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The 5 Best Vagus Nerve Stimulation Devices on the Market in 2024

As the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve that stretches from the brain to the upper part of the colon, innervating internal organs and contributing to their function. Being involved in the "rest and digest" functions, it is critical to maintaining and restoring the balance in your body by influencing your heart rate, digestion, and breathing, among other functions.

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, in our opinion, the best vagus nerve stimulation devices (VNS) and help you make an educated choice.

Best vagus nerve stimulation device: shortlist

Although a range of non-invasive VNS devices are available on the market, they differ considerably in terms of the stimulation parameters, the proposed benefits, ease of use, and scientific backing. Therefore, to help you make an easier decision, we have researched the market and tried to single out the best vagus nerve stimulator out there:

  1. Nurosym — overall best vagus nerve stimulation device
  2. Pulsetto — best cost-effective vagus nerve stimulation device
  3. Hoolest — most multifunctional vagus nerve stimulation device
  4. Truvaga Plus — best for quick and gentle stimulation
  5. Neuvana — most comfortable and portable vagus nerve stimulator

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. They are primarily divided into two categories.

Invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices (VNS)

Invasive VNS devices require surgical implantation, offering a more permanent but costly solution. They are FDA-approved for severe cases of epilepsy or treatment-resistant depression. Despite their effectiveness, the high cost and invasive nature limit their use to more severe cases.

Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices (tVNS)

Essentially, non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices, or transcutaneous VNS (tVNS), are external devices that deliver electrical impulses through the skin, often via electrodes placed on the neck or ear. These devices are being researched as a more affordable, versatile, and user-friendly method of stimulating the vagus nerve.

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.

By innervating internal organs, including the heart, lungs, and digestive tract, the vagus nerve is responsible for controlling their functions. Vagus nerve stimulation, therefore, may influence heart rate, breathing, digestion, and certain reflexes.

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. For example, taVNS devices are clipped on the tragus or placed at the concha of the ear, since the auricular branch of the vagus nerve mostly innervates these parts of 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 cervical branches of the vagus nerve are the most effective target locales.

How effective are vagus nerve stimulation devices?

While non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices hold promise in addressing issues such as stress, anxiety, and even cluster headaches, and are generally well tolerated with minimal side effects in clinical research settings, the safety and effectiveness of most commercially available VNS devices for at-home use have not been established.

Even though these devices are becoming increasingly popular and user-friendly — this is largely because of rapid technological advancements — we can’t refrain from noting that most at-home vagus nerve stimulators lack FDA clearance or approval for condition prevention or management. This is why it's imperative to approach any therapeutic claims you may come across on brand pages with caution and seek medical advice before using a vagus nerve stimulation device.

What you can manage with a vagus nerve stimulation device

These are just some of the proposed 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 potentially improving certain health concerns rather than a treatment modality.

May lower stress and anxiety

Since the vagus nerve helps your body shift from the fight-or-flight response to the rest-and-digest parasympathetic activity within your body, its stimulation may help lower your anxiety and stress.

Using brain imaging, it has been shown that tVNS has a favorable effect on stress physiology. The technology may influence several neurotransmitter systems, particularly involving serotonin and norepinephrine.

Vagus nerve stimulation leads to the activation of brainstem structures that in turn, have projections to multiple brain regions involved in emotion modulation, applicable to those suffering from stress-related psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

May improve sleep quality

Stress-related mental health issues, including anxiety, may impair sleep quality and 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. It has been suggested that neurostimulation via the tVNS and behavioral VNS intervention, such as paced breathing, may be used to amplify the effects VNS has on sleep.

While some clinical trials show that tVNS may improve sleep, overall research findings are mixed.

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.

The exact mechanism of how tVNS impacts depression is not fully understood. Although the evidence is mostly coming from animal studies, VNS was shown to elicit modifications in neurotransmitter systems (serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA), which are associated with the pathophysiology of depression.

Several studies show tVNS to be well tolerated by study participants and lead to some improvement of depressive symptoms, yet no conclusions can be drawn due to a small number of studies.

May alleviate headaches and migraines

In 2017, the first tVNS device has been cleared by the FDA to manage episodic cluster headaches and migraines.

