NeuvanaLife Xen Review: Cutting-Edge Ear Tech For Removing Stress?

 

 

Unboxing Xen

Ground-Breaking Wellness Technology

Does it feel like you've tried everything under the sun for reducing stress, alleviating common ailments, boosting brain performance, improving sleep, or lifting your mood?

Most therapeutic protocols include taking oral supplements and dietary restrictions which focus on the food-based chemical components you consume

Chemistry is no longer the only way to improve your physiology.

Physics has entered the equation!

Here at AlexFergus.com, we have a strong emphasis on unraveling the mysteries of how different wavelengths impact our wellness.

You have free access to all our helpful articles on how to protect yourself concerning everything from EMF to noise pollution to blue-light wavelengths in the evening suppressing melatonin.

You may have read some of the articles in our extensive collection of the benefits of red-light therapy, safe sun-exposure, PEMF, saunas, and even devices that shine light into the nostrils and eardrums.

Electroceutical technology inventions are exponentially expanding the frontiers of wellness biohacking strategies.

NeuvanaLife now offers an unprecedented solution for achieving greater wellbeing.

Xen (discount code ALEX saves you 15% on the Xen box set!) is that cutting-edge breakthrough! 

It's one of the most user-friendly and innovative therapeutic devices in existence. 

Xen, which sounds just like Zen, sends precise waveforms up the white wire into the left earbud and through the skin around your left eardrum.

Standing atop a mountain of scientific research, Xen syncs with your favorite music for fun and looks good doing it.

Xen gets you in the zone for your nervous system to de-stress, rest and digest, feed and breed, tend and befriend, restore, and more. 

 

I'm excited that Xen arrived and eager to begin the experiment!

Zen Out With Xen

Xen delivers supplemental support—not in the form of chemical compounds consumed orally—but by generating and conducting energy frequency waveforms received auricularly.

The objective is to upregulate the part of your nervous system that runs on auto-pilot and is responsible for optimal functioning during peaceful times—your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

Xen puts your PNS in a flow state by priming the pump with a little electric juice flowing through its white cord and innovative earbud into the nerve endings in your ear.

The lower-front quadrant of your ear is at the end of a branch of a crucial nerve running directly up to your brain and reaching down to regulate many of your vital organs. 

Xen generates electrical patterns that conduct a beneficial stimulus through the skin in your ear to support your nervous system by tipping the scales in favor of peace-time PNS protocols instead of fight/flight/freeze SNS dominance.

Like, is that even a thing? 
 

Xen: It's Officially a Thing!

In January of 2021, four days before I started using Xen, our Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services here in the States created a brand new procedure code for "non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator": K1020 

It's the healthcare equivalent of naming a newly discovered species. That's how hot-off-the-press this wearable tech is right now.

Xen (code ALEX save 15% on the Xen Box set!) is a front-runner, non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator available from NeuvanaLife.com.

In days of yore, scientifically-backed vagus nerve stimulation required going-under-the-knife to get a medical device implanted for delivering the electric stimulation needed to trigger the therapeutic benefits.

Xen is not a medical device, and it isn't surgically implanted. It is a stress-relieving, sleep-promoting, mood-elevating, wellness-supporting device.

Thanks to the hundreds of dedicated scientists who performed experiments using electrodes on animals' ears in the early stages, followed by human studies and clinical trials, you can now use these remarkably safe and effective electrical devices in the comfort of your own home.

Imagine that!



You put in the waveform-transferring earbuds, open the app on your phone, sync it with the music on your device, and chill out while it pulses the current to your left ear. 

You're in control of each session's duration, intensity, waveforms, and selecting the ebb and flow pattern.

Where has this tech been all our lives!? The wait is finally over!

 

Xen Impacts Many Different Parts of Your Body

Electric current flows through the white cord's earbud in your left ear. It's like gentle jumper cables for the left side of a long pair of nerves that run down both sides of your body.
 
This wandering nerve is a direct, round-trip, high-speed network that connects your brain to your heart, lungs, intestines, and other internal organs.

No other cranial nerve has the nerve to leave the comfort zone of the head-and-neck area.

The wandering vagus nerve boldly struck out on its own and took responsibility for single-handedly doing way more than its fair share. 

This is the crucial nerve Xen stimulates. It's pictured on the right side, labeled Vagus (X), on this Encyclopedia Britannica infographic of your 12 cranial nerves.



There are twelve pairs of cranial nerves enabling our brain to control much of our physiology.
 

Are All These Cranial Nerves For Real?

