Flux Health Forum

Sympathetic nervous system stuck ON - advice needed

Does anyone know if the a9 ices device for TBI or the normal A9 has been able to fix or dramatically improve autonomic dysfunction/HPA dysfunction/dysautonomia? More specifically for individuals who are struck in a chronic stress response. I’m constantly stuck in medium to high sympathetic tone from morning to evening every single day, my sympathetic nervous system is stuck ON all the time and just won’t shut off ever. It’s absolutely horrendous and has taken over my life.

My nervous system is very overactive to stimulants such as small amounts of caffeine & alcohol. My body reacts (e.g. chronic stress response) to normal everyday foods and stimulants like my life is in danger, very useful if a lion is chasing after me, but not very practical for going about normal daily life!

It completely disables me as it shuts down my ability to think, work, socialise even more than it already has when my symptoms are at its lowest, this is due to the fact that the overstimulation is just so intense. My inability to think straight is bad enough at baseline but the more my sympathetic kicks the worse ny cognition gets.

I rather urgently need something to turn this chronic hyperadrenergic state down as it’s been going on 8 years now and my health is deteriorating, my EDS (connective tissue disorder) has got significantly worse in the past year or so and my cognitive function/mental health is suffering as you can imagine.

Thanks for reading.

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First off I have to say the following as a licensed psychologist/neuropsychologist “these statements are for information only, that a professional relationshiphas not been established and that there is no intent to provide professionalservices to an individual”. With that out of the way here are some things to look into.

-First, I’m assuming you’ve had a full and thorough checkup.
-Look into putting the M1 (if you have it) on “alpha” or “SMR” (it’s mistakenly labeled “SMA”) and putting it on the scalp just above and in front of your ears to hit the limbic system (esp. the amygdala).
-Look into HRV-biofeedback (e.g., HeartMath’s InnerBalance) and do it for 10-15 minutes 2-3 x per day (activates the parasympathetic pervious system).
-Look into temperature biofeedback (e.g., https://bio-medical.com/stress-thermometer-sc911.html).
-Consider Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) (e…g, https://mindalive.com/collections/ave-devices/products/david-delight)–try the Meditation 1 or Meditation 2 settings.
-Consider Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) e.g., from Alpha-Stim.com or MindALive.com. MindAlive’s OASIS Pro is much cheaper than Alpha-Stim but Alpha-Stim has been subject to more research.
-Consider getting a qEEG brain map done by a licensed mental health provider (ideally a psychologist/neuropsychologist, or neurologist/psychiatrist) and then doing neurofeedback based on the brain map.
-Drink chamomile tea throughout the day.
-Meditation (you can combine this with AVE, CES, or HRV-B noted above).
-Supplments to look into include ashwaghanda and Phosphatidylserine (PS) as they have both been shown to reduce cortisol (look up the research on examine.com). Also l-theanine, St. John’s Wort, magnesium glycinate, reishi mushrooms.
-Lastly, working with a psychologist with experience in biofeedback and if not, CBT or ACT.
Hope this helps.


One thing you do without any equipment is learn and practice the relaxation response. You can find instructions at sites like this one: Relaxation Response.
Make sure you do deep abdominal breathing and not shallow chest breathing. Breathing exercises have always been connected to meditation. One yoga practice is to watch your breath without controlling it, while saying a mantra, similar to the instructions for the relaxation response. You can also inhale, hold, and exhale to certain counts that are comfortable to you, or also hold after exhaling.

HeartMath combines breathing with focusing on your heart and on positive emotions in the Quick coherence Technique.

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Jamie, you can combine breathing exercises with Energy Medicine/Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Triple Warmer meridian is associated with the sympathetic ANS. This video shows six ways to calm Triple Warmer. Some of them involve simply holding acupressure points. You can do your breathing exercises while holding those positions. It is more deeply relaxing than just doing the breathing exercises,

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Hi Jamie! I hear you and understand.
I was practicing most all of the above mentioned tools for years and was still unable to quiet my system.
Please take a look at the questionnaire for #myalgicE according to the ICC.

