Pills are passé. Medicine's new trend is "electroceuticals" that treat ailments with electricity rather than chemicals. And this may be good news for those who suffer from migraines.
A new device that prevents migraines by electrically stimulating nerves in the cranium just made an entry into the scene.
The device is manufactured by a Belgian company and has already been approved for commercial sales in Europe, Canada and Australia.
Called Cefaly, the battery-powered device that resembles a tiara or a headband, can be used for daily sessions of up to 20 minutes, and may work for migraine patients who can't tolerate or don't respond to medication.
The device works by stimulating the trigeminal nerve -- the largest cranial nerve -- which carries sensory information from the face to the brain, and which has also been associated with the pain of migraine headaches.
According to the Cefaly website, its mechanism is based on the gate control theory of pain.
By providing sensory input to the nerves, the device essentially keeps a neural gate closed to pain input.
This theory explains why you rub your elbow after banging it -- the sensory stimulus overrides the pain stimulus, which is transmitted to the brain on different nerve fibres.