Tivic Health’s new ClearUP device delivers on the promise of bioelectronics by using electronic impulses to clear sinus congestion without any form of medication. To do this, the device interacts with a patient’s nervous system which in turn passes the electronic impulses along to the tissues in a patient’s head that are causing the congestion, and in turn causes them to relax.
The process seems simple. The congested user passes the device, which is approximately the size and shape of a Bartlett pear, over their face near their sinuses. The device can sense the presence of nerves below the skin, and when it finds them it generates a pulsed current which is picked up by the nerves.
The electric current is very low level, and the only thing the user feels is a gentle buzzing. That buzz is actually the nerves being stimulated by the device in response to the shaped waveforms generated by the ClearUP. According to the company, the device works to combat congestion and relieve sinus pain caused by allergies or respiratory diseases such as colds and influenza.
Stud Finder for Nerves
“We have a very sophisticated algorithm that I affectionately describe as a stud finder for nerves,” explained Tivic Health CEO Jennifer Ernst.
Ernst said that bioelectronics is starting to show some significant growth with medical uses that range from combatting PTSD to fighting Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors. She noted that one type of bioelectronics device, the pacemaker, has been around for years. But she also noted that previous devices have been implanted in the body. The ClearUP is completely wireless.
“That is the newest branch of the field,” Ernst explained. “We talk historically about implants, things like pacemakers. There’s some devices for sleep apnea, for epilepsy, for sacral implants for back pain, then there’s non-invasive or minimally invasive things that only require a small amount of implant. The newest branch of the field is where we are being able to tune the signals without having to put anything into the body, And you can carry signals into the tissue through those nerve fibers that are closer to the surface.”
Better than Drugs
Ernst said that there are a number of benefits to using bioelectronics over using drugs. “With pharmaceuticals, you have so many barriers in terms of the blood brain interactions, and also all of your systemic interactions,” Ernst said. “So any place that’s hard to treat systemically is a good target for an electronic alternative. Treating systemically with drugs to go all through your body when you’re trying to target one region, it’s kind of overkill.”
Ernst said that the ClearUP, which has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, doesn’t require a prescription, unlike many other bioelectronic devices.
“One of my frustrations around electronic medicine is largely products that have come out as prescription or RX products. And then doctors need to be educated and doctors don’t know a lot about how the body’s electrical system works. So patients don’t actually end up getting the benefits.”
Ernst said that the ClearUP device is also showing promise in other areas, including reducing congestion following nasal surgery, for frequent flyers who have to deal with sinus pressure in flight, and even professional athletes who want to improve their breathing.
The ClearUP device is at the beginning of bioelectronics for consumers. Ernst said that she expects to similar treatments for migraine headaches. She said that in many cases, the same device could simply be reprogrammed for other functions.
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