Uncontrolled inflammation has been shown to be the major connecting point for nearly all chronic disease. The breadth of conditions involving inflammatory processes includes autoimmune, metabolic, neurological, cardiovascular, and autonomic. Control of inflammatory signaling and cellular response to inflammatory cytokines is key to limiting damage and slowing or stopping the progression to chronic inflammatory diagnosis.
Tasked to manage the inflammatory process is the neuro-immune connection of the autonomic nervous system – particularly the Vagus Nerve. The Vagus Nerve is the primary neuro-immune control arm of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. Direct innervation from Vagus to the visceral organs is the primary pathway to impart control over the tissue-resident macrophages present in each type of tissue – Kuppfer cells in the liver, Alveolar macrophages in the lungs, and intestinal macrophages in the lining of the gut to name a few. The Vagus also sends and controls the activation of circulating monocytes via CHAT cell activation in the spleen, thus sending the acetylcholine signal to control inflammation, to tissues spanning the body that don’t have direct innervation from Vagus – Osteoclasts in the bone, macrophages in the muscle and microglia in the brain. Acetylcholine drives the conversion of inflammatory macrophages (M1-type) to security, maintenance, and housekeeping macrophages (M2-type).
The optimal function of the Vagus nerve is imperative in the control of inflammation throughout the body and dysfunction is associated with numerous chronic health conditions. Heart Rate Variability and Cardiac Vagal Tone are great ways to measure Vagus Nerve function with our patients in practice today.
Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (nVNS) via electrical stimulation is a safe and highly effective tool in the battle against chronic inflammatory conditions. In combination with nutritional and lifestyle intervention, nVNS has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions ranging from Migraine headaches to Atrial fibrillation to preventing Osteoporosis and improving outcomes in PTSD and Parkinson’s disease.
In this session, Dr. Habib will review the Autonomic Nervous System, the physiology of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, and the mechanisms by which dysautonomia leads to uncontrolled inflammatory processes, and the diagnosis of chronic health conditions particularly in the CNS and gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Habib will present an overview of the latest emerging research on nVNS being used to support patients suffering from various chronic conditions including migraine headache, gastroparesis, long-covid, and degenerative neurological conditions.
Lastly, we will review new and compelling research showing how nVNS positively affects cognition and learning via the US Air Force.
- Examine the Anatomy and Physiology of the Cholinergic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway.
- Identify the best ways to measure Autonomic Nervous System Function in clinical practice.
- Review the latest research on the topic of Vagus Nerve Stimulation for various inflammatory conditions and cognitive improvement.