Human body includes autonomous nervous system, and as this system goes, we could call the vagal nerve the main neural thread of the autonomic nervous system. It is a major contributor of parasympathetic functions within our bodies, which stretches from the neck to the upper part of the colon.
And as far as therapies are concerned, there is a method to stimulate the vagus nerve to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve sleep quality. With a focus on non-invasive devices, we will identify the best vagus nerve stimulation devices (VNS) and 1 vagus nerve toning device (VNT) to help you make an educated choice.
Best vagus nerve stimulation device: shortlist
Since the inception of non-invasive VNS, it has been followed by a tireless debate. To that effect, we have researched a certain amount of these vagus nerve stimulation devices. Within this commentary, we have tried to single out the best vagus nerve stimulator out there:
- Nurosym — most recognized in the medical community
- Apollo — best vagus nerve stimulation device interfacing with other technologies
- Pulsetto — best cost-effective vagus nerve stimulation device
- Sensate — best vagus nerve toning (VNT) device out there
- Truvaga — best for quick and gentle activation
- Neuvana — most comfortable to use when in motion
- Hapbee — most unique electromechanical working principle
- Hoolest — best for localized vagus nerve stimulation
How to choose the best vagus nerve stimulation device?
When choosing the best vagus nerve stimulation device, one should consider specific criteria. We distinguish 5 key points:
|Robust evidence, clinical trials
|Devices are wearable/handheld, have stimulation modes
|The devices are not too complex
|Return and warranty policy
|Money-back guarantees and warranties
- Scientific standards. This criterion describes the scientific rigor each provider backs their devices. A device supported by robust scientific studies provides a more credible background for engineers, marketers, and the brand.
- Functional adaptation. VNS devices vary in form, their functional properties, and the technology used for stimulation. Moreover, some of the said devices use a mobile application pairing. Hence, the functionality aspect is relevant too.
- Accessibility. Dealing with a technology of the highest order may be seen as too complex. Comfortability and fast access are relevant issues when choosing your particular mode of vagus nerve therapy.
- Pricing. High-tech costs serious money. A steep price may deter some clients from purchasing. Careful consideration for what type of device you need directly affects the decision for what you can spend.
- Return and warranty policy. A device must have a return policy if it does not deliver on a particular promise. The same applies to defective devices.
Best vagus nerve stimulation device in 2024: overview
In this section, we will review 7 specific non-invasive vagus nerve devices, also known as transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulators (tVNS), and 1 vagus nerve toning device. The main focus will be on the 5 aforementioned criteria.
Considering these criteria, each device wins a particular nomination over the others. The nominations separate each product quite clearly and are the main waypoints you should look for when choosing your device.
1. Nurosym — most recognized by the medical community
Nurosym, by Parasym, a clinically validated and certified medical transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) device, leverages innovative neuromodulation to optimize your health.
The device, using carefully crafted signals transmitted via an earpiece to the brain via the vagus nerve, modulates your nervous system, restoring neural network functions and potentially supporting your physical and mental state.
Declared as designed for those battling conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress, and fatigue, Nurosym also holds promise for other health benefits. Costing €699, the package includes the gadget itself, earpiece, charger, quick-start guide, and a handy carrying case, ensuring user-friendliness and portability.
Backed by science and recognized by the medical community, Nurosym also champions environmental causes, contributing 1% of all sales to grassroots environmental groups.
Nurosym is confident in its restorative potential, thus it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If the device doesn't meet your expectations, they'll provide a no-questions-asked refund. Parasym also offers a 2-year warranty on the Nurosym device itself, and 3-month on additional accessories.
2. Apollo — best vagus nerve stimulator interfacing with other technologies
Apollo tVNS device presents a well-rounded experience of interconnectivity. Via its application, Apollo Neuro, you can integrate other health-related software like Apple Health or Oura Ring.
To address science-backed tVNS health benefits, the Apollo Neuro application includes the following 7 distinct modes:
- Clear and Focused
- Energy and Wake Up
- Meditations and Mindfulness
- Rebuild and Recover
- Relax and Unwind
- Sleep and Renew
- Social and Open
Each mode can additionally be modified by changing its duration and desired intensity.
