TDCS, or Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, it’s used by doctors in clinical settings but there are many popular devices you can buy online.
They claim to do everything from “provide relief for depression” to “increase cognitive performance”.
You put electrodes on your head that send a low dose of electric current, supposedly to your brain. There have been over a thousand published studies on TDCS showing both that it has potential both for treatment and enhancement.
Anna Wexler is doing her thesis on at-home TDCS use. She says the most common physical side effects are :
- Skin burns
But, leading researchers recently wrote an open letter to at-home users. Warning that messing around with the level of current or duration “can actually reverse the effect and cause the opposite change in brain function.”
There are no long-term studies on the use of TDCS. Right now, consumers have no way of assessing the safety or efficacy of these devices. Or even evaluating the claims made by manufacturers of these devices.
Proof of the confusion:
One manufacturer told us, “TDCS is not regulated by the FDA and is not considered a medical procedure/device.” So, we asked the F-D-A about the claims and the devices. The agency told us it couldn’t comment on “whether these devices have undergone the appropriate clearance or approval”. So, we then turned to the consumer product safety commission. It’s response? That T-D-C-S is “not in its jurisdiction because of medical claims.”
The FDA also told us it always advises consumers to consult a healthcare provider before using any device.