Author Topic: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!  (Read 17697 times)

Nightingale

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Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« on: April 08, 2015, 06:12:25 PM »
Here's a great article on how to "Train your brain for gut health".  Interestingly, there are a few, easy suggestions included that stimulate the vagus nerve!: http://www.elderandsage.com/1/post/2014/11/train-your-brain-for-gut-health.html

Here's that piece of the article:

Quote
So here are some simple exercises Dr. Kharrazian recommends to re-train your brain for better bowel health.

Gargling - Gargling with water stimulates the vagus nerve which helps bring blood flow to the gut. Dr. Kharrazian suggests gargling forcefully with water several times a day. If you?re doing it right, he says, you may even start to have tears come to your eyes. This is because it also stimulates an area of the brain right next to the vagus nerve called the the superior salivatory nucleus, which causes you to tear. You may need to start with a small amount of water and gargle for a short period of time but slowly building up the duration and intensity will exercise those neurons and strengthen them.

Induce Your Gag Reflex - Using disposable tongue depressors, press on the the back of your tongue just enough to induce your gag reflex. Be careful not to go too far into the back of the throat to cause injury. Stimulating the gag reflex may also cause you to tear up which is once again a sign that you have stimulated your vagus nerve.

Coffee Enema - Most people who have heard of coffee enemas will know that they are used for detoxification. But Dr. Kharrazian suggests using a strong coffee enema daily so the caffeine in the coffee will stimulate something called the gastrointestinal nicotinic cholinergic receptors which encourage gut motility. If you are using a strong enough concentration of caffeine you should get the urge to have a bowel movement. Then he says you need to suppress your urge to eliminate for as long as possible.

?As they suppress their urge they?re firing their frontopontine vagal enteric axis. If they keep doing that, they build endurance and they start to regain their brain-gut axis.?

Sing - Another way to stimulate the vagal muscles at the back of the throat is to sing really loudly, which is probably the easiest and most fun of all the other suggestions!

I've tried gargling and inducing the gag reflex, it helped me get out of a fog I was in after eating my dinner (a common problem for me)! Does it help you feel any better?
Turmeric and Rosemary 30-45 minutes before orgasm for anti-inflammatory and immune support has helped me a lot. Faster and easier than niacin approach.

Prancer

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 07:18:23 PM »
I'd be careful about taking advice/information from a website focused on selling their 'naturopathic' consultations starting at $100 an hour. Just saying.
Symptoms (mostly cognitive): brain fog/difficulty thinking, lack of motivation, fatigue, trouble finding the right words, racing thoughts, possible OCD, anxiety, social withdrawal, extreme frustration and irritability, general discomfort.

Born in 1989, and symptoms since I was 14.

Nightingale

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 08:21:12 PM »
I'd be careful about taking advice/information from a website focused on selling their 'naturopathic' consultations starting at $100 an hour. Just saying.
Yikes! Thanks for pointing this out! That's a shame. I was having such a hard time finding an article that contained a variety of things to try, but most just mentioned one or two. I know there are studies that have been done on at least 2 of these techniques, I need to find those, and I'm quite confident the science is sound behind the rest. But no reason to take this as fact just because I said so. I'll work on making this a better post, but for now I've gargled and done cold water immersion for the face (not in the article) and find it quickly yet temporarily effective.
Turmeric and Rosemary 30-45 minutes before orgasm for anti-inflammatory and immune support has helped me a lot. Faster and easier than niacin approach.

Quantum

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 07:37:11 AM »
Hi Nightingale,

Is your search for this technique related to the Rutgers team study?  Is it part of their hypothesis that POIS is related to a low vagal tone?  I hope not.

I ask, because I personally have a very high vagal tone.  I do not have cluster 3 symptoms - I have no brain fog, no memory problems, no gastro-intestinal problems, etc).    I have easily 2 bowel movement a day, and more if I am too mentally active and boost my vagal tone.

