The Neuvana Xen is a transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) device. Paired with earbuds, the Xen delivers mild electrical stimulation through the ear to stimulate the vagus nerve, reducing stress and inducing relaxation. But does it really work and is it worth buying? Let’s find out in this complete Neuvana Xen review!
Review of: Neuvana Xen
Use: Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device
Helps decrease stress & anxiety.
Ease of Use
Easier than most VNS devices.
Product is sleek. App is clunky.
Great product but quite expensive.
What I Like
What I Dislike
Summary: Neuvana Xen can be great for decreasing stress and improving sleep and heart rate variability. The Xen is far more passive than other devices; you could even use it while meditating or practicing yoga for double the benefits. The Xen can be expensive with a slight learning curve for setting up and using the app.
There’s still a lot to cover in this Neuvana Xen review. This is no small investment, so keep reading to really decide if you’d get your money’s worth from this tool!
From $449 (Minus 15% with Coupon Code: DONTPANIC)
Don’t let the science-y jargon scare you off – the main appeal to the Neuvana Xen is that you don’t need to learn all this stuff. With the Xen, the electrical frequencies and rhythms come preprogrammed in the app and are already optimized for relaxation. This info is optional but recommended.
What is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)?
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a therapy using low voltage electrical current for pain relief. Electrical current is generally administered using adhesive electrodes attached to the body.
What is Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)?
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) is a therapy delivering electrical impulses to the vagus nerve. Traditional VNS usually involves surgical implantation of a pacemaker-like generator programmed to stimulate the vagus nerve via the neck.
What is Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tVNS)?
Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tVNS) is electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve through or across unbroken skin. The Neuvana Xen accomplishes tVNS through auricular (ear) stimulation.
What is Heart Rate Variability (HRV)?
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the slight fluctuation in time between heartbeats. HRV is controlled by both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, so it’s frequently measured as a way to detect current or future health problems such as anxiety, depression, or heart conditions.
How Does Neuvana Xen Work?
The Neuvana Xen works by sending small electrical impulses through the provided earbuds. This electrical stimulation (tVNS) passes through the skin harmlessly to reach the vagus nerve via the ear.
The vagus nerve is our primary parasympathetic nerve, responsible for our body’s relaxation response. Neurostimulation of the vagus nerve helps us to leave “fight or flight mode” and allows us to switch gears into “rest and digest mode.” In other words, the vagus nerve is the nerve we want firing if we’re trying to combat anxiety.
While VNS devices have been around for years, they’ve traditionally required surgical implantation of a battery-powered VNS device. This can be highly effective for treating issues like severe depression or drug-resistant epilepsy; unfortunately, it’s an extremely invasive procedure. Neuvana’s Xen device claims to offer similar benefits via transcutaneous stimulation at a fraction of the cost and risk.
What Science Says About tVNS
Transcutaneous (aural and cervical) vagus nerve stimulation is still a relatively new field of study. There are many questions that need answering, and the potential of tVNS has yet to be fully explored. So far, research into this non-invasive treatment method has been extremely promising; tVNS can certainly be an effective way to modulate the central nervous system in some cases. 
One study on a group of participants aged 55+ found significant benefits of tVNS when administered daily for two weeks. Among these participants, quality of life, sleep, and mood all improved following daily tVNS. Results seemed to be stronger among participants who showed lower quality of life, sleep, and mood at the start of the experiment. 
For people seeking anxiety relief through neurostimulation of the vagus nerve, tVNS seems to be a great option. But the benefits of tVNS may go even further.
A study found that tVNS could support divergent thinking and creativity (perhaps by increasing GABA).  As a content creator always looking for an edge, this is definitely something I want to explore more, perhaps using my Neuvana Xen while brainstorming new ideas.
Another study found a dual-benefit of vagus nerve stimulation in general. This study suggested that VNS could not only decrease our fear response, but also help us to conquer our fears faster when paired with exposure therapy (which I am a massive advocate of – learn more about exposure therapy here). 
What People are Saying About Xen
Before using the Neuvana Xen, I scoured the Internet to see what other people were saying about the device. This is important, since other people may have different experiences than myself. I definitely noticed a few consistent opinions.
Most People Love Xen for:
My Experience with the Neuvana Xen
Truthfully, I experienced a rollercoaster of opinions when first using the Xen.
- My first impression: Wow, this is an impressive looking little device. Everything from the design to the packaging was extremely sleek, clean, and attractive.
- My second impression: Wait… is this thing connected to the app properly? I don’t feel any electrical stimulation… am I doing this right?
- My third impression: Oh, now I’ve got the hang of it! This is actually pretty cool.
The Xen was definitely designed and packaged with aesthetics in mind. My first instinct was to be excited to use it, although that excitement was quickly tempered by some confusion with pairing the device to my phone. It also took me a few minutes to figure out I should be spraying the earbud with saline solution (in all fairness, I’m someone who skips instruction manuals). Once I had these little quirks figured out, the app and device actually ran perfectly for me.
There are three types of sessions to choose from once in the app:
- Sync: Pair with your own music; electrical impulses will fire to the beat. This is my favorite mode to use the device in.
