Stimulating vestibular nerve to reduce obesity shows promise in small study
SAN DIEGO — A nerve-zapping headset caused people to shed fat in a small preliminary study.
Six people who had received the stimulation lost on average about 8 percent of the fat on their trunks in four months, scientists reported November 12 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
The headset stimulated the vestibular nerve, which runs just behind the ears. That nerve sends signals to the hypothalamus, a brain structure thought to control the body’s fat storage. By stimulating the nerve with an electrical current, the technique shifts the body away from storing fat toward burning it, scientists propose.
Six overweight and obese people received the treatment, consisting of up to four one-hour-long sessions of stimulation a week. Because it activates the vestibular system, the stimulation evoked the sensation of gently rocking on a boat