The efficacy of tVNS for migraines and headaches is mainly supported by the studies that show the potential of tVNS to modulate activity in different brain regions that are involved in the pathophysiology of migraine. Stimulating vagus nerve, auricularly at a low frequency of 1 Hz, tends to alleviate migraines and cluster headaches, while cervical VNS has also been shown to have some positive effects on migraine control.

Stimulation frequency and sites are the main concerns for further tVNS applicability in the treatment of migraine and headaches.

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:

Scientific standardsFunctional adaptationAccessibilityPricingReturn and warranty policy
Robust evidence, clinical trialsDevices are wearable/handheld, have stimulation modesThe devices are not too complex$269.00–$699.00Money-back guarantees and warranties
  • Scientific standards. This criterion describes the scientific rigor with which 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 5 non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation devices, also known as transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulators (tVNS). 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

Nurosym device and headphone

Amazon rating — not on Amazon

Trustpilot rating — 4.7 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After extensively researching the market for VNS devices, we found one that particularly impressed us. Here's why we believe Nurosym by Parasym, a transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) device, is the best on our list.

According to its makers, Nurosym is designed for those battling anxiety, depression, stress, and fatigue. It leverages innovative neuromodulation — to put it simply, the device uses signals transmitted through an earpiece to the brain via the vagus nerve. This process may modulate nervous system activity and potentially support various aspects of physical and mental health.

Nurosym's commitment to scientific validation is a major reason why it sits atop our list. The device is currently being evaluated in an ongoing clinical trial, and what further solidifies this commitment is that the research version of Nurosym, known as the Parasym device, has already been tested in several clinical trials and is a CE-certified medical device in Europe.

But the reasons don’t end there. Another reassuring aspect of the Nurosym is the confidence the company has in its product. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can try it risk-free. If it doesn't meet your expectations, you can get a no-questions-asked refund.

The brand's environmental responsibility is another highlight. Parasym donates 1% of all sales to grassroots environmental groups, so purchasing a Nurosym means contributing to a greater cause.

All things considered, if you’re someone who’s looking for a reliable VNS device to help you in your efforts to manage anxiety, stress, and other related issues, we think Nurosym should be the first one you consider. It is available for €699.

What users liked most about the device

  • Immediate effects within weeks
  • Long-lasting benefits
  • Works as advertised
  • Responsive customer support

What users disliked about the device

  • Expensive price point
Certifications and safety
Parasym medical device bears the certification mark of CE with Notified Body Reference 0197, and complies with the European Union Medical Directives — 93/42/EEC and 2011/65/EU. It has also received FDA Non-Significant Risk Designation in multiple studies in the U.S.

2. Pulsetto

Pulsetto-comm-supp

Amazon rating — 3.0 ⭐⭐⭐

Trustpilot rating — 4.0 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

For those interested in benefiting from vagus nerve stimulation without spending a fortune, there's Pulsetto. It's a wearable tVNS device that, despite its lower price point, doesn't seem to compromise on performance.

The device itself is powered by the Pulsetto application, which is relatively easy to use and includes five stimulation programs with nine stimulation levels. These programs are designed to address the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Pain management
  • Sleep
  • Stress

You can adjust the stimulation intensity via the app at any point during your relaxation session.

Pulsetto, as explained on the brand's website, should be worn around the neck. For optimal performance, make sure to use electrode gel first, which acts as a conductive medium to help the electrical pulses reach your skin as intended. Since the device is neck-wearable, you can use it while relaxing, working, or stretching.

Though Pulsetto is designed to be adjustable for different neck sizes — having tested it ourselves — we cannot help but note that the device might not be the best choice for those with slender necks, as it may simply be too big. This could prevent the electrodes from making proper contact with the skin, which is necessary for effective vagus nerve stimulation.

Pulsetto only costs $269, a price point that is actually the lowest on this list. The device also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try it risk-free.

What users liked most about the device

  • Works as advertised
  • Great value for money
  • Ease of operation
  • Battery lasts relatively long


What users disliked about the device

  • App performance
  • Gel dries relatively quickly

3. Hoolest

Hoolest VeRelief Prime

Amazon rating — not on Amazon

Trustpilot rating — yet to receive any ratings

While Hoolest offers two tVNS devices — the VeRelief Mini and the VeRelief Prime — we focus on the latter, which is larger and has a higher power output.