Apollo Wearable is backed by scrupulous research conducted by independent university investigators. The website claims 6 clinical trials have already been completed, and 14 are underway.
The price range is slightly steep — $349 plus $20 for additional bands and clips. You wear an Apollo tVNS device as a bracelet on your wrist or ankle. To that effect, Apollo is very comfortable, as you can use it while walking.
You can request a full refund within 30 days from the delivery date and benefit from a 1-year warranty.
3. Pulsetto — best cost-effective tVNS device
Pulsetto conveys the perfect balance between the price of the product and the quality at hand.
Pulsetto, a wearable tVNS, is placed around your neck where it remains stable throughout the session.
The application that the Pulsetto tVNS device pairs with is easy to use and has 5 stimulation programs, encompassing 9 stimulation levels. These programs address the following:
- Pain management
At any point during your relaxation session, you can adjust the stimulation intensity via the app as you see fit.
The device is flexible and, therefore, suitable for different neck sizes. Furthermore, since the device is neck-wearable, you can use it when relaxing, working, or stretching.
Their device is certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and costs only $269, which is actually the cheapest choice on this list. For $10 more, you get lifetime access to daily educational emails with additional Anxiety programs.
Pulsetto offers a 21-day money-back guarantee, and after those initial 21 days, only accepts returns on devices purchased directly from their website.
4. Sensate — best VNT device out there
Disclaimer: Sensate is a vagus nerve toning (VNT) device that uses soundwaves for therapeutic purposes, not a transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) device that utilizes electrical stimulation. This product is designed to safely and effectively provide passive biofeedback, turning the thoracic cavity into a resonating chamber. Sensate's focus is on consumer VNT, not medical VNS applications.
The Sensate device is a revolutionary vagal nerve toning tool that harnesses the power of soundwaves for therapeutic and relaxation purposes. Placeable on your chest, Sensate utilizes the phenomenon of bone conduction to resonate sound, sending out frequencies that signal your vagus nerve to relax, promoting a sense of wellbeing and reducing stress.
Sensate combines soundscapes, developed with a proprietary process that mixes engineered frequency harmonics, auditory stimuli, and frequency following responses to deliver therapeutic benefits.
When placed on your chest, Sensate emits a comforting hum, tapping into the instincts of safety and relaxation.
The device package includes the Sensate device, charging cord, and a user guide, with prices ranging from $299 to $1196 based on different plan options (a certain number of devices, and a 1 year subscription to the pairable Sensate Plus application to each). Currently, the yearly subscription to Sensate Plus app costs $49.99.
Sensate also provides a refund policy within 40 days of receipt of your items.
5. Truvaga — best for quick and gentle activation
Truvaga stands out in the vagus nerve stimulation market with its hand-held, user-friendly device, designed for quick and gentle stimulation of the vagus nerve.
According to the manufacturer, this innovative device offers a simple, all-in-one solution to:
- Reduce stress
- Enhance sleep quality
- Promote calmness
- Improve mental clarity
It includes up to 350 sessions, each lasting 2 minutes, with adjustable intensity levels, covering about six months of therapy. The device's portability and no need for external attachments like apps or charging cords add to its convenience.
Truvaga, distinct from TENS units due to its use of smooth sine waves, is currently available only in the US and is not recommended for individuals with certain implantable medical devices or metallic devices near the neck.
It is priced at $299 and aimed at improving day-to-day well-being.
6. Neuvana — most comfortable to use taVNS
Xen by Neuvana is a non-invasive auricular vagus nerve stimulation device (aVNS). It is an electroceutical with an earbud paired with your mobile phone via a Neuvana application. Hence the most comfortable and portable vagus nerve stimulator compared to the other devices on our list. You can walk around or even do some stretching exercises.
The application offers 3 modes, called sessions, differentiated by the sound you want to hear when using Neuvana Xen:
Ambient mode uses the microphone to synchronize electrical impulses to ambient sound around you. Sensation mode, primarily for beginners, presents a rhythmic pattern you choose from the app. Finally, Sync mode lets you listen to any type of music while using the taVNS device.
The Xen by Neuvana system is priced at $449 if buying the most straightforward package. A companion bundle with additional items — extra pair of headphones, protective sleeve, and travel case — costs an additional $50.
