You’re out with friends or family, about to have an amazing day, and, suddenly, you feel that twinge in your temples, meaning the thing you dread most is about to happen: the onset of painful migraine symptoms.
You panic inside. It’s time to grab heavy-duty pain medications and/or retreat to a cool, dark, and quiet place where you can ride out the pain until you find some form of relief. So much for that day of fun you had planned, right?
Research shows that listening to “binaural beats,” an emerging form of migraine and chronic pain treatment, can be quite effective at stopping migraine headaches in their tracks.
And in addition to providing migraine relief, the healing frequencies of binaural beats have been shown to help with symptoms of several additional mental and physical health conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, and more.
What are binaural beats?
According to Wikipedia, “A binaural beat is an auditory illusion perceived when two different pure-tone sine waves, both with frequencies lower than 1500 Hz, with less than a 40 Hz difference between them, are presented to a listener dichotically (one through each ears).”
There can be a powerful, transformative, and healing effect when your attention shifts left and right over your body’s midline, known as “crossing the midline.”
Another clinical treatment based on crossing the body’s midline is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
I’ve personally experienced EMDR as a patient in my own trauma recovery, sometimes using a light bar to guide my eyes left and right, sometimes using buzzers in my hands that alternate left and right, and sometimes using music that plays in headphones, alternating over and over between left ear and right ear.
EMDR’s effectiveness comes from crossing the midline with only a music player and headphones, which is exactly what happens with binaural beats.
Further, binaural beats allow you the added bonus of being able to dial in the precise frequency you need for the specific issue at hand, be it a migraine, PTSD, anxiety release, and so on.
Do binaural beats work?
Yes, for many people. The more precise question to ask is, “How well do binaural beats work for you?”
I encourage you to try a few and see for yourself.
First, take a minute to visit Brainwave Hub on YouTube or to install an app like Brainwave Tuner Lite on your smartphone.
Grab your headphones and find a quiet place; you’re going to want to pay attention.
Here’s what’s about to happen, and where things get interesting.
As explained by Banzai Labs:
“[T]his beat is indirectly perceived as opposed to directly heard since it is below the range of human hearing. For each brainwave sequence, the frequency of this perceived beat has been engineered to precisely match a target brainwave frequency. The effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone …
“After a few minutes of use, the listener’s own brainwaves will begin to fall into step with and synchronize with, this binaural beat, inducing states ranging from deep sleep to intense concentration and focus. This synchronization process, also known as the ‘frequency following response’, is referred to as brainwave entrainment.”
The best apps allow you to listen to your favorite music while the binaural beat plays behind it (you can’t hear the actual beat, remember?). That’s a good thing because listening to the beat-creating sounds can be less-than-enjoyable for some people.
Get breaking news & relationship advice delivered to your inbox daily!
Most of the binaural beats available on YouTube already have some ambient music in them. You will have a better response if you like the ambient music you hear, so choose based on the music that makes you most comfortable.
My own experience with binaural beats is all positive. It’s fascinating to put myself into a power nap and wake up feeling energized and ready for whatever comes next.
In order to find migraine relief, you will see the most success if you start listening as soon as possible when you feel the migraine appearing.
Related Stories From YourTango:
Here are some of the additional mental and physical health benefits attributed to binaural beats:
Are binaural beats dangerous?
Based on the current scientific research available, no serious risks or side effects of listening to binaural beats have been reported.
As with all sounds, listening at a very high volume can damage your eardrums.
Use over-the-ear headphones to minimize potential damage. The very best headphones are noise-cancelling ones, but they can be expensive.
Whichever headphones you use, please make an effort to be kind to your ears: they’re the only ones you get.
More for You on YourTango:
Bill Protzmann is the founder of Music Care Inc., a for-profit corporation dedicated to teaching practical ways music can be used for self-care. His latest book, More Than Human, explains how and why re-engaging the human spirit can make a practical and positive difference.