Medical Research

The evolving obesity challenge: targeting the vagus nerve and the inflammatory reflex in the response

Kristen Sparrow • November 05, 2023

This research article  emphasizes bioelectronic medicine as a  solution to obesity.  Acupuncture also activates the vagus nerve!  So does TAVNS, something I use in the clinic in conjunction with acupuncture.  (Note well that this article came out in 2021 before the Ozempic phenonenon.  But if past is any indication of future, there will be problems with Ozempic).  But remember, inflammation seems to underlie most medical conditions, serious and not so serious.  Acupuncture is great at that and remember these supplements too. 

It discusses the ongoing challenges of obesity and the metabolic syndrome in contributing to various diseases, including COVID-19. It highlights the need for new treatments to address these issues and introduces the field of Bioelectronic Medicine, which focuses on neuromodulation and the nervous system’s role in controlling inflammation. The introduction emphasizes the potential of bioelectronic vagus nerve stimulation and cholinergic drugs in treating obesity-related inflammation and COVID-19, underscoring the importance of timely research in this area.

Pavlov VA. The evolving obesity challenge: targeting the vagus nerve and the inflammatory reflex in the response. Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Jun;222:107794. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2020.107794. Epub 2020 Dec 10. PMID: 33310156; PMCID: PMC8027699.

This research article introduction discusses the ongoing challenges posed by obesity and the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in contributing to various debilitating and life-threatening diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cancer, and more. Despite extensive research efforts, effective solutions for these disorders remain limited. Additionally, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant strain on healthcare systems worldwide. Obesity and hypertension, key components of MetS, were identified as major risk factors for severe outcomes in COVID-19 patients.

The introduction highlights the critical need for new treatments to address both the long-standing obesity and MetS crisis and the newly identified relationship between obesity and COVID-19. It introduces the concept of Bioelectronic Medicine, a field that has emerged from recent research on the regulatory functions of the nervous system and neuromodulation. This field has led to the development of novel treatments for various diseases and is relevant to the current context.

The nervous system’s role in controlling inflammation is emphasized, specifically the inflammatory reflex mediated by the vagus nerve. This reflex has been investigated within the scope of bioelectronic medicine and has resulted in promising treatments for diseases characterized by immune and metabolic dysregulation, including obesity, MetS, and COVID-19. Bioelectronic vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and cholinergic drugs, including galantamine, are explored as potential therapeutic approaches for obesity-related inflammation and metabolic complications.

The introduction concludes by highlighting the increasing interest in applying VNS and cholinergic stimulation in treating COVID-19 patients and emphasizes the need for a timely overview of this evolving research and its clinical applicability. Overall, the introduction sets the stage for the article’s exploration of bioelectronic medicine’s potential in addressing the interconnected challenges of obesity, MetS, and COVID-19.