Preparing TENS Leads to Use in Vagus Nerve Stimulation of Ear 2015-06-16

A photo how-to

  1. Cort

    Cort Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising Staff Member

  2. Judith

    Judith Member

    Hi, Cort - I got excited about this use of a TENS unit after reading the articles about vagus nerve stimulation. However, when I saw the photos, I realized I cannot use my little TENS unit's electrode pads for that. Plus, I don't have that auricular attachment. Too bad.
    Anyway, this whole area of the potential vagus nerve's relationship to some of the CFS/ME symptoms is really on to something, I believe. I know that some of MY worst symptoms seem to be related to vagus nerve activity. In the early years after my diagnosis in Houston, my physician, Dr. Patricia Salvato, who is well-known in that region as an expert in CFS/ME, would refer to some of my symptom complaints with "sounds like a vaso-vagal response to me." It finally seems like that proverbial ball is starting to roll a bit faster for potential HELPFUL treatments for this illness. Hopefully, the ball will have a downward slope here on out!
    TheBabyJ likes this.
  3. bean

    bean New Member

  4. Gill White

    Gill White New Member

    where abouts on/in ear do you place it?
  5. valentine319

    valentine319 New Member

    Hi, I read through boards and it's the tragus on the outside. The picture is here., the live part is put on the outside (round ball facing out). That is assuming you attach both there if you don't splice the second onto the bottom of the clip. I'm not seeing how often this is used per day.
  6. Abrin

    Abrin Well-Known Member

    I am confused.....are they are trying to turn there TENS machine into a CES (Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation) machine?
  7. Yash

    Yash New Member

    The principle is the same, running a low intensity electrical current through the two leads/connectors/adhesive pads which will stimulate certain nerves between them.

    My physiotherapist used these for stimulating painful trigger points and muscles. The Leeds University researchers seem to be connecting the two leads between the front & the back of the small flap at the front of the ear (one at the front, one at the back), running a current through the nerves in the small amount of flesh of the front flap.

    Hope that helps.

    Abrin likes this.
  8. ScottTriGuy

    ScottTriGuy Active Member

    It sounds like the same theory behind the PoNS - Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator.

    Its a device placed on the tongue to stimulate the vagus nerve. It is currently being studied with the US Army researchers for traumatic brain injury and with other researchers for correcting gait problems in MS folks:

    If I recall correctly, they plan to release the PoNS for public sale in Canada in 2016, and in the US in 2017.

    The company that is doing the research:

    Full disclosure: I own stock in the company.
  9. Annie Pettersson

    Annie Pettersson New Member

    Dear all,
    I'm trying to assemble my own t-VNS using the awesome guide provided here! Unfortunately, the TENS machine used in the assembly guide is not available anymore at Body Clock. So I ordered some auricular clips and used my own TENS of another brand, with the same settings as mentioned in the guide.

    However, the fibres in my clips were not made of carbon (but of metal) and it was not a nice sensation to use them without the pads! I need to order some pads with carbon fibres and not metal.

    I contacted Body Clock who said that most of their pads do have METAL fibres, but that they do sell one type of pad with carbon fibres:

    But I'm not sure these are the same pads that are used in the assembly guide. Do you think they would work?
    Abrin likes this.
  10. Annie Pettersson

    Annie Pettersson New Member

    (Sorry, the settings I used were not from the guide. I used the same settings as in a scientific study where they used a t-VNS to study effects on heart parameters and sympathetic nervous system.)
    Abrin likes this.
  11. tatt

    tatt Well-Known Member

    for anyone in the UK you can get the clips here
    and in the US there are lots e.g.

    but be careful what you google for as when I was looking for these I came up with sites for those into sadomasochism, well you can always try that if it doesn't help the ME ::kiss:
    fiddlying little things to apply and I'm not sure if it does anything/ how long to do it for so haven't really tried for long enough
    San Diego, Lynda Brown and Merry like this.
  12. tandrsc

    tandrsc Well-Known Member

    I think t-VNS is going to be key for me. I use a TENS machine on my ears and it definitely helps, but I'm still trying to work out the best duration and settings.

