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What Are The Dangers Of Brainwave Entrainment?

Even though the dangers of brainwave entrainment are fairly minimal, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with this technology. Personally I don’t think there are any major dangers to be concerned with unless you are: prone to seizures, under 18, or pregnant. If you are prone to seizures, you should NOT use this technology in the first place as it may trigger one. Most people will be able to tolerate this technology well though.

When I used it awhile back, my therapist inquired about any potential risks and dangers. I then worked with her and emailed several neurologists about the technology and asked for their opinions. Nearly all of them responded by saying there really isn’t any major cause for concern. One did say something about the technology maybe changing a developing brain, but he didn’t think it would necessarily be a bad change – he just said there may be some sort of an effect.

Common Dangers of Brainwave Entrainment

1. Seizures

The top concern is individuals that are susceptible to seizures (i.e. epileptics). This technology can trigger seizures in those who have epilepsy and should not be used; pretty simple concept.

2. Developing brains

There may be a cause for concern in younger individuals with developing brains. This may not be an ideal technology to use on children or teens. It is recommended that this technology be limited to responsible adults (at least 18 years of age). If you want to be on the safe side, don’t use this technology until you think your brain is fully developed.

3. Lack of research

Although there is a lot of research in the field of brainwave entrainment, most of it has been done by people developing products to sell to people for self help. That doesn’t mean it’s bad research, but there needs to be more peer reviewed journal articles discussing the side effects and implications of this technology.

4. Drowsiness

Obviously you should NOT be operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery while using this technology because it may cause drowsiness.

5. Altered state of consciousness

Finally the only other thing that I can think of that may not feel comfortable is being temporarily stuck in an altered state of consciousness.  In other words, you may feel “weird” and like you want to return to normal.  This isn’t the same thing as a trip on a drug, but some people experience feeling strange and want to get back to the way things were.  Stop using the technology, give it a few days or weeks and things will return to normalcy.

If you experience unwanted side effects…

If you experience unwanted side effects from brainwave entrainment, your best bet is to stop using it and give it a break. If you overdo it, the worst that’s going to happen is you may end up stuck feeling a little weird for awhile in an “altered state of consciousness.” I have personally used alpha entrainment and there were a couple of sessions that left me feeling a little out of sorts, but I eventually returned to normal.

So if you feel weird, just play the waiting game: let time pass, don’t use entrainment for awhile, and you will feel completely normal again. There typically aren’t any negative permanent side effects from having used this technology. With that said, further research is warranted in this area of experimental therapy.

Really the only major danger is seizures – and that will only happen if you are naturally prone to them. All the other side effects aren’t much compared to major pharmaceutical drugs. In fact I would argue that there really aren’t side effects other than changes in brain activity.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • River April 29, 2013, 4:00 am

    Are there any recorded cases of anyone having a seizure from these or is this just a precautionary warning? I have been interested in trying these for a while now, but now I’m finding things that say they could be unsafe. There are many different types of seizures and many people have different triggers. I don’t know of that many besides my own, except that I know some have ones that are triggered by flashing lights, etc. and they should stay away from light-based ones (which I wasn’t going to try just to be safe even though I don’t have that kind). Are there certain individuals who have seizures triggered by music or sound? Because I’m curious how the pulsating beats are any different from listening to music, etc. that they would be problematic.

    I have never had any problems with going to concerts, dancing in a club or elsewhere (to pulsating dance beats or latin music which is heavily laced with drumbeats and other such rhythms), or being in close proximity to drums, when singing (in one band, the drummer was pretty much directly behind my head and we practiced in a very small space, so I was quite close to the sound) in or listening to friends’ and family’s bands.

    Are the people who might have seizures from listening to this, people
    who would likely have problems with the above? I’ve known other people with seizure issues that are different from mine, but I’ve never even heard of seizures caused by sounds before, so I need more info on this if anybody knows anything more about it.

    I have seen it recommended to ask your doctor. Most neurologists are not holistic, and don’t believe in this sort of thing in the first place, so they are not likely to have any opinions on whether it is “safe” or “unsafe”, you’d probably just get a nod and a smile or laughed at like you’re crazy (and many neurologists also work in psychology/psychiatry, so you have to be careful what you say in front of them! lol.)

    My seizures are controlled by medication and I haven’t had one since about January 2006 or so if that makes a difference to any of this. I mention that because I know a lot of peoples’ are not controlled by medicine. Mine have primarily been triggered by stress and/or insomnia and apparently the brainwave entrainment is supposed to be good for these things and therefore, I thought they might be beneficial for me.

    However, I also saw a warning about being on any sort of medication and I do take anti-seizure meds and sleeping pills (for the aforementioned insomnia. But if I could use these and get some sleep naturally, I could quit taking those! :( )

    I would appreciate any information anyone could give me on this. And it would be great if anyone who can answer even some of these queries could post them here as I am sure I am not the only one with these concerns.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  • Imperius September 30, 2013, 3:05 pm

    I’ve been listening to iscochronic tones and binaural beats for some time without any kind of problems. However, a few weeks ago I wanted to test how it works and I’ve listened to isochronic tones, something for hair growth and heal, in order to see it’s effects. Ever since then I had problems with both sleep and libido. I would always wake up twice in the morning after being ”bombarded” with dreams. I feel in an altered state of consciousness and since I’ve listened to those sounds I haven’t been able to feel any sexual attraction, which is odd since I just made 18 years and untill now I’ve been quite the person with sexual desires. Things are a little bit better than in the first week when I’ve had no need to eat or drink, but it’s still bad. Can you tell me what happened to my brain and if there is any way to get back to normal, to reset it on how it was before ?

  • Stuart Graham July 6, 2014, 10:36 pm

    I have been a long-time user of audio-visual entrainment. I have had retinal tears in recent years, a condition unknown in my family history. When I inquired about studies of the long-term effects on the eyes on the use of this technology, the manufacturer, Mind Alive, Inc, was unable to produce any. This seems quite negligent to me.

    • Mary-Anne Janewski July 9, 2015, 8:51 pm

      Noticed the comment and just wanted to say that the studies we have at Mind Alive Inc. show that there are no long-term effects on healthy eyes using AVE with eyes closed. Eye-sets with exposed LEDs could burn the retinas if used with eyes open.

  • Liz November 4, 2015, 8:19 am

    Hmm. I am pregnant and I am wondering what the risk with this is? Given I am the one listening to this (usually through headphones) and even when I’m not, the theta pulse is so faint that barely I can hear it, I would be interested to know how this could possibly be a risk to my unborn child.

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