We all want a cure for migraines.
But because migraines come from so many different areas of health…
And because migraine is a natural mechanism by the brain…
It’s not as simple as 1 2 3(sometimes it is).
So we need every win we can get while we narrow down the root cause.
This is where migraine devices come in and they can be great for both acute attack relief as well as for prevention.
In this article I will be talking about the Gammacore, Eneura and Cefaly devices and how they compare.
What are they?
These migraine devices are patented technologies that use electrical or magnetic stimulation to prevent the pain associated with migraines.
Throughout the descriptions of each we will cover the cost, how it is supposed to work, possible side effects, if they have clinical studies, where to get them and what you need to know about them from a holistic health perspective.
Lets start with Gammacore.
Cost: $600 per month
How it’s supposed to work:
Gammacore uses n-VNS which stands for non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation.
The vagus nerve is a large nerve that controls the parasympathetic side of the nervous system’s control of the heart, lungs and digestive tract.
The parasympathetic can generally be thought of like the rest and digest side of the nervous system.
Opposite to it is the sympathetic side which is the fight or flight side.
The vagus nerve has a 9:1 ratio of information going to the brain as opposed to coming from the brain.
By stimulating the vagus nerve you may be disrupting a large amount of energy that is going back to the brain from the gut, heart, and lungs which is coming from issues they are having.
It is commonly seen that migraine sufferers experience food sensitivities which contribute to their pain and they commonly have dysfunctional guts.
This may be why the vagal nerve stimulation works so well.
Other methods of vagal stimulation are:
- Cold showers
- Deep breathing exercises
Gammacore was found to be effective in one study where:
“12.7% of patients were pain-free at 30 minutes, 21% at 60 minutes and 30.4% at 120 minutes. This is an improvement over sham but not by much as sham had 4.2% at 30 minutes, 10% at 60 minutes and 19.7% at 120 minutes.”
Gammacore is FDA approved but requires a prescription which may be done through phone consultation. Insurance coverage does exist but does not usually fully cover costs.
Here is a video on how to use Gammacore:
- Shortness of breath
- Hoarseness or change in voice during treatment
- Muscle twitching
- Discomfort or pain during stimulation
Reviews were actually very hard to find but it did seem to be effective in some cases.
What you need to know:
The application of a vagal stimulator to affect the input and output between the brain and the lungs, heart and digestive tract isn’t very far fetched.
We know there is a strong connection between the gut and brain, especially in migraines and headaches.
But it is still up to question if the vagal nerve stimulation is helping by speeding up the problem that the energy going through the vagal nerve is trying to fix or if it is simply scrambling the signal between the gut and brain so that pain is not transmitted as well.
Either way, there are many natural options for vagus nerve stimulation that are safe and come with a plethora of benefits.
Cost: (Regularly priced at $750 for the first 3 months) But there is a $300 discount available
Eneura works by using single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation or s-TMS. It uses magnetic therapy to change how the brain and the nerves on our head react to pain stimulation.
A clinical study was conducted where 164 patients used it for at least one migraine attack with Eneura or a sham. 39% of the Eneura group was pain-free after 2h as opposed to only 22% of the sham group being pain-free after 2h.
They do have some case studies on the website here which go into detail about individuals experiences with the Eneura device.
The Eneura sTMS device is FDA approved for both acute and preventive treatment of migraines.
There are two ways to go about this therapy, one in which you get regular TMS at a clinic that has the machine which can run into $1000s worth of treatments…
Using the sTMS Eneura device where you pay a monthly fee while using the device at home.
Both may be covered under insurance depending on your plan.
There is a great review of info published by the mayo clinic on TMS devices here.
Side effects: There are some side effects like increased headaches, rare seizures, and mood disturbances.
Reviews: It was actually difficult finding reviews for this device as the website is the only seller of it. But there are some reviews on this post inside the comments.
Where to purchase:
Has to be bought from their website. Www.eneura.com
What you need to know:
If you have exhausted all options then this may be worth a try.
That said, 100% of the people that say they have tried everything have not so don’t make it so easy for yourself to say it.
There are many amazing therapies that I’ve seen do away with all pain but they are not consistent.
Because migraine is not one thing.
Migraine is many different issues that end up in a few common symptoms we call migraine and this is one of the reasons it’s so important to understand the migraine mechanism and how trigger levels and threshold levels play a part.
Always look for the cause and get testing to look at the other systems of the body that may be bringing the brain down with them.
Cost: Base cost for the device is $295 plus $29 for shipping. A three-pack of electrodes is $25 with an additional $5 for shipping.
How it’s supposed to work:
The cefaly uses what is called electric transcranial neurostimulation or e-TNS and directs a mild frequency directly into the end of the trigeminal nerve which has been implicated in migraine.
Cefaly does have a fair amount of clinical studies done on its effectiveness in a number of disorders and use for both acute attacks as well as prevention of migraines.
In one study on migraine patients,
Average pain intensity was significantly reduced by 57.1% after the one-hour e-TNS treatment and by 52.8% at two hours. No patients took rescue medication within the two-hour observation phase. Within the 24-hour follow-up, 34.6% of patients used a rescue medication.
The idea is similar to both Gammacore and Eneura in that stimulation of the nerves around the head that are implicated in migraine create a lessening of the pain sensation they are causing and also release endorphins which are feel-good hormones that act as painkillers.
The Cefaly is FDA approved but does require a prescription to acquire in the US so some ship it in from outside of the country.
- Buzzing sensation or pain
- Tension type headache
- Sleepiness during use
- Skin irritation
- Allergic reaction
Where to purchase:
Cefaly devices are available on Amazon and at Costco in Canada but you may need to order off their website in other areas. Www.cefaly.com
What you need to know:
Cefaly does seem to be very popular and work as a method of relief for many people. That said it is important to understand that simply stimulating the nerve that is creating pain doesn’t mean we are stopping what is causing the pain to have to be expressed through that nerve.
The body protects itself with pain so it may actually be counterproductive in the long term to use something that only stop the superficial pain without addressing the underlying cause of it.
It can be likened to when the engine light comes on in your car. If you simply pull the bulb out of the light then you won’t know somethings wrong, but something will still be malfunctioning.
That said, if you are still actively searching for and waiting to get functional medicine testing back then this may be a useful approach to get through the day.
Which one is best?
In my opinion, there is not a best one as they all seem to be superficial therapies that prove to be fairly expensive with monthly and maintenance costs.
It would be better investing in advanced lab testing that will tell you where you hormones are, if you have food sensitivities, if you have gut bugs, if you have nutrients deficiencies etc.
But if I had to choose one, it would be the gammacore as stimulating the vagus nerve seems to be the deepest approach.
In terms of popularity, the Cefaly wins by a mile.
They all seem to be fairly safe and effective in some cases.
But as a holistic health practitioner, knowing the implications that the entire body has in creating your health or feeding your disease, it’s simply not right to continue with a palliative therapy if you can be fixing a deeper issue that will provide long-term health,
See our article on status migrainosus and intractable migraines here if you are still experiencing difficult migraines that just won’t budge.
To understand how seeing your body holistically can give you the quantum leap in your health that medications won’t join the community here.
Have you ever tried a migraine device? Have you tried multiple or a device not talked about here?
Let me know in the comments below and share this with someone looking for other options.