top of page
Volume Knob

Nervous System Balance:
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

A Balancing Act:

The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the part of your nervous system that regulates  functions that we need for survival but are not under our direct control, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and sweating. The ANS is comprised of two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The two systems have opposite but complementary roles in managing automated functions in the human body. For optimal health, these two systems need to remain in balance.

Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic "fight or flight" nervous system is activated when you are stressed or scared. It was originally intended to activate only when you are in physical danger. However, modern day chronic daily stressors can result in the sympathetic nervous system being stuck "on", which, over time, can strain the body and the mind.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic "rest and digest" nervous system helps to balance the sympathetic nervous system. After the sympathetic nervous system activates in times of danger, stress or illness, it is the role of the parasympathetic nervous system to help re-equilibrate and to restore body systems back to its original state of balance. The parasympathetic nervous system also regulates the activity of organs when your body is in a state of rest and relaxation.

Courtesy of The Cleveland Clinic @YouTube

Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance

Problems arise when the ANS struggles to re-equilibrate and stays "stuck" out of balance. Typically this happens as a result of too much sympathetic input (chronic stress, poor sleep, poor diet). The parasympathetic nervous has difficulty restoring an equilibrium when the sympathetic nervous system continually activates. A chronically overstressed nervous system can affect the health of the body and the mind.

ANS balance.png

Courtesy of Braive @YouTube

The Vagus Nerve

The Vagus Nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the human body, extending from the brain down to the large intestine, with connections to almost all the internal organs.

 

The Vagus Nerve functions as:

  • a superhighway for nerve signals to travel back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body

  • a pathway for transporting nutrients and neurotransmitters between the gut and the brain, also known as the "gut-brain-axis"

  • the largest parasympathetic nerve in your body, comprising about 75% of the entire parasympathetic nervous system

  • a key player in your body's ability to recover from stressors

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagal Tone

Naturally, as we age and expose our bodies to daily stressors, our Vagus Nerve loses some of its power, or Vagal Tone. The modern world that we live in now exposes us to extremely high levels of daily environmental stress. This decreases our Vagal Tone at alarming levels resulting in chronic inflammation and other systemic issues. Remember that stressors can be both positive and negative. Our body responds to both kinds of stress in exactly the same way.

 

How to Increase Vagal Tone

Increasing our Vagal Tone helps to increase our resiliency and ability to respond to stress.

Various forms of Vagus Nerve stimulation (deep meditation, breathing exercises, yoga) can help to increase your Vagal Tone but most require committment to learning and mastering a daily practice. Not always a quick and easy solution. Other options are FDA-approved Vagus Nerve stimulation devices that emit electrical impulses to stimulate the Vagus Nerve and increase Vagal Tone.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Uses

The FDA has already approved both implanted and non-invasive Vagus Nerve stimulation devices for the following disorders:

  • Epilepsy

  • Treatment resistant depression

  • Migraines

  • Cluster headaches

Additional research is ongoing for the use of Vagus Nerve stimulation devices to manage the following disorders:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Pain

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [1]

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Long COVID [2]

Courtesy of The Cleveland Clinic @YouTube

Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (nVNS)

Dr. Wang has chosen the FDA-approved non-invasive Vagus Nerve stimulation gammaCore™ device to offer to patients who are interested in a drug-free way to promote healthy healing and to treat certain types of headaches. It provides an easy-to-use, self-administered, non-invasive Vagus Nerve stimulation to help manage a wide range of symptoms. gammaCore™ is available by prescription only.

 

The gammaCore™ device has been FDA-approved for:

  • patients over the age of 12 years

  • acute and preventive treatment of migraine, cluster, hemicrania continua and paroxysmal hemicrania headaches

gammaCore™ has also received FDA-breakthrough status for treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [1] and FDA-emergency authorization use for COVID-related breathing complications [3].

Additional research is being conducted on reducing anxiety, depression, pain and Long COVID symptoms [2].

 

Please note: gammaCore™ is not appropriate for patients with implanted electric devices such as pacemakers, metal plates/screws in the neck region or those diagnosed with carotid stenosis or calcifications.

Screenshot 2024-05-26 at 10.41.43 AM.png
Screenshot 2024-05-26 at 10.43.37 AM.png
Screenshot 2024-05-26 at 10.44.15 AM.png

Images courtesy of www.gammacore.co.uk

Contact our office to schedule for an evaluation today.

Interested? Call us today to see if you are a good candidate for gammaCore™.

Phone: 773.873.6372

[2] Tornero C, Pastor E, Garzando MDM, Orduña J, Forner MJ, Bocigas I, Cedeño DL, Vallejo R, McClure CK, Czura CJ, Liebler EJ, Staats P. Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation for COVID-19: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial (SAVIOR I). Front Neurol. 2022 Apr 8;13:820864. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.820864. PMID: 35463130; PMCID: PMC9028764.

Volume Knob
bottom of page