Natural ways to stimulate the vagal nerve improve seizure control?
Yuen and Sander (2019) have addressed the question if there are natural ways of stimulating the vagus, leading to an increase in HRV to reduce epileptic seizures.
The tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve – from the Latin vagari “wandering”, “straying” – is the largest nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system. Therefore, in its entirety, it is also known as the vagus. In the heart, the vagus opposes the sympathetic nerve, thus slowing the pulse, reducing excitability and slowing the transmission of excitement. (Extract from A. Lohninger (2017), Herzratenvariabilität – das HRV Praxis Lehrbuch)
The vagus has many functions, but especially important for us is the control of the heart rhythm. Heart rate variability can be used as a noninvasive method for its review.
Reduced HRV often is a sign of decreased parasympathetic tone and is associated with a variety of diseases.
Find out more about HRV here: Basics of the HRV
Can natural ways to stimulate the vagal nerve improve seizure control?
Yuen and Sander (2019) have been trying to find out which natural remedies help to reduce the frequency of attacks of epileptic patients. For example, in meta-analyzes of various studies, they discovered that people with epilepsy had significantly lower HF, SDNN, and RMSSD values. Therefore, it is suspected that epilepsy is associated with a reduced parasympathetic activity and reduced HRV. Conversely, it is presumed that a higher parasympathetic activity leads to reduced frequency of attacks and increased overall health.
They studied natural methods of vagal stimulation, which can be assigned to the three areas of “reduction of psychological stress”, “movement” and “nutrition”. These include i.a. breathing exercises, chanting, music therapy, listening to Mozart, laughing, aerobics, stretching, resistance training, omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, fasting, etc.
Although it has been shown that natural ways to stimulate the vagus increase HRV, they do not always reduce epileptic seizures at the same time. The exception is listening to Mozart’s music. Listening to Mozart causes an increase in the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces epileptic seizures.
There is good evidence that people with epilepsy have worse HRV and thus impaired parasympathetic activity. Listening to Mozart’s music is the only natural way to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in addition to increasing the parasympathetic nervous system.
Of course, more work is needed to show that other methods of increasing parasympathetic activity are also accompanied by a reduction in seizures.
It is likely that a combination of several individual natural methods must be used to achieve an HRV improvement that is measurable.
The standard medical paradigm is: A therapy, a drug for every state of health. Only if the individual therapy approach is not effective combinations will be used.
Meanwhile, there is growing awareness that comprehensive approaches to diseases management require multiple approaches, including lifestyle factor management.
We, Autonom Health, can only confirm that.
The original study can be found here: Can natural ways to stimulate the vagus nerve improve seizure control
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