My dentist recently caused me discomfort by giving me a numbing injection. I inadvertently made him a bit uncomfortable by asking, "Which cranial nerve did you numb?"

He laughed saying, "It's the fifth cranial nerve. I haven't been asked that since my dental school days."
 
While working as a certified ophthalmic assistant for a team of eye surgeons, I performed visual testing designed to detect damage to the major nerves connecting their eyes and brain: cranial nerve pairs II, III, IV, and VI.

Within your intranet of twelve cranial nerves, eleven are local-area networks (LAN) limited to the head and neck area like those innervating the eyes and mouth.

Xen influences the unique tenth pair, which is the only wide-area network (WAN) connecting your brain and vital organs.



Here's what cross-sections of your vagus nerve look like under a microscope, thanks to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's BioRxiv for this image also published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.


Your tenth pair of cranial nerves is aptly named vagus, the Latin word for wandering. It stretches from the brain to the vital organs throughout your chest and abdomen.

Not all nerves that wander are lost. The vagus nerve is an uninterrupted, two-way, direct route from point A (abdominal and thoracic organs) to point B (brain).
 

Your Vagus Nerves Are More Vital Than Your Internet Cables

Ever run a WinMTR test of your internet performance? Pop some popcorn and ping away!

You feel the need for fast upload speeds from the organs to the brain. Of all the fibers in the vagus, 80% are uploading your vital organs' biometrics to your brain for analysis and regulation.

Download speeds are crucial since 20% of the vagus fibers run from the brain down to vital organs like your heart. You can't just keep these organs waiting on critical input. Buffering during the climax of a movie you're streaming will spoil the effect, and you certainly don't want delays mucking-up important tasks your vital organs are performing.

Just as packet loss makes your PC systems unstable, little impingements (like a kink in the neck from looking down at your phone) will get on the vagus' nerves and destabilize your bodily systems. Straighten out that crimped garden hose and let the flood of innervation information flow unimpeded. 

Got unwanted milliseconds of latency from chemical reactions cracking and corroding your internet cables? What's worse is caustic neurotoxins like mold eroding the myelinated-sheath covering some of your vagus nerve fibers. That lag-time will be annoying if the short-circuited signal is too choppy.

Ever had the internet cables in your neighborhood get damaged by a snowstorm? That's akin to our fight-flight-or-freeze SNS nervous system being overwhelmed to the point of going numb, shutting down, and playing dead. It's as if it gives your vagus frost-bite that can take ages to thaw.

You depend on your internet to be up-to-par. Your body depends on your vagus to be up-to-snuff.

You now have the option to help your vagus run on all eight cylinders through supplementation with electrical stimulation. 

Think about it... Nerves traffic in electrical signals.

Prime that pump! Juice it up! Get in the flow!

There's legit potential here to not only improve the functioning of your wired-in organs but to amp-up your brain's game as well.

Your Vagus Nerve Commlink

Imagine driving several hours in the dark through a metroplex for the first time during a tornado watch with pea-sized hail and sheets of rain making it neigh-to-impossible for you to see the lines between lanes or taillights in front of you.

Furthermore, you're on this wild ride without the aid of a working cellphone because your battery died ten minutes down the road. 

You can't even call for help if needed.

You never forget harrowing adventures like those. I sure haven't.

Your vagus nerve is like your smartphone in helping your brain and organs navigate and communicate. Your vagus nerve is bi-directional. Not only do your organs benefit when it's fully functioning, but it helps your brain work better as well.


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This innervation-infrastructure illustration is courtesy of both Frontiers In Neuroscience and my favorite PubMed article on the benefits of this technology.
 
A fully-functioning phone also saves the day in a wide variety of ways under various circumstances. For instance, you are stuck at an airport, after your flight got cancelled, trying to book a new flight home.

Regardless of the specific circumstances, you can successfully navigate an infinite number of urgent scenarios with a reliable phone and carrier network. 

That's just like your long wandering nerve enabling you to successfully perform a wide variety of bodily functions set to autopilot, from breathing and heartbeats to moving food through your intestines.

It's all orchestrated by your brain-body carrier network's master conductor, your vagus nerve.
 
Using Xen's external electrical current to influence your vagus nerve might be the missing link that helps you with back pain. It may help your family member with a completely different issue such as constipation. Furthermore, it might help your friend with depression.

Vagus nerve stimulation boosts the functioning of each individual's vagal tone for supporting health in humans and animals.

The only variables are each nerve's unique kinks and weaknesses due to all the wear-and-tear from life and the resulting symptoms from the affected organs not getting their needs fully met.
 
