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Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Time To Enhance Your Overall Health and Well-Being

The Performance Of The Vagus Nerve In The Immune System Reading Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Time To Enhance Your Overall Health and Well-Being 14 minutes Next Do You Know Your Stress Type?

You deserve to feel your best and to have access to tools and strategies that help you achieve this goal! One such option that more and more people are discovering but is still relatively new is non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (NIVNS). NIVNS provides users with increased mental clarity and improved overall health, which can be vital for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But these are just the beginning of the benefits of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation—we'll get into much more detail today.

What is the Vagus Nerve?

What is the vagus nerve, and how does it work? The vagus nerve, also known as the tenth cranial nerve, is one of 12 pairs of nerves that originate in the brainstem and runs down through the neck and chest to various organs throughout your body, including your lungs, heart, and digestive tract. It is crucial in controlling involuntary functions such as heart rate, digestion, sweating, and other bodily processes.

The vagus nerve and heart rate

One of the most important functions of the vagus nerve is to control heart rate. In particular, the vagus nerve helps slow down your heart rate when you are under stress or exerting yourself. When this happens, it can reduce your risk for cardiac complications such as arrhythmia. In addition, slowing your heart rate can also help with blood pressure regulation and cardiovascular health.

The vagus nerve and digestion

Another key role of the vagus nerve is digestion—it helps regulate various processes in the digestive system, including stomach contractions which aid in breaking down food, moving waste out of your body, and releasing enzymes that help with the absorption of nutrients from food.

The vagus nerve and immune responses

The vagus nerve also plays an influential role in your immune system. It helps regulate the body's inflammatory responses and can help reduce overall inflammation throughout the body. In addition, it can help reduce stress hormones, which can benefit those with chronic or autoimmune diseases.

Cytokines are small regulatory proteins that help control the body's immune response and can be released when certain stimuli are present. The vagus nerve helps regulate these cytokines and can reduce inflammation, increasing overall health and well-being—more on cytokines later in this post)

In addition to these primary functions, research has shown that stimulating certain parts of this nerve can bring about a wide range of positive effects, such as improved alertness and concentration, reduced anxiety, increased creativity, and mental clarity.

While more invasive options (including surgical) are sometimes warranted for treating serious medical conditions, incredibly effective non-invasive options can help you experience these positive effects for yourself.

Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation

With that in mind, it's time to discuss non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (NIVNS). NIVNS is a type of vagus nerve stimulation that can be used to safely and effectively activate the vagus nerve.

It does not involve invasive procedures but instead consists of placing electrodes on the skin near or around the neck (including using vagus nerve-stimulating headphones, which we'll discuss later) to send mild electrical pulses through the body, targeting the vagus nerve. This process helps stimulate some of the same pathways as traditional surgical interventions, without any risks associated with more invasive options.

For those looking for improved mental clarity, increased energy levels, and overall better health, NIVNS may be worth considering. By stimulating your vagal pathways, you can help support many important bodily functions and reduce inflammation - all while avoiding potential side effects seen with more invasive interventions.

Potential benefits of Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation

So, we know that vagus nerve stimulation can have several positive effects. Still, exactly what are these effects users might expect when they try non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation?

The seven we'll tell you about today are:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Better sleep
  • Boosted immune function
  • Promotes recovery
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improved digestion

  • Reduced stress and anxiety

  • One of the most touted benefits of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. The vagus nerve is integral to the parasympathetic nervous system—the key player in the "rest and digest" response. This is what takes us out of the "fight or flight" response when we no longer need to be on high alert. Unfortunately, many people find themselves stuck in a constant state of high alert, unable to switch off the feeling of being in a stressful situation.

    Because of NIVNS's ability to trigger the parasympathetic response, it can help bring down cortisol levels and other stress hormones, reducing feelings of anxiety.

  • Improved mood

  • Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation has also been linked to improved mood. Not only does it promote relaxation, but it may also help boost the production of "feel good" hormones such as endorphins and serotonin. This, in turn, can help improve overall well-being and make tackling difficult tasks a bit easier. In addition, vagus nerve stimulation offers us more glimpses of calm each day. The more of these the brain gets, the more it can rewire itself to regulate emotions better.

