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Make your own Vagus Nerve Stimulator

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by Jackb23, May 7, 2018.

  1. Jackb23

    Jackb23

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    I used to be able to meditate when my brain was a bit clearer and it did a lot of wonders for my brain fog and mood. When my brain is too bogged down I don’t have the mental ability to meditate anymore so I tried to think of another way to reap its benefits. One of the major pathways that benefits from meditation is the vagus nerve or the 10th cranial nerve. This nerve connects much of the body to the brain and is the lead composer of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). The vagus nerve is 80-90% afferent (meaning leading towards the brain) and controls a large part of the immune response between our ears. Stimulation of the vagus nerve has also been found to activate the locus coeruleus which is the main nuclei for norepinephrine and controls a good amount of our vigilance and feeling of being “alert.”
    Normally, to install a vagus nerve stimulator you have to pay $40,000 and it is quite invasive, but some researchers have figured out how to render some of the same effects without surgery. I will show you how you can make your own Vagus Nerve Stimulator below.

    You want to stimulate the conchae (shown below) and you only want to stimulate your left ear because they have found cardiac effects of stimulating the right.

    D5E95A48-AF0B-4522-ACFA-FF265B75BC2A.jpeg


    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5807379/

    Here is a recent study exploring this. Now I did email someone who has studied this and asked him how I could make one at home. He advised me to first check with my doctor, but then sent me this amazon link.

    https://www.amazon.com/Tens-Ear-Clip-Stimulator-headphone/dp/B01CRSF1GK/ref=sr_1_sc_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1512957591&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=ear+electrod&th=1

    You can connect both of these clips to your left ear through a TENS unit (make sure you have the correct jack size when you buy one).

    Once you have both of these items you
    Can attach one clip to your “Tragus” and the other to your conchae. Both of these have nerves that connect to the vagus. To better understand these areas just use a simple google search to better understand these mechanisms. Once you have done this you can turn your TENS device all the way up to where you can feel the stimulation on your ear, but not too much to where you have pain. I do this twice a day for 30 minutes but you may want to start smaller.
    I have used this for several months now and it does help.


    Thought I’d share this as I am more than happy for all the information you guys have provided me (may be a repost but thought I’d share anyways).
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  2. Dan_USAAZ

    Dan_USAAZ Senior Member

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    Hi @Jackb23,

    I have a TENS unit, so thought I would give this a try. There appears to be an upper(cymba) and lower(cavum) concha. Does it make a difference which you connect to? Do you have a recommendation based on your experience and knowledge?

    Thanks,
    Dan

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2018
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  3. Mary

    Mary Moderator

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    @Jackb23 - I was wondering the same thing as @Dan_USAAZ . I have a TENS unit also and have been studying the pictures of the conchae (I am learning so much about the ear!) and have been confused also as to where the electrodes would be placed.

    Would it be possible to have someone take a picture and show us exactly how you place the electrodes?
     
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  4. Mary

    Mary Moderator

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    @Dan_USAAZ - well, I had an idea - I'm going to try putting the ear clip on the ridge of tissue between the upper and lower concha - it'll either work or it won't! But at least I know where the tragus is. :p

    I ordered these clips: https://www.tenspros.com/black-ear-clip-electrodes-EAE01.html

    The Amazon clips came in 3 different sizes and I could not tell which ones were the right size. Also, several of the reviews talked about a pin coming out.

    I called Tens Pros and talked to a live person. She suggested I contact the manufacturer to see what size to get for my TENS unit but the manufacturer is no longer in business as far as I can tell. She also told me their clips were returnable if they didn't work, and they got good reviews, so I just ordered from them. With shipping etc. it might not even be worth returning, but it was worth a gamble to me.

    So I'll post how it goes after I give it a fair trial.
     
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  5. Dan_USAAZ

    Dan_USAAZ Senior Member

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    Hi @Mary ,
    Thanks for the update. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you. I have also moved forward with a test. Since I already had a cheap TENS unit, I would only be out the cost of the ear clips. I ordered the clips from Amazon with the link from the OP and received them yesturday.

    I did my first “treatment” last night. I would say it did not go so well. Not from a result perspective, but more from an execution perspective (1, 2). Based on the poor execution, I do not think it worth critiquing a result.

    1) The recommended setting for vagus nerve stim through the ear appears to be 20-30Hz and 200-250 microseconds. The cheap TENS unit (HealthMateForever) I have does not let you set these parameters. You have to select a mode. It was very difficult to find any information about these modes, but what I did find suggests that the modes were nowhere near these parameters.

    2) The next problem I had was with the ear clips. The spring is far too weak to keep them in place. The weight of the wire was enough to cause the tragus clip to fall off and the lower concha clip to dislodge and lose contact of the charged surface. These failures were taking place before adding the conductive gel and turning it on. Once I added the gel and turned on the power, the problem was 3x worse.

    I ended up having to sit and hold the clips the whole time. Not comfortable and when contact was lost, I would get a little shock while trying to adjust. Based on this test, I would not think it feasible to continue without making some improvements….

    On to the next approach. I have a much more advanced EMS machine that will let me set the exact parameters.
    upload_2018-5-10_11-10-55.png
    It may not be as easy to get the ear clips working with it, so that is why I tested with the cheap TENS unit first. Thanks for sending the link to the ear clips you ordered. Those might work for this unit. It’s leads end in a pin similar to the pictures on your link. If they are the correct size, I may be able to use them. If not, an adjustment may work.

