How a tickling ear gadget can reduce indigestion

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Beijing, Sep 6 (IANS) A clip-on device on the ear could treat chronic indigestion by stimulating the nerve with a mild burst of electricity and cutting symptoms up to 30 per cent, according to a study.

According to Daily Mail, the clip-on gadget targets the ‘vagus nerve’, the body’s longest cranial nerve, which oversees crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. Earlier, the nerve has also been used to address high blood pressure and depression.

The process includes implanting a matchbox-sized generator in the chest while wiring it to the nerve where it passes from the chest into the neck. The patient can activate the generator by waving a hand-held device over it.

“The device was used to treat 36 patients with functional dyspepsia, a chronic form of indigestion, thought to affect 10 to 30 per cent of adults at some time in their life”, said a scientist from Nanjing Medical University in China.

The symptoms include stomach pain, bloating, excessive belching or nausea after meals and an early feeling of fullness when eating. While women seem to be more at risk, common triggers include painkillers such as ibuprofen, smoking and anxiety or depression.

Scientists attached an electrode to the fold of each ear, just above the ear canal and a mild current was passed through the nerve for two seconds at a time, three seconds apart with each session lasting for 30 minutes, the researchers revealed.

Afterwards, food digestion and anxiety improved by up to 30 per cent, easing symptoms of fullness, gas and nausea, they added.

Moreover, there were improvements in the process food travelled through the digestive system, and volunteers also reported an increase in appetite while their depression scores dropped to half.

–IANS

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