So, increasing vagal tone is not good for all POIS sufferers, and for all POIS symptoms.  I guess it is best for clusters 3 symptoms.  It is no good for me, and for my emotional symptoms, anyway, and not good for me in itself, it makes me feel too 'vagal' - nausea, dizziness, etc... I must avoid anything that stimulates the vagus nerve, because that makes me easily dizzy and nauseous.



I can add some techniques to your list, if stimulating the vagus nerve helps you, because I must avoid those....hehe.  For example, spinning on yourself is excellent to stimulate the vagus nerve, through inner ear stimulation.  Do only 5 to 6 spins, and be sure to decrease spinning speed slowly on the last 2 to 3 spins, in order to avoid dizziness.  You can also gently massage the temples, doing a slow rotation with your fingertips, up and in front of the tragus of the ear, just above the bony protuberance found there. If I massage there, I feel nausea and "vagal" within 30 seconds!


« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 07:38:53 AM by Quantum »
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Prancer

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 01:45:05 PM »
I'd be careful about taking advice/information from a website focused on selling their 'naturopathic' consultations starting at $100 an hour. Just saying.
Yikes! Thanks for pointing this out! That's a shame. I was having such a hard time finding an article that contained a variety of things to try, but most just mentioned one or two. I know there are studies that have been done on at least 2 of these techniques, I need to find those, and I'm quite confident the science is sound behind the rest. But no reason to take this as fact just because I said so. I'll work on making this a better post, but for now I've gargled and done cold water immersion for the face (not in the article) and find it quickly yet temporarily effective.

No problem. And for the record, I don't want to seem like a high-strung prick about these things, but as we all know, we have a problem with spam. Obvious spam sites/referrals are unhealthy for a fresh, resourceful community like this and will set us back. Sometimes it's unintentionally posted though, since there's so much junk out there. But like you said, the techniques aren't necessarily the issue. The spam site was.
Symptoms (mostly cognitive): brain fog/difficulty thinking, lack of motivation, fatigue, trouble finding the right words, racing thoughts, possible OCD, anxiety, social withdrawal, extreme frustration and irritability, general discomfort.

Born in 1989, and symptoms since I was 14.

Nightingale

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2015, 02:14:47 PM »
I don't want to seem like a high-strung prick

Lol! If anything, I'm far more afraid of people using clickbait and informative articles to segue you into giving them money! Those are the pricks, my friend!

No offense taken. I'm motivated to create an evidence-based resource here, too so I'll be motivated to find sources to back up these strategies.

Quote from: Quantum
Is your search for this technique related to the Rutgers team study?  Is it part of their hypothesis that POIS is related to a low vagal tone?  I hope not.

Nope! This is coming from my naturopath who is currently working with me to address my individual symptoms. I've experienced both sides of the spectrum, high and low vagal tone, but I especially seem to suffer after meals from a low tone. I feel like a zombie sometimes afterwards.

It's interesting to know that you experience high vagal tone primarily. I have been curious about why you don't suffer from cognitive symptoms, they are the most debilitating part about POIS for me and it amazes me just how different our experiences with POIS can be. And I can assure you, my experiences with talking to the team has showed me that they are very experienced and successful researchers and display an inherent sensitivity towards any biases. I don't want that kind of influence anyways, because the scientific method should be based on careful observation and verification, not a single opinion! I wish you had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Wise, all of you! It's a little awkward being the only person on this forum (that I know of) who is in communication with Dr. Wise. I know everyone wants to talk to the team and feel validated! Dr. K knows we are working on a survey that could help him get data that he could use to further inform his actions, I will be meeting with Dr. Wise sometime next week and one of my points of conversation will be to work towards finalizing this survey! They are in charge of what goes into the survey, so I need to collaborate with them more.

Valid concern, Quantum, and I hope I helped address it!

Turmeric and Rosemary 30-45 minutes before orgasm for anti-inflammatory and immune support has helped me a lot. Faster and easier than niacin approach.

Quantum

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2015, 10:58:30 AM »

Quote from: Quantum
Is your search for this technique related to the Rutgers team study?  Is it part of their hypothesis that POIS is related to a low vagal tone?  I hope not.