    I watched the NEMOS video for some guidance, but 4 hours a day is way too long for me as it gives me headaches. It also looks like the device phases in and out (my TENS has a mode for that), but I think that may be contributing to the headaches. Here's the video (2nd one on the page).

    I also found this study today:

    It talks about VNS for arterial fibrillation, but a side effect of the study found reduced inflammation.
    It was also helpful to see that in their images they attached the electrodes in the same way I do, here's their picture:

    Here's my picture:

    I think any TENS machine will do provided you can set the pulse rate (Hz) and the pulse width (microseconds); and be able to set a continuous mode.

    The studies vary slightly in their settings, but the most common settings seem to be 20-30Hz and 200-250 microseconds, I've seen the following combinations:

    25Hz, 250 microseconds (
    30Hz, 200 microseconds (
    20Hz, 100 microseconds (

    I put the electrodes on both my ears, but studies seem to use the right ear for heart studies and the left ear for epilepsy studies.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016
    kate brunton likes this.
  13. tandrsc

    tandrsc Well-Known Member

    VNS via a TENS machine is proving very helpful, so I wanted to share what I've learnt.

    1. Start with lower settings. I'm using pulse rate = 20Hz, pulse width = 100 microseconds, continuous mode.

    2. Turn the intensity up until you can just feel it. "Just feel it" could mean a pleasant tingling sensation in the ears, or a pleasant "wave" come over you.

    3. If you experience a prickling in the ears or it feels uncomfortable in any way, then turn the intensity down until it's comfortable again. You many need to turn it down more than once when you have it on. If it makes you feel unwell or gives you a headache, turn it off.

    4. Start with little and often. I've been using it 4 times a day, 15 minutes per session. Today I've moved up to 20 minutes per session.
    kate brunton, Sylleke, Cort and 4 others like this.
  14. Sue Stevenson

    Sue Stevenson Active Member

    Thanks for the update @tandrsc. I have a Bio Tuner, which is usually attached to the earlobs but I've just given it a go attached to the tragus. I haven't died yet, though the hz rate seems to be different - its base frequency is 1000 hertz pulse modulated by 111.11 hertz.

    Whatever the hell that means.

    Anyone else used a Bio Tuner or Alpha Stim or the like in this fashion?

    I attached one clip to the tragus and the other to the earlobe. I guess I'll see what happens
    kate brunton and Sylleke like this.
  15. Cort

    Cort Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising Staff Member

    Right - whatever the hell that means! I'm with you.....

    Good luck!
  16. Sue Stevenson

    Sue Stevenson Active Member

    Update: okay, so I've been doing this now twice a day since April 8 or so with a Bio Tuner. So about six weeks. The Bio Tuner isn't a TENS but I think they have the same effect

    I've really noticed an improvement in my PEM levels. A couple of weeks ago I was super depressed and anxious and furious at being so limited. I stomped around the local park avoiding eye contact with anyone except dogs for 40 mins. Didn't even care if I had payback I was so fed up.

    No payback. Walked 30 mins x 2 on Friday night when I went to the football (exhausting, noisy plus we lost). No payback.

    Today I got the decobwebber out and did five rooms with breaks inbetween. Literally a year's worth of cobwebs. Tested before and after using one of those heartrate variability apps where you put your fingertip over the camera. Both times it said I was low stress. I don't know if it's ever said that before. Certainly not after doing something with arms stretched overhead.

    I think there might be something to this. I don't trust that I won't go downhill again though, not after 17 years. But who knows? Maybe I've found a major component, at least for me. Maybe it doesn't fix anything but it manages symptoms to keep some sort of stability.

    I'm not sure how VNS would heal an infected vagus as such though? Maybe VNS just helps it to not have a nervous breakdown every 5 mins.
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
  17. Abrin

    Abrin Well-Known Member

    I am bumping this thread again as I'd love to help with advice on how to make one of these for myself cheaply.
    Does anyone have any tips and tricks on how to do it?
  18. Cort

    Cort Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising Staff Member

    I would love to dig into this deeper. If anyone has suggestions about who to contact I'd love to get a blog out on how to use TENS to do this. Dr. Natelson will be beginning an non-invasive VNS study with GWS soon.
  19. Sue Stevenson

    Sue Stevenson Active Member

  20. tandrsc

    tandrsc Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016