3 posts tagged “treatment evaluation”

What’s ASMR? The phenomenon everyone’s whispering about

Posted 1 month ago by

Chills. Goosebumps. Tingles. “Autonomic sensory meridian response” or ASMR is described as a pleasurable wave of calm that comes to some people during exposure to gentle actions and/or sounds: think whispering, tapping fingernails or turning pages. These ordinary audio and visual triggers can inspire a deeply soothing effect on many people – making ASMR potentially appealing to people living with depression, anxiety, PTSD or even chronic pain.

“I find ASMR videos to always be extremely calming,” says one PatientsLikeMe member. “It’s basically the ‘tingles’ or a very chill feeling you get when you watch certain repeated motions or hear soft-spoken or whispered words… Give it a try, especially in moments of panic, anxiety, or agitation.”

Other PatientsLikeMe members have also talked about ASMR in the forums and in their treatment evaluations (join PatientsLikeMe or log in to see what they say).

With meditation, podcasts and soothing music as tested tools to inspire calm, it’s no secret that sound can bring on relaxation. But what exactly is ASMR and how can it help people living with chronic conditions?

The soothing art of ASMR

ASMR is a nonclinical term coined in 2010, and the trend has its origins online. Before it had its “official” acronym, the hard-to-describe experience and its growing presence online was mostly regarded as a quirky YouTube niche. Now, ASMR has become a full-fledged phenomenon with enough hype to place it at the center of a beer commercial that ran during the Super Bowl and a recent This American Life segment titled A Tribe Called Rest.

ASMR brings on what many people describe as a tingling at the crown of the head, which may continue down the spine and the rest of the body, in a wave of euphoria, followed by zen-like relaxation. Not everyone experiences ASMR in response to these stimuli, and there is no comprehensive data as to what percentage of the population does or does not experience it, but tens of millions of views of ASMR videos suggest that many people are indeed drawn to its effects.

Even before it had a name, ASMR had mass appeal. Bob Ross served as a proto-ASMR artist – people zoned out to the dulcet tones of the painter’s voice paired with the soft sights and sounds of his brushstrokes.

These days, many ASMR fans still turn to Bob Ross, as well as a number of other YouTube “ASMRtists” and channels that have emerged, such as Gentle Whispering and ASMR Darling.

The science behind the shivers

Not unlike the chills – or frisson – brought upon by a pleasurable or poignant piece of music, dopamine floods the brain’s reward system when the neurotransmitter (trigger) is activated. This, in addition to the building anticipation in the moments before the music’s crescendo, may create the same type of brain activity that occurs in response to the sights and sounds of ASMR videos.

Researchers are working to generate proof of the existence of ASMR as a physiological experience and not an imagined one. After watching an ASMR-trigger video, participants in a University of Sheffield research study who claimed to experience ASMR registered lowered heart rates than those who didn’t identify as experiencers of ASMR. In another study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers monitored brain activity during an ASMR video-watching session, with participants registering each instance of the signature tingling sensation. Their scans showed activity related to the reward (NAcc) and emotional arousal (dACC and Insula/IFG) centers of the brain.

A sense of calm

Columbia University sleep disorders specialist Dr. Carl W. Bazil suggests ASMR videos as a way to unwind. “People who have insomnia are in a hyper state of arousal,” he said in the New York Times. “Behavioral treatments – guided imagery, progressive relaxation, hypnosis, and meditation – are meant to try to trick your unconscious into doing what you want it to do. ASMR videos seem to be a variation on finding ways to shut your brain down.”

One Patients Like Me member agrees in its ability to both lull him to sleep and help promote restful slumber: “Lately, because I had stressful dreams, I watched ASMR video while my meds were kicking in for about an hour before my sleeping time… It took some research and some trial-and-error to find an ASMR artist who suited my anxiety and entertainment wants. My dreams were then neutral in my experience.”

The majority of people who create ASMR content are women. Using calming voices, they convey tenderness and care and sometimes even emulate touch aimed toward their viewers. The sense of pleasure that the videos incite in some viewers have led come to label ASMR a “brain orgasm” or “whisper porn.” Most people do not report sexual stimulus from the videos as a prime motivator, as reduced heart rate is a common response, which is not typically associated with sexual arousal.