Nope! This is coming from my naturopath who is currently working with me to address my individual symptoms. I've experienced both sides of the spectrum, high and low vagal tone, but I especially seem to suffer after meals from a low tone. I feel like a zombie sometimes afterwards.

It's interesting to know that you experience high vagal tone primarily. I have been curious about why you don't suffer from cognitive symptoms, they are the most debilitating part about POIS for me and it amazes me just how different our experiences with POIS can be. And I can assure you, my experiences with talking to the team has showed me that they are very experienced and successful researchers and display an inherent sensitivity towards any biases. I don't want that kind of influence anyways, because the scientific method should be based on careful observation and verification, not a single opinion! I wish you had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Wise, all of you! It's a little awkward being the only person on this forum (that I know of) who is in communication with Dr. Wise. I know everyone wants to talk to the team and feel validated! Dr. K knows we are working on a survey that could help him get data that he could use to further inform his actions, I will be meeting with Dr. Wise sometime next week and one of my points of conversation will be to work towards finalizing this survey! They are in charge of what goes into the survey, so I need to collaborate with them more.

Valid concern, Quantum, and I hope I helped address it!

Hi Nightingale,

Thanks for your answer.  I am happy to see that the scope of the ongoing study goes beyond the hypothesis of a low vagal tone as the main cause of POIS.

Since I have found this site in last November, I saw that others had the same kind of problem that I have after ejaculation, but with different specific symptoms.  I, too, have been curious about why I do not have any cognitive symptoms, but have the intense fatigue and hypotension, and have intense emotional symptoms  ( as main problems), and the same kind of POIS cycle.  I suppose it is related to levels of activity of specific enzymes and enzymatic pathways, that are different from one individual to another, due to genetic factors ( different mutations and polymorphism) and also to environmental factors, including food, lifestyle, sleep habits, level of air pollution in the immediate surrounding, etc.   If, for example, brain fog is somehow related to a lack of niacin in the brain, than that would mean that I may have a very effective enzymatic pathway for niacin production in the brain, or another pathway that compensates for its lack, so I do not manifest any cognitive impairment during POIS acute phase.  On the other hand, I seem not to have very good enzymatic pathways for production of serotonin in my brain.  I have always been toward the anxiety side, even as a child, and it looks like something happening after ejaculation just impair serotonin production further still in my particular physiologic configuration.

It will be very interesting to follow the work of Dr Wise and the Rutgers team, hoping they will be able to figure out at least the meaning of some pieces of the POIS puzzle!
« Last Edit: April 11, 2015, 05:59:14 PM by Quantum »
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Outsider

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2015, 07:34:00 AM »
I don't want to seem like a high-strung prick

Lol! If anything, I'm far more afraid of people using clickbait and informative articles to segue you into giving them money! Those are the pricks, my friend!

No offense taken. I'm motivated to create an evidence-based resource here, too so I'll be motivated to find sources to back up these strategies.

Quote from: Quantum
Is your search for this technique related to the Rutgers team study?  Is it part of their hypothesis that POIS is related to a low vagal tone?  I hope not.

Nope! This is coming from my naturopath who is currently working with me to address my individual symptoms. I've experienced both sides of the spectrum, high and low vagal tone, but I especially seem to suffer after meals from a low tone. I feel like a zombie sometimes afterwards.

It's interesting to know that you experience high vagal tone primarily. I have been curious about why you don't suffer from cognitive symptoms, they are the most debilitating part about POIS for me and it amazes me just how different our experiences with POIS can be. And I can assure you, my experiences with talking to the team has showed me that they are very experienced and successful researchers and display an inherent sensitivity towards any biases. I don't want that kind of influence anyways, because the scientific method should be based on careful observation and verification, not a single opinion! I wish you had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Wise, all of you! It's a little awkward being the only person on this forum (that I know of) who is in communication with Dr. Wise. I know everyone wants to talk to the team and feel validated! Dr. K knows we are working on a survey that could help him get data that he could use to further inform his actions, I will be meeting with Dr. Wise sometime next week and one of my points of conversation will be to work towards finalizing this survey! They are in charge of what goes into the survey, so I need to collaborate with them more.

