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Editor's e-Note
New research suggests that for individuals older than 55, the autonomic nervous system can be rebalanced by stimulating the ear with a small electrical current daily for two weeks. Researchers indicate that study participants experienced improved mood, sleep, and quality of life. Scientists from the United Kingdom’s University of Leeds used transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, a painless current delivered to the ear, to influence the nervous system. According to the researchers, an out-of-balance autonomic nervous system may contribute to conditions associated with aging. Tickling the ear to stimulate the vagus nerve can, they believe, recalibrate the autonomous nervous system.

In addition to reading our e-newsletter, be sure to visit Today’s Geriatric Medicine’s website at, where you’ll find news and information that’s relevant and reliable. We welcome your feedback at Follow Today’s Geriatric Medicine on Facebook and Twitter, too.

— Kate Jackson, editor
e-News Exclusive
Tickle Therapy May Slow Aging

“Tickling” the ear with a small electrical current appears to rebalance the autonomic nervous system for individuals older than 55, potentially slowing down one of the effects of aging, according to new research.

Scientists found that a short daily therapy delivered for two weeks led to both physiological and well-being improvements, including a better quality of life, mood, and sleep.

The therapy, transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS), delivers a small, painless electrical current to the ear, which sends signals to the body’s nervous system through the vagus nerve.

The new research, conducted at the United Kingdom’s University of Leeds, suggests the therapy may slow down an important effect associated with aging. This could help protect people from chronic diseases that we become more prone to as we get older, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and atrial fibrillation. The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Aging, suggest that the “tickle” therapy has the potential to help people age more healthily by recalibrating the body’s internal control system.

According to lead author Beatrice Bretherton, PhD, from the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leeds, “The ear is like a gateway through which we can tinker with the body’s metabolic balance, without the need for medication or invasive procedures. We believe these results are just the tip of the iceberg.

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