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Best Vagus Nerve stimulation devices for 2024


The vagus nerve is the body's superhighway, which is responsible for regulating heart rate, breathing, and digestion. If you, like me, ever battled with insomnia or anxiety, you may benefit from vagus nerve stimulation. Vagus nerve stimulation devices are one method for stimulating the vagus nerve. These user-friendly gadgets stimulate the vagus nerve by sending mild electrical impulses, potentially reducing stress and anxiety while improving sleep and increasing the parasympathetic nervous system activity.

For this review, I thoroughly researched and analyzed multiple transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulators (tVNS) online using user reviews and recent scientific studies. Read on and explore the 5 best vagus nerve stimulation devices and their benefits I discovered.

Top 5 vagus nerve stimulation devices – my shortlist

How to choose the best vagus nerve stimulation device?

Many tVNS devices on the market are claiming to give you the best result, so making that choice can be tricky. During my research, I identified a few factors that can help you to recognize the good from the bad. These are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Consult with a healthcare provider. Before considering any tVNS device, consult with a healthcare provider, preferably a neurologist or a specialist familiar with VNS therapy. They can advise you if tVNS suits your specific condition and explain potential risks and benefits.
  • Identify the health concern. tVNS therapy is used for various health concerns such as stress, anxiety, depression, and migraines. Knowing the condition you're targeting can help narrow down your device options, as some might be more effective for individual needs.
  • Type of stimulation. tVNS devices offer non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation through earlobe or neck electrodes, unlike invasive devices requiring surgery for an implanted device. Note that the tVNS devices can stimulate the nerve indirectly in different ways – via the earlobe, neck, or other localized areas.
  • Safety and side effects. Understand the safety profile and potential side effects associated with each device. While non-invasive tVNS devices have a few risks, it’s still good to discuss them with your doctor.
  • Cost of the device. tVNS devices’ pricing vary and can be between several hundred bucks up to €699. Check out different devices and consider the overall cost, including device purchase and ongoing maintenance (additional subscription costs, gels, batteries, and so on).

Best vagus nerve stimulation devices in 2024 – detailed list

To pick out the 5 best vagus nerve stimulation devices for 2024, I researched and compared a great many of the products’ features, usability, prices, and overall user experience to help you find your perfect fit. Read on and see which one is your next purchase.

1. Pulsetto – the best vagus nerve stimulation gadget

pulsetto banner
Certification mark:FCC
Type:tVNS
Starting price:$269.00
Warranty and money-back guarantee:2-year warranty, 30-day money return

Pulsetto is a wearable vagus nerve stimulation device (tVNS) that’s also the most affordable option on my list. This wearable device uses two electrodes, one on each side of the neck, to deliver electrical pulses aimed at activating both left and right vagus nerve.

Pulsetto prides itself on its innovative non-invasive stimulation through the neck. The device offers multiple pre-programmed sessions for relaxation, sleep improvement, stress reduction, and even burnout prevention. Paired with the Pulsetto mobile app, you can personalize your experience by choosing the program that best suits you and adjusting the stimulation intensity.

The app also allows you to track your usage and monitor progress over time as well as use a sound library. Pulsetto offers a user-friendly design with comfortable electrodes and intuitive controls.

The device provided by Pulsetto is FCC-certified and costs only $269.00. It has a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money return, so you can try the device risk-free. For an additional $10, you can get access to daily educational emails.

2. Nurosym – medically-approved vagus nerve stimulation device

Nurosym
Certification mark:CE, FDA NSR Designation
Type:tVNS
Starting price:€699
Warranty and money-back guarantee:2-year warranty, 30-day money return

Nurosym stands out as the best medically approved and proprietary option in transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) devices. Designed with comfort and portability in mind, Nurosym uses gentle electrical stimulation on the tragus of the ear to activate the vagus nerve.

Nurosym has a sleek and discreet design – it comes with a comfortable electrode that clips onto tragus of the ear. The device offers various stimulation programs with adjustable intensity levels, so you can adjust the strength of the vibration. Easy-to-use controls and clear instructions make Nurosym a breeze to tackle, even for beginners.

While research on taVNS devices is ongoing, Nurosym highlights its commitment to science-backed innovation. The company emphasizes using a patented waveform in its stimulation technology, claiming it delivers targeted effects. Nurosym has gone through several randomized placebo-controlled trials. All the user reviews I’ve gone through give excellent feedback for the Nurosym device and claim it helped each individual.