Valid concern, Quantum, and I hope I helped address it!

Hi, you spoke with dr wise
do you have any informations about what's wrong with the x nerve ?
Did dr wise tell you pois problem pois is from low x nerve activity ?
If you want to boost your x nerve,
 you have some stuff like huperzine
36 years old, very strong physical symptoms past my 33 years,
symp psycho, neuro and physical

poisioq

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2015, 08:44:52 AM »
How do you understand whether you have a low or high vagal tone?

Outsider

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2015, 08:55:51 AM »
How do you understand whether you have a low or high vagal tone?

tired=high vagal stone
speed, energy, strss= low vagal stone

am i good ?
36 years old, very strong physical symptoms past my 33 years,
symp psycho, neuro and physical

Daveman

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2015, 12:01:20 PM »
I noticed if I stimulate the earlobe in the part suggested by the stimulator, I get that dizzy and nauseous feeling, although it seems to reduce some symptoms of POIS, but not for long.

I have heart irregularity, especial in POIS, which is an indicator for vagus, and stimulation of the nerve behind the jugular helps a lot to aleviate and stabilize that. I prefer that stimulation over the ear lobe. I also stimulate the clavical and breastbone, which seems to calm things for a little longer with out the dizziness.

With the calming of the heart comes an overall calmness, which seems to reduce brain-fog.

None of it lasts very long though, however the stimulation is usually quite short too.

I don't get much in the way of cognitive symptoms though. Before niacin however I would get a day or two of high anxiety and fairly strong lethargy. I am normally not lethargic.

 
WITHOUT RESEARCH THERE WILL BE NO CURE!
Sessions 5 to 9 days, mostly Flu-like, joints, digestion problems, light cognitive.
Niacin has changed my lif though, now 1 day MAX.
Somewhere in this interaction with Niacin is the answer!

Quantum

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2015, 07:35:12 PM »
How do you understand whether you have a low or high vagal tone?

tired=high vagal stone
speed, energy, strss= low vagal stone

am i good ?

Not really, it is more complex than that. The vagus nerve and all of the parasympathetic system it belongs to has many effects, everywhere in the body.

Here is an overview:

signs/effect of a high vagal tone: 
slower and weaker heartbeat, stimulating effect on bowel movement , facilitate urination, cause bronchoconstriction, cause hypotension, high production of tears, of saliva, of gastro-intestinal mucus, of sweat, of nasal mucosa.

Signs of very high/too high vagal tone: 
nausea, dizziness, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, racing thoughts, frequent urination,  severe hypotension ( extreme manifestation leads to fainting, and is called a vasovagal syncope, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasovagal_response ), control freak behaviors, mental hyperactivity, tinnitus, tremor, stomach acidity


The signs for a low vagal tone are in the opposite direction:
Dry eyes, dry nose, low intestinal mucus production, constipation, urinary retention, low level of sweat production, bronchodilatation, lower mental activity,

Signs of very low vagal tone: bowel obstruction,  slow digestion, low stomach acidity, drowsiness, brain fog, memory problems, lack of organization, lack of interest, confusion, torpor  ( As you may have noticed, stimulation of the vagus nerve / raising of the vagal tone, in theory, should help those who have POIS cognitive symptoms - brain fog, memory problems, etc )

If you want more information, start with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasympathetic_nervous_system .


Take note that those signs and symptoms are not exclusive effects of the parasympathetic system, so some interpretation and medical supervision is needed.  For example, the sympathetic system always interact and counteract the parasympathetic, so you have to interpret the signs and symptoms correctly ( a car slowing down may be due to releasing of the gas pedal or due to pressure on the break pedal, or to both in different proportions, and may as well be due in part to compression when clutch is engaged....).  Having nausea and dizziness can comes from many possible causes, so it is not automatically a sign of high vagal tone.


