A Little-Known Secret To Fix Your Vagus Nerve, Banish Constipation, Use Nicotine As A Biohack & Much More!

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A few months ago, I briefly mentioned on a podcast that I discovered that by taking a specific blend of nutrients to support my vagus nerve, I was able to completely get rid of morning constipation. Today, my podcast guest, Dr. Diana Driscoll, is the individual who actually designed that blend, and who knows a heckuva lot about the vagus nerve and its interplay with our bodies.

Dr. Diana Driscoll is an optometrist who had always been healthy – she was also a bit of an exercise fanatic and geeked out with nutrition. But despite this history, she was struck down by an illness that few understood and was disabled for over a decade. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with something called POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) – a disorder of the autonomic nervous system and was told there was no cure for this mysterious condition.

When her children also became ill and doctors had no answers, she formed Genetic Disease Investigators to formally study these conditions. Dr. Driscoll is considered to be “the patients researcher”, bypassing notoriously slow academic research institutions to get answers quickly. Twelve years later, she is now the director of POTS Care – the only POTS Clinic focused on searching for the underlying cause of POTS, and treating it at its source. She has received two patents to date, and is now not only helping patients who are ill — she is reaching out to healthy folks who want to improve their quality of life and maximize their health, even into old age.

Dr. Driscoll graduated summa cum laude from both The University of Houston College of Optometry and The University of Texas at Austin. She is a geek, through and through. She is a member of the International Society of Neurovascular Disease, the American Headache Society, the Medical Advisory Board for EDS Network C.A.R.E.S, the American Optometric Association, the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society, and served as a medical advisor for the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation.  

Her peer-reviewed medical abstracts include those involving vascular abnormalities in the fundus of POTS patients, the etiology of left ventricular diastolic dysfunction, and the use of acetazolamide in multiple sclerosis. She is the author of “The Driscoll Theoryand “Your Eyes and EDS, and was the chief author of the “Ophthalmology Medical Resource Guide” for Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation

Dr. Driscoll is the recipient of numerous awards for patient advocacy and continues to donate her time to help others across the globe through her online forum and videos on YouTube.

Her work in chronic inflammation, the autonomic nervous system, collagen disorders, and organ dysfunction can help others live their best life, as well as have their best body and mind.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Diana's story and how she first became interested in her field of work…8:15

  • Contracted a virus during a missions trip to Costa Rica, but she was unable to kick it
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Poor sleep
    • Racing heart
    • Poor digestion
    • Developed a tremor
    • Memory loss
    • Difficulty handling any type of stress
  • Her kids began to develop similar symptoms
  • Treatment included more exercise, but nothing worked
  • Was disabled due to fatigue for over a decade

-The results of Diana's studies and research…14:15

  • “Layers of discovery” over the course of several years
  • Diana's blog
  • The Driscoll Theory
  • Abnormal inter cranial pressure
  • Inflammation was a factor
  • The exaggerated symptoms actually made it easier to discover the causes
  • Genetics play a large role (her children experienced the same symptoms)
  • Started by looking at the eyes (great window into systemic illness)

-A working definition of POTS…21:20

  • POTS is not a disease, it's a symptom
  • There was no specific diagnosis for her condition
  • Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system
  • ALS/Parkinson's begin with POTS symptoms
  • Astronauts get POTS while in space, due to the lack of gravity

-How dysfunction of the vagus nerve is correlated with POTS…24:30

  • The abnormal inter cranial pressure is indicative of a poorly functioning vagus nerve
  • When symptoms occur simultaneously (difficulty breathing, racing heart, gut dysfunction, etc.) it could be the vagus nerve
  • Ileocecal valve is linked to POTS and nerve function
    • Vagus nerve controls the function of the valve
  • Gastro motility linked to migrating motor complex (cleaning up digestive system)
    • Triggered by signals from the vagus nerve

-The nicotine-induced method Diana devised to repair the ileocecal valve…30:10

  • A kidney stone turned up 3 days after being cleared for kidney stones
  • The doctor confirmed the ileocecal valve was problematic
  • A surgeon refused to open the valve
  • Two parts of vagus nerve: preganglionic (extremely long) and postganglionic (extremely short)
  • Diana tried to stimulate the postganglionic nerve
  • The vagus nerve is a nicotinic acido cholinergic nerve (nicotine is the imitator of the vagal neurotransmitter)
  • She put a nicotine patch over the side of the ileocecal valve
    • Within hours, the symptoms began to subside
  • This changed the way Diana viewed the cause of the problem:
    • It wasn't an autoimmune condition affecting the receptors
    • It was either a preganglionic vagus nerve or a neurotransmitter problem
  • Ultimately nicotine was not a viable long-term solution

