My Search For Tinnitus Relief Led to Discovery Of A Unique Vagus Nerve Stimulation Technique

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
This post is somewhat of a chronicle of how I discovered a new way to stimulate my vagus nerve. It's a massage technique I'd never read about before, but one which I've come to believe is modestly reducing my Dysautonomia / POTS / Orthostatic Intolerance symptoms. Here's my story...

On February 3, 2018, I began experiencing very severe adverse effects from taking a single dose of an anti-nausea medication called Promethazine--which I wrote about on THIS THREAD. One of those effects is a very serious case of tinnitus, which has shown no improvement in the past 6 weeks.

In desperation, I'm trying just about everything I read that might possibly help get rid of or at least reduce the incessant ringing/screeching, and/or calm my system down in general. One technique I read about was tapping the cochleovestibular nerve at the back of the head, one of the 12 cranial nerves that exits the brain via the brain stem. Some people have used a particular tapping technique to actually eliminate their tinnitus.

I tried tapping the specified area, and I didn't notice anything. I then tried massaging it, and noticed that I could affect it somewhat, albeit quite modestly. So I thought that if I massaged it a regularly every day, over time I might get some beneficial effects. So far I haven't for the tinnitus, but I have noticed two improvements in my physiology that I attribute to massaging those cranial nerves, principally the vagus nerve.

1) My Dysautonomia seems to be somewhat improved. If that was the only thing I noticed, I wouldn't be so confident it was a result of my massaging my brainstem and all those cranial nerves. I also noticed...

2) My mostly life-long slow motility improved rather remarkably.

Both of these conditions are directly related to vagus nerve functionality. So far the changes have been modest, but quite consistent over the past five weeks or so. I thought about reporting this earlier, but then decided to see if the improvements persisted (they often don't). But these have. So despite the often overwhelming tinnitus, I can at least be thankful for an improved ability to stand, and much better regularity.

If you want to give this a try, the area I massage is at about the same level as the top of the ears, in the center of the back of the head. There's a relatively soft area going down about 2-3 inches from there to the top of first vertebra. I made a POST once on 32 ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, but this massaging technique that is working for me was not one of those.

The vagus nerve is responsible for so many aspects of our physiology and well being, and is primarily responsible for the parasympathic (calming) response in our bodies. I think it's dysfunction is a least partially responsible for the wired but tired feeling many of us experience. I strongly suspect that anybody who massages their vagus nerve as I do (about 5 min.+ each day), will notice some kind of improvement in their overall sense of well being, though not necessarily the same improvements that I experienced.
-
BTW, I've discovered there seems to be a fair amount of overlap between CFS and tinnitus. As I learn more, I hope to start a more comprehensive discussion on the topic. For now, I will say I strongly suspect people with CFS are more susceptible to tinnitus than the average person.

So I would advise avoiding any drugs that are known to be ototoxic (toxic to the ears) and anti-cholinergic drugs. That includes most anti-histamines, decongestants, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and more (about 600 prescription medicines alone). Also avoid any other things (like loud noises) that are normally associated with the beginning of tinnitus.

@Cort @joejack102 @Gingergrrl
 
Last edited:

Countrygirl

Senior Member
Messages
4,203
Likes
20,711
Location
UK
Thank you @Wayne . Very interesting!

in an instant eleven years ago, as a result of abrupt tripling of my BP, I swear a jet plan moved into both ears and has been taxing in both 24 hours a day ever since. It is maddening. I shall start rubbing and hoping for some relief.

Keep us posted of improvements. I hope it works for you. :hug:
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
Thanks for the link to the article @Wishful. The therapy discussed in the article consists of sending electrical impulses to various parts of the head, dependent on individual experiences with tinnitus. Below is a bit from the article...
-
"The brain, and specifically the region of the brainstem called the dorsal cochlear nucleus, is the root of tinnitus," says Susan Shore, the U-M Medical School professor leading the research team. "When the main neurons in this region, called fusiform cells, become hyperactive and synchronize with one another, the phantom signal is transmitted into other centers where perception occurs. If we can stop these signals, we can stop tinnitus. That is what our approach attempts to do."
-
Some reported up to a 12-decibel reduction of the ringing in their ears, others reported a reduction in harshness or that their tinnitus became less piercing, and two patients reported it was completely gone. Nobody's symptoms got worse, and the effect persisted for at least a few weeks on average. ......... It's too early to talk about commercialization, or what the treatment might cost, but it seems like we tinnitus sufferers have a genuine hope of being free from this condition sometime in the coming years."​
 

Cort

Phoenix Rising Founder
Messages
7,355
Likes
2,015
Location
Arizona in winter & W. North America otherwise
Very interesting - my tinnitus is just roaring away - it's particularly bad after drinking something with caffeine in it - which is unfortunate as caffeine is one of my very few energy boosters that works at times.

