The 3D illustration showing brain and active vagus nerve (tenth cranial nerve or CN X)

Vagus Nerve TENS Unit Stimulation

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The vagus nerve is a long nerve that runs through the trunk of the body and into the major organs. Many people have interest in vagus nerve stimulation. It’s usually done with an implanted unit, designed to epilepsy, depression, stroke. and more.

There is some recent preliminary research published about vagus nerve TENS unit stimulation, done using a TENS unit for non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation.

With this process, a TENS unit is used to produce an electric current targeting the vagus nerve. Usually, TENS units are used to manage pain, but they can do more than that!

In this article, I’ll look at this new research and go over the possibilities of using a TENS unit for vagus nerve stimulation.

Talk to your doctor before attempting to use a TENS unit to stimulate your vagus nerve. This is not a hobbyist practice.

What Is The Vagus Nerve?

The vagus nerve is one of the longest nerves in the body. It starts from the brain and is present in the trunk of the body where the major organs are. It is connected with various body organs and plays an important role in the autonomic nervous system. 

It helps the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate the heart, digestive system, lungs, and other organs. It sends and receives signals to and from the brain to and from the organs. 

What Happens With Vagus Nerve Tens Unit Stimulation?

A study was published in the journal Aging in 2019 on the effects of Vagus nerve stimulation via TENS unit. The small29-person study found some success in improving mood, quality of life, sleep, and more. The vagus nerve was “tapped into” by the TENS unit stimulation through the outer ear.

There are various benefits to stimulating the vagus nerve with the TENS unit, including the following:

1. Effect On Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Activity

The stimulation of the vagus nerve can bring a positive effect on both the parasympathetic and sympathetic activity.

For parasympathetic activity, it will help increase the “rest and digest” activity. 

On the other hand, for sympathetic activity, VNS will help lessen the “fight or flight” activity when it comes to adults. 

2. Improve Quality Of Life

The quality of life is improved with the stimulation of the vagus nerve because it improves mood and sleep changes. This is especially true when it is done regularly for about two weeks daily for 15 minutes. 

3. Helps With Depression

Another reason why people look into vagus nerve stimulation is that it can help with depression and other negative feelings. It can help with low energy, confusion, and anger as well. 

4. Helps With Seizures

Vagus nerve stimulation has been found to help with seizures by lessening the recovery time from them. Plus it can help prevent the occurrence of seizures due to the mild electric pulses sent to the brain through the vagus nerve. 

Using A TENS Unit For Vagus Nerve Stimulation

To successfully stimulate the vagus nerve, it is targeted in the outer ear. The site on the outer ear where the electrodes are placed is usually the tragus area and the cymba conchae

Speak with your doctor before doing any TENS unit experimentation.

To target these small areas, pads are not used. They would be too big. Instead, there are ”TENS  that can be purchased and used depending on the TENS unit that you have. 

Once you have those, you can now connect them to your ear. As for the setting of the TENS unit, it is usually done for 15-20 minutes daily for two weeks with a pulse wish of 200 milliseconds, a pulse frequency of 30 Hz, and an intensity level that you are comfortable with. 

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API