  • Better sleep

  • For those who have insomnia or other sleep disturbances, non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation can be highly beneficial. Our bodies need both quality and quantity of rest to properly recover and perform optimally throughout our lives—and NIVNS is one way to achieve that goal. By stimulating your vagus nerve and allowing it to send calming messages throughout your body, you can experience a deeper, more restful sleep.

  • Boosted immune system

  • The vagus nerve also plays a vital role in controlling our immune system. It sends signals that help the body identify threats, such as viruses and bacteria, to mount an appropriate response. NIVNS helps stimulate this process which can help the body fight off infections faster and more effectively—leaving us with fewer days spent feeling sick.

  • Promotes recovery

  • Not only does non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation promote better health and mental clarity, but it may also benefit those recovering from injuries or illnesses. For example, this 2016 study - Vagus Nerve Stimulation Delivered with Motor Training Enhances Recovery of Function after Traumatic Brain Injury examined how VNS might help restore strength and coordination after a traumatic brain injury: 

    "Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the largest health problems in the United States, and affects nearly 2 million people every year. The effects of TBI, including weakness and loss of coordination, can be debilitating and last years after the initial injury. Recovery of motor function is often incomplete. We have developed a method using electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve paired with forelimb use by which we have demonstrated enhanced recovery from ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke."

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Another notable benefit of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation is its potential to reduce inflammation. It can help regulate the body's inflammatory response, reducing pain levels and improving overall health. Because of this effect, VNS is often used as a treatment option for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and IBS.

    This 2022 report finds:

    "Approximately 20 years ago, it was discovered that the vagus nerve regulates pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and inflammation. Subsequent research using several preclinical models revealed that vagus nerve stimulation evokes a protective decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines in multiple inflammatory disorders.

    Consequently, the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine balance has become the predominant readout for indicating a positive outcome of vagus nerve stimulation. However, cytokine levels are just a single aspect of an effective immune response. Therefore, it is conceivable that vagus nerve stimulation regulates inflammation through additional mechanisms."

  • Improved digestion

  • The vagus nerve also plays an important role in the digestive system. The vagus nerve is often called the gut-brain axis because it regulates gut activity and sends signals back to the brain. Not only does this mean better nutrient absorption, but vagus nerve stimulation may also result in fewer digestive issues such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea.

    Along with promoting better digestion for all, those who are suffering from serious digestive issues, including gastroparesis, might experience significant improvement with vagus nerve stimulation.

    Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation Devices

    These benefits are nothing short of exciting. Now it's time to talk about some of the most effective ways to experience them for yourself.

    Xen by Neuvana

    As we mentioned before, vagus nerve-stimulating headphones are one way to experience calming and health-boosting effects. Neuvana's Xen headphones are specifically designed for this task, with a range of stimulation settings that can be adjusted to suit your individual needs.

    Users can choose their favorite sounds and songs to listen to and control their VNS sessions with a handheld device that syncs to an app on their phone. What's particularly exciting about this option is that it can be used in the comfort of your home without needing medical intervention. Xen by Neuvana makes VNS far more accessible than ever, meaning more people can benefit from its many potential benefits.

    Other non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices

    Along with vagus nerve-stimulating headphones, a variety of other VNS devices work similarly. However, rather than using the ear to stimulate the nerve, these devices stimulate the vagus nerve over the skin on the neck, the chest, or sometimes the forehead.

    Other Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation Options

    Along with the many different non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices you have to choose from, there are a number of other ways to stimulate the vagus nerve without the need for surgery or other invasive measures.

    Singing

    Thanks to the vagus nerve's position in the throat, singing is one way to stimulate it directly. Similarly, gargling and humming can have the same effect. The vibrations created by these activities act as a massage for the nerve, which can help reduce stress and tension in the body.