I have so much upper body stuff going on that I'm not surprised doing something up there could help.
 

Lolinda

weird OI: standing up stops my digestion
Messages
380
Likes
572
If you want to give this a try, the area I massage is at about the same level as the top of the ears, in the center of the back of the head. There's a relatively soft area going down about 2-3 inches
If I understand it correctly, this is not the red dot in the pic by @Chelby. Rather, that red dot could be the lower end of the area you mean, right?

I do not have tinnitus, but I have dysautonomia, more specifically POTS. So I am very interested :)

I immediately tried massaging it. I used circular finger movements as in Chinese acupressure. Result: I immediately and surprisingly felt happy allover. Plus a little headache. Then I felt the need to massage a few cm above to reduce the headache.... Altogether an interesting and nice experience!! :) :)

update: a few min later more alertness. As if in me, there would be the sympathicus :eek: :)
Then, again a few min later: urge to go poop.
this does sthg!
 
Last edited:

1gooddog

Senior Member
Messages
166
Likes
133
Location
Olympic Peninsula, WA
This post is a chronicle of how I discovered a new way to stimulate my vagus nerve.
Tinnitus has been present for about as long as I can remember. There are times when I have significant flares and it almost drives me crazy. It affects my hearing at certain pitches.I will definitely be looking into this vegas nerve massage.
Thank You

I actually felt it was part of my physical over sensitivity to stimulation. A sensory overload.
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
If I understand it correctly, this is not the red dot in the pic by @Chelby. Rather, that red dot could be the lower end of the area you mean, right?
Yes, you're correct on the location. I would say it's roughly from the level of the top of the ear to the bottom of the ear, but at the center of the back of the head. I'm still learning about what areas in the vicinity are effective areas to massage as well.
Altogether an interesting and nice experience!! :) :) ...... update: a few min later more alertness. As if in me, there would be the sympathicus :eek: :) Then, again a few min later: urge to go poop. this does sthg!
I'm delighted to hear you're doing various kinds of experimenting with this, and that your experiences have been, well, how do you say, varied. ;) Not sure about sthg. Haven't run across that one before.

Good to hear about your interesting experiences, and thanks for the good chuckles! :thumbsup:
 

Pink

Senior Member
Messages
572
Likes
1,015
Location
Tri state area
I would love to try this for my vagus nerve (I think it's out of whack too) but how does one massage the area? Just rub? And do you do it even with terrible headaches? Sometimes my scalp hurts so badly , so I can't even touch my head (or brush or wash my hair).
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
I would love to try this for my vagus nerve (I think it's out of whack too) but how does one massage the area? Just rub? And do you do it even with terrible headaches? Sometimes my scalp hurts so badly , so I can't even touch my head (or brush or wash my hair).
Hi @Pink

I mostly use the tips of my fingers, but I think everybody should use a technique that works best for them. I think some kind of massager could be very helpful for some. bit I'm hesitant to use one myself because I don't want to aggravate my tinnitus.

Another stimulation technique I plan to try soon is to use alternating cold and hot packs on the back of my head. There's lots of information about the value of hot and cold showers, and other variations of using heat and cold to stimulate healing activity.

Regarding having headaches, I've come to believe--after experiencing many different kinds of pain--that it's always best to try to rub or massage out any tender or painful spots. It breaks up tension, and brings healing energy via the nervous system to help bring balance to a given area. BUT, always start slowly, and progress only as fast as the body can handle it. You definitely don't want to stress already stressed areas.​
 

percyval577

Senior Member
Messages
404
Likes
441
On youtube is a sound for tinnitus posted, often said to work well. It might easily go along with vagus stimulation.
"MOST POWERFUL TINNITUS SOUNDTHERAPY." by Good Vibes.
---------------------------------------------------------------
I originally had put a link here. But it turned out that the sound is indeed strong, but might be dangerous too.
It begins to turn you soul in a "forward" direction, but you might feel stings or stitches in your brain. Maybe they wont go away.
Along with Waynes idea given above, it seems to be good not only for tinnitus!
A mighty weapon maybe, but with ME/CFS everything can be dangerous too.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Therefore I think it needed discussion in more detail and might not fit in this thread.
I am sorry for being hasty and slow. I never paid much attention to my tinnitus which in fact can be quit loud. (The thread is on pots, I am stupid too!)
 
Last edited:

1gooddog

Senior Member
Messages
166
Likes
133
Location
Olympic Peninsula, WA
If I understand it correctly, this is not the red dot in the pic by @Chelby. Rather, that red dot could be the lower end of the area you mean, right?

