Harnessing the Vagus Nerve to Reduce COVID Long-Haul Symptoms
While the majority of infected COVID-19 individuals do recover, a significant proportion (30-60%) continue to experience symptoms and complications a long time after their acute illness. These patients are called COVID ‘long-haulers’. Long-haul symptoms can include shortness of breath, cough, fever, fatigue, depression, anxiety, joint and muscle pain, headache, and brain fog.
Long-haulers report prolonged, systemic neurological, cognitive co-morbidity symptomology and significant disabilities long after infection. After seven months, many long-haulers have not yet recovered and continue to experience a wide range of physical and mental/psychological symptoms that can diminish the quality of life (Davis et al., The Lancet 2021).
COVID-19 long-haulers often have serious long term complications affecting the function of their lungs, kidneys, heart, or brain. Others report a sensitivity to light and sounds, excessive bruising, or numbed limbs. Experiencing such disturbing symptoms can take a further toll on mental health and well-being.
Top COVID Long-Haul Symptoms
- Fatigue, 85%
- Depression or anxiety, 47%
- Shortness of breath, 46%
- Chest pain, 37%
- Insomnia, 33%
- Higher blood pressure, 30%
- Gastrointestinal complaints, 29%
“There’s a whole host of neurological manifestations of COVID infections,” says U.H. neurologist Cathy Sila, MD, Director of the Stroke Center at the Neurological Institute at University Hospitals.
The reason why some previously healthy, often young, adults still haven’t recovered from the disease has stymied many physicians, up until now.
Long-Haul Cause is Now Known – Damaged Vagus Nerve
New research suggests the COVID virus attacks the vagus nerve causing Long-Haul Syndrome, says Dr. Gemma Lladós, lead researcher from the University Hospital in Badalona, Spain. The study reports how the COVID-19 virus causes vagus nerve dysfunction (VND), specifically: “Most long COVID subjects had a range of significant, clinically relevant, structural and functional alterations in their vagus nerve, suggesting vagus nerve dysfunction as a central cause of COVID long-haul.”
This new research, presented at the annual European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases conference, strongly suggests the virus acts on the longest cranial nerve in the human body.
This new hypothesis helps to explain the long list of post-COVID symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, dysphonia (persistent voice problems), dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), dizziness, and tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate), orthostatic hypotension.
What is the Vagus Nerve?
The Vagus Nerve is the 10th cranial nerve and the longest cranial nerve in the human body. It is also the most complex of all nerves that emanate from the brain, responsible for transmitting information from the brain to tissues and organs throughout the body. The vagus nerve represents 80% of our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), directly controlling digestion, detoxification, and immunity.
Stimulating the vagus nerve can ‘wake up’ the PNS, benefitting us in various ways, for example stomach acid and digestive enzyme production increase, ensuring the proper and sustained absorption of vital nutrients. Blood pressure is lowered, and the immune system is activated, thereby reducing body-wide inflammation(Pavlov 2012). Stimulating the vagus nerve also causes hormones and enzymes like oxytocin and acetylcholine to be stimulated, aiding the body’s general health and improving psychological wellbeing.
The key to optimal health is to have a high vagal tone. This is because low tone (as in the obese or elderly) is associated with increased inflammation, respiratory dysfunction, and pro-inflammatory cytokines (Gidron 2018, Lietke 2018). Stimulation and treatment of this vital nerve can provide significant relief for many suffering long haulers.
Health Canada Authorizes Vagus Nerve Therapy for Treating COVID Long-Haul
Health Canada now recognizes that vagal nerve therapy may be helpful to long-haulers and has authorized Dolphin Vagal Stimulation to treat COVID Long-haul symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches, brain fog, etc.
Dolphin Vagal Stim Only Health Canada Authorized Therapy
The Dolphin Vagal Nerve Stimulator produces minute microcurrent impulses that gently relax muscles, calm the nervous system, and release endorphins. This recent authorization from Health Canada makes Dolphin VNS the only government-authorized COVID-19 long-haul therapy available to the public.
“Dolphin VNS therapy is a promising new therapy to combat the lingering adverse effects of long-haul chronic symptoms,” says company spokesperson Yulia Kramarenko.
“Dolphin Vagal stim is proven effective for many long-haul symptoms. The conveniently applied Dolphin VNS enables a potentially life-changing intervention in any home or clinical setting with minimal training or supervision.”
“I am amazed! This treatment has given me back some of the ‘normal’ that I had lost due to COVID. This technology is brilliant. Thank you.” – J.A.