    Meditation

    By focusing on deep breathing and relaxation techniques during meditation, you can stimulate the vagus nerve and experience its calming effects. This activity can help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as help regulate blood pressure levels.

    Yoga

    Another way to stimulate the vagus nerve is through yoga postures such as forward bends or spinal twists that involve neck movement. Yoga also has many other health benefits, in addition to stimulating the vagus nerve, if practiced regularly.

    Acupuncture

    This ancient Chinese practice involves inserting thin needles into the body at specific points, which helps promote natural healing and reduce stress. Acupuncture can also stimulate the vagus nerve, which can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.

    Cold exposure

    Cold therapy, including cold plunges and cryotherapy, has become incredibly popular in wellness. These practices are known for their stress-relieving and energy-boosting benefits, but they can also help stimulate the vagus nerve.

    The Wim Hof website explains this connection:

    "Exposing your body to acute cold conditions, such as taking a cold shower or splashing cold water on your face, increases stimulation of the vagus nerve. While your body adjusts to the cold, sympathetic activity declines, while parasympathetic activity increases."

    Massage

    Finally, massage therapy is another way to stimulate the vagus nerve. This treatment targets areas of tension in the body. It helps relax muscle fibers, decreasing anxiety levels and improving sleep. Massages may also stimulate circulation throughout the body, improving digestion and promoting a feeling of well-being.

    Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation FAQs

    Now let's turn to some common questions many people have about VNS.

    What symptoms does vagus nerve stimulation treat?

    VNS has been used to successfully treat a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, migraines, tinnitus, and chronic pain. It can also help with insomnia and sleep disturbances and improve overall well-being by reducing stress levels.

    How much does vagus nerve stimulation cost?

    The cost of VNS depends on the device used and the severity of your condition. Generally speaking, non-invasive devices are more affordable than invasive ones that require surgery. However, some insurance providers may cover some or all of the costs associated with VNS treatment.

    How can I stimulate my vagus nerve naturally?

    You can do many non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation practices at home to stimulate the vagus nerve. Singing, meditation, yoga postures, acupuncture, cold exposure, and massage are some of the best ways to naturally stimulate your vagus nerve and experience its calming effects.

    What food is good for the vagus nerve?

    Certain foods can help support a healthy vagus nerve. For example, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for improving mood and reducing anxiety symptoms. Good sources of omega-3s include salmon, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, eggs, and leafy vegetables (think spinach and kale).

    Additionally, probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi can positively affect the gut microbiome, which may also help stimulate the vagus nerve.

    This 2016 study explains:

    "Both the vagus and the enteric nerves are involved in this gut-brain interaction and can be affected by certain probiotics.22,23 The HPA stress response, which regulates mood and emotion, has frequently been shown to be attenuated by probiotics, decreasing corticosteroid (CORT) levels."

    What is the best vitamin for the vagus nerve?

    Vitamin B12 has been found to play an essential role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. It can even be beneficial for stimulating the vagus nerve. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. It may also be taken as a supplement if needed.

    Some evidence suggests that magnesium supplements can help with symptoms of anxiety and stress, which can improve well-being by stimulating the vagus nerve. Choline is another important nutrient for the vagus nerve, found in eggs, fish, nuts, and leafy greens, or as a supplement.

    Conclusion: Try Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Yourself

    The vagus nerve is an integral part of the body's nervous system. As a result, it plays a significant role in overall health and well-being. Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a safe and effective way to stimulate this critical nerve, helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, migraines, and chronic pain. This therapy can also help improve sleep quality, increase energy levels, and promote relaxation—among many other benefits, we detailed today.

    In addition to VNS treatments, you can do several natural practices at home that may help stimulate the vagus nerve, such as singing, meditation, yoga postures, acupuncture, cold exposure, and massage therapy. If you are looking for a way to naturally improve your well-being without medications or invasive treatments, then non-invasive VNS may be the perfect solution for you.

    Take your health and well-being into your own hands and try non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation today! Learn more about Xen by Neuvana and the science that supports it.

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