I’m hoping that nothing sounds familiar. Although 95% of cases are undiagnosed according to CDC website so it’s likely your Dr isn’t educated enough to diagnose you.

Also many covid 19 patients may are not recovering and having #MyalgicE as a result of the viral injury that sticks the sympathetic nervous system as well as compromising other systems.

The sympathetic nervous system overdrive was my constant companion until I first found cranial sacral therapy. That allowed me to see what settled looked like but it lasted for a very short time.
I than found a full pemf system that I sleep on and found an increased quality of sleep.
I use the M1 for neck pain, headaches etc also while I sleep as well as when needed during day.
If the ICC indicates #MyalgicE I’d be happy to connect with you to share resources and of course the meadvocacy.org page has great information as well.


I appreciate the suggestions on settings. Although alpha and SMA are close but different settings.

Thanks. I wasn’t saying that Alpha and SMA are similar I’m saying SMA is in the SMR (sensorimotor rhythm) range of 13-15 Hz. I assumed it was a typo as in my field of neurofeedback and neuropsychology i’ve never heard of SMA. SMR only exists over the sensory motor cortex and nowhere else in the brain so maybe that’s why it’s labeled SMA?

Be glad to send you instructions for constructing your own tVNS (trancutaneous vagus nerve stimulation) machine, easy, and inexpensive, under $50. Have worked with the devices with clients for more than 3 years. Based on the Leeds studies. Makes a difference immediately and increases efficacy over time. No down side.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31358702/ and https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=39&ved=2ahUKEwjtgbCfo7LpAhXKHTQIHVjBD8wQFjAmegQIFxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fdiscovery.ucl.ac.uk%2F1560332%2F1%2Fthesis_final_jmjp.pdf&usg=AOvVaw3ynvkN_cR3HW3Lphx8D7ye
Let me know how to send you an email with instructions on build and how to use.


I just wanted to join in that I have been rather stuck in the same mode, post viral meningoencephalitis back in 2011. I have also used many of the things that was just recommended and am much better. I use the ICES on my head in the same places mentioned, have used magnesium, reishi, (I also like passion flower), and deep breathing and meditation. I also have an audio visual entrainment unit that I really feel is helpful. I’ve also done some biofeedback and found it helpful. I hope you find some success as you try different things and find what helps! It is a journey and personally has taken me some time. One step at a time!


krissully- I’m curious what you have built. Do you not use the ICES device for vagus nerve stimulation?

In 2016, before I knew about PEMF and had my ICES I became aware of the work being done at University of Brasilia (published with Leeds) with transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation to activate the parasympathetic. I was looking for a simple way to engage the parasympathetic for a test group of clients with digestive issues thought to be associated with sympathetic activation of the gut. The lead researcher gave me the ‘points’ on their build, a compilation of a small TENS machine, earclips they modified and particular settings. He based those settings on their research and used the combo because it could be attached inside the tragus (small part of the inner ear) easily. The original work was done with student volunteers. They had an increase is parasympathetic determined by an increase in heart rate variability and showed more brain ‘flow’.
I used their instructions to put together the device. After using it on myself (had a garmin vivosmart and Polar H10 to monitor HRV) I found it worked nicely and the ‘group’ was formed. The device was (and for many still is) used once or twice a day for 15-20 minutes. HRV was monitored using the Garmin Vivosmart 3, under $100. Now we use the Vivoactive 4 or the Vivosmart 4,
Clients saw (see) marked improvement in digestion, the original intent, but also better sleep, mood and energy. As the vagus is most easily activated by attachment to the inner tragus I am not sure how one would use the ICES.
Since that time many studies have confirmed the benefit of parasympathetic balance, ‘resting in rest’. Last year another study from another group also found good results in older persons -
Effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation in individuals aged 55 years or above: potential benefits of daily stimulation
Beatrice Bretherton, Lucy Atkinson, Aaron Murray, Jennifer Clancy, Susan Deuchars, Jim Deuchars
Aging (Albany NY) 2019 Jul 31; 11(14): 4836–4857. Published online 2019 Jul 30. doi: 10.18632/aging.102074
There are a number of devices, Heart Math, ParaSym and other that do the same thing but the cost (to me) is outrageous and often linked to stories that aren’t needed. Learning to stay in the parasympathetic benefits health long term, enhances healing and improves both telomere length and stem cell health and number (clinical data) indicating an improvement in cellular regeneration. I find the combo of tVNS and ICES ideal for body/tissue regeneration. We truly are only able to heal when in the parasympathetic. See Porges The Polyvagal Theory.
For PTSD and stress- Jul 6, 2018 - Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a non-invasive and safe technique that transiently enhances brain GABA and noradrenaline . The 'transiently means ‘while using and for a while after’ but our brains are plastic. Over time, with regular use, the body learns to stay more and more in the parasympathetic. It is a ‘better place to be’. People really are changed, both body and brain.
So we experimented, found an easier build, confirmed efficacy, and I share it with anyone who asks.