I do not have tinnitus, but I have dysautonomia, more specifically POTS. So I am very interested :)

I immediately tried massaging it. I used circular finger movements as in Chinese acupressure. Result: I immediately and surprisingly felt happy allover. Plus a little headache. Then I felt the need to massage a few cm above to reduce the headache.... Altogether an interesting and nice experience!! :) :)

update: a few min later more alertness. As if in me, there would be the sympathicus :eek: :)
Then, again a few min later: urge to go poop.
this does sthg!
I immediately located an anatomy chart and found the two points at the base of the skull. This is where I have worked on alternating massage and deep pressure. I just don' do it enough. Will become more diligent.
 

kangaSue

Senior Member
Messages
1,240
Likes
1,587
Location
Brisbane, Australia
@Wayne I'm really interested in this and have a couple of questions for you.

How long had you been doing this for before you had a noticeable difference in your motility symptoms? What degree of pressure are you using here, light, moderate or firm?

I've just started doing it using light pressure of one finger going in a clockwise circular motion and have developed a tender spot just above the area of massage, did that happen to you too?
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
I just ran across the following on vagal tone in a really good article, which indicates why stimulating the vagus nerve can be effective for treating a variety of health issues. Here's a link to the full article -- There's a Single Nerve That Connects All of Your Vital Organs — And It Might Just Be the Future of Medicine

"Operating far below the level of our conscious minds, the vagus nerve is vital for keeping our bodies healthy. It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed 'fight-or-flight' adrenaline response to danger. Not all vagus nerves are the same, however: some people have stronger vagus activity, which means their bodies can relax faster after a stress.

The strength of your vagus response is known as your vagal tone and it can be determined by using an electrocardiogram to measure heart rate. Every time you breathe in, your heart beats faster in order to speed the flow of oxygenated blood around your body. Breathe out and your heart rate slows.

... so the bigger your difference in heart rate when breathing in and out, the higher your vagal tone. Research shows that a high vagal tone makes your body better at regulating blood glucose levels, reducing the likelihood of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Low vagal tone, however, has been associated with chronic inflammation.

As part of the immune system, inflammation has a useful role helping the body to heal after an injury, for example, but it can damage organs and blood vessels if it persists when it is not needed. One of the vagus nerve's jobs is to reset the immune system and switch off production of proteins that fuel inflammation. Low vagal tone means this regulation is less effective and inflammation can become excessive"

[My Note: Chronic inflammation often being associated with CFS]
 
Last edited:

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
@Wayne I'm really interested in this and have a couple of questions for you.

How long had you been doing this for before you had a noticeable difference in your motility symptoms? What degree of pressure are you using here, light, moderate or firm?

I've just started doing it using light pressure of one finger going in a clockwise circular motion and have developed a tender spot just above the area of massage, did that happen to you too?
HI @kangaSue,

Though my life was in a state of upheaval at the time, I would say I noticed a difference relatively soon; within a few days of starting my massaging protocol. I generally use moderate pressure, but I do occasionally experiment and apply firmer pressure to "check out" different points.

I'm experimenting with massaging all over my neck, head, upper back, ear areas (especially back of ear), TMJ areas, etc., as all these areas can be associated with tinnitus. In my "exploring", a tender spot appeared behind my right ear after I massaged the area. I've since noticed that spot correlates closely with tinnitus volume.

I've long believe that many pw/CFS have various problems in their head, neck and upper torso area that contribute to their health issues. Since researching tinnitus, I've seen where certain dynamics often overlap with CFS, in particular the direct impact of the vagus nerve on symptoms of each.

So as I learn more and more with my various exploratory techniques, I expect to experience improvements in both my tinnitus and CFS. How's that for optimism? :)

Best, Wayne
 
Last edited:

kangaSue

Senior Member
Messages
1,240
Likes
1,587
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Thanks @Wayne,
I don't have ME/CFS but I know from having had an autonomic function test panel (including an abnormal Heart Rate Variability to Deep Breathing Test) that I have idiopathic Autonomic Neuropathy with having cardiovagal and sudomotor dysfunction.

Severe GI dysmotility in having gastroparesis is part and parcel of it all too and I dare not get my hopes up too much at this point as most other remedies I've tried for improving GI motility inevitably end in failure but I noticed yesterday that I had a little less discomfort than normal with my GI system and the only thing I'm doing differently is massaging that spot at the back of my head.

I thought it too good to be true with only doing this massage for 3 days so far but now I've got fingers crossed that it's not a fluke and I'm on too a good thing after all. Only time will tell.
 

Wayne

Senior Member
Messages
3,351
Likes
4,147
Location
Ashland, Oregon
I thought it too good to be true with only doing this massage for 3 days so far but now I've got fingers crossed that it's not a fluke and I'm on too a good thing after all. Only time will tell.
@kangaSue,

I just posted on another thread I thought Atlas Profilax might be good for them to consider. It then dawned on me it might be something you may want to consider as well. Below is a link to a 10-year old post I made which touches on a number of things you've mentioned in this thread. -- I've also posted extensively here on PR on AP. THIS POST would be a good starting point.​


Best, Wayne