My husband gave me a new phone that I use for almost everything. However, my authentication app for work is still on my old cell phone with the cracked plastic insulation and exposed wires hanging on by a thread. I hold my breath every time I have to use it.

Not-as-visible but oh-so-real, your vagus nerve is also performing critical functions to the best of its ability. If your vagus nerve has seen its better days and is struggling now, you have excellent options to support its return to optimal functioning.


Vagus Nerve Inhibition Negatively Impact Your Physiology. Here's how:
  • Pressure/injury/swelling in your neck may cause vagus nerve impingement.
  • Protein aggregates in your gut can travel up the vagus nerve into the brain.
  • Mold and other toxins can cause damage.
  • Chronic, cumulative stress can suppress vagal tone
 
Activities that Activate the Vagus Nerve Instead:
  • Xen by Neuvana (code ALEX saves 15% on the Xen Box set)
  • acupuncture stimulation of the lower-front quadrant of your ear
  • gargling as hard as possible for 30 seconds morning and evening
  • humming loudly
  • tongue scraping to trigger a mild gag reflex
  • singing at the top of your lungs like an opera singer
  • cold showers
  • coffee enemas cause VNS from the lower end of the nerve
  • slow, deep breathing from the belly before bed
  • a cat purring on your chest

Heart Rate Variability Usually Correlates With Vagus Nerve Health 

At this time, the gold-standard for evaluating vagus nerve health is to measure your heart rate variability (HRV) with wearable photoplethysmography sensors: Biostrap, Oura ring, HeartMath, Fitbit, etc...

I think of high heart rate variability (HRV) like a happy, relaxed, playful, dancing child who is wandering off chasing butterflies, stopping to smell the roses, and enjoying life's simple pleasures.

It's speculated that this controlled-chaos variability helps the heart be resilient and poised to adapt with speed and agility to changing needs.

I liken low heart rate variability to a stressed adult who is stuck in traffic, late to work, struggling with burnout and emotional burdens, while forcing themselves to keep going no matter how they feel. It looks very monotonous and rigid from beat-to-beat. 

Young people generally have high HRV that gradually declines to an all-time low in their late 60s. Around age 70, HRV starts going back up again. Multiple theories try to explain this phenomenon.

I hypothesize that as the cells that generate the heartbeat become less adept at getting the job done, so other eager-beaver electrical cells spring up in the wrong part of the heart, trying to help out by generating extra beats, which are counter-productive and dangerously ineffective.

Those extra beats from the rogue nodes and missing beats from the sinus node can result in erratic rhythms that are a "false positive" for youthful, high HRV.

 

Low HRV Also Correlates With Risk of Morbidity and Mortality

Think of the litany list of high insulin, adverse childhood events, a sedentary lifestyle, insomnia, smoking, loneliness, concussions, depression, and a whole host of other risk factors are associated with a shorter health-span.

You can add low HRV as a predictor of health problems because it's a dead giveaway for sub-optimal vagus nerve functioning.

The shortest line from A to B would be to compare my HRV before and after using Xen to see if it raised my HRV.

During the month of pretesting, I discovered stray heartbeats were skewing my HRV.

My Life-Long Struggle With Irregular Heartbeats

The weak link in my wellness chain has always been my heart. I had my first heart sonogram when I was 6-days-old and was finally mature enough for heart surgery when I was 13-months-old. 

During the month before I started using Xen, my resting heartbeats were having a few seconds here and there of vacillating between being too low and too high.

My lowest dip during a 5-minute Biostrap recording was a quick dip down to 22 beats per minute, and my highest was a brief spike to 241bpm. 

For perspective, among female Fitbit users my age, the average resting heart rate is 67.4 beats per minute.

Luckily, the vagus nerve is the communications link between the brain and heart. I had the good fortune of testing Xen, which delivered its mild electric current through the earbud in my left ear to introduce an external stimulus to my left vagus nerve which helped my brain and heart better regulate my heartbeats.

How sci-Fi is that!? Like the medical tricorder and dermal regenerator in Star Trek, Biostrap (a biometrics recorder) and Xen (a vagal regenerator) are giving me a futuristic edge in dealing with a life-long condition.

I'll be sharing one of my Biostrap Pulse Reports so you can see what's going on plus my data analysis of the averages across 64 before-and-after recordings.
 
 

I'm soaking up the sunrise while recharging my batteries with Xen. 


How Is This Even Possible?

Before my Xen unit arrived, I thought it would be some nebulous "good vibes" generator.

I presumed it would require some sort of effort on my part, like trying to reduce stress levels through meditation. 

I had already tried positive affirmations to reduce stress. Of course, I read articles on stress management too.

