Sound Healing & The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve, also known as the tenth cranial nerve, is one of the longest nerves in the human body. It originates in the brainstem and extends through the face, thorax, and abdomen, innervating various organs and structures along its path. The nerve plays an important role in the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to regulate functions such as heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate.
Recent research has shown that stimulation of the vagus nerve can have a positive effect on a variety of physiological and psychological conditions. One method of stimulating the nerve is through the use of sound, specifically through a therapeutic technique known as vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
VNS involves the use of a device that sends mild electrical impulses to the nerve, which can be done through a surgically implanted device or a handheld device placed on the skin. However, VNS can also be done non-invasively through the use of sound, specifically through the use of specific frequencies and intensity of sound.
One study found that a 10-minute session of VNS using sound at a frequency of 100 Hz resulted in a significant decrease in heart rate and blood pressure in healthy individuals. Another study found that VNS using sound was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with major depressive disorder.
VNS using sound has also been found to be beneficial in treating conditions such as epilepsy, chronic pain, and even migraines. In one study, patients with chronic pain reported a significant reduction in pain after undergoing VNS using sound.
- Bikson, M., Inoue, M., Akiyama, H., Deans, J. K., Fox, J. E., Miyakawa, H., … & Datta, A. (2016). Safety and feasibility of high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation for investigating the human brain. Journal of neural engineering, 13(5), 056012.
- Kozel, F. A., George, M. S., & Pappagallo, M. (2002). Vagal nerve stimulation for the treatment of chronic pain. The Journal of pain, 3(3), 169-175.
- Posit Science. (n.d.). Vagus Nerve Stimulation: How Sound Can Improve Your Health. [online] Available at: https://www.positscience.com/brain-resources/vagus-nerve-stimulation-how-sound-can-improve-your-health/ [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023]