This is all an excellent answer and I loved reading every part. I have also read all the research of the benefits of transcutanieous vagal nerve stimulation and had bought a tens device with the intention of trying to rig my own. I ended up forgoing it, as I felt uncomfortable doing it myself- I really was just doing it alone without any other experience or input. I then found the ICES, and have used it with the coils stacked on the left side of the neck, based on the new devices being placed in that area getting approved for cluster headaches and other various issues (like GammaCore).

Dear Dr Friesen,

Apologies for the very slow reply & thankyou so so much for your very thoughtful response. I hope you can appreciate it may take me quite a while to test all these devices, so I think I will start by buying the M1 ICES. I have indeed had a full check up and nothing was found, I have however been diagnosed with CFS/ME, POTS, EDS, chronic migraine & visual snow syndrome, treatment for these has done next to nothing to help my nervous system and cognitive issues. I definitely think the limbic system is playing a big part in this and so will follow your recommendation with the ICES device. If you could recommend only one other device for me to try (not including heartmath) what would you recommend?

I thought I would add that my constant hand tremor doesn’t go when I do meditation, full body progressive muscle relaxation and various breathing exercises. It’s constantly on, the amount you’d expect if you had just escaped out of a very dangerous situation, even when I’ve done said exercises mentioned above.

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Hi Jamie,
No problem on the later reply. So sorry you’re having to go through all this.

I assume you said other than HeartMath because you already use it. HRV-biofeedback would likely be the most effective device.

You also said device (as opposed to supplements, meditations, tea, etc) so I will assume you’re referring to devices and not supplements as the one thing.

Brain mapping and neurofeedback should be done with a licensed professional so I won’t include that in the next best device category.

So that leaves us with AVE, CES, and temperature biofeedback.

Temperature biofeedback is difficult to do and is a much more “advanced” biofeedback technique that will likely leave you frustrated at this point. However, it is very powerful once you’ve learned to settle your sympathetic nervous system. So keep this on the back burner for the future.

CES has a lot of research behind it. See this page for a number graphs taken from various studies specifically looking at anxiety: https://alpha-stim.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Key-Summary-Anxiety.pdf AND here for a more detailed list of studies: https://www.alpha-stim.com/healthcare-professionals/research-and-reports-2-2/

HOWEVER, although I cannot say for sure, my guess is you will get the biggest response from AVE (e.g., the David Delight from MindAlive.com) using the Meditation 1 (10 Hz alpha) or Meditation 2 (7.8Hz alpha-theta border).

Below is an excerpt from my clinical website (NiagaraNeuropsychology.com) on AVE to learn more about it. Note most of the info is taken directly from MindAlive.com.

ALSO, note that there is a risk of seizures when using AVE with those who have a seizure disorder. So DO NOT use AVE if you have a history of seizures.

Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)* is a technique that utilizes pulses of light and sound at specific frequencies to gently and safely guide the brain into various brain wave patterns. By altering your brain wave frequencies, you have the ability to boost your mood, improve sleep patterns, sharpen your mind and increase your level of relaxation.
AVE is capable of producing situationally appropriate brain wave frequencies through the process of entrainment (the tendency of physiological processes to mirror environmental stimuli). AVE also increases cerebral blood flow (blood flow in the brain) and increases the metabolization of glucose in the brain for improved functioning of the neurons. The combined outcome of these processes is improved mental performance. It is an effective, inexpensive alternative therapy for many disorders such as anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), PTSD, Fibromyalgia and chronic pain. AVE devices are also used successfully to boost physical performance for athletes, academic performance for students and cognitive performance for seniors.

For a comprehensive review of the psychological effects of AVE click HERE.

An important objective of entrainment is to produce a dissociative state, which is a meditation-like state of deep relaxation. It is the brain/body rehabilitative benefits produced by this deep trance-like state that makes AVE so useful for so many conditions. The dissociative state can be first observed by noticing deep and diaphragmatic breathing. Hands and feet become warmer as arteries dilate. Skin colour will become pinker as blood flow increases throughout the face and body. Blood flow will increase in the brain as well. The person will experience feelings of profound relaxation and contentment as beneficial neurotransmitters are released into the brain. When in this deep state, the brain/body’s regenerative repair chemicals (parasympathetic hormones) and stabilizing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, endorphins and dopamine are released, which restore good brain function. AVE contributes to this restoration by providing a stress-break, increasing cerebral blood flow and encouraging impaired neuronal firing which allows the brain to return to normal function.

There are a number of things that are going on when you are using AVE :

  1. Your EEG activity is being altered – As the AVE frequency changes, so does the frequency in the brain. For example, when an AVE unit is set to pulsate at 10 Hz alpha, the brain responds by producing more alpha which leads to a feeling of deep relaxation.

  2. You are being dissociated – When using AVE, you get drawn into the present moment and let go of thoughts relating to your daily hassles, hectic schedules, paying bills, worries, threats or anxieties and stop mental “chatter.” Dissociation involves a “disconnection” of self from thoughts and body awareness, as is experienced during deep meditation. Dissociation begins in four to eight minutes from properly applied AVE.

  3. Your limbic system is being stabilized – Your body is calmed, your breathing becomes rhythmic, your hands warm and your muscles relax.

  4. A number of neurotransmitters are being produced – There is some evidence that people with depressed mood have low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. AVE boosts brain levels of serotonin and norepinephrine to improve overall well-being.

  5. Your cerebral blood flow (CBF) is being increased – CBF is associated with many forms of mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, attentional problems, behaviour disorders and impaired cognitive function. CBF tends to lower as we age and is correlated with cognitive decline. People experiencing depressed mood usually have lower levels of CBF in the left frontal and prefrontal lobes.

*Adapted from MindAlive.com

Click HERE to read more about the history of physiological mechanisms of AVE.

See the video below for more on how AVE works:

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I’d love to learn more about your device and instructions.

Thank you for this. I did some EEG neurofeedback before and it was helpful. I think I need to complete a 12-week course of it before. There are numerous reasons why your nervous system could be stuck on, e.g. trauma. I find meditation helpful and I grew up doing meditation.

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I’ve used the A9 on my belly and felt some movement. I don’t observe the same thing with M1. Bob and his wife said it could be that the battery is weaker on the M1.

I tried using my HRV monitor at the same time as the ICES on the belly - no difference. Is there a specific location you tried?

Many of my friends felt movement with the ICES but it’s unpleasant.

A few times I got ear acupuncture and my HRV shot up by 20 points (my baseline is around 50). It’s super relaxing, so I think that’s what I would expect from a vagus nerve activation.

Would you mind sending me the instructions? I currently have a broken tvns, purchased through Nemecheck Medicine. It’s several hundred dollars to replace!! I would love to try this out!

Need your email address to send.