After discovering the vagus nerve and vagus nerve stimulation in June of 2020, I was even doing multiple techniques like humming and gargling to stimulate my vagus nerve occasionally. Still, it didn't seem to make much difference for my insomnia, so I stopped.

Testing Xen, I was worried that I would have to use some strange combination of imagination, good vibes, positive visualizations, clearing my mind, and a little gargling (for good measure) to benefit from the device.

I'm here to tell you that it's nothing like I was speculating.
 

Xensations (Sensations):

I will never forget that very first session of clearly feeling the electric pulses flowing into my ear and being so relieved that it was just as apparent as listening to music through earbuds.

You have never had to imagine musical vibrations through earbuds, and you will never need to do so for the Xen vibrations either.
 
It is a very tangible electric current touching the skin inside your eardrum.

The earbud gets spritzed on both sides with saltwater, facilitating the electrical conduction between Xen's electrical pulses and your ear.

The more saltwater helping transfer the current, the more intense it feels. If you don't feel a tingling sensation and the intensity is at a 10 to 15, it may be that the earbud is too dry to conduct the current to your ear. Simply, spritz it, and you're good to go.

 Does it hurt to have an electric current pulsing in your ear? 

Not a bit!

You adjust the intensity to a level that is comfortable for you. If you don't feel it with the default intensity setting of 5 out of 25, all you need to do is increase it, just like adjusting your music's volume.

I usually run my sessions on an 18 or 22 intensity out of 25, depending on the waveform and delivery pattern selected.

At the intensity I'm selecting, it feels a bit like cleaning my ears with a cotton Q-tip and sounds like a cross between radio static and a mini fan humming in my ear. 

On milder settings, it feels like a warm intermittent breeze blowing in my ear.


Why Limit Vagus Nerve Stimulation to Only the Left Ear?

In canine studies, surgically-implanted, right-side, vagus-nerve stimulators caused the heart rate to slow down too much. Therefore, surgical VNS has only been approved by the FDA here in the States for the left vagus nerve. 

Guess what I accidentally did once? How did you know?

Though not advised, I had no adverse effects from that one session in the right ear. 

Here's the distinction between surgical-cervical VNS and transcutaneous-auricular VNS as noted in "Critical Review of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Challenges for Translation to Clinical Practice," a Frontiers in Neuroscience article on PubMed, "Therefore, unlike cervical VNS, tVNS circumvents the risk of directly and asymmetrically stimulating cardiac motor efferent fibers..."

Neuvana designed Xen's left-side current-capacity to be unmistakable with an "L" printed on the earbud and a white left cord. The right side is black with an "R" label, and it only plays music.

I appreciate the white and black design. I am often using Xen before bed with the lights out and blackout curtains. Yet, I can tell the cords apart with minimal light from activating the LED on my Fitbit. It is all the more apparent with the Xen app open on my phone or the illuminated logo on the Xen device.

The first few times I used Xen, it did seem a bit fiddly juggling the salt-water spritzer, earbud cords, Xen unit, and my cellphone with the Xen app.

Now, I use it lying down in the dark every night. I only need the light for a second to see which is the white cord earbud. From there, I can spritz that left earbud even though I can't see my hand in front of my face.

I can feel the hole in the spritz bottle to aim it at the sides of the earbud. I sense the mist on my fingertips surrounding the hard base of the earbud that connects to the cord while the flexible end that goes in my eardrum gets misted.
 
 

How Do You Know If You're Getting an Optimal Dose?

After reviewing many different studies on auricular vagus nerve stimulation (aVNS), I have learned that even low-to-mid intensity settings are highly effective. A moderate tingling is all that is needed.

NeuvanaLife.com recommends two sessions a day for 15-20 minutes each (discount code ALEX saves you 15% when buying a Xen Box set!). 

On my first day, I must have done a dozen sessions.

It may be a coincidence, but I noticed diminishing returns after the third back-to-back session.  

I received ample benefits using Xen for between one to three 25-minute sessions spaced several hours apart throughout the day.

The app lets you select session lengths between 5-25 minutes in 5-minute increments.

The studies show that for effective treatment of some conditions, an aVNS treatment time of, "...3–4 stimulation sessions per day for in total 4–5 h, each session lasting at least 1 h" was most effective at managing pain and improving depression.
 

Breathing With the Waves and Peaks

According to "Current Directions in the Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation II – An Engineering Perspective" in Frontiers of Neuroscience, "...aVNS delivered during exhalation was more efficient in brain, cardiovagal, and pain modulation..."

