Tickling: Not Just A Fetish Anymore

British scientists are investigating a ‘tickling’ therapy that they say may promote healthy aging. CC BY 3.0

‘Tickle’ therapy could help slow aging

| University of Leeds – ‘Tickling’ the ear with a small electrical current appears to rebalance the autonomic nervous system for over-55s, 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 wellbeing improvements, including a better quality of life, mood, and sleep.

The therapy, called 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. (Story continues below … )

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The new research, conducted at the University of Leeds, suggests the therapy may slow down an important effect associated with aging.

This could help protect people from chronic diseases which 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 today in the journal Aging, suggest that the ‘tickle’ therapy has the potential to help people age more healthfully, by recalibrating the body’s internal control system.

Lead author Dr. Beatrice Bretherton, from the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leeds, said:

“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.

“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 study was conducted by scientists from the University of Leeds and funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust.

What is the autonomic nervous system?

The autonomic nervous system controls many of the body’s functions which don’t require conscious thought, such as digestion, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure … Read more. 

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