A vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device that hooks onto the ear shows promise as a new, non-invasive treatment for indigestion. Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently discovered that patients with a form of indigestion called functional dyspepsia appear to benefit from this earbud-like vagus nerve stimulator. The initial findings of this study (Sclocco et al., 2020) were published on April 20 in The FASEB Journal.
Technically, this earbud-like gizmo is categorized as a transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulator (taVNS). A recent news release states: “This study is one of the first to assess the potential benefits of auricular taVNS for gastrointestinal problems.”
According to the authors, about 15 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from functional dyspepsia.
This new earbud-like taVNS device modulates the stomach’s response to food ingestion in a way that aids digestion. Even after eating a small portion of food, people with functional dyspepsia commonly experience pressure and discomfort because the stomach doesn’t expand and contract appropriately. This form of indigestion can cause severe stomach pain after every meal.