-The long-term solution Diana used to address her problem…40:10

  • Parasym Plus (use code BEN10 to save 10% on all products)
  • Established goals:
    • Use supplements already deemed safe by the FDA
    • Wanted it to work in spite of genetic issues
    • Stimulate postganglionic nerve just as nicotine did
    • Cross the blood-brain barrier to help cognition
  • Vagus nerve problems can be mistaken for acetylcholine production issues and vice versa
  • CHAT gene provides instructions for making a protein called choline acetyltransferase
  • It needed to account for nutrient malabsorption
  • Finding the right balance between stimulation and overstimulation of the vagus nerve was a challenge
  • Parasym is not a stool softener or a laxative; it allows a normal bowel movement by making the vagus nerve work properly
  • Primary ingredients: Huperzine, Acetyl-L-carnitine, Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine
  • Onnit Alpha Brain (use BEN for a 10% discount)
  • Diana was able to acquire a patent because of the unique blend (and balance) of ingredients; it's not just another nootropic

-The importance of the eyes in discovering vagal nerve issues…51:50

  • Pupil size is an indicator of the condition of the autonomic nervous system
    • The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are out of balance, resulting in large pupil sizes
    • High sensitivity to light
    • Pupils responded more consistently than HRV

-How to test for acetylcholine problems…55:00

  • Need to look for symptoms; there's no codified way of testing for problems
  • Genetic tests can identify issues to a limited degree
  • BravermanTest.com 

-The amount of time one can expect to use Parasym…58:00

  • Some will always need help
  • Feeling “good enough” can be deceptive
  • Vagus nerve is the anti-inflammatory pathway of the body
  • Reasons typical stimulants of the vagus nerve won't work:
    • Damage to the nerve
    • Genetic issues
    • Some inflammatory cytokines block the release of acetylcholine

-The current direction of Diana's work and research in light of her discoveries thus far…1:03:00

-And much more…

Click here for a PDF version of the show notes for this episode

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Parasym Plus (use code BEN10 to save 10% on all products)



-Diana's blog at PrettyIll.com

-The POTSCare.com website

-Book: The Driscoll Theory  by Dr. Diana Driscoll

-My podcast with Dr. Sarah Myhill “The Ultimate Guide To Beating Chronic Fatigue With Specific Vitamins, Minerals, Biohacks & More – A Conversation With Dr. Sarah Myhill.

The LUCY nicotine gum Ben chews

Onnit Alpha Brain (use BEN for a 10% discount)

Qualia Focus and Qualia Mind



-My podcast on “32 Ways To Support The Vagus Nerve

Episode sponsors:

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JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a nice bonus gift with your order!

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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Diana or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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86 thoughts on “A Little-Known Secret To Fix Your Vagus Nerve, Banish Constipation, Use Nicotine As A Biohack & Much More!

  1. Mike says:

    is this chat still active?

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      hey Mike, what’s your question?

  2. Janka says:

    I got to this site looking for a herbal cure for LPR. A disorder classified as a reflux problem but really isn’t. Me and so many other people it seems have no reflux. It’s all in the throat or voice box. I need a miracle cure for this because it is killing me silently. I suffer but nobody will know because we hide it out of embarrassment. I feel like some mucus/saliva is stuck on my voice box and try as I might to clear it, it’s stays stuck. There’s hardly any mucus anyway, and if I do see anything it is like a pinpoint size of a clear gel. And if I talk for more than 10 minutes my throat gets a humungous tickle and I am forced to start coughing. If I suppress it it will only get even more tickly, and if I let myself cough away, people will think I have the dreaded cold and nowadays they might think Covid.

    I feel not enough research is being done and it looks like many people have this problem looking at internet posts. I was fine until 2017 then after a bad flu and case of coughing non-stop from it for a couple of months, this started happening. So 4 years of this suffering and taking vitamins and probiotics and omega 3, etc…nothing stops it. I refuse those prescription PPI’s which apparently don’t even work for this disorder.

    Did the vagus nerve get affected by the virus or all the coughing? Did something happen to the physiology of my throat so something is twisted? Maybe nodules growing there? I feel something raw on the left side of my throat so I’m not sure if that could be it.

    1. Lyn says:

      Go get ur vegas nerve checked look up dr house and the vegas nerve

  3. desi says:

    Hi! Trying to get coupon code greenfield to work but no luck. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  4. leigh says:

    Dr Driscoll, I am desperate for help at 74. Everything started getting worse 2 years ago when I had a head injury that left my occiput clamped down on my 1st cervical vertabrae.

    after dealing with severe autonomic dysfunction for decades, (helped from cranial sacral, chiro, osteopath, homeopathy and alternative MDs) my chronic diarrhea has become life-threatening, needing IV fluids weekly. It is all hyperactive vagus nerve, ICV, and now the gallbladder involved from the dehydration. I am fascinated by the nicotine patch and might try that low-dose homeopathically on my ICV to stop the dumping of liters of watery diarrhea at a time. I have already been taking many of your ingredients (huperzine, etc) but I see that you only recommend those for low vagal tone, not hyper vagal tone. Please send me an email to my email address. I will pay you, but cant be on phone or computer much from severe nerve reactions.

