Pavlok Shock Bracelet Review

pavlok shock therapy band review
Pavlok

Would you be willing to resort to shock therapy in an attempt to change your eating habits? Believe it or not, that's exactly what users of the Pavlok shock therapy bracelet intend to do. Customers have worn it to lose weight, quit smoking, stop nail-biting, and even to wake up earlier. The Pavlok sounds like a simple solution, but does it really deliver on what it promises? I gave it a try and lived to tell the tale. Here's more about my experience.

How Does Pavlok Work?

Before using the Pavlok, you must decide which specific habits you want to address. Perhaps, you want to work on losing weight by reducing your portion sizes. Rather than shocking yourself all day long, you need to target either a certain type of food or a pattern of eating that you would like to change. This device can help you reduce a specific behavior, not a general one. 

The Pavlok shock therapy band is worn on your wrist. When you engage in the habit that you're trying to eliminate, you must press a button on top of the band. This triggers an electric stimulus to be administered to your wrist. Because it is uncomfortable, your brain starts to associate the targeted behavior with a painful consequence (a shock to the wrist). This process is meant to help you build an aversion to that activity.

Using the theories behind classic conditioning, the Pavlok trains your brain to break undesirable habits. Users can change the intensity of the shock by connecting the device with the Pavlok app. At the highest level, the shock can feel very intense. On the lowest setting, it feels more like a pinprick.

Pavlok Shock Band Science 

The makers of Pavlok provide a list of 21 scientific studies to support their product on their website. It's important to point out, however, that the studies do not investigate the effectiveness of the Pavlok bracelet directly. Instead, the research evaluates various modes of aversion therapy, which the Pavlok system is based on. Unfortunately, much of the research is either very old (dating back to the 1960s and 1970s) or very limited in scope (involving only one participant). Some of it isn't even about shock therapy at all.

One study on the Pavlok site examines the effectiveness of aversion therapy for weight loss. The headline reads "Aversion Study Results in Sustained Weight Loss of 9.17 lbs." While the title sounds pretty impressive, upon further inspection, the details don't really provide a strong case for buying the Pavlok.

It turns out that the study being referenced was conducted in 1970 and involved only 12 women. The test group was subjected to a type of aversion therapy in which they had to breathe in noxious fumes through an oxygen mask when they were exposed to their favorite foods. The women in the study told the researchers that they experienced "serious discomfort" during the conditioning sessions. One even reported vomiting afterward.

Five out of the six women tested in the study maintained their weight loss after 48 weeks. However, the researchers concluded when aversion therapy is "combined with other procedures, it may help the patient lose weight more easily." Based on the symptoms described by the test subjects, it's hard to see how anyone could describe the aversion therapy as "easy."

My Review 

Since I am both a glutton for punishment and an obsessively curious journalist, I decided to test out the Pavlok myself. The Pavlok company sent me a device. As instructed, I spent some time evaluating my habits in order to target a specific behavior to change. After some reflection, I decided that I wanted to eat less chocolate ice cream. I didn't want to give up chocolate ice cream for good, but I did want to eat it less often and learn to eat a smaller portion of it.

For four days, I ate ice cream every single day as part of the required "exposure phase." I wore the Pavlok bracelet and administered a shock to myself whenever I scooped out a bowl of ice cream. Then, I continued to shock myself as I consumed my chocolate treat.

So...did it work?

In a word, yes. After four days of the Pavlok, my cravings for chocolate ice cream disappeared. I purchased a quart of ice cream to keep in my home, just to see if my cravings would return. After two weeks, I was happy to report that they still hadn't. Since using Pavlok, I have continued to eat chocolate ice cream, but I gained better control of my portions temporarily. Unfortunately, after about 12 weeks, my cravings returned back to their original strength. 

A Word From Verywell

Shock therapy is a drastic treatment for weight loss or any other health habit. Although there's some research to support its effectiveness, we encourage taking a more positive approach when managing your health. Instead of beating yourself up for eating certain foods, shift your focus to the benefits you stand to gain from choosing nutritious foods. Healthy eating should be part of your self-care routine, not a punishment.

One benefit of the Pavlock system is that it encourages you to take some time to think deeply and honestly evaluate your daily behaviors. This process of reflection is a positive step towards becoming more self-aware and developing healthy, sustainable habits.

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