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Ear ‘tickling’ can apparently slow the ageing process


TextDominic Cadogan

Scientists say stimulating the vagus nerve with small electrical currents helps with the body, sleep, and mood too

A small study conducted by the University of Leeds has found that stimulating the ear with small electrical currents – also known as ‘tickling’ – could be used as therapy for anti-aging. 

To investigate, 29 over-55s were given painless stimulation to the vagal nerve – found in the ear and connected to the heart, lungs, and gut – for 15 minutes a day over two weeks. The nerve’s purpose is to transmit information from the brain to other organs, as well as being integral to the body’s nervous system; though with age it can become out of balance. 

The study found that those who were most imbalanced noted the most improvement with the tickling, getting a better night’s sleep and some noting an improvement to their mood too. “These results are just the tip of the iceberg,” says study author Dr Beatrice Bretherton. “We are excited to investigate further into the effects and potential long-term benefits of daily ear stimulation, as we have seen a great response to the treatment so far.”

The plan going forward is to continue researching the effect of vagus nerve stimulation to see what long-term benefits could be for those suffering from depression or heart failure. 

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