    What should I stop vs start taking?

    1. Lyn says:

      Go get ur vegas nerve checked and have the paleo therapy on it

    2. Tom says:

      You need to know about Dr Ross Hauser at Caring Medical in Ft Myers FL. He has many youtube vids you should check out. You also need to know about Centeno Schultz / Regennex near Denver, but go to Hauser first. You will get a thorough workup there in a day or two. Specifically, if you go to Regenexx, you want to see Centeno himself for your condition.

      Dr Hauser is awesome ! His whole staff is awesome, and they earn their name every day.

  5. Paula Donato says:

    Thank you Thank you thank you…. I have been for 8 months having issues that I just couldn’t pinpoint and understand. As Dr Driscoll had many moons ago started her journey with a virus I was having Long Hauler Covid experiences and had gotten tested 3 times with negative result. So I was blessed with not being infected but oh man just having no control of the body or figuring out was frustrating. I finally self diagnosed with the help of another holistic podcast 6 months and realized my ileocecal value was open because of constant stress uncontrollable life issues with our historical year 2020 to put it politely…. So me being a constant healthy strick natural regime and knowing doing cleanses and used to knowing the full effect of hell it can become I was very aware of and happy going thru it for the outcome. 4 months later and NO better than before because it felt like I added more symptoms to my body was getting shut down. Now I am very appreciative of the POTS diagnoses and educational discussions about the connection with Vagal and ILEOCECAL relationships that I didn’t find on my many oh so many insomnia nights of looking up information on line. I am also buying a blue light machine cause I am a vampire and tired in the day and wired at night. Yes taken ever natural heathy nutritional Keto plan and vitamins to help with the problematic cleanse journey. Ordered the Parasym and wishing the positive best to reboost my system. Sincerely appreciate 🙏

    1. Damian says:

      Any follow up after taking Parasym?

  6. Ariella Coleman says:

    I thought this was a fascinating and important episode, and was intrigued enough by it to order the Parasym Plus. Unfortunately, I was incredibly disappointed to discover that the label indicates that the product “may contain soy,” though this info is not made available on the company’s website. I have a serious, life-threatening allergy to soy and was alarmed that the company did not include this critical safety information on their website.

    1. Stephen Martinez says:

      this is what it says on the website

      We have tested samples of alpha-GPC with a test to determine allergens called PCR (lab is Genetic ID), and we do not detect DNA fragmentation for soy at any level. However, due to the current FDA Food Allergen Labeling & Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) ruling, alpha-GPC currently requires the labeling of ‘soy’.

  7. D.Gill says:

    Dr. Discoll: I have had issues with reflux, and recently saw a very renowned Dr in NYC and after much Laryngopharyngeal testing, says I have post viral vagal neuropathy. I am to start taking Amitryptalline and Gabapentin to help with the neuropathy. It was curious to hear about the dry eyes, and constipation issues with the acetylcholine problems (which I also have issues with) in Ben’s podcast. I’m curious if the medication I am to start also affects acetylcholine, I wonder if that is why this Dr said ‘the vagus LOVES gabapentin’.

  8. Cathy Cooke says:

    Great information, thanks for this interview! I’m wondering about using this for people with SIBO- since so often it can be due to Ileocecal Valve issues. Any experiences with this?

  9. LLa says:

    Sorry I’m a little late to the party but any issues taking this with non-hashimoto’s hypothyroid? I am mostly concerned with taking it in the morning at or around the same time as my Synthroid….

    1. Hi LLa,

      I would recommend checking with your endocrinologist on that! They may want to watch your thyroid levels to be sure things remain stable.

      All the best,
      Dr. D

  10. Hi Diana, and Ben

    Thank you guys so much for what you do. I think my wife is struggling with some of the things gone over here. My wife is still pumping for about half of my daughters milk supply. Do you feel this is safe for my wife to take while still pumping for my daughter?

    1. Hi Ashley,

      There is just not enough information on whether or not these ingredients are safe for pregnant or lactating women to tell you if it is safe or not. Your wife’s health practitioner could help her decide what to do (a risk versus benefit analysis discussion). After weaning your daughter, though, absolutely!

