Promising Early Results for Vagal Nerve Therapy for Tinnitus
UT Dallas researchers have demonstrated that treating tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, using vagus nerve stimulation-tone therapy is safe and brought significant improvement to some of the participants in a small clinical trial.
Drs. Sven Vanneste and Michael Kilgard of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences used a new method pairing vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) with auditory tones to alleviate the symptoms of chronic tinnitus. Their results were published on Nov. 20 in the journal Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface.
VNS is an FDA-approved method for treating various illnesses, including depression and epilepsy. It involves sending a mild electric pulse through the vagus nerve, which relays information about the state of the body to the brain.
Now, here are the important qualifications:
- This study had a small sample size. Any time an experiment has a small sample size, its power to detect true effects is lower. This study was mostly done for safety, which does not appear to be an issue in the near term with a therapy of this kind.
- From what I can tell (and I could be wrong), this study appears to be funded individuals with a commercial interest in the outcome. As always with this type of scenario, even positive results should be interpreted with caution.