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Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Optimal Gut Health

Recent scientific discoveries have brought to light an intriguing interplay between our brain and gut, known as the gut-brain axis. Central to this communication highway is the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that extends from the brain to the gut, among other organs. A method that has shown the potential to positively influence this axis and improve gut health is auricular vagus nerve stimulation (AVNS). Particularly, user-friendly devices like VeRelief provide a non-invasive means to modulate the gut function and enhance overall health (1).

VeRelief is a hand-held auricular vagus nerve stimulator that is applied to the side of the neck rather than the ear. By sending gentle electrical impulses to stimulate the vagus nerve, it can modify neural circuits and neurotransmitter production. Such stimulation has been found to alter the composition of the gut microbiome favorably, promoting the proliferation of beneficial bacteria and reducing harmful ones (2). Given the crucial role of the microbiome in nutrition, immunity, and mental health, this impact on gut flora can have far-reaching health benefits (3).

Diving into the world of innovative gut health interventions, a recent study set out to examine the effects of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) on gastric motility in healthy subjects (4). Leveraging the power of real-time gastric magnetic resonance imaging (rtMRI), researchers could accurately measure the gastric motility index (GMI) - a critical indicator of gut function. Intriguingly, the results indicated a notable increase in GMI when high-frequency (HF) taVNS was applied, compared to its low-frequency (LF) counterpart. This breakthrough finding suggests that HF taVNS could offer a promising new therapeutic avenue for individuals struggling with gastric motility disorders.

However, as is the nature of scientific exploration, more research is required to validate these findings and to explore the impact of varying taVNS frequencies in diverse populations. The use of user-friendly devices like VeRelief may facilitate such explorations, paving the way for a future where managing gut health is both effective and non-invasive.

Notably, AVNS may also curb gut inflammation, a feature common to conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Vagus nerve stimulation triggers the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, which reduces the production of inflammatory molecules in the gut (5). Thus, using VeRelief could offer a non-invasive, drug-free approach to managing gut inflammation and related conditions.


A typical protocol for using VeRelief might involve the following steps: first, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Holding the VeRelief device, position it against the side of your neck where the vagus nerve passes. Apply gentle pressure and begin the stimulation. Adjust the intensity according to your comfort level. Each session may last 15-30 minutes and can be repeated multiple times per day. As with all health-related practices, it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider before starting AVNS treatment with VeRelief, and to monitor any changes in symptoms or side effects closely. This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionize gut health management, paving the way for a healthier future.

VeRelief devices are not intended as medical devices to solve or treat any gut related issues. Please consult your physician if you are considering using our VeRelief devices for gut related issues.

References:

1. Bonaz, B., Sinniger, V., & Pellissier, S. (2016). Anti‐inflammatory properties of the vagus nerve: potential therapeutic implications of vagus nerve stimulation. The Journal of Physiology, 594(20), 5781-5790.

2. Breit, S., Kupferberg, A., Rogler, G., & Hasler, G. (2018). Vagus nerve as modulator of the brain–gut axis in psychiatric and inflammatory disorders. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 44.

3. Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2012). Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behavior. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 13(10), 701–712.

4. Steidel K, Krause K, Menzler K, Strzelczyk A, Immisch I, Fuest S, Gorny I, Mross P, Hakel L, Schmidt L, Timmermann L, Rosenow F, Bauer S, Knake S. Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation influences gastric motility: A randomized, double-blind trial in healthy individuals. Brain Stimul. 2021 Sep-Oct;14(5):1126-1132. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2021.06.006. Epub 2021 Jun 27. PMID: 34187756.

5. Koopman, F. A., Chavan, S. S., Miljko, S., Grazio, S., Sokolovic, S., Schuurman, P. R., ... & Tak, P. P. (2016). Vagus nerve stimulation inhibits cytokine production and attenuates disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(29), 8284-8289.

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