Nurosym has a high price tag, its price is €699. The device comes with an earpiece, a charger, a starter guide, and a carrying case. Nurosym also guarantees a 30-day money return and a 2-year warranty, in case of any matter.

3. Hoolest – compact handheld vagus nerve stimulator

hoolest banner
Certification mark:No certifications
Type:tVNS
Starting price:$399.95
Warranty and money-back guarantee:1-year warranty, 60-day money return

Hoolest is a compact handheld vagus nerve stimulation device (tVNS) for more targeted stimulation. This portable device features a single electrode that you position on the side of the neck just below your ear.

Hoolest offers VeRelief Prime 3rd Generation vagus nerve stimulator. The compact design makes it convenient to take anywhere, allowing you to incorporate vagus nerve stimulation into your daily routine, whether you're at work, home, or on the go. 5 stimulation modes with adjustable intensity levels offer customization, while the intuitive controls make Hoolest user-friendly. There’s no app or phone required.

Hoolest recommends a minimum of 5 minutes of stimulation to calm an anxious mind, to fall asleep faster, to recover from stress, and to boost performance. VeRelief uses a patented form of auricular + vagus nerve stimulation to calm the nervous system fast. Considering that the vagus nerve sends signals to the brain regions that are involved in stress, it claims to work faster than skin vibration and is more powerful than sound frequency.

Hoolest has conducted 3 IRB-approved and placebo-controlled studies across hundreds of people, compliant with FDA regulations. You can get it for $399.95 with a 60-day money return and a 1-year warranty.

4. Truvaga – gentle handheld vagus nerve stimulator with adjustable settings

truvaga banner
Certification mark:None
Type:tVNS
Starting price:$299
Warranty and money-back guarantee:No warranty, 30-day money return

Truvaga 350 is another handheld vagus nerve stimulator that comes with adjustable settings. It’s similar to Hoolest VNS, which prioritizes comfort and control, allowing you to target specific areas on the neck that might activate the vagus nerve. Unlike clip-on designs, Truvaga comes with a soft probe electrode for direct application on the neck.

According to Truvaga, whether you're seeking stress relief at work, a moment of calm during travel, or targeted stimulation for occasional headaches, this stimulator can be your solution.

Truvaga plus is app-enabled and comes with multiple adjustable settings. You can personalize your experience by fine-tuning intensity levels. It’s preloaded with 350 sessions and lasts approximately 6 months if used twice per day.

It's currently only available for purchase in the US. Moreso, for safety reasons, Truvaga is not recommended for people with any metal implants near the neck.

This device costs $299 and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, I noticed that Truvaga doesn’t offer a warranty, which can be a drawback for some users.

5. Neuvana – auricular vagus nerve stimulator for portability and convenience

neuvana banner
Certification mark:CE
Type:aVNS (auricular vagus nerve stimulation)
Starting price:$449
Warranty and money-back guarantee:1-year warranty, 30-day money return

Neuvana Xen is one of the best auricular vagus nerve stimulators (aVNS) that shines in convenience and portability. This discreet device targets the vagus nerve through gentle electrical stimulation delivered via earbuds placed in your ears.

Looking similarly to Nurosym, Neuvana is controlled by an app, in which you can choose 3 different pre-programmed modes: Ambient, Sensation, and Sync. These modes differentiate in micropulse sent. As Neuvana claims, you should experience improved mood and stress relief while commuting, working, watching TV, or hanging with pals.

What I found interesting, is that you can set your music, podcasts, or TV shows while getting the stimulation.

Xen by Neuvana prices start at $449. Xen Bundle set has everything you need: the device itself, an extra pair of headphones, a protective sleeve, and a travel case. However, it comes at an additional cost ($50). If you’re not satisfied, there’s a 1-year warranty and a 30-day money return policy.

Comparison of top 5 vagus nerve stimulation devices in 2024

My selection of the best vagus nerve stimulation devices is quite different in usability and certain specs. Let’s overview how these devices compare with each other:

ProductPulsettoNurosymHoolestTruvagaNeuvana
Starting price$269 €699$399.95$299$449
Technology usedtVNStaVNStVNStVNSaVNS
Key featuresNeck-wearable, 5 stimulation modesEasy control, quick start guide5 functional modes, handheld, compact designMultiple adjustable settings, fine-tuning intensity levels 3 pre-programmed mode, comes with additional accessories
App integrationYesNoNoYesYes
CertificationsFCCCE, FDA NSR DesignationNo certificationsNo certificationsCE
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days60 days30 days30 days
Warranty2 years2 years1 yearNo1 year

What is the vagus nerve?

