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Not All VNS Devices Created Equally – Hoolest Inc.
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Not All VNS Devices Created Equally

Not All VNS Devices Created Equally

Introduction

There's been a lot of hype around the vagus nerve lately, and it's quickly becoming one of the top health trends of the year. As interest in vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) grows, more and more people are considering adding a VNS device to their wellness routines. However, it's essential to choose carefully, as not all vagus nerve stimulators are created equally. 


There are two main branches of the vagus nerve: the Auricular Branch of the Vagus Nerve and the Cervical Branch of the Vagus Nerve. Understanding the difference between the two is imperative in your decision for what type of stimulator you should purchase. This article will dive into one particular variable you should consider: should you get an auricular vagus nerve stimulator or a cervical vagus nerve stimulator? What's the difference? Let's explore the key distinctions and benefits of each type.


The Auricular Vagus Nerve

The auricular branch of the vagus nerve, sometimes known as the ear's branch, is a fascinating part of our body's nervous system. It is purely an afferent nerve that originates from the brainstem and plays a crucial role in transmitting signals between our body and brain. 


Unlike the cervical branch of the vagus nerve, the auricular branch has no direct projections to the heart and body, making it a safer branch to stimulate for a larger group of individuals, especially for those living with heart disease or high blood pressure. 


Clinically, it's of great importance, mainly because of its potential in treating various health conditions. With its direct projections to the spinal trigeminal nucleus and locus coeruleus in the brainstem (regions responsible for modulating production of neurochemicals like serotonin and GABA), the ABVN plays a major role in helping people recover from a variety of mental health issues, particularly stress and anxiety related conditions (Campanella & Bremner, 2016; Fang et al., 2016; Howland, 2014).


The Cervical Vagus Nerve

The cervical branch of the vagus nerve, also referred to as the cervical vagus nerve, is an integral component of the body's parasympathetic nervous system. It originates from the medulla oblongata in the brainstem and extends through the neck, branching out to various thoracic and abdominal organs.


Unlike the auricular branch, the cervical vagus nerve has extensive projections to the heart, lungs, and digestive tract, playing a critical role in regulating vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, and gastrointestinal activity. This makes it an essential nerve for maintaining homeostasis but also indicates potential risks in its stimulation for individuals with certain health conditions.


Clinically, the cervical vagus nerve is significant due to its therapeutic potential in managing conditions like epilepsy, depression, and chronic inflammatory diseases through vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). By directly influencing the heart and other organs, stimulation of the cervical vagus nerve can modify the production and release of various neurotransmitters and inflammatory cytokines, thereby offering a pathway to treatment for a range of disorders. This form of therapy has shown promise in both psychiatric and physical health applications, impacting overall wellbeing and disease management (Bonaz, Sinniger, & Pellissier, 2016).


Top Considerations

The most important factors to consider when purchasing a vagus nerve stimulator is to assess your underlying health conditions, what you are intending to use the device for, and the type of lifestyle you live. 


Auricular VNS: Ideal for Performance Stress Management

Auricular vagus nerve stimulators will be the best choice for those living with high stress and anxiety. This is because the auricular vagus nerve has direct projections into the emotional regulation centers in the brain, and it is the safest choice on the market. 


Traditionally, auricular VNS is done using an ear clip stimulator attached to your ear. Because of the small stimulation area, this typically takes 20-30 minutes per session to get a mild effect. These are on the low cost end but come with very low power levels, so results can take several weeks before noticing any effects. They can also cause discomfort due to the pinching of the ear clip and stinging sensations due to high current density in the small ear clip, which may further exacerbate the stress and anxiety. 


VeRelief is an alternative auricular vagus nerve stimulator. It uses patented soft gel tips that eliminate stinging sensations. Instead of stimulating a very small portion of the nerve in the ear, it stimulates all the auricular branches at the same time, leading to much faster and longer lasting calming effects. Many users report the VeRelief can stop a panic attack in as little as 60 seconds. 


If you are a high stress professional just looking for a better way to manage daily stress and preventing future stress-related illnesses, then VeRelief may be the best option for you as it is the most powerful auricular VNS device, has no setup time, is easily portable and can be used discreetly in any environment. 


Or if you like wearing headphones and listening to music, check out our limited release VeRelief Pro bilateral VNS headphones!


Cervical VNS: Ideal for Chronic Illness

Cervical vagus nerve stimulation is ideal for those living with chronic health conditions and hypersensitive individuals. 


In our opinion, there is only one effective cervical VNS device on the market. It is a handheld device that you hold in place over the front side of the neck. This device uses up to 55mA of power to stimulate the nerve because it is deeper in the neck and needs more power. Several studies suggest that any power level lower than 10mA applied to the cervical vagus nerve is little more than a placebo device. 


Patients with chronic illnesses, inflammation, or gut health issues may significantly benefit from this cervical vagus nerve stimulator. The device is relatively easy to use and comes with clear instructions. It is also very powerful so you get the results fast. 


It may not be ideal for those who live fast-paced lifestyles always on the go because it requires some setup time with the conductive gel, and a fair amount of focus to hold in place over the correct location. It may be challenging to use while on the go compared to an auricular VNS device. 


The other device gaining popularity on the market that targets the front side of the neck, in our opinion, offers little more than a placebo effect. This is because their only cited study (non IRB-approved) used 2mA of current, which is far lower than what is typically used in placebo devices in similar studies.  It also does not specify where to place the electrodes over the neck, as in some images the device is placed on the side of the neck and in some it is placed directly on the front side of the neck. The vagus nerve is very small in diameter and the electrodes must be precisely placed over it if any vagus nerve stimulation is to occur. There is a high likelihood that this device is easily misplaced by users, and due to the low power level, it is unlikely that this device is even capable of stimulating the cervical vagus nerve. 


Conclusion

Vagus nerve stimulation is the fastest growing wellness trend in 2024 because of it’s significant importance in maintaining a healthy nervous system without the use of drugs. There are a growing number of vagus nerve stimulators on the market, but it is essential to understand how each of them stimulate the vagus nerve so you can choose the best one for your needs. 


For those living with chronic nervous system disorders, you should look for a cervical vagus nerve stimulator that hits the vagus nerve on the front side of the neck. 


For those living with high stress and anxiety, you should look for an auricular vagus nerve stimulator that hits the vagus nerve in and around the ear area. We spent years designing, testing, and validating the VeRelief auricular vagus nerve stimulator and have demonstrated it is the most effective auricular vagus nerve stimulator on the market. 


We believe it is one of the most important investments you can make in your overall well being. But if you don’t like it, it comes with an industry-leading 60-day money back guarantee.

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