I once tried timing my breaths with the "mountain peak" patterns by breathing out while I felt the most tingling and breathing in during the window of less tingling.

I didn't find it useful personally because of the timing of the patterns. It felt like an unnecessary layer of complexity to what is otherwise a very relaxing experience.

The free version of the app lets you choose "ocean waves" or "mountain peaks" for each session. The paid subscription option has many more options.

With the "ocean waves," it's a low-intensity feeling that gradually swells to a higher intensity and then smoothly decreases to the baseline over and over.

For the "mountain peaks" option, the baseline is imperceptible for roughly ten seconds. Then there is a noticeable rapid ramping up of intensity over about four seconds and then an even faster drop over a couple of seconds back to baseline.
 

What's Up With the Waveforms?

In the free version of the app, you can choose between "waveform A" or "waveform C." Naturally, the paid version of the app has many more waveforms available with more being added as new aVNS studies are published.

To me, A is like staccato pulses rapidly alternating between 100% on and 100% off a few times per second.

The C feels more like a humming variation alternating between 40% and 80% several times a second, so it has a smooth feel.

The A waveform with the mountain peaks pattern is the most rousing combination, which I like during the day. The C waveform and ocean waves pattern was the smoothest combination for using before bed to help me fall asleep quickly.

I found Xen sleep-promoting in the same way that soft background pink noise and long car rides put me to sleep. 

 

What Would Further Improve My Experience Using Xen?

  1. The test units I received had some technical difficulties. The units available for purchase by consumers have had those issues resolved. It did delay the start of this experiment, prevent me from using it the third week, and have a considerable reduction of the intensity the fourth week. Neuvana's customer service department is always friendly and helpful.
  2. I would opt out of the login experience of entering my username and password each time I open the app if there was an option to "Keep me signed in." Since there isn't yet, I wish I had chosen a simple password with how often I'm entering it.
  3. Call me a curious cat, but I would love to know the parameters of each waveform. I'm sure A and C are waveforms commonly used in the studies. Still, I'm itching to find out the Hz and milliseconds of them all.
  4. It's so user-friendly to go down the list making all my selections, but forget to touch the Bluetooth icon. Incorporating that icon into the task-flow buttons would eliminate the pop-up alert all those times I forget to touch it to sync the app and unit.
  5. I hope NeuvanaLife.com will make extra-small (as well as extra-large earbuds) available to purchase since my eardrums are one-size-too-small. The small, medium, and large earbuds that are included are all true-to-size compared to earbuds for the iPhone and others. Thankfully, my left eardrum is a smidge bigger than my right. It works fine for me as long as I am being still. Walking, talking, or chewing makes it fall out.
  6. Adding a detachable lanyard to the protective case sold separately would be a handy, hands-free way to carry it since I'm reluctant to put the unit in my pockets. Sure, it would easily fit. I just wouldn't want to ever risk it falling out, getting forgotten, or sat on because it's so valuable.

My Top Favorite Benefits From Using Xen

  1. The way it makes my heart beat more smoothly day and night. I am so grateful for the improvement in my irregular heartbeats. My heart still acts up on me regularly, but there's been a marked reduction in the frequency, intensity, and duration of those funky-rhythm episodes.
  2. It eases emotional heartache. I still feel intense emotions such as waves of grief that ebb and flow from missing loved ones. Just as with my physical heart challenges, Xen gently reduces the frequency, intensity, and duration of those heartbreaking feelings. 
  3. It has helped melt some of the chronic muscle tension in my trapezius muscles. I used to have prolonged, frequent, intense pins-and-needles sensations on the top edge of my left trap between my neck and shoulder. That is now uncommon, brief, and mild by comparison.
  4. One type of ringing in my ears improved. I used to have two types of ringing in my ears 24/7. The low-pitched buzzing is now rare and lasts only a few seconds. The high-pitched ringing remains unchanged.
  5. I've had a frozen left shoulder for two years following an acute injury that failed to heal completely. Since Xen, I have noticed an improvement in range of motion and less shooting pain. For example, my chiropractor wants me to stretch it by interlacing my fingers behind my head which always a slow, painful struggle. Now I can do that relatively quickly and with just a dull ache which is a big improvement.
  6. My work performance seemed positively impacted by using Xen (BTW, discount code ALEX saves 15% when you buy a box set HERE). My typing speed increased 8%, I was named employee of the month for January, and I set a new record in accuracy among our team.

Xen Dramatically Improved My Irregular Heartbeats

Biostrap recordings graph your second-by-second changing heartbeats during a 5-minute window to capture not just the average heartrate but all the various highs and lows during that timeframe.

