Vagus nerve stimulation and ME/CFS/IBS

A reader messaged me:

There reports of people improving using VNS recently; came across this.
How could this affect the good vs bad bacteria in one’s microbiome?

A reader via facebook

 We have recently reported in a 6 month follow-up pilot study that VNS improves active Crohn’s disease. Preliminary data of another pilot study confirm this interest. Similarly, VNS has recently been reported to improve rheumatoid arthritis, another TNFα mediated disease

Is-there a place for vagus nerve stimulation in inflammatory bowel diseases? [2018]

As a starting point, let us look at how the mind impacts the microbiome due to stress. We see a relatively long list of bacteria associated with stress reported on the national library of medicine. The state of the mind impacts the microbiome; also the microbiome impacts the state of mind (depression, sleeplessness etc). Some readings:

The study above is also cited in

Back to a mechanical/chemical approach to the analysis. What do we know change with vagus nerve stimulation. Remember, a change of circulating chemicals will influence bacteria growth.

The central nervous system recognizes peripheral inflammation via afferent vagus nerve signaling. The brain can attenuate peripheral innate immune responses, including pro-inflammatory cytokine production, leukocyte recruitment, and nuclear factor kappa β activation via α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit-dependent, T-lymphocyte-dependent, vagus nerve signaling to spleen.

The vagus nerve and the inflammatory reflex: wandering on a new treatment paradigm for systemic inflammation and sepsis [2012]

Bottom Line

Vagus nerve stimulation alters the chemicals in the body. Studies in mice with electronic stimulation indicate that it can make inflammation worse or better — depending on the parameters. There are a wide variety of methods to stimulate the vagus nerve — a few common ones[src] are:

  • Cold Exposure. …
  • Deep and Slow Breathing. …
  • Singing, Humming, Chanting and Gargling. …
  • Probiotics. …
  • Meditation. …
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
  • Exercise. …
  • Massage.

The use of electronic means should be done with caution because the setting used can have an adverse effect (according to mice studies). This may also apply to exercise with ME/CFS.

While I could not find studies explicate for CFS/ME, I did find some for items often co-mobid with ME/CFS

I have concern over arbitrary vagus stimulation with ME/CFS, especially electronic means. I know too many people that have adverse reaction to exercise, humming, singing etc. In some of these cases, it is possible that the adverse reaction may be connected to a vagus nerve infection.