If not satisfied, you may request a refund within the first 30 days after the purchase.
7. Hapbee — uniquely working electromechanical tVNS
Hapbee Smart Wearable employs ultra-low radio frequency energy (ULF) technology, which distinguishes this device from the others. Instead of low radio frequency, or sonar vibrations, Smart Wearable creates ultra-low magnetic fields, which safely passes into the body.
The dedicated application includes 6 modes or so-called signals addressing particular states of mind:
- Deep Sleep
Hapbee tVNS device is worn around the neck. An excessive movement may decrease the efficacy of the device, as it might bounce around.
The device costs $399 and is also offered in packages with Hapbee Smart Sleep Pad and 1-year all-access membership. The fixed price for the whole package is $649.00. It should be noted that Hapbee is offering special discounts for U.S. military personnel, their spouses and dependants, first responders, government employees, and teachers.
Hapbee offers a free 30-day all-access membership, after which you can pay additionally for a yearly membership plan. There is also a 100-day money-back guarantee implemented.
8. Hoolest — best for localized tVNS
Hoolest VeRelief is a handheld electrode device that you can operate by targeting a set of localized nerves — not only the vagus nerve. Hoolest includes two tVNS devices — VeRelief Mini and VeRelief Prime. This list describes VeRelief Prime, a larger one in size and with higher power output.
It is multifunctional in this regard, ideal for targeting the auricular vagus nerve on the side of the neck, the median nerve in the wrist, or the trigeminal nerve in the forehead.
Hoolest recommends holding the device for 1–5 minutes to maximize the effect. You can choose one of the 5 functional modes differing in intensity levels, reducing elevated sympathetic nervous system activity, and granting the following beneficial effects:
- Provide relaxation
- Boost mood
- Reduce heart rate
Hoolest VeRelief Prime is priced at $399.95 and has a 60-day money-back guarantee. Hoolest also provides a 1-year warranty.
Comparing different vagus nerve stimulation devices
When it comes to choosing the best vagus nerve stimulator device, consumers have multiple options each with its own set of features, benefits, and drawbacks. In a head-to-head comparison, here is how they stack up:
- Nurosym vs Pulsetto. Nurosym taVNS device is the most expensive at $699 but comes with medical community validation. It is suggested to target specific conditions like anxiety and depression through earpiece-based stimulation. Pulsetto is significantly cheaper and offers more user-friendly programs through its app. However, it lacks the medical credibility that Nurosym brings to the table.
|Medical community recognition, environmental contribution
|CE, FDA NSR Designation
|30-day money-back, 2-year warranty
|Neck-wearable, 5 stimulation programs
|21-day money-back, easy app use
- Truvaga vs Pulsetto. Truvaga, priced at $299, is designed for quick, gentle stimulation with no need for apps, emphasizing ease of use. Pulsetto, at $269, offers versatility with a neck-wearable design and customizable app for various needs. Truvaga focuses on simplicity, while Pulsetto offers more programmable options.
|Handheld, simple use, no app required
|TSA compliant for batteries and gel
|30-day return, lithium batteries
|Neck-wearable, 5 stimulation programs
|21-day money-back, easy app use
- Pulsetto vs Sensate. Sensate is not a typical tVNS but a VNT (vagus nerve toning) device that employs sound waves. Priced from $299, Sensate offers an alternative for those uneasy with electrical stimulation. Pulsetto remains more versatile in terms of programmable options and can be used in various positions, unlike Sensate, which can only be used while lying down.
|Neck-wearable, 5 stimulation programs
|21-day money-back, easy app use
|VNT (Sound waves)
|Soundscapes for relaxation, placed on chest
|40-day refund policy, yearly app subscription
What is a vagus nerve stimulation device?
Vagus nerve stimulation devices are tools for neuromodulation that target the vagus nerve to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Originating in the late 1800s but gaining prominence in the 1980s, these devices have FDA approval for conditions such as epilepsy, treatment-resistant depression, and morbid obesity. The market has primarily divided these devices into two categories.
Invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices (VNS)
Invasive VNS devices require surgical implantation, offering a more permanent but costly solution. They are typically used for severe cases of epilepsy or depression that have proven to be resistant to other forms of treatment. Despite their effectiveness, the high cost and invasive nature limit their use to more severe cases.
Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices (tVNS)
Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices, or transcutaneous VNS (tVNS), became popular as a less expensive and more accessible alternative to invasive VNS. These devices, often wearable, offer the ease of use and minimal side effects, making them more accommodating for a broader range of people.
With advancements in technology, tVNS devices are growing in versatility and effectiveness, serving as a viable option for those who want the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation without the surgical procedure.
How do vagus nerve stimulation devices work?
Vagus nerve stimulation, specifically tVNS, works as a type of biohacking — a DIY change-driven therapeutic approach — that targets your parasympathetic nervous system.
Since the vagus nerve is responsible for controlling actions of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract — innervating them — vagus nerve stimulation evidently influences these functions.
In the case of tVNS devices, they mainly operate as electrical pulse inducers, creating a slight tingling sensation on your skin. The electrical signals are then carried through the vagus nerve to the brain, influencing brain activity and associated physiological functions.
tVNS devices are applied as close to the vagus nerve anatomical regions as possible. In this case, a taVNS device is a tVNS device that is put as close to the auricular branch of the vagus nerve as possible, e.g. clipped on the ear.
At this point, the scientific evidence on the most optimal region for tVNS is scarce and inconclusive. Yet, it is generally agreed that the auricular and neck regions of the vagus nerve are the most effective target locales.
What you can treat with a vagus nerve stimulation device
These are just some of the observable tVNS benefits:
- Lowered stress and anxiety
- Improved sleep quality
- Diminished depression symptoms
- Alleviated common headaches and migraines
We review our selection of tVNS devices mainly as a non-medical therapeutic approach to improving certain conditions. Additionally, beneficial outcomes from other VNS therapies are garnering interest as well.
Can lower stress and anxiety
Since the vagus nerve disengages the fight-or-flight response within your body, its stimulation can help lower your anxiety and stress.
Using brain imaging, it has been shown that tVNS has a favorable effect on stress physiology. The technology targets several neurotransmitter systems, particularly involving serotonin and norepinephrine.
The effects of tVNS encompass central brain areas responsible for emotion modulation, applicable to those suffering from stress-related psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Might improve sleep quality
Stress-related disorders and general anxiety impair sleep quality. This may lead to insomnia.
Generally, vagus nerve stimulation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a calmer body and calmer mind.
tVNS utility in managing sleep difficulties has been continuously observed since the popularization of VNS. While some clinical trials show that tVNS may improve sleep, overall research findings are mixed.
In combination, neurostimulation via the tVNS and behavioral VNS intervention, such as paced breathing, may amplify the effects VNS has on challenging sleep impairments.
May diminish depression symptoms
Managing treatment-resistant depression with VNS was approved in 2005, and since then the best tVNS device providers have been trying to address the same problem from their point of view.
In human studies, VNS was shown to elicit modifications in neurotransmitter systems (serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and glutamate). Though associated with the pathophysiology of depression, tVNS lacks conclusive evidence. Several studies show some improvement but further research is needed.
Current tVNS research is primarily concerned with determining stimulation parameters and sites that are important for clinical applicability.
May alleviate common headaches and migraines
Since 2017 several tVNS devices have been approved by the FDA to manage cluster headaches and migraines.
The efficacy of tVNS for migraines and head pain is mainly supported by the idea that the vagus nerve is a connecting thread between the brain and the body. Stimulating the vagus nerve, auricularly at a low frequency of 1 Hz, tends to alleviate migraines and cluster headaches.
Stimulation frequency and sites are the main concerns for further tVNS applicability in the treatment of migraine and headaches.