Before Xen, during my first 32 Biostrap 5-minute recordings, from December 17th to January 3rd, my lowest heartrate was a quick dip down to 22bpm. My highest was a brief spike to 241bpm

After starting Xen on January 19th, that range of brief dips and spikes soon narrowed down to between 35 to 177bpm during the 32 recordings taken January 22nd through 31st.

Comparing the averages, before Xen, the average across the first 32 readings of the experiment was a low of 50 and a high of 124bpm.

Xen changed the average range to between 50 to 89bpm!

This screenshot is a recent, typical example of the improvement since beginning Xen on January 19th. I chose this particular recording report because it shows that the struggle is real but significantly improved!

It was a huge relief to see these changes for the better!

 

As you can see in the last graph, I still struggle with irregular heartbeats. Yet comparing the range on this graph's minimum of 56bpm to spikes of up to 106bpm against my pre-Xen average low of 50 and high of 124bpm with the post-Xen average low of 50 to high of 89bpm. It's a huge relief!

I am so thankful for Xen helping me with this lifelong challenge with my irregular heartbeats.

Insomnia aVNS Study

My last two articles addressed my past struggles with sleep: My Lifelong Insomnia Symptoms And Qualia Night As A Sleep-Saver and Qualia Night Review: Sleeping Quicker, Deeper, And All Night Long? 

Naturally, I found the aVNS studies about insomnia of particular interest.

This four-week long, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study was based on the fact that aVNS facilitates the production and release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.
 



The aVNS group self-administered 30-minute session delivered to the red dots touching the parts of the ear innervated by the VN at home both morning and 30 minutes before bed, 5 days in a row, then 2 days off for a month with intensity selected by the recipient.

The non-VNS control group was identical except the electrical stimulation was delivered to the blue dots connected to the parts of the ear innervated by nerves other than the vagus nerve.

Both groups kept sleep diaries and a log of treatment sessions and reported improvements in insomnia across the board.

Perhaps, it's because some of the vagus nerve endings received some indirect stimulation or else the nerves on the outer edge of the ear may also be positively influenced by stimulation. Either way, it's a win/win and the variables will be elucidated as more studies are conducted.

 

My aVNS-Experiment Results Were Also Inconclusive In Some Areas

Due to technical difficulties that caused significant interruptions in using Xen the second half of the four-week experiment, I may not have had enough exposure to aVNS through Xen to notice a change in these areas:

  • Cognifit testing of brain performance (I was focused as usual.)
  • resting heart rate during sleep (A winter snowstorm in February and other unexpected events reduced my amount of daily exercise, which may have interfered with my RHR.)
  • fasting blood glucose (Hardly any outdoor exercise may have been a factor.)
  • weight, waist circumference, and BMI (Same as above. I didn't venture out in the cold.)
  • duration of sleep (Ironically, in my unbridled enthusiasm, I stayed up later during the experiment running tests before, during and after using Xen at bedtime which may have made me miss my sleep gates.)
  • HRV (I think my irregular heartbeats were causing excessively high HRV before Xen.)
  • perceived stress levels (I had some significant and unexpected stressful events arise during the experiment. I believe Xen helped take the edge off what could have been worse.)
  • mood (I often had happy childhood memories pop up spontaneously the first couple weeks using Xen. I felt interested in doing a variety of activities and learning new things. Yet, the aforementioned stressors did impact the experiment significantly.)

Finishing Thoughts: Why Vagus Nerve Stimulators Can Be Life-Changing!

I was asked what I wanted to review and immediately jumped at the chance to experience a device that supports vagus nerve health.

All the latest scientific advancements in VNS are so fascinating to me.

It also seemed like my vagus nerve had gotten worn down from my cumulative life stressors.

I saw the awards Xen has won and the fact that it uses the very same auricular vagus branch as in the aVNS studies with the icing on the cake of being user-friendly, attractive, and convenient. The stars aligned the day I discovered Xen, and it was love at first sight!

With the heart of an idealist visionary and a biomedical-research-scientist-inventor-wanna-be brain, Xen struck a chord with every fiber of my being, especially my vagus nerve.

Before Xen came into my life, there was a gap akin to the that on the periodic table of elements before those last few were found. Scientists predicted the properties of the undiscovered elements. Sure enough, when those turned up, they fit the pattern perfectly.

That gap in my life was something to effectively support my vagus nerve, beyond all the other good health habits that hadn't been quite enough to help my funky heart rhythms.

Xen is that missing puzzle piece for my heart!