Have you tried ASMR or do you have questions about it? Chat with the community here, and remember to update your profile (under the “My health” tab) if you’ve tried it as part of your treatment plan.


Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and product FAQs: Fad or effective? Legal or not?

Posted 11 months ago by

Trending: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, gummies, tinctures and more. Why are cannabis products gaining popularity as medical treatments and in general? As more states have legalized medical marijuana, more people have shifted their views on cannabis treatments (like former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s recent change of heart). And last month, an advisory panel at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously recommended a medication made from CBD for some forms of epilepsy.

CBD comes from cannabis/marijuana but has some key differences. So, let’s take a closer look at CBD products and some FAQs, like, do they work and are they legal?

What is CBD?

Short answer: Cannabidiol (pronounced canna-bid-EYE-ol) or CBD is a chemical found in cannabis plants that does not produce a “high.”

More info: Cannabis plants can produce more than 100 different types of cannabinoids, a type of chemical that reacts with receptors in the brain. The two most common cannabinoids found in medical marijuana are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is responsible for producing the mental and physical effects of medical marijuana. CBD has many of the same therapeutic qualities as THC, but without psychoactive effects. (For even more info, read our report called “Weed 101: How and why patients use medical marijuana.”)

Products made purely from CBD (without THC) do not produce the psychoactive high of other medical marijuana or some CBD/THC combination products. But, as a JAMA report and some in the medical cannabis industry have pointed out, many CBD products sold online are not accurately labeled (containing much more or less CBD than the label claims, or even containing some THC when it’s not mentioned on the label).

CBD is not regulated or approved by the FDA — but they have issued warning letters to some CBD producers with misleading labels.

Many doctors (in the U.S. and internationally) are hesitant to recommend smoking cannabis or inhaling any burned plant material but may be more open to CBD products that are not smoked. (Has your doctor or provider weighed in about medical cannabis or CBD products? Make a comment below.BD products can be pretty expensive so search around for things like discounted CBD vape juice. You’ll find some great deals! I often buy my wholesale vape supplies online or in a store near me.

Are CBD products effective?

On PatientsLikeMe, members have reported trying CBD for about 160 different reasons, including specific conditions (ALS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and fibromyalgia — to name a few) and symptoms (from anxious or depressed mood to stiffness/spasticity). Below is a list of CBD or cannabis products members have reported as treatments on the site — remember to discuss your treatments with your healthcare provider, and keep in mind that treatment responses vary:

Join PatientsLikeMe to see more details through the links above and to connect with other members about their treatment experiences.

Note: CBD industry insiders advise avoiding splashy websites that offer a “free trial” of the product — by filling out a form, you may be signing up for an unwanted subscription.

Is CBD legal?

Short answer: CBD is legal under some state laws but not under federal law — so it’s pretty confusing (even to healthcare providers).

More info: As of May 2018, there are 17 states with laws specifically about legal CBD. Most state laws allowing some CBD use tend to be very specific (for example, limiting a CBD product’s THC content) and are not the same as state medical marijuana laws.

Under federal law, cannabis products (including CBD) are illegal and classified the same as marijuana (and heroin and ecstasy) as a Schedule I controlled substance. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made headlines in Indiana (where some CBD is legal) a few months back when DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told the local news that CBD is illegal under federal law, but is not the DEA’s main focus. “We are in the middle of an opioid crisis in this country,” Payne said. “That’s our biggest priority right now. People are not dying from CBD. Some would argue lives are being saved by CBD. Are we going to get in the middle of that? Probably not.”

Last year, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith introduced a bill called the “Compassionate Access Act” to encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from “Schedule I” classification, exclude CBD from the definition of marijuana in order to allow better medical access, and regulate CBD products to ensure they’re low in THC. So far, the bill has only bounced around to various congressional subcommittees.

Have any questions, comments or feedback on CBD products? Make a comment below or — even better — become a PatientsLikeMe member to discuss this topic in the forum and see more treatment evaluations from people living with your condition.

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