The effects of inflammation and cytokines on certain brain regions, the amygdala and others, produce potentially adaptive and beneficial behavioral responses. However, chronic inflammation in the body is also associated with increased risk for medical illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and cancer, while its direct effects on the brain may cause behavioral symptoms such as anxiety and mood disorders.

Where Does Anxiety “Live” in the Brain?

The principal brain region involved in fear and anxiety is the amygdala, and it plays a crucial role in the neural circuitry of anxiety. Inflammation increases amygdala activity and increased amygdala responses to stress are associated with increased production of inflammatory cytokines. Dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, and gamma aminobutyric acid (gaba) are all involved in the development and mediation of fear and anxiety. This is why some medications are used to manage many behavior problems that involve fear or anxiety in humans and pets. However, currently there is an interest in blocking inflammation in the amygdala (and other brain regions) as a potential treatment strategy of mood and anxiety related disorders.

Inflammation and Anxiety in Humans

In humans, it has been established that a significant proportion of patients with mood and anxiety-related disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder exhibit elevated inflammatory markers such as cytokines, chemokines, acute phase reactants, changes in gene expression, and increased presence of inflammatory cells within the cerebrospinal fluid. Increased inflammation may further contribute to disease symptoms in patients as inflammatory signals impact the brain, affecting behavioral symptoms relevant to mood and anxiety. Peripheral inflammation (and cytokines) may also influence the central nervous system to contribute to mood and anxiety disorders.

Harvard University began investigating the use of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) for the treatment of anxiety disorders.  Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy enhances nitric oxide (NO), the body’s own anti-inflammatory. Nitric oxide inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines. Nitric oxide also induces production of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. The net effect is a reduction in neuro-inflammation and rebalancing of an overactive, anxious brain.

Inflammation and Anxiety in Animals

How can this be applied to our veterinary patients? Enter The Calmer Canine®. The Calmer Canine is very similar to The Assisi Loop. They are both PEMF devices however, The Calmer Canine Anxiety Treatment system sends microcurrents of targeted PEMF signals to the brain, specifically the amygdala. These signals work at the cellular level by controlling the activity of the microglial cells that are responsible for commanding the activities of other cells. Targeted PEMF signals enhance the binding of calcium to calmodulin; activating the production and release of nitric oxide. This natural increase in NO production causes an increase in protective anti-inflammatory mediators and a decrease in harmful pro-inflammatory mediators (e.g. IL-6; and TNF-). This results in a rebalancing of inflammatory mediators and a reduction in inflammation.

Targeted PEMF signals also cause the neural cells to produce “feel good” substances such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. The net effect of the reduced inflammation is protection from oxidative stress and a reduction in neuronal cell death. The targeted PEMF signal uses electromagnetic energy instead of chemistry or pharmacology to have a biological effect on the body.

Calmer Canine and Anxiety Relief

Clinically, the cellular effects of The Calmer Canine’s targeted PEMF signal translates to a reduction in the signs of anxiety, such as less panting and pacing, less barking, howling, or whining, and less destruction of the home. You can watch a clip of The Calmer Canine’s mechanism of action and check out the results of The Calmer Canine’s pilot study on YouTube. Using the Calmer Canine for 15 minutes, twice daily, canine patients are relieved of anxiety in just a short time.

Looking Ahead

As the research into Calmer Canine continues with a double-blinded placebo-controlled study, the positive testimonials keep on rolling in: Calmer Canine is helping dogs around the world to feel happier and calmer.

Want more? Learn more about the science behind Calmer Canine!