In research, vagal tone is measured through respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), which is a naturally occurring variation in heart rate that occurs during a breathing cycle.  The Rutgers team will use devices that measure the RSA, in the on-going POIS study, obviously as a way of assessing one's vagal tone at a given moment.  RSA is a reliable way to measure the level of vagal tone and its variations in time.

As a side note, ten years ago, I bought one of the first software/device available on the market for measuring RSA.  It was called the Freeze-Framer, from the HeartMath Institute, and was the ancestor of the current  emWave products of HMI.  Those products can be used as biofeedback devices, in order to learn how to consciously work toward inner balance of your nervous system, and stay in "the zone".  If you are not fond of meditation, those are a more "technological" alternatives.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2015, 09:17:24 AM by Quantum »
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Outsider

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2015, 02:44:01 AM »
How do you understand whether you have a low or high vagal tone?

tired=high vagal stone
speed, energy, strss= low vagal stone

am i good ?

Not really, it is more complex than that. The vagus nerve and all of the parasympathetic system it belongs to has many effects, everywhere in the body.

Here is an overview:

signs/effect of a high vagal tone: 
slower and weaker heartbeat, stimulating effect on bowel movement , facilitate urination, cause bronchoconstriction, cause hypotension, high production of tears, of saliva, of gastro-intestinal mucus, of sweat, of nasal mucosa.

Signs of very high/too high vagal tone: 
nausea, dizziness, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, racing thoughts, frequent urination,  severe hypotension ( extreme manifestation leads to fainting, and is called a vasovagal syncope, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasovagal_response ), control freak behaviors, mental hyperactivity, tinnitus, tremor, stomach acidity


The signs for a low vagal tone are in the opposite direction:
Dry eyes, dry nose, low intestinal mucus production, constipation, urinary retention, low level of sweat production, bronchodillatation, lower mental activity,

Signs of very low vagal tone: bowel obstruction,  slow digestion, low stomach acidity, drowsiness, brain fog, memory problems, lack of organization, lack of interest, confusion, torpor  ( As you may have noticed, stimulation of the vagus nerve / raising of the vagal tone, in theory, should help those who have POIS cognitive symptoms - brain fog, memory problems, etc )

If you want more information, start with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasympathetic_nervous_system .


Take note that those signs and symptoms are not exclusive effects of the parasympathetic system, so some interpretation and medical supervision is needed.  For example, the sympathetic system always interact and counteract the parasympathetic, so you have to interpret the signs and symptoms correctly ( a car slowing down may be due to releasing of the gas pedal or due to pressure on the break pedal, or to both in different proportions, and may as well be due in part to compression when clutch is engaged....).  Having nausea and dizziness can comes from many possible causes, so it is not automatically a sign of high vagal tone.


In research, vagal tone is measured through respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), which is a naturally occurring variation in heart rate that occurs during a breathing cycle.  The Rutgers team will use devices that measure the RSA, in the on-going POIS study, obviously as a way of assessing one's vagal tone at a given moment.  RSA is a reliable way to measure the level of vagal tone and its variations in time.

As a side note, ten years ago, I bought one of the first software/device available on the market for measuring RSA.  It was called the Freeze-Framer, from the HeartMath Institute, and was the ancestor of the current  emWave products of HMI.  Those products can be used as biofeedback devices, in order to learn how to consciously work toward inner balance of your nervous system, and stay in "the zone".  If you are not found of meditation, those are a more "technological" alternative.

What was the result with the  Freeze-Framer?
36 years old, very strong physical symptoms past my 33 years,
symp psycho, neuro and physical

Quantum

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2015, 09:09:03 AM »


What was the result with the  Freeze-Framer?


Bonjour Outsider :)

When I bought the Freeze-Framer in the early 2000s, it didn't even know that other people had symptoms similar to mine after ejaculation, and that a name, POIS, has been given to this condition. I bought this kit as part of my search for ways to get calmer, to calm my mental over-activity, and in doing so, reducing my stress and anxiety level ( which have been a challenge for me, even outside of POIS - POIS just worsens those symptoms, a lot).  I always had a high vagal tone, often too high.  So, I do not know how POIS sufferers here can relate to my use of the Freeze-Framer, since many seems to experience the opposite in POIS acute phase, that is, a low vagal tone. 

