Can Magnetic Brain Stimulation help you Quit Smoking?
Trying to quit smoking is like trying to lose weight. It’s a long, arduous, and often frustrating process riddled with false starts. However, a study conducted by neuroscientist Abraham Zangen of Ben-Gurion University in Israel has shown that magnetic brain stimulation may help people kick the habit faster than Justin Bieber can kick an Argentinean flag off a stage. Heavy smokers who when through at least a pack a day, and who had unsuccessfully tried drugs, nicotine gum and patches, and psychotherapy, cut down or quit for six months after having their brains stimulated with high frequency magnetic pulses.
Zangen divided 115 subjects into three different groups. Two groups received magnetic brain stimulation during 15 minutes every weekday for two weeks, reduced to three sessions in the third week; the only difference was that one group had high frequency stimulation, and the other low frequency. A third, control group was only told they would get magnetic stimulation but the device was really off. In the low frequency and control groups participants decreased smoking from 26 cigarettes to 20 per day.
However, it was the high frequency group that yielded the most promising results. Forty-four percent quit after the three-week study, and 36% claimed they were still not smoking six months later. In order to make sure that they weren’t just blowing smoke, Zangen tested their urine for nicotine breakdown products. This was only a small pilot study, but it certainly warrants the larger clinical trials that will take place in 15 medical centers all around the world. Should magnetic brain stimulation replicate this success in a broader scale, and even if the cessation isn’t permanent, the longer a smoker goes without smoking, the less likely they will be to pick up the habit again.