Vagal stimulation is now an option for certain conditions like epilepsy, depression, and even for help in losing weight. It works with implanted devices that look like pacemakers; electrode leads stretch from the device to the vagus nerve.
ElectroCore Medical, a company out of Morris Plains, New Jersey, has a couple devices cleared in Europe that supposedly provide transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation for adults with airway diseases like COPD and migraine headaches. The two devices, AlphaCore and GammaCore (we guess BetaCore sounds like it’s still in beta), can be used by the patients themselves by applying the electrodes to the back of the neck and aligning with the carotid artery. A thumbwheel on the side is used to adjust the intensity of the signal. A treatment session lasts about 90 seconds and can be performed by the patient as required.
Neither of the devices are approved by the FDA for use in the U.S.
From the product pages:
AlphaCore is a hand-held, portable device that produces a proprietary electrical signal that stimulates the vagus nerve. To treat bronchoconstriction, the AlphaCore deviceis placed on the patient’s neck and lined up with the carotid artery. The stimulation intensity is controlled by the operator. The treatment lasts for 90 seconds.
Clinical data suggests that Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) can safely induce clinically significant bronchodilation during an exacerbation of asthma in those patients with a poor response to standard pharmacological treatment*.
The GammaCore therapy is administered with a multi-use, hand-held portable device that transmits a proprietary electrical signal intended to provide a localized oscillating electric field in the vicinity of the vagus nerve.
To prevent and/or treat migraine, the GammaCore therapy is placed over the vagus nerve on the right side of the neck (between the trachea and the sternocleidomastoid muscle and over the carotid artery), at the location where the person’s pulse is found.
The stimulation intensity is controlled by the operator and the treatment lasts for 90 seconds. The strength of the stimulation is significantly lower than that required to activate efferent vagus nerve stimulation that mediates cardiac specific effects.
(hat tip: Daily Mail)