What is tVNS?
tVNS is a non-invasive, low intensity treatment used in health and academic centres for clinical practice and new fields of research.
tVNS uses micropulses of electrical current to stimulate the the vagus nerve and improve its “tone” to bring about positive health impacts. Studies have shown that is can improve allergic responses, anxiety, autism, heart rate variability (HRV), inflammation, insulin resistance, neurogenisis, sleep, tinnitis and more.
What is the Vagus nerve?
Often thought of as the “superhighway” between the brain and the organs of the body, especially the gut:
The vagus nerve, historically cited as the pneumogastric nerve, is the tenth cranial nerve or CN X, and interfaces with the parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. 1WIkipedia
Wildélan’s tVNS Recommended Hack delivers non-invasive neurostimulation to harness beneficial therapeutic mechanisms of improving vagus nerve tone. This portable device offers an inexpensive and effective new tool in the treatment of stress-related conditions by providing clinically validated, safe, non-invasive and convenient access to improved vagal response for users at home.
Why is it this a hack?
Well, noting that you can spend upwards of £650 for a device from the big brands, we thought we’d try repurposing a safe and proven technology that has been in use for decades: TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation).
TENS devices apply low-voltage currents through electrode pads placed over specific nerves on the body to assist with pain management. For a summary of the evidence around TENS effectiveness see this National Center for Biotechnology Information article: Using TENS for pain control: the state of the evidence.
We bought a range of inexpersive TENS devices and got to work. The first issue was finding appropriate electrodes. Everyone’s ears are different. Our current favourite electrode is in this bundle. The rest was simply plugging in and trying it out. We did not modify the devices in any way other than changing to an appropriate electrode.
Does it work?
We had results within days of using the device. In our N=2 experiment we found it helped with reducing anxiety and engendering a feeling of well-being during and between uses. But don’t take our work for it, read the research like we did!
How do I use it?
We provide a document detailing the Wildélan Protocol we used in the kit. Basically 15mins a day of wearing the device whilst relaxing is all it takes!
Does it hurt?
Not at all. You can turn up the device too high so it feels rather “prickly” and uncomfortable, but the protocol requires you turn it down until it the sensation is barely perceptable.