Can a zap to the head help you lose weight?

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Recent human trials along with a new product release suggest wearing an electric cap may reduce weight.

A recent clinical trial from Harvard Medical School Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine looked at the effects of tDCS on “the regulation of appetite supported by dopamine-modulated brain circuits.” The results focused on obese individuals and seemed to conclude that tDCS made a portion of the individuals significantly less hungry while another portion significantly more hungry.

There have been dozens of clinical trials testing tDCS on cravings in people who are overweight and many more looking at how tDCS can generally effect our ability to control ourselves, allowing us to make better decisions; among these clinical trials include work from the NIH. A lot of this worked tries to activate a part of the brain called the DLPFC—or the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—using tDCS electrodes on the front of the head (see our montage guide). The idea is that tDCS using the F3-F4 montage to the DLPFC can reduce addictive tendencies by winding up the part of the brain that helps us postpone bad decisions. This is why the same technique—according to clinical trials—can work to help with all kinds of craving: smoking, gambling, and even internet addiction. What does all this mean for people looking to loose a few pounds with the help of a little zap to the head? Well researchers working with tDCS for weight loss, including those at Harvard, seem careful to openly endorse this as of yet. But that hasn’t stopped at least one company from proposing a wearable brain stimulation device for weight loss, although their technology does not rely on the tDCS performed in the trials discussed above.

For those who want to tDCS at home, a range of tDCS consumer products are available (see our unbiased tDCS device comparison guide and promotions at https://www.tdcs.com/best-tdcs-devices).