In the ongoing study, it looks like low vagal tone will be measured, and, apparently, vagal stimulation devices will be used to raise it when too low, and see the results.  In my case, as I said, I have no cognitive symptoms from POIS (No brain fog, no memory problems, no speech impairment, ...), so I was glad to hear from Nightingale that more was going on in the study than vagus nerve stimulation - it wouldn't have been of great help for my particular presentation of POIS.
 

My results were good with the Freeze-Framer, as it helped me to feel more clearly, by biofeedback, what it was like to be in a centered and calm state.  It did help me to identify which relaxation techniques i have been using were the most effective, as I was already using many different techniques.  I could see the results in real time, on the computer screen, so I had a very sharp tool to evaluate all those methods I knew and used.  For instance, I have been able to confirm that the binaural beats I have been using for some years were very effective for me, bringing me quite rapidly in a centered, calm state . Also, I was already meditating from time to time, back then, even if not daily as I do now, and I confirmed too that it was very good in helping me with my stress and anxiety level.  But it didn't take long before I got confident in assessing myself my level of calm and "centeredness", so the Freeze-Framer got a bit useless after that.  This software is not what makes you calm, it only lets you know, with an objective measure in real time, how much you are calm or not.  You still have to learn how to calm yourself!

Even if not directly used for POIS, all I have learned about stress and anxiety management, including through the use of the Freeze-Framer, helped me with POIS.  As my baseline anxiety level got lower and lower through the years, my POIS acute phase got less severe and shorter, because emotional symptoms were among my worst symptoms.


For those who are curious about binaural beats and want to experience with these, you can find a simple track at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66tq9xji0xA . This track is in the Theta waves range, on a rather low carrier wave, which is the kind I tend to use.  Binaural beats has to be listened to with headphones in order to be effective, and since the theta range is for relaxing, avoid driving or any activity that requires alertness during and some time after having listened to it.  If you want to know more about what binaural beats are, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_beats.  You may see there that not everybody agree on the effectiveness of binaural beats in the scientific community - in particular when EEG instead of RSA is used to measure their effects. Most of the research on binaural beats have been done by alternative medecine.  That doesn't mean they are not useful or effective, but that not much research money have been put in studying them.  They are easy to create, even with a freeware like Gnaural, so no company will invest any money on binaural beats research - you have to do your own testing.   I have been using the Theta waves to calm down, so I do not know what effect they would have on someone who has a low vagal tone.   If I would have suffer from brain fog, I would have tried Beta waves binaural beats instead, since beta waves are the range for mental activity and alertness ( there is a good Beta track at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEHVz5XCmBs , but it is personally kind of "annoying" to me after some time, which is quite predictable ). Maybe a mix of Beta with Gamma should help with problem solving.  So, the right range and mix of binaural beats could then be another way to raise vagal tone as well. 

If someone experiment with binaural beats, be it for relaxing or for raising mental awareness, let me know about the results, or the absence of any results.
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Colm

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Re: Easy ways to stimulate your vagus nerve!
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2015, 09:37:58 AM »
Quantum,

I really do need to understand this more.

About 15 years ago, at one of the worst phases in my POIS (although did not know about POIS name or fellow travellers at that time). I obviously did not know either about vagal tones or anything of that nature (still a struggle to understand this in fact).  At that time, I committed to a financial investment in a thing called Holosync meditation (thinking it would help me).

I committed to using it (the binaural beats tracks with alpha/beta/theta waves etc, and it's "supposed" very deep meditation effects). I used spend an hour a day faithfully in hope of improved health, and for months used it, thinking it would ultimately work and support me to break through whatever blocks (I assumed emotional ones) that I had.  However, I just kept feeling worse and having worse headaches. I had to give the practice up and revert to just normal meditation. 

Based on what you are discussing here and vagal tones, I think I now can understand why this was the case. Wish I had known back then !