Picture a road that runs through your body, transmitting messages between your brain, gut, heart, and lungs. That is the vagus nerve. It is the longest nerve in our cranial nerve network, coming from the brainstem and branching out like a tree. Think of it as the body's primary communicator, continuously relaying information and keeping everything in order.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the vagus nerve is extremely important to human health. It helps regulate digestion, maintain a constant heart rhythm, and may even influence our mood. Most studies claim that when the vagus nerve is functioning properly, we feel more calm and relaxed. When we feel stressed out, experience anxiety or stomach problems, the vagus nerve helps us return to the state of calm. That's why stimulating the vagus nerve has become a hot topic for promoting relaxation and overall health.

What are the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation?

While research on vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is ongoing, particularly for non-invasive methods like tVNS devices, there are some scientifically recognized benefits to stimulating this nerve. Here are some key health benefits I discovered:

  • Stress and anxiety relief. Studies suggest that VNS can positively impact mood and anxiety. A 2018 article published in the Bioelectronics in Medicine found that VNS therapy showed promise in treating anxiety disorders, with some studies demonstrating a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
  • Reduced blood pressure. The vagus nerve plays a role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. A 2020 research in the Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine reported that VNS therapy could be a potential treatment for high blood pressure, with results showing a decrease in blood pressure in some patients.
  • Inflammation reduction. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues. The Journal of the American Heart Association suggests VNS might have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also possible that VNS could modulate the inflammatory response, this way offering benefits for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

These are just some potential benefits I discovered while researching the topic, and more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of VNS, especially for non-invasive methods like tVNS devices. Additionally, VNS therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Consult a healthcare professional to determine if VNS is right for you and to discuss potential risks and side effects.

How to stimulate the vagus nerve?

While tVNS devices offer assisted stimulation, activating the vagus nerve can be as simple as including natural methods into your daily routine. Here are some well-established methods I found that are also backed by science:

  • Deep breathing. The vagus nerve plays a key role in regulating your breath. A review published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, says that slow, deep breathing exercises can activate the vagus nerve and result in a relaxation response and decreased anxiety.
  • Cold exposure. A short dip into cold water can have surprising benefits. Another study demonstrated that cold water immersion activates the vagus nerve, which then improves mood and stress resilience. It can be face immersion into cold water or whole-body immersion and it’ll have a similar effect.
  • Mind-body practices. Activities like yoga and meditation can also positively influence vagus nerve activity. A 2018 review published in Depression and Anxiety found evidence that yoga can positively impact mood and anxiety. Meditation that focuses on breathwork and body awareness can also contribute to vagus nerve stimulation.

What is a vagus nerve stimulation device?

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) devices have become a fascinating area of medical technology. These devices deliver tiny electrical pulses to the vagus nerve, influencing everything from heart rate to mood. The main goal of invasive VNS devices is to help people with conditions like epilepsy and depression who haven't responded well to other treatments.

There are two main types of VNS devices: invasive and non-invasive. Invasive VNS involves a minor surgery where a small pulse generator gets implanted under the skin, usually near your chest. This little device connects to the vagus nerve with a thin wire and sends regular electrical pulses to stimulate the vagus nerve in order to help regulate brain activity. The goal is to reduce seizures or treat depression.

In contrast, non-invasive VNS devices are easy to use and can come in different types:

  • taVNS (transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation)
  • tcVNS (transcutaneous cervical vagus nerve stimulation)
  • VNT (vagus nerve toning)

They use electrodes placed on the ear or neck (or are handheld) to deliver electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve. These gadgets are smaller and easier to carry around, making them convenient for home use or on-the-go situations.

While invasive VNS is FDA-cleared for treating certain diseases, non-invasive VNS may help manage stress and anxiety, and improve sleep but it’s not an approved method for preventing, treating, or mitigating any diseases.

How do vagus nerve stimulation devices work?

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) devices work by sending mild electrical pulses to the vagus nerve, which is a major nerve running from the brain to the abdomen, touching many important organs along the way. These electrical pulses help regulate the nerve's activity, which in turn can affect various bodily functions like heart rate, mood, and even digestion.