Hoolest VeRelief Prime is a handheld electrode device that targets more than just the vagus nerve. According to its makers, it can stimulate the vagus nerve behind your ear, the median nerve in your wrist, and the trigeminal nerve in your forehead. This is why we consider it one of the most multifunctional devices on our list.

We found the different stimulation protocols Hoolest offers particularly useful. They range from quick sessions of less than two minutes, perfect when combined with breathing techniques, to a calming 10-minute protocol ideal before bed. The five functional modes, each varying in intensity, are suggested to enhance the parasympathetic nervous system activity and help you achieve the following effects:

  • Enhance relaxation
  • Improve mood
  • Reduce heart rate

Considering all that Hoolest has to offer, if you're in the market for a highly functional and adaptable tVNS device, the VeRelief Prime, priced at $399.95, looks to us like the go-to choice. The brand backs its product with a 60-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty.

What users liked most about the device

  • Easy to integrate into daily routines
  • Long-lasting and comfortable electrodes
  • Worked as advertised
  • Multiple modes

What users disliked about the device

  • Stinging sensation
  • Did not perform well on dry skin

4. Truvaga Plus

Truvaga Plus

Amazon rating — not on Amazon

Trustpilot rating — yet to receive any ratings

Truvaga Plus is the upgraded version of Truvaga’s original 350 model — it’s the brand’s latest handheld vagus nerve stimulator that stands out among its alternatives on our list for its user-friendly operation. It is designed for quick sessions and gentle stimulation of the cervical branch of the vagus nerve in the neck.

According to the manufacturer, their device offers a simple, all-in-one solution to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Enhance sleep quality
  • Promote calmness
  • Improve mental clarity

While the original model included up to 350 sessions, Truvaga Plus now offers an unlimited amount of sessions, each lasting 2 minutes.

Another new feature of Truvaga Plus is that it now comes with a free integrated app. This offers a user-friendly way to control and customize sessions, plan schedules, and track progress. Besides, Truvaga Plus is now rechargeable, eliminating the need for batteries.

On the contrary, one of the very few drawbacks is that the device is currently only available in the U.S.

With a price tag of $499, Truvaga Plus is far from being the cheapest among VNS devices. Despite this, we think that those who place importance on convenience and gentler stimulation would find this newest Truvaga model worth the investment.

What users liked most about the device

  • Noticeable benefits
  • Easy to customize settings
  • Good customer support
  • Rechargeable

What users disliked about the device

  • Instructions were not clear
  • High price point

5. Neuvana

Neuvana device and box with additional accessories

Amazon rating — not on Amazon

Trustpilot rating — 3.4 ⭐⭐⭐

Neuvana's Xen wins the race for the most comfortable and portable vagus nerve stimulator among its alternatives, at least those on our list. Here's why we're backing this device.

The Xen taVNS device is an electroceutical that pairs with your mobile phone via the Neuvana application. We particularly appreciated the flexibility it offers. With the special earbuds and the Xen unit connected to the Neuvana app on your smartphone, you can use the device anytime and anywhere — even while walking or doing light stretching exercises.

The app includes 3 modes, referred to as sessions, defined by the sound you want to hear while using Neuvana's Xen:

  • Ambient
  • Sensation
  • Sync

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. For an additional $50, you can purchase a companion bundle that includes an extra pair of headphones, a protective sleeve, and a travel case — a deal worth cashing in for frequent travelers or those who prefer having spare accessories on hand.

All things considered, Xen seems to hit the mark when it comes to practicality, portability, and versatility — what really are the essentials for integrating vagus nerve stimulation into your everyday life without any comfort compromises.

What users liked most about the device

  • Exceeds expectations
  • Easy enough to carry around
  • Sleek and shiny design
  • Excellent customer support team

What users disliked about the device

  • Setting up the app wans’t a smooth ride
  • After prolonged use, the headphones lost a measure of sound fidelity

Best vagus nerve stimulation devices: our picks explained

When it comes to stimulating the vagus nerve to reap the proposed benefits, such as reduced stress and anxiety, finding the right device can make all the difference.