As my heart function improves, the flow-on benefits will most certainly improve my sleep which will boost my energy which will help me exercise more, and burn fat and those upgrades will help optimize my memory, emotional intelligence, neurotransmitters, and hormones which will support my overall health and capacity to serve others.

I'll update this article as I notice additional benefits from using Xen since I hope to use it for the rest of my life.

I'm filled with awe and gratitude over the opportunity I was given by Neuvana, Alex Fergus, and our team manager Bart Wolbers to enjoy benefitting from Xen. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Curious to learn more about the benefits humans experienced from aVNS devices similar to Xen? I have summarized the science highlights below with quotes and findings from my favorite PubMed aVNS meta-analysis:

"Bioelectronic medicine... a non-pharmaceutical treatment option for various diseases... 

"VN establishes a mutual connection between the brain and major body structures as pharynx, larynx, trachea, heart, aorta, lungs, and the entire gastrointestinal tract including esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, and spleen..."

"The activity of VN is proportionally associated with health, wellbeing, relaxation, and even emotions like empathy, whereas it is negatively associated with risk factors such as morbidity, mortality, and stress... 

"VN seems to... “hack the brain” via artificial stimulation of sensory VN fibers..."

"Auricular vagus nerve stimulation modulates... the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins, long-term brain plasticity, and self-sustaining changes in the sympathovagal balance... for the clear benefit of patients." 

Impaired Vagus Nerve Functioning Correlates With:

  • decreased mitochondrial energy production
  • chronic and acute systemic inflammation
  • weak immune system and autoimmune conditions
  • rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • migraines
  • brain fog and impaired memory
  • low mood, depression, and anxiety
  • Parkinson's
  • addictions
  • epilepsy
  • autism spectrum disorder 
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • slower recovery from strokes 
  • neuroplasticity
  • reticular formation wake/sleep cycle and circadian rhythm disorder
  • poor balance and tinnitus ringing ears
  • pupils less responsive to bright light
  • flat/emotionless/frozen facial expression and monotone voice
  • abnormal blood pressure
  • resting heart rate abnormalities
  • myocardial infarction heart attack
  • congestive heart failure
  • post-cardiac-transplant outcomes
  • rapid and shallow chest breathing and hyperventilation
  • fatty liver cirrhosis 
  • choking, bloating, burping, and nausea
  • lack of digestive enzyme secretion and food allergies
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
  • Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
  • constipation and diarrhea
  • sepsis
  • cancer
  • diabetic neuropathy
  • voluntary motor control/muscle function
  • hormonal imbalance and irregular menstrual cycles 
  • labor pain and length of delivery time
  • premature babies and SIDS
  • dystonia, involuntary muscle contractions, and spinal mobility
  • chronic hiccups and chronic cough

Brain Scans Show Positive Effects from aVNS

  • Enkephalin, β-endorphin, and endomorphin increase in response to 2 Hz.
  • 100 Hz promotes greater levels of neuropeptide dynorphin.
  • Serotonergic, noradrenergic, and endorphinergic pathways are regulated.
  • Serotonin, norepinephrine, and endogenous opioids are created.
  • Nociceptive processing is enhanced.
  • Stabilizing effect on moods
  • Anxiety is better managed.
  • Depression is lessened. 
  • Noradrenaline levels rise.
  • GABA increases in cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Glutamate is inhibited.
  • Neurotrophic factors are supported.
  • Cellular proliferation is upregulated.
  • Neurogenesis flourishes.
  • Antidepressant effects are set in motion.
  • Neuronal plasticity is nurtured.
  • Memory is strengthened.
  • Learning and cognition are supercharged.
  • Autonomic regulation is dialed in.
  • Alertness gets amped up.
  • Mood is lifted.
  • A sense of well-being is noticed.
  • Activity in the amygdala subsides by about 50%.
  • Maladaptive wiring is remodeled.
  • Pathological cortical alterations are undone. 
  • Different regions of the brain become better synchronized.
  • Endorphins are released.
  • Enkephalins and substance P are created.
  • Neuronal networks get reprogramed.
  • Epileptic seizures are diminished in frequency, intensity, and duration.

Chronic Inflammation and Cytokine Storm Responds Positively to aVNS

  • The parasympathetic system is completely anti-inflammatory whereas the sympathetic nervous system is capable of upregulating or downregulating inflammation.
  • The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis influences the vagus nerve to activate a chain of reactions that release glucocorticoids to control inflammation.
  • The vago-vagal reflex, prompt VN fibers to activate acetylcholine which decreases inflammatory cytokines. 
  • The splenic sympathetic anti-inflammatory pathway activates the vagus nerve which triggers the adrenergic sympathetic nerve and diminishes inflammatory cytokines.
  • VNS modulates cytokines thereby reducing inflammation which decreases both morbidity and mortality.
  • VNS helps the immune system walk the fine line between inflammation and immunosuppression.

