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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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13 thoughts on “What Are The Dangers Of Brainwave Entrainment?”

  1. I’m commenting to warn others of possible side effects from binaural beats. Three months ago, I listened to a binaural beats soundtrack that claimed to help with headaches. The produced a very strange sensation – a cold feeling on my forehead and my headache was gone. It was amazing but five minutes into the track I saw two zigzag flashes in my field of vision.

    I immediately removed the earbuds and felt alright so went to sleep without too much worry that something was wrong. The following day I had vision problems- flashing lights, and after a trip to the ER it was found that I had a hole in my retina. I got it fixed with laser treatment and all was fine until the next time I used my headphones – a new hole in my retina, same eye as before. I got that one fixed with laser.

    Then approx 4 weeks from the initial flash I got more flashes in my field of vision (no hole in retina this time), pain behind my eye, loud ringing in ears, extreme sensitivity and pain upon hearing sound. Doctor thinks it may have been injury to the optic nerve. Injuries to the nerve do not present symptoms until 4-6 weeks after injury.

    This was a horrible experience for me, and though I am recovering, I still have some constant low level ringing in my ears. I recommend you stay far away from binaural beats!!

  2. I am so glad I found this entry. I had been using the Revolutioner program for depression for about a month. For the last 8 days or so, I felt well mood-wise, but indeed was in some kind of altered state. I couldn’t do anything and didn’t care. It was like being stoned. So I did stop listening to the music. Yesterday and today have been incrementally better, but I’m still not back to normal. Although Revolutioner warned of increased anxiety, I listen to the music at bedtime and fall right to sleep.

  3. I have been using BE for 6 years now. I use different frequencies of binaural beats depending on what conditions I want to address at the time. I have temporal lobe epilepsy and am on Depakote and Lamictal to control seizures. I find that using binaural beats actually help my epilepsy, specifically 1.45hz, which affects the hypothalamus.

    However I do stay away from the visual forms of BE. I do not suggest or guarantee that this will help anyone else. Just sharing my experience. As always, if you have or have had seizures and decide to try BE, please do so very carefully until you figure out how it will affect you.

  4. I was using binaural beats, and after 2 years I started having seizures. On medication now. They’re the kind that make you lose consciousness, and shake like a leaf in the wind. Not saying the beats did it, but I wish I had never tried them. Even though I’m not saying the beats did it… I am saying I’m pretty sure they did it. So good luck for the people that choose to experiment with this technology. You only get one brain. Don’t dig your hole too deep like me.

  5. Hi, I just started listening to these beats last night and I am scared. As I was going to turn the beats off after about fifty minutes of listening I began to feel my head hurt or tingle. I woke up and my ears felt as if I was swimming underwater and just got up to reach for a breath. My chest feels weird as well and I am wondering if I could get any health problems from this.

  6. I have anxiety and have had episodes of panic attacks. I’m now taking meds and haven’t had any panic attack for months. However, just now I was listening to Delta brainwave and after a while I suddenly started sweating and my heart was beating fast like I was going to have a panic attack. I took my headphone off and after a minute I was back to normal.

    Last night before I went to bed I also listened to some YouTube brainwave that was claimed to help myopia. Then in the middle of the night I felt something weird with my right eye ball and my heart rate was getting a little fast when that happened. Also some days ago I listened to a gamma brainwave as I was curious about this out of body experience.

    That night I felt dizzy and the following day I felt something was pounding in my head, a bit like an electric shock. It happened twice and the following day it happened once. It hasn’t happened again so far.

    I dare not mess with my brain for now. I don’t know if I’m a special case because I have had sleep paralysis and I’m on meds now. I think more research needs to be done regarding the safety of this.

  7. I am 50, healthy, do not use drugs or alcohol and have had no history of seizures. I began trying binaural beats last week and found them very helpful and relaxing. However, today while listening to one my hands and legs began to twitch uncontrollably and my head began to shake. I was unable to move to turn the sound off.

    After the sound stopped the tremors lasted several seconds before I was able to turn off the tablet. I do not know if that was a seizure and am not sure really what happened. It is frustrating not to find more research on this in order to understand if I am taking a long term risk of damage or not. I really enjoyed the recordings up to now and would like to continue use.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

    • I, too have recently experienced retinal tears from this. Also tinnitus and flashing vision now for weeks. I got my eyes checked yesterday because of this flashing but they were unable to find another tear, and I go to a GP tomorrow. I think this is very dangerous technology and I suspect some sort of neural damage.

  10. 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 ?

  11. 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.


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