So, if you're simply looking for the best overall option on the market, we’re pointing you straight to Nurosym — a tVNS device that appears to check all the boxes, from commitment to scientific validation and sleek and easy-to-use design to environmental responsibility. Keep in mind those checked boxes may come at a price.

Now, if, on the other hand, you’re mindful of the price, Pulsetto would be a practical choice — it doesn’t seem to compromise on performance compared to others and comes at a cheaper expense.

In case functionality is the central priority of yours, Hoolest is the one — this handheld device goes beyond just targeting the vagus nerve. It has been also suggested to stimulate the median nerve in your wrist and the trigeminal nerve in your forehead.

For an experience that’s both gentle and quick, the updated version of Truvaga 350 — Truvaga Plus — is our recommended choice. It’s a user-friendly option that’s tailored for those with more sensitive needs.

And lastly, if you need a device that’s portable and practical, don’t look past Neuvana. See, Neuvana’s Xen pairs with special earbuds and your smartphone via the Neuvana application, allowing you to use it even when doing other activities or while you're on the move.

Every VNS device on our list has its own set of features, but only by considering what matters most to you — whether it's cost, convenience, sensitivity, or mobility — can you select the device that will best suit you.

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 it has scientific backing. It is suggested to have therapeutic potential for certain mental health concerns and long-Covid symptoms 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.
Device namePriceTechnology usedKey featuresApp integrationCertifiationsMoney-back guaranteeWarranty
Nurosym€699.00taVNSScientific backing, environmental contributionNoCE, FDA NSR Designation 30-day2-year
Pulsetto$269.00tVNSNeck-wearable, 5 stimulation programsYesFCC21-day2-year
  • 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.
Device namePriceTechnology usedKey featuresApp integrationCertificationsMoney-back guaranteeWarranty
Truvaga Plus$499.00tVNSHandheld, simple use, unlimited sessionsYesTSA compliant for batteries and gel30-dayN/A
Pulsetto$269.00tVNSNeck-wearable, 5 stimulation programsYesFCC21-day2-year
  • Pulsetto vs Hoolest. Priced at $399.95, Hoolest offers stimulation of the vagus nerve, as well as the great auricular nerve just behind the ear. Both Pulsetto and Hoolest offer 5 stimulation modes, allowing users to explore different stimulation intensities, and choose the most comfortable one.
Device namePriceTechnology usedKey featuresApp integrationCertificationsMoney-back guaranteeWarranty
Pulsetto$269.00tVNSNeck-wearable, 5 stimulation programsYesFCC21-day2-year
Hoolest$399.95tVNSHand-held, 5 stimulation modesNoNone60-days1-year

How much do vagus nerve stimulation devices cost?

tVNS device cost tends to range between $269.00 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 deviceStandard product priceBundle price (and bonus items included)Alternate device type priceMembership and subscription feesReview
Nurosym$699.99N/AN/AN/ANurosym tVNS review
Pulsetto$269.00N/AN/AAnxietless program ($69.90 for 6-month plan, $52.35 for 3-month plan, $23.39 for 1-month plan)Pulsetto tVNS review
Hoolest$399.95N/A$199.95 (VeRelief Mini)N/AN/A
Truvaga Plus$499.00N/A$299.00 (Truvaga 350)N/ATruvaga tVNS review
Neuvana$449.00$499.00 (+ extra pair of headphones, + protective sleeve, + travel case)N/AN/AN/A

Most best tVNS device providers, including those listed in this article, recommend 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?

Vagus nerve stimulation is associated with side effects that depend on whether VNS is administered invasively or non-invasively, as there are surgically-related adverse effects, as well as stimulation-related ones.

According to a systematic review published in the Brain Stimulation journal, tVNS is considered a well-tolerated and safe method, with skin irritation (itching, redness, tingling or prickling of the skin) being the most commonly observed side effect. Other, less frequent side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nasopharyngitis

While these side effects are noted in relation to using clinical tVNS devices in research settings, users should be aware that the safety of most at-home tVNS devices is not established. Little is known about the risks that these devices may pose, thus closely monitoring how you feel in response to tVNS is crucial.

Note
If you experience any of the aforementioned side effects, you should consult your primary care doctor about further tVNS use.

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

Top nootropic products for effective anxiety and stress relief

Best nootropics overall in the market right now

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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


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