Autonomic Nervous System is Brought Into Balance Through aVNS

  • HRV goes up.
  • The ratio of low-frequency to high-frequency heart rhythms is reduced.

 High Heart Rate Variability is Correlated with Emotional Intelligence

  • self-inhibit for the good of healthy relationships
  • accurately read social cues
  • self-regulate to set and achieve goals
  • maintain your composure and appropriate behavior
  • able to remain calm and coherent in a crisis
  • foresight to make better decisions
  • predict how our actions now affect the future
  • synchronize neural electrical activity to become awake and conscious
  • thalamus' ability to coordinate activity of the brain
  • ability to perform well and reaction times
  • strengthens cortical areas that control executive functions
  • abstract thinking
  • feel relaxed and calm
  • in the zone/flow state   

Timelines for Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation (aVNS)

  • Anti-inflammatory effects last 24 hours after a short session.
  • Brain plasticity takes between a few seconds up to one year.
  • Pain-signal-blocking effects lasted 9 weeks following aVNS for 3 weeks.
  • Chronic pain was treated for 6 weeks. Improvements were still observed at 3 months.  

Pain Management Using aVNS

  • Opioid drug intake is reduced.
  • Chronic pain responds predictably well.
  • Heroin and meth withdrawal symptoms are temporarily eased after only an hour of treatment.

Case Studies Demonstrate aVNS Reduces Many Different Types of Pain

  • postoperative
  • uncontrollable muscle contractions
  • arterial occlusive disease
  • primary Raynaud’s syndrome
  • labor/childbirth
  • musculoskeletal disorders 

Clinical Trials Show aVNS Alleviates Pain—Especially Chronic Pain

  • half of participants experienced a 30–50% improvement in their pain threshold
  • increased pain tolerance from pressure and heat
  • reduction of chronic upper and lower back pain pain
  • lessening of intense pain during in vitro fertilization
  • reduced postoperative pain following nephrectomy, tonsillectomy, and hysterectomy
  • headache syndrome improved
  • high-frequency, chronic, and acute migraines were subdued
  • chronic abdominal and pelvic pain diminished

Metabolic Syndrome Improves With aVNS

  • reduce obesity
  • lower glucose levels
  • protect against developing diabetes
  • lower blood pressure
  • calm systemic inflammation
  • reduce BMI
  • feel more satiated results in eating less and losing weight
  • extracting energy from glucose is facilitated
  • the brain's reward system is impacted
  • serotonin levels regulate the stomach and aid peristalsis movements in the gut
  • small intestinal ineffective signaling is boosted

Markers of Diabetes Improve With aVNS

  • 2-hours after eating less glucose remains unutilized in the bloodstream
  • less damage to hemoglobin as measured by A1c levels
  • blood urea nitrogen
  • serum creatinine
  • total cholesterol
  • aspartate transaminase
  • pre-diabetes prevention
  • complimentary therapy for diabetes management 

Cardiovascular Protection From aVNS

  • reduced the systolic blood pressure
  • decreased the heart rate
  • improved the left ventricular function
  • suppressed atrial fibrillation
  • improved cardiac function in patients with coronary artery disease
  • upregulation of the protective heat shock proteins
  • relief of angina
  • improved tolerance of operative reperfusion damage
  • reduced the need for vasodilators
  • microcirculation is impacted
  • enhanced peripheral perfusion
  • anti-inflammatory action promotes vasodilating endothelial NO
  • the capillary-venous oxygenation 8mm under the skin increases in diabetic patients
  • potentially improve healing of diabetic wounds
  • increased local blood perfusion
  • platelet rich fibrin
  • improved symptoms in peripheral arterial occlusive disease
  • avoidance of amputations
  • increased pain-free walking distance
  • potential therapeutic strategy for ischemic myocardial infarction 
  • releases nitric oxide affecting cardiac vagal control
  • only intermittent VNS reduced the damage from a heart attack (continuous VNS did not)
  • stimulating the right vagus nerve affects the sinoatrial node slowing the heart and the left side affects the atrioventricular node

 

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This article was written by Christa Rucker. Christa has been biohacking her own physiology for two decades now. She loves to geek-out on researching scientific studies that connect different habits to measurable health outcomes. She also has extensive clinical experience assisting patients which has fueled her passion for prevention. 

 

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