Is This New Technology the Future of Mental Health?
Could magnetic fields be a solution? There's interest, but a lack of evidence.
Posted April 23, 2020 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
Over the past several decades, there has been a great deal of research on the subject of magnetic fields and how such fields can influence biology. Due to the findings of this research, scientists have been testing “artificially” constructed or “device-generated” magnetic fields, which have been shown to create similar effects as the body’s typical functioning.
Generally, research on device-generated magnetic fields has been directed toward biological illnesses, such as cancer. According to a recent paper by some of the leading scientists studying the effects of magnetic fields (see several links below):
“Multiple studies in a variety of systems indicate that magnetic fields can alter biological function. Therapeutically useful devices are used presently in clinical practice, both in human and veterinary medicine. Treatment for bone growth, wound healing, arthritis pain and depression are among the clinical uses. Research aims to understand better how these fields exert their effects to further enable new and exciting therapeutic options for many diseases.”
Artificial magnetic fields have been shown to be capable of triggering a similar receptor response and conformational change in the absence of a physical drug or molecular agonist. In other words, the magnetic field can create a biological effect similar to a drug that goes into the body. For instance, one study showed how the energy spectrum of these fields, which has been termed ulRFE, can selectively knock down protein pathways.
Although most of the research has been on the effects of artificial magnetic fields on biological ills, such as cancer and pain, there is a company, Hapbee, seeking to take this technology and pioneer it into the mental health space. Hapbee is a tool you wear around your neck, which creates an artificial magnetic field around you. The accompanying smartphone app purports to trigger various mood states such as happiness, alertness, and even sleepiness.
Although still in its infancy as a company, Hapbee recently had a highly successful “crowdfunding” campaign on the website Indiegogo, raising over $450,000 in advance purchases. Hapbee also boasts a large “advisory board” of famous influencers and entrepreneurs, including Bulletproof Coffee’s Dave Aspery, Martin Tobias, who is the founder of Upgrade Labs, which is considered to be a top biohacking company, and many others.
In response to Habpee’s successful Indiegogo, there has been some negative backlash and criticism about the validity of the product and its claims. To be sure, Hapbee is making no medical claims, such as curing insomnia, anxiety, or depression. They do, however, claim to be a tool that can be used for stress management, helping with sleep, and balancing moods throughout the day. Their objective is to be the “Netflix of feelings.”
It’s important to note that, at this point in time, there is no scientific evidence that ulRFE can produce changes in mood, despite the fact that a growing body of research shows that ulRFE can create a biological effect, even aiding extreme physical diseases. Hapbee is seeking to take this growing body of science and transfer it to the mental health space. They are backed by many influential and famous entrepreneurs, creating a big stir in the media, and are already attracting controversy.
It would be very interesting if a tool that produces chosen moods at will could become a new aid in therapy or mental health. Rather than being prescribed a drug, maybe we’ll be given an app to help us manage our mood states at different times. Maybe in the future, when we’re struggling with an addiction or struggling with sleep, we can turn on an app and an invisible magnetic field will give us a micro-shift, allowing us to achieve our goals in a healthy way.
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