the positive benefits of a physician’s bed-side manner in healing. I’ve witnessed numerous examples on this in Western Medicine. And at the center of each favorable outcome, is almost always LOVE & TRUST. As humans, we are particularly effected by the power of LOVE. And love is at the core of most CAM modalities, from energy work to meditation, chiropractic to drumming, CAM allows participants to engage their bodies, mind, and spirit thru love & trust. Just look at the love, trust, and engagement of the children in this drum circle below.

Drum Circles make for great Children's Activity as young as age 3.
Drum Circles make for great Children’s Activity as young as age 3.

The effectiveness of CAM and mind-body modalities is also in large part dependent on the patient having an OPEN state of mind. The OPEN state of mind allows the patient to direct his/her thoughts and beliefs in support of the healing, and especially so when prompted by a therapist or facilitator, and similarly, in healing affirmations in your at home sessions. In fact, an OPEN state of mind is required to achieve success in almost every activity in life from sports play to school, counseling to group drumming (group hypnosis), and overcoming adversity. Keep an OPEN MIND. And BELIEVE!

It was in 1994 two years post hydrocephalus that I began to utilize music as therapy to help my related health challenges, and took music classes at Orange Coast College. This helped to reconnect my intuitive brain with my emotional self and address some of the damage done to me physically. This enhanced intuitive function became important to medical research I was doing, where my memory and short term memory were often problematic in complex neuroscience, mHealth, and artificial intelligence topics.

I also conducted research and wrote about sound Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in neurological disorders, and drumming therapy as an adjunct healing art. The blog below was updated in April 2016. The opposite to calm, is CHAOS, like in the TV sets some of us grew up with.

Technical difficulties can affect you when you least expect it.
Technical difficulties can affect you when you least expect it.

Tips and new Treatments in Sound Sensory Processing Disorder

In 2002, I undertook a study of Sensory Processing Disorder that revealed important findings in cognition and mindfulness. Though my focus was SPD in hydrocephalus, my findings are relevant to ADHD, autism, migraine, post TBI, PTSD, addiction disorders, and anyone requiring mental focus and mindfulness. The inability to achieve this state often leads to illness and/or injury.

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

In 2008 I became involved in “cognitive accessibility,” the front line of accessibility accommodations relating to sensory processing disorder. I also own the domain

Drumming for Wellness

Stephen Dolle speaks on drumming for the brain at Wright State University
Stephen Dolle speaks on drumming for the brain at Wright State University

I am extensively involved in drumming for the brain as a facilitator, event organizer, neuroscience researcher, and speaker. Since 2005, I have put on over 200 community and private drumming events, including, numerous drumming workshops involving my research. I find group drumming particularly effective in health and wellness as it allows for the merging of neuroscience principles with the healing arts, and which can be tailored to programs to for specific health populations. Drumming is supported by both Western medicine and CAM principles.

Between my professional hydrocephalus consults, community drumming, Meetup events, and drumming workshops, I have validated many of my drumming methods.

Drumming for wellness helps seniors and those facing chronic illness
Drumming for wellness helps seniors and those facing chronic illness

In 2012, I conducted a 1:1 drumming therapy session with a young girl with cerebral palsy and autism. She ended up having a remarkable response to my 35 minute drumming session, using only small hand percussion. Her favorite instrument turned out to be the Thunder Tube (not pictured) that she attempted to hold.

Drumming Therapy Session: Young Girl w/ Cerebral Palsy & Autism

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

No doubt one of the more powerful mind-body group therapies is “group drumming.” It offers the ability to help participants detach from the constraints of their self-imposed belief system in healing of illness, managing pain, and overcoming the psychological hurdles needed to usher change in their life for self-healing. Drumming is able to alter our perception and attachment to a set of beliefs and behavior. The challenge for the facilitator then is in creating the right setting and structure.

Stephen Dolle plays calming drum rhythms to a large group of pinnipeds in Carmel, CA.
Stephen Dolle plays calming drum rhythms to a large group of pinnipeds in Carmel, CA.

The nuts & bolts portions I carry out through physical play and exercises, while the CAM portions are carried out through discussion, play, and affirmations of who/what you are, and who/what you want to be. Be it the effects of a brain disorder like hydrocephalus, or the metastatic spread of cancer, I believe drumming play and affirmations can create the kind of change in one’s belief system to cause change in one’s physical body. What is needed are structured workshops fine tuned to the specific population and setting.

Web Site Information – Drumming Workshops

Drumming for Wellness 

Drumming in the Workplace 

Alternative Medicine/CAM in Addiction Treatment

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

The Brain Science (and mindfulness) of Basketball

Illustration on the proprioceptive mechanisms involved in exercise and movement.
Illustration on the proprioceptive mechanisms involved in exercise and movement.

I cannot say enough about athletic, movement, and proprioception activities. I’ve spent a lifetime in athletics and coaching, including, more than 20 of my son’s AYSO soccer and little league baseball teams where I often used philosophy and mind-body teachings, and in 10 years of my drumming work today.

I like to incorporate applied kinesiology, or AK, into wellness programs and therapeutic drumming. With a strong medical technology background, I was also able to design and patent an mHealth app for hydrocephalus in 1997, which today could accommodate AK testing and results. I’ve now written about mHealth apps for migraine, and more widely in health care in these two blogs below.

Weather App helps in Managing Migraine

Design and Best Use of mHealth Apps

I’m a big fan of AK and its diagnostic properties, and I use these methods to regularly evaluate and adjust my own cranial deficits, spinal misalignments, and shunt malfunction. I believe AK could be used to focus energy on a health problem during drumming play. The area could be the site of a tumor, a failing implant, or an injury.

mHealth apps will soon transition the way we care for chronic illness, disorders such as hydrocephalus, and use of Eastern healing modalities
mHealth apps will transition how we care for chronic illness and disorders such as hydrocephalus, but also revolution the use of Eastern healing modalities

The broader role for mHealth apps in CAM is as clinical case managers in ongoing therapy, in AK diagnostics with practitioners, and with your own at home practices. Bear in mind the primary weakness of the human brain is “memory.” Currently poor documentation of treatments limits CAM outcomes. mHealth apps and software would aid documenting this for better continuity of effective treatment.

The big challenge today for the next generation mHealth apps and UI interfaces is: How do you design apps that facilitate healing, while not being a distraction to healing? What is needed is an mHealth interface that includes the nuts & bolts of medicine, while not overwhelming the patient and allowing for interactive discussion and healing.

At the core of all healing is this profound statement, “What you believe to be true, Is.” This is termed the Biology of Belief.” Summing it up, it means that when you change your belief system — You change your life and health!

You can’t recover from an illness until you BELIEVE it will happen! You must also have “balance” in your life which will help in managing all aspects of your life. The Wheel Of Life image below illustrates the eight areas of your life you must bring into harmony.

In order to achieve good health, you must have balance and cooperation in all areas of your life.
In order to achieve good health, you must have balance and cooperation in all areas of your life.

Below is Web Information cited in this Blog

Applied Kinesiology

Stephen Dolle’s Fan Page on Facebook

Dr. Andrew Weil

Dr. List of Popular Wellness Therapies

Dolle Communications Drumming for Wellness

Alternative Medicine/CAM Methodologies in Addiction Treatment

National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Health (NIH – CAM)

Contact me if interested in drumming, healing arts, or speaking. 

Stephen Dolle
Neuroscientist and Drum Circle Facilitator
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Dolle Communications