For invasive VNS devices, a small pulse generator is surgically implanted under the skin, typically in the chest area. This generator is connected to the vagus nerve by a lead wire. It sends regular, programmed electrical pulses to the nerve to help control abnormal brain activity that may cause seizures in epilepsy or improve depression.

Non-invasive VNS devices use external electrodes placed on the skin, usually on the ear or neck. When activated, these electrodes send electrical impulses to the vagus nerve through the skin. Most transcutaneous VNS devices are not FDA-cleared, and there is very little information regarding their safety or effectiveness. As the research on tVNS is in its infancy, it's too early to claim that tVNS effects are similar to invasive VNS, especially when it comes to disease treatment.

In both cases, the goal is to stimulate the vagus nerve's activity to achieve therapeutic effects.

What you can manage with a vagus nerve stimulation device?

In all of my research studies and user reviews, VNS devices have shown promising results in addressing a variety of health concerns by modulating the activity of the vagus nerve. Here are some conditions I researched that could potentially be addressed with a vagus nerve stimulator:

Lowered stress and anxiety

Vagus nerve stimulation has been connected to lowered stress and anxiety levels. The vagus nerve plays a role in the body's rest and digest response, counteracting the fight or flight stress response. By activating the vagus nerve, VNS devices can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Studies I reviewed have shown that VNS can be effective in treating anxiety disorders.

Improved sleep quality

Sleep distractions are often associated with various medical conditions, including epilepsy and depression, which VNS devices are designed to treat. By regulating the activity of the vagus nerve, VNS can help improve sleep quality. Some studies have suggested that VNS may improve sleep quality in epilepsy patients, while others showed reductions in deep sleep stages.

Diminished depression symptoms

Vagus nerve stimulation has been FDA-approved for treating treatment-resistant depression. For patients who haven’t responded to treatments like medication or therapy, VNS is an alternative approach. As already mentioned, the stimulation of the vagus nerve affects mood-regulating areas in the brain, which can reduce symptoms of depression. Clinical trials have demonstrated that VNS can be an effective treatment for depression. Although non-invasive VNS devices have also been explored as a potential treatment for depression, there is currently not enough evidence to recommend tVNS devices for depression.

Alleviated common headaches and migraines

One of the research I’ve analyzed states that patients with chronic headaches or migraines have found relief with non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation. The vagus nerve is involved in pain regulation, and by modulating its activity, VNS can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines. While more research and clinical trials are needed to establish VNS as a standard treatment for migraines, studies have already shown positive results in reducing headache frequency and intensity.

How much do vagus nerve stimulation devices cost?

To help you make an informed decision, I created a comparison table with various vagus nerve stimulation devices’ prices available online. Find standard prices, bundle offers, alternate device types, and subscription or membership fees below:

DeviceStandard priceBundle priceAlternate type priceSubscription or membership fees
Pulsetto$269$69.90 (6-month) $52.35 (3-month) $23.39 (1-month)
Nurosym$699.99
Hoolest VeRelief Prime$399.95$199.95 (VeRelief Mini)
Truvaga$299
Neuvana Xen$449$499 (extra pair of headphones, protective sleeve, travel case)

What are the possible side effects of vagus nerve stimulation?

According to recent studies on the safety of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS), these devices are generally considered safe and can have mild side effects only. Nonetheless, like any medical procedure, it can have side effects. The most common side effects I found include:

  • Tingling or prickling sensation in the skin
  • Throat pain or discomfort
  • Voice changes
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Headache

Most of these side effects can come from the vagus nerve overstimulation. So, if any of these or other unusual reactions after undergoing vagus nerve stimulation occur, it's always recommended to consult your doctor about further use.

How else can you stimulate the vagus nerve?

While tVNS devices offer a modern approach, stimulating the vagus nerve can be as simple as incorporating certain activities into your daily routine. According to Allied Services Integrated Health, loud gargling or singing, for instance, activates the nerve through vocalization. Similarly, immersion with cold water triggers the vagus nerve's response.

Moreso, I discovered that deep breathing exercises, especially the ones that include slow exhales, can stimulate the vagus nerve. Holistic practices like yoga and meditation often incorporate techniques that stimulate vagus nerve activity, such as breathwork and body awareness.

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