Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Non-InvasiveVagus Nerve Stimulation

Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation is the stimulation of the vagus nerve, the most important part of the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” system which is the counterbalance or response of the sympathetic nervous system’s “flight or fight” system constitutes the autonomic nervous system. 

It is a natural new kind of brain neuromodulation treatment; the stimulation of the vagus nerve by a low electrical current without the need of surgery. Indeed, it is possible to stimulate the vagus nerve by reaching its fibers in the external area of the ear, to gain the same effects that invasive vagus nerve stimulation (an electrical wire attached along the vagus nerve in the neck).

More than 20 years of research about the vagus nerve stimulation (invasive and non-invasive) showed that this treatment is safe, well tolerate and effective in the treatment of many disorders, including mental health, gastroenterology, cardiology, pneumology, immunology, dermatology, rheumatology, etc.

Pascal Grolaux recent study conducted in Kinesis Health Associates in 2017 with patients suffering from mild to severe anxiety and Irritable bowel syndrome showed that non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation significantly improved symptoms clinically after 8 sessions only and that the improvement still lasted 2 months after the treatment (paper published in Journal of Neurology and Neuromedicine in 2019). Our study also confirmed that non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation is safe and well tolerated.

The aim of vagus nerve stimulation is to balance brain’s neurotransmission, to increase and balance the secretion of neurotransmitters needed to improve and recover from impaired modulation of cortical and subcortical brain structures, to decrease brain excitotoxicity and to stimulate the natural anti-inflammatory pathways of the vagus nerve.

We can easily detect the neurological imbalance of the autonomic nervous system via short-term ECG recording. This is based on a specific analysis, called Heart Rate Variability analysis (HRV), a test that we perform here at Legge Health Clinic. Indeed, HRV increases with normal high vagus tone (a sign considered of good health) and decreases in low vagus tone.

Several factors that influence treatment results:

  • The severity and duration of your condition.
  • Your age as the vagus tone decrease naturally with aging.
  • If there are other pathological disorders associated with the condition (mental issues, digestives disorders, metabolic syndrome, chronic pain, etc).
  • The general rule is that vagus nerve stimulation is a slow process and recovery may take some time.
  • Every person is different, so there is no rule for the recovery time, but as we showed in our study, after 4 weeks of stimulation (2 sessions a week), we had clinical significance. So for some patients the recovery may be quick and for other it may take longer.

We assess the balance of the autonomic nervous system, the vagus nerve power of our patients, under vagus nerve stimulation, on a regular basis with ECG-based HRV analysis.

Heart Rate Variability Analysis

The heartbeat is measured with the help of an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) signal which is obtained from a standard device.

From the ECG/EKG recording we can measure how your heart beats vary from beat to beat.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the fluctuation in the time intervals between adjacent heartbeats.

HRV is an easy and non-invasive way to identify imbalances in your autonomic-nervous system’s activity. It is used to determine your health condition and can predict disease and health.

A high HRV is a marker for health and a low HRV a marker for diseases. In healthy subjects, HRV is positively correlated with age.

HRV is the best biomarker to assess the balance of the autonomic nervous system.

The following conditions usually show an imbalance of the ANS activity (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Stress/fatigue
  • Burnout
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Non-restorative sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Anxiety
  • Mental stress/Depression/Alzheimer/Parkinson/Multiple Sclerosis
  • PTSD
  • Cancer
  • Digestive disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • HRV is a biomarker for these conditions as well as other severe affections like auto-immunes diseases and severe viral infections (including Covid19)

Learn more at Wikipedia and Mayo Clinic.

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