Tag Archives: vagus-nerve

Vagus Nerve: The Wisdom Your Body Knows

Opinion | The Wisdom Your Body Knows – The New York Times – By David Brooks, Opinion Columnist – Nov 2019

“the concept of safety is fundamental to our mental state.”

This is something I feel acutely these days: unsafe.

I’m terrified that my opioids will be tapered and I’ll lose my only defense against unremitting pain. I’ve learned to live with the constant annoyance of my various “background pains”, but if left unchecked, my rampaging pain flares would be literally unbearable.  Continue reading

Vagus nerve stimulation as anti-inflammatory

A review of vagus nerve stimulation as a therapeutic intervention – free full text /PMC5961632/May 2018

In this review, we provide an overview of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved clinical uses of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as well as information about the ongoing studies and preclinical research to expand the use of VNS to additional applications.

VNS is currently FDA approved for therapeutic use in patients aged >12 years with drug-resistant epilepsy and depression.

I’m heartened to see a completely different avenue of treatment being explored. I think there’s a lot of potential for significant discoveries here. Continue reading

Head Down Deep Breathing for Vagal Tone

Head Down Deep Breathing for Cardioversion of Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia – free full-text /PMC6174779/Sept 2018

I’m posting this just because I’m interested in what might be possible by working on the vagus nerve. I’ve posted about this previously with the “vagus-nerve” tag.


The first-line recommended treatment for stable paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is the use of vagal maneuvers.

Often the Valsalva maneuver is conducted. We describe two patients who converted to sinus rhythm without complications, using a head down deep breathing (HDDB) technique.    Continue reading

Neurostimulation for Therapy-Resistant Depression (TRD)

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) and Other Augmentation Strategies for Therapy-Resistant Depression (TRD): Review of the Evidence and Clinical Advice for Use  – Free full text /PMC5902793/ – Apr 2018

This mini-review provides a comprehensive overview of augmentation pharmacotherapy and neurostimulation-based treatment strategies, with a special focus on VNS in TRD, and provides practical clinical advice for how to select TRD patients for add-on neurostimulation treatment strategies.

In addition to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is one of the approved neurostimulation tools for treatment of major depression.

If it weren’t so hard to get insurance to pay for these treatments, I’d have tried them long ago. However, the treatments of rTMS have to be frequent (almost daily for a while) and don’t always last longer than weeks (or even days) and I’m not going to drive an hour to appointments every few days.  Continue reading

Missing Piece in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Driscoll

Correcting the Missing Piece in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Part 1: Discovery – by Diana Driscoll, OD, President of Genetic Disease Investigators – Jan 2016

This article explains the “Driscoll Theory”, which posits that “extremely low levels of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine” is causing the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She makes a convincing argument:


Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) can involve

  • the central nervous system (cognition, executive function, short- term memory),
  • the peripheral nervous system (muscle weakness, fatigue with exertion), and
  • the autonomic nervous system (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion).   

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Neurobiology and Neurophysiology of Breath

Neurobiology and Neurophysiology of Breath Practices in Psychiatric Care | Psychiatric Times – by Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD and Richard P. Brown, MD – Nov 30, 2016

Because the physical act of breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, it has a powerful effect on our whole nervous system.

Autonomic nervous system dysfunction is associated with most disorders seen in pediatric and adult psychiatric practice, including anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, hostility and aggression, attention deficit disorders, and autism spectrum disorder.

Increasing the underactivity of the parasympathetic branch and correcting the erratic or overactivity of the sympathetic branch can improve stress resilience and ameliorate psychological and physical symptoms.    Continue reading

Electroceutical devices to treat illness & pain

Potential for ‘electroceutical’ devices to treat illness, alleviate pain – Medical News Today – May 2014

A Stanford electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical devices such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators, or new sensors and gadgets yet to be developed.

The discoveries reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) culminate years of efforts by Ada Poon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.

“We need to make these devices as small as possible to more easily implant them deep in the body and create new ways to treat illness and alleviate pain,” said Poon.

This is what Silicon Valley is good for. Once the specifications are set, some company will build a miniature implantable device.   Continue reading

The shock tactics set to shake up immunology

The shock tactics set to shake up immunology: Nature News & Comment – May 2017  – Douglas Fox

An experimental procedure is exposing the links between the nervous and immune systems. Could it be the start of a revolution?

Six times a day, Katrin pauses whatever she’s doing, removes a small magnet from her pocket and touches it to a raised patch of skin just below her collarbone. For 60 seconds, she feels a soft vibration in her throat. Her voice quavers if she talks. Then, the sensation subsides.

The magnet switches on an implanted device that emits a series of electrical pulses — each about a milliamp, similar to the current drawn by a typical hearing aid.   Continue reading

Stanford Study: ME/CFS is Inflammatory Disorder

Major Stanford Study Indicates Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is Inflammatory Disorder – Simmaron Research By Cort Johnson – August 11, 2017

The study examined the levels of a very large number of cytokines (n=51) in the blood of a very large number of patients and healthy controls (ME/CFS=186; healthy controls= 388). Age, sex, race and something called “nonspecific binding” were accounted for.

One of the biggest ME/CFS immune studies ever undertaken, done at a top University, this was a study that we dearly didn’t want to fail.

This is the kind of study likely to be labeled “definitive”.  Continue reading

Failed back surgery linked to dysfunctional diaphragm

Failed back surgery syndrome: review and new hypotheses – J Pain Res. Jan 2016 – free full-text PMC article

This article posits that failed back surgery may be linked to a dysfunctional diaphragm because “diaphragm dysfunction would lead to alterations in the biomechanics of the lumbar spine”.

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a term used to define an unsatisfactory outcome of a patient who underwent spinal surgery, irrespective of type or intervention area, with persistent pain in the lumbosacral region with or without it radiating to the leg.

This article reviews the current literature on FBSS and tries to give a new hypothesis to understand the reasons for this clinical problem.
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