    I look forward to hearing how you progress.
    Good luck!
    Dan
     
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  6. Mary

    Mary Moderator

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    Thanks @Dan_USAAZ for all the information! That's too bad the TENS unit was a wash, but I will be interested to see how your EMS machine works - do give an update! And I'll let you know how I do once I receive the clips I ordered :nerd:
     
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  7. Trillian

    Trillian

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    I just received the ear clips from amazon and will give my setup a try. After reading experiences above with clip strength, I will see if there is a way to suspend the clips so the stay on better... either from sunglasses or maybe earpiece from old computer headphones so clips don't need to support weight of the wires.. the goal would be to attach wire to something secure above the ear so clips are not affected by minor movements.

    There could be a number of other solutions to try it it helps. I have been monitoring HRV for a few months now and it does show that during crashes the vagus nerve is less active than when I feel better. Learning to improve with breathing is slow going and can require more concentration than I can muster. Tho simple observation and attempts to relax while watching numbers change on the screen has proven to improve my scores a bit over time.

    If there is a better place to discuss experiments with other aspects of HRV as biofeedback, please let me know. Anyway, I will post results if I get this working,
     
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  8. Mary

    Mary Moderator

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    Hi @Dan_USAAZ and @Trillian - well, my earpieces from tenspros came last week and I promptly forgot about them. :sluggish: :rolleyes: But fortunately I came across them again when I was cleaning up a little this week-end and yesterday and today I gave them a try. They seem to be quite sturdy and have no trouble bearing the weight of the wire. Also they are the perfect size for my TENS unit.

    I wasn't sure how to place them - that is the tricky part - but finally I clipped them so that one end of one clip is on the upper conchae, and the other end is on the back of the ear. I did the same setup on the lower conchae. I hope this makes sense to you. If anything, they might be a little too sturdy as my ear was quite sensitive and it hurt just a little having these in place. But I got used to it.

    I only did my left ear as @Jackb23 above says to only stimulate the left ear because of cardiac symptoms when stimulating the right. As to the settings - my TENS unit is a bit limited but I was able to set the Hz parameters to the level @Dan_USAAZ suggested but could not find any options re microseconds. There is a setting called "width" - I don't know if this has anything to do with microseconds.

    Where did you find these recommendations?

    It's too soon to tell if using this will help although I did forget I was wearing the clips and was able to do some work on the computer, so they were not intrusive. My big wish is that they will improve my sleep. I'm sure it will take some experimentation to find out the best settings. And maybe even try it at bedtime as some have done.

    But so far so good! :p
     
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  9. Dan_USAAZ

    Dan_USAAZ Senior Member

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    Hi @Mary, I also received my ear clips from Tenspros a couple weeks ago. Other than testing the connection to the leads, I too forgot about them. I hope to test soon, possibly over the weekend. I agree that the clips appear to be sturdy, more so than those I bought on Amazon and the springs feel about twice as strong.
    From what I could tell, based on previous reading and the suggestion by @Jackb23, one clip should go on the tragus (see picture above) and the other on the lower conchae(cavum). In my original test, this was a little difficult. There was limited space for both clips in such close proximaty.
    Agreed, the studies I found indicated that the left ear should be used for VNS. As you state, the right ear impacts the heart.
    I found the recommendations in various papers. This link to a post on HealthRising (thread started by Cort) references the ranges and three papers that make those recommendations.

    https://www.healthrising.org/forums...gus-nerve-stimulation-of-ear.2653/#post-10082

    Hope this helps.

    I will report back once I have some testing completed.
    Dan
     
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  10. Mary

    Mary Moderator

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    Hi @Dan_USAAZ, After I wrote the above post, I did find the Health Rising thread about this and it was very informative. And I actually on one of the links found that microseconds did correspond to width so my cheap little TENS unit was able to set the desired parameters :)

    One night I used one clip on the tragus and one just on my ear lobe, and that night I slept badly :( but sleeping badly occurs very frequently for me so I don't know if it was related. I plan to try it again, but using it during the day. FWIW, my sleep is stabilizing a little with kava kava and of magnesium and several other things. Do keep me posted --
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
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  11. anne_likes_red

    anne_likes_red Senior Member

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    Is anyone still using their DIY t-vns set ups?

    I've been experimenting with electrical stimulation after first noticing some benefits from stimulating the vagal auricular dermatome. I got an effect similar to when I used to practice a guided breathing/relaxation technique. It has a positive effect on being able to extend the outbreath and for me practising that a bit has a positive flow on effect to sounder sleep and improved autonomic symptoms in general. I have poor HRV, and as I understand it poor parasympathetic tone....or I have also seen it described as a "sluggish vagal brake". Extension of the outbreath strengthens the vagal brake.

    I got my t-vns parameters from studies looking at improved heart rate variability in people with ptsd, mild brain injury and I think fibromyalgia too. Some autism docs (and Dr Nemechek's autonomic recovery protocol for example) seem to be using a variation of t-vns along with treatment for the gut.
    I also got my ear electrodes from tenspros. An older PR thread pointed me there, thanks! :) I'm using 25 hz, 250 pulse width, power level of 1 to 2 (depending on sensitivity and conductivity at the time) - 5 mins 3 x per day. I worked up from 1 x per day.

    Just thought I'd add my experience here anyway. Anyone else still experimenting??
     
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  12. SueJohnPat

    SueJohnPat Sue

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    I a.m going to look into this.My husband has treatment resistant depression.
     

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