- Sensation: Electrical impulses will fire in preset rhythmic patterns that you can choose from. This is the recommended mode for beginners.
- Ambient: The device will use a microphone to sync electrical impulses to ambient sound in your environment.
In any of these modes, you will also choose from a list of "waveform" options. You can experiment with these over time; I usually just select waveform C. Don't overthink it too much, they should all get the job done.
Initially, I found tVNS through the Xen to be mildly relaxing. The changes to my immediate mood, stress levels, and sleep quality were not profound, but they were present. Over a longer period of time (several weeks), I noticed increased benefits to my sleep, mood, and stress levels. This is likely due to regular tVNS increasing vagal tone over time, priming me to enter a relaxed state more easily.
Ultimately, I found the Xen (and tVNS in general) to be an extremely convenient way to improve sleep, mood, and stress via the vagus nerve. Compared to devices I’ve tried in the past, the Xen is unique as a neurological adjunct to other forms of treatment. Best of all, the passive nature of the Xen makes it perfect for those seeking long-term mental health benefits with minimally required effort.
My Top 5 Tips for Using the Neuvana Xen
- Most “issues with the app” are probably people not realizing that you need to pair the device via Bluetooth twice. Once through your phone settings, and once through the app itself (Bluetooth icon at top right corner). This was my #1 mistake, personally.
- Don’t forget to spray the left earbud with some saline solution (salt + water mixed). This will help increase conductivity so the electrical impulses can do their job.
- Start in Sensation Mode your first time to get a feel for things. Neuvana recommends Waveform C and the Mountaintop sensation. Later, you can experiment with different sensations or syncing the impulses to your own music.
- For intensity, I like to go as high as I can comfortably tolerate, then turn it down a notch or two. Feel free to use whatever intensity feels right to you.
- If paired with music, intensity scales with volume. This is just something to keep in mind as you set the intensity, as the impulses will become stronger as you raise the volume.
Neuvana Xen Review: Pros and Cons
Neuvana Xen Review: Before You Buy
VNS and tVNS are most definitely effective. The real question is, is the Neuvana Xen the best tVNS device for you?
Overall, my review of the Neuvana Xen found it to be a pretty cool little device. Far less invasive than traditional VNS devices, the Neuvana Xen could be a quick and easy stress solution for many. The best things about the Neuvana Xen are how passively it works (spray, plug, and play) and how seamlessly it can be combined with other coping mechanisms like meditation or yoga. The biggest drawbacks to Neuvana Xen are the learning curve while using the app and the price.
There are cheaper options, but they’d involve a significant time investment from the user. Some people like to modify cheap TENS devices for tVNS use. To me, this looks much trickier to setup and could increase risk of side effects or harm if used incorrectly. Additionally, you’d need to learn a lot about pulse rates, frequencies, etc. in order to figure out how to adjust the device specifically for anxiety relief. I’d personally steer clear of this route unless you were really pressed for money and already had a good working knowledge of TENs devices and VNS.
Because stimulation of the vagus nerve can improve vagal tone, repeated use of a tVNS device like the Xen will likely increase results over time. Neurons that fire together wire together; the more frequently we stimulate the vagus nerve, the more readily our brain will relax in the future.
Since the price of Neuvana Xen is no joke, I’ve worked out a deal with the manufacturer to get a discount for my audience. Let me know how you like it if you buy one!
Whenever you’d like (provided it’s safe to do so). I like to use the Xen once in the morning, and once before bed.
Whichever you’re comfortable with. I like to feel to tingling sensation in my ear to know it’s working, without it being so intense as to cause discomfort. I recommend going up to the most intense setting that doesn’t cause you discomfort, then turning it down a few notches.
Physically, you should feel a slight buzzing or tickling sensation at the tVNS contact site; this should not be causing pain. Mentally, you may feel a boosted mood or sense of relaxation. For some people, these benefits will be noticed in a matter of minutes; others may need to use the device over a longer period of time to experience benefits.
Neuvana recommends starting with two 15-minute sessions per day. Over time, you may increase the length of your sessions, but never to more than 30 minutes per session.
 Yap JYY, Keatch C, Lambert E, Woods W, Stoddart PR, Kameneva T. Critical Review of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Challenges for Translation to Clinical Practice. Front Neurosci. 2020 Apr 28;14:284. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.00284. PMID: 32410932; PMCID: PMC7199464.
 Bretherton B, Atkinson L, Murray A, Clancy J, Deuchars S, Deuchars J. Effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation in individuals aged 55 years or above: potential benefits of daily stimulation. Aging (Albany NY). 2019 Jul 30;11(14):4836-4857. doi: 10.18632/aging.102074. PMID: 31358702; PMCID: PMC6682519.
 Colzato LS, Ritter SM, Steenbergen L. Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) enhances divergent thinking. Neuropsychologia. 2018 Mar;111:72-76. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 8. PMID: 29326067.
 Redgrave J, Day D, Leung H, Laud PJ, Ali A, Lindert R, Majid A. Safety and tolerability of Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve stimulation in humans; a systematic review. Brain Stimul. 2018 Nov-Dec;11(6):1225-1238. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2018.08.010. Epub 2018 Aug 23. PMID: 30217648.