We Tried Meghan Markle's Controversial NuCalm Patch & We're Royally Conflicted

Like the rest of us, Meghan Markle has plenty to be stressed about. Unlike the rest of us, she can test out the priciest stress-reducing treatments out there. The latest wellness trend she's followed is called NuCalm, a system involving relaxing recordings that alter your brain waves and even boast the ability to "change your mental state with no drugs," per NuCalm's website. In August 2023, Markle was seen wearing one of NuCalm's biosignal processing discs: A sticker about the size of a quarter that applies electromagnetic frequencies to your Pericardium Meridia to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (AKA the nerves that control your relaxation). 

In other words, this tiny sticker physically stimulates your nerves to calm you down. Could something like this actually work? Well, the Duchess of Sussex seems to think so, and in these stressful times, we were more than willing to give it a try. We went in a little wary of trying something new and so unusual. Still, with a particularly acute penchant for worrying in tow, it was clear that if NuCalm wanted to prove that it could actually make someone calm, it had come to the right place. 

We entered the process with a very open mind, some hope, and full awareness that the placebo effect had the potential to sway our results. We tested the NuCalm system, wearing a biosignal processing disc for 24 hours to determine whether or not Markle is actually onto something. So, do these discs really relax you? Are they worth the hefty price tag? We were determined to get the answers.

How we tested NuCalm

NuCalm biosignal processing discs are available in packs of 20 and 100 for $80 and $400, respectively. This is inarguably expensive, but how pricey it is depends on how frequently you use the discs. The package arrived quickly; inside were two sheets of 10 discs, notably without instructions on how to use them. For that, we headed to the NuCalm website. It explained that the disc is intended to accompany one of multiple recordings that you can access via a NuCalm app subscription. Each recording can be played for "sessions" of varying lengths, ranging from 30 minutes to two hours. You can listen to the sessions without a biosignal processing disc, but we went for the full experience.

First, we downloaded the app and began the free trial. Locating said free trial and avoiding the $30 monthly fee proved strangely difficult. Luckily, though, this induced some stress just in time to properly test out the discs' calming effects. We then placed the disc as instructed: On the left arm, three fingers' length away from where the wrist meets the hand, and aligned with the ring finger. 

Once it was placed, we promptly began the recording. The app recommended using your best noise-canceling headphones and the NuCalm premium eye mask for optimum results. In the absence of noise-canceling headphones, and since the mask sets you back another $20, we opted for the classic combination of second-generation AirPods and some good old-fashioned closed eyelids.

Our NuCalm experience

We chose "Rescue" to start, per the app's recommendation, a session designed to mediate stress and aid in restoring your cells. We then opted for the shortest session: 30 minutes. When the sound of chimes played to kick off the recording, we were expecting a guided meditation and some instructions on how to direct the wandering mind. Instead, the recording had no words and simply provided what sounded like the "Interstellar" score. For half an hour, we lay there with our eyes closed as the peaceful instrumental music gently repeated. 

This was relaxing, but neither the music nor the processing disc really helped to keep the racing thoughts at bay the way you'd expect. Consequently, the 30-minute session was filled with thoughts of grocery lists, packed calendars, and at least one occurrence of the dreaded "How much longer is 30 minutes?" question. The website boasts that no one has ever had a significant side effect from the NuCalm biosignal processing discs, which was comforting when trying out such an unusual method. 

Still, if your experience is anything like ours, you may feel your heartbeat gently radiating through your left arm within the first half hour of wearing the disc, proving that it was, in fact, doing something. A chime ended the session, and since the instructions suggest continuing to wear the disc once it's finished, and while sleeping to further reap the benefits, we kept the processing disc on for the next 24 hours.

We enjoyed NuCalm's pleasant placebo

Did the process of using NuCalm result in calmness? Yes. Is this because of the technology behind the processing discs? That's tough to say. After the session, life definitely felt calmer. Still, the remaining 24 hours of wearing the disc didn't feel different from your average Sunday. It was easy to forget about the disc, and not even the placebo effect convinced the gullible mind that it had any effect. Make no mistake, the day spent wearing the NuCalm biosignal processing discs was calm and relaxed, but it was a rare Sunday with 30 minutes taken out with distractions entirely set aside. 

It's easy to wonder whether taking a break from your day to close your eyes and listen to some calming music — selections from the "Interstellar" soundtrack, perhaps? — could be an easy (and cheaper!) way to feel calmer. It's unclear whether NuCalm's power went any further than just inviting us to take that time out of our day, but of course, it's possible that the myriad frequencies were keeping panic at bay that would have otherwise swooped in. 

Is this enough of a possibility to warrant the price of the processing discs and the app subscription? Probably not, but it's entirely up to personal preference. If you're looking to try NuCalm, signing up for the free trial and listening to a session is your best bet before investing in the biosignal processing discs. Still, if you, like Meghan Markle, find yourself in the middle of a royal family feud anytime soon, they may indeed be worth a shot.