How much do vagus nerve stimulation devices cost?
tVNS device cost tends to range between $249.00 and $699.00. Moreover, one must consider several key factors when comparing these prices between our researched and reviewed tVNS devices. We display these factors in the following comprehensive table:
|tVNS / VNT device
|Standard product price
|Bundle price (and bonus items included)
|Alternate device type price
|Membership and subscription fees
|Nurosym tVNS review
|Apollo tVNS review
|Anxietless program ($69.90 for 6-month plan, $52.35 for 3-month plan, $23.39 for 1-month plan)
|Pulsetto tVNS review
|$1196.00 (+ 3 Sensate devices, + 1-year subscription to Sensate Plus each)
|Sensate Plus ($49.99 for a 1-year subscription)
|Sensate VNT review
|$499.00 (+ extra pair of headphones, + protective sleeve, + travel case)
|Hapbee Smart Wearable
|$649.00 (+ Smart Sleep Pad, + 1-year all-access membership)
|1-year all-access membership ($149.00)
|Hoolest VeRelief Prime
|$199.95 (VeRelief Mini)
Most best tVNS device providers, including those listed in this article, promote consultation with your doctor when you have any preexisting medical conditions or an active implanted device inside your body (such as a pacemaker).
Are there side effects of vagus nerve stimulation?
VNS, and taVNS in particular, side effects are minimal risk and mainly involve how transcutaneous electrical current is administered. Overstimulation (parameters of duration and frequency of the signal) can lead to the following side effects:
- Vocal hoarseness
- Itching or redness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitation
- Tingling or prickling of the skin
How else can you stimulate the vagus nerve?
Apart from using transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation at home device, there are various traditional methods to stimulate the vagus nerve. Some of these are:
- Gargling. Vigorous gargling can activate the muscle at the back of your throat, stimulating the vagus nerve.
- Singing. Loud singing demands work from the muscles at the back of your throat, offering similar benefits as gargling.
- Deep breathing. Techniques like the 4-7-8 method can stimulate the vagus nerve by engaging the diaphragm.
- Cold showers. The sudden exposure to cold can induce a parasympathetic response, stimulating the vagus nerve.
- Yoga and meditation. Mind-body techniques like yoga and mindfulness can also positively affect vagal tone.
Further important reading on stress and anxiety management
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CBD oils are known to deliver some stress and anxiety relief
Neurofeedback devices might stimulate cognitive functions and improve mental well-being
Are vagus nerve stimulation devices really worth it?
Yes, yet consider that the research on tVNS is still in its infancy. Even though promising evidence of the technology’s utility is already emerging, further research to ascertain its benefits is required. Economic prudence dictates that when the supply rises, the contemporary steep prices drop.
What is the best vagus nerve stimulation device?
The best tVNS depends on individual needs and preferences. However, stands out for its medical community recognition, offering clinically validated taVNS with eco-friendly policies, despite its higher cost.
Can a vagus nerve stimulation device help with anxiety?
Yes, tVNS devices usually offer programs specifically aimed at reducing anxiety. They stimulate the vagus nerve, impacting the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate stress response. While promising, more research is needed to conclusively establish their efficacy in treating anxiety.
What is a good alternative to Nurosym?
A good alternative to Nurosym may be , known for its seamless integration with health-tracking apps and tailored stimulation modes aimed at supporting mental and physical well-being. It offers a unique blend of technology and convenience, making it a compelling choice for users.
- Frontiers in Neuroscience. Critical Review of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Challenges for Translation to Clinical Practice.
- Focus. The Future Is Noninvasive: A Brief Review of the Evolution and Clinical Utility of Vagus Nerve Stimulation.
- Journal of Personalized Medicine. Application of Noninvasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation to Stress-Related Psychiatric Disorders.
- Frontiers in Neuroscience. Current Directions in the Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation II — An Engineering Perspective.
- Journal of Clinical Medicine. Non-Invasive Neurostimulation Methods for Acute and Preventive Migraine Treatment — A Narrative Review.
- Brain Sciences. Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation Could Improve the Effective Rate on the Quality of Sleep in the Treatment of Primary Insomnia: A Randomized Control Trial.
- Frontiers in Neuroscience. Management of auricular transcutaneous neuromodulation and electro-acupuncture of the vagus nerve for chronic migraine: a systematic review.
- Journal of Affective Disorders Reports. Efficacy of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation as treatment for depression: A systematic review.
- Neuromodulation. Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation Combined With Slow Breathing: Speculations on Potential Applications and Technical Considerations.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Effect of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation at Auricular Concha for Insomnia: A Randomized Clinical Trial.