I mentioned in my last post of 2016 that I was going to be experimenting with some biohacks during 2017 to improve my quality of life. It has been an interesting second quarter, and I have a few things to share with you based on what I have experienced. Check out the Spring Update and my Instagram page for some of the products I have been trying out. This review looks at some techie-toy/hardware items/tools that I have been using in the last few months – enjoy!
NERVANA – no, not like the band Nirvana, but this baby definitely will keep you in the music. Nervana is “a wearable product that sends a gentle electrical wave through the left ear canal to stimulate the body’s Vagus nerve, while syncing with music. This elicits a calm, relaxed feeling for most users in a natural way, which stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, known to release neurotransmitters (the body’s feel-good messengers).” 1
If you’re asking yourself why on earth someone would care about their vagus nerve, well, asking why you wouldn’t care might be more appropriate. This “wandering” nerve as it is often called 2, is the longest on the body, and is basically the nervous system’s superhighway. It plays a role in many of the body’s functions, from controlling heart rate, blood pressure and digestion, to influencing inflammation and immunity. 3 In the brain, the vagus nerve is responsible for controlling anxiety and depression. 4
This specific device works by stimulating the vagus nerve at a point in the ear (thus the headphones), while simultaneously allowing you to play your favourite music – or not, if you prefer to have it on silent while you watch TV or do other activities. I found it to be a bit bulky and old school in it’s functionality, and it could use a clip on the back so a user could hook it on their pants and use it while walking around.
It takes a 9 volt battery which doesn’t last long, and I couldn’t get the cover back on after attaching the battery, due to the tight spacing with the wires. There are other ways to stimulate your vagus nerve and keep it well-toned (see references), so if the rather large price tag on this is an issue, you may want to pursue those options instead. Luckily I got a deal on mine through amazon.
Holosync – still in the audio category, is meditation music – but with a scientific edge. These soundtracks use “a sophisticated form of neuro-audio technology allowing the listener to easily enter various desirable states, and creating many desirable mental, emotional, and spiritual changes, through entrainment of electrical patterns in the brain” 5. You can buy the CD or MP3 formats, but the cost can be an issue, as newer levels are recommended over time as your brain adjusts to the current level.
I have been using this since January, and have honestly found it helpful and enjoyable. It has helped my stress levels, my emotional health and my sense of well-being. I have not been able to successfully meditate on my own, as my mind is all over the place. With this technology though, all you have to do is listen, and even if you fall asleep or your mind wanders, your brain still picks up the low carrier frequency stimulus, and the benefits.
There are also regular videos sent to you from the founder, which explain the science behind this technology, and the benefits of using the soundtracks daily. I find these videos informative and they keep me motivated to continue using the soundtracks. This company has been around for 28 years, and the prices for each level are about to increase, so act quickly if you are interested.
HeartMath InnerBalance – based on the popular HeartMath Solution book, and developed by the HeartMath Institute, this device works with your Android or iPhone to “replace emotional stress with emotional balance and coherence”.6 It hooks onto your ear lobe and apparently aides in stress reduction, improving health, heart-rate variability, intuition and energetic communication.
I know a lot of people absolutely love this, and maybe I need to take some training on it, but it doesn’t seem to do much for me presently. Perhaps I am missing something, or expecting it to be more (unnecessarily) complex than it is; however, at this time I am not sure I would recommend it at $159 US. Maybe the problem is me, and not the device, like I said.
LED Anti-aging Skincare Mask – okay, wow. This was a dud. It was so heavy on my face that the strap could not support the weight, and talk about uncomfortable! There might be other models out there that are not so heavy, but I would just plain pass on this purchase. Thankfully I was able to return it to the Amazon vendor, as the instructions said it was not to be used if suffering from thyroid issues, which I do. Unfortunately it didn’t state that on the ordering page, so I ended up paying duty to get it, and then postage to return it to the States. In the end I was out almost $50 for that, but that’s better than being saddled with a big hunk of painful plastic. 🙁
Derma Roller – I got this as part of my Biohacked box in March, but I have yet to get into the habit of using it regularly. It is essentially a small device full of micro-needles that you roll over your face, and or chest. Why would anyone submit to such sadistic behaviour you ask? Well, because this tool is supposed to help you stimulate collagen growth naturally.
“Also called “collagen induction therapy,” derma rolling creates teeny-tiny punctures on the skin’s surface, stimulating skin repair and cell regeneration…you’re hurting your skin to encourage it to heal over itself, making it stronger and better-looking afterwards…It’s said to help improve the look of fine lines, acne scarring, dark circles, and overall skin texture.” 7
I would like to get into a regular routine with this device so that I can give you a proper review, so stay tuned for future biohacking updates and see what I have to say.
How about you? Have you used any of these devices, and if so, what did you think? Have you used anything else that you either love, hate or are otherwise indifferent about? Drop me a line and let me know, or reach out to me on social media. Until next time, hack-on and be well my fellow geeks. 🙂