      Enjoy that little one,
      :) Dr. D

  11. Ron says:

    Even after only a few days I’m noticing improved BMs (experience mild constipation ever since my first trip to the tropics 10 years ago) and what appears to be better short distance vision, etc. My question for anyone here is….if this indicates and issue with my vagus never or acetylcholine levels, etc…what else can I be doing to support this…in addition to taking this supplment?

    1. Hi Ron,

      I’m so happy to hear that Parasym Plus is helping! What you may find is that your overall feeling of wellness may continue to improve over months. What it was doing for my inflammation (which makes you feel old — we call it “inflammaging”) was basically invisible to me. But over time, I was more active than most twenty-somethings, I was sharper, and able to take on an amazing amount of projects. I wish the same for you!

      Parasym Plus should be sufficient to handle any issue with your vagus nerve or acetylcholine release. I came up with some special Digestive Enzymes and Soothing Digestive Aid for those who needed some additional support for a while (or for those who weren’t lucky enough to safe their gallbladders). Those products (and why they are special) are on the same website.

      If you wanted to do more, I would be tempted to dig deeper into your case. Why were you affected by your trip to the tropics? Ironically, I got sick after a virus I contracted in Costa Rica. What happened to me was that it kicked up some inflammation that my body just couldn’t fight well (my genetic cross to bear). If you are dealing with chronic inflammation, other things can happen (like fatigue, mood changes, etc) and that may be a clue. If that is the case, a doctor could look into other inflammatory conditions that may be affecting you (at POTS Care, we consider everything from autoimmunity to HLAB27 markers). It can be quite the puzzle, but it could get you more answers!

      I join you in your quest to be proactive in your health, Ron!

      :) Dr. D

  12. Ashley says:

    Hi Diana / Ben

    I am curious about Parasym Plus for use in constipation relief alone. I do not suffer from POTS, EDS, or MCAD and have read that buyers should be cautious when using this supplement for more general concerns alone like constipation, that aren’t accompanied by the specific diagnoses the product was created for. Do you have any insights here? Should I be concerned about potential side effects that may outweigh the pros of using this supplement, especially not having POTS etc?

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Contrary to what you read, Parasym Plus was NOT created for POTS, EDS, MCAS! These are often due to high inflammation and these patients usually respond beautifully, but as you heard from Ben, he did great on it, too! And he is certainly not sick! ;)

      There are a few reasons for problems with acetylcholine that can cause issues. Chronic inflammation that can reduce the release of acetylcholine is one important one and can affect a lot of people! People with chronic inflammation include autoimmune conditions, some “invisible illnesses” like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and POTS, normal aging, many conditions involving “-itis” (arthritis, gastroenteritis, ankylosing spondylitis — you get the picture), and interestingly, intense exercise. People with damage to their vagus nerve can also be dramatically affected.

      Everyone is different with supplements, of course, but all ingredients are deemed safe by the FDA. I hope it is hugely helpful for you!

      :) Dr. D

  13. Ullisses Caruso says:

    Hi there, I suffer from a light type of constipation. Have used Miralax which worked fine. I had daily bowel movements, but I know this is not a normal life. I removed it and now I have every other day with difficulties. Will Parasym Plus solve that? Is it considered a short term treatment or I will have to take it for the rest of my life?

  14. Debra Townley says:

    Thank you for continuing to share this information with patients and professionals who can better help us with your research!!! I have experienced great results from info in The Driscoll Theory and by using Parasym Plus. I have a question about this: My night vision improves using Parasym Plus, and is noticeably worse if I go without it. Can you please explain why this might be?

    1. Hi Debra,

      That is GREAT to hear! Thank you for your kind words.

      Night vision increases! Yes! What is happening is that the parasympathetic nervous system is boosted by Parasym Plus and this is causing your pupil sizes to normalize (get smaller). When pupils are too big, it is harder to focus up close and it is MUCH harder to see at nighttime! My guess is you saw some major starbursts and glare at night time — does that sound familiar?

      I mentioned in the podcast that in our studies, pupil size was a better measure of autonomic balance than heart rate variability! Of course, the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight system) makes your pupils larger, and the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest system) makes your pupils smaller. I find heart rate variability to be helpful, but perhaps overly sensitive (people can raise it just by doing a math problem in their head, for example). Pupil size, barring medications that change their size, is a great marker for autonomic balance.

      Large pupils? Big problems!
      Thanks for the great question,
      :) Dr. D

      1. Debra says:

        This makes sooo much sense! Thank you!

  15. Rebecca says:

    Dr Driscoll and Ben…thank you so much for the valuable information. Great podcast…I found it to be very helpful for myself and I’d like to try to help my sister. She suffers from major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. The medications she takes make her mind very fuzzy and she is constantly constipated. She currently uses magnesium citrate and has a bowel movement every other day if she is lucky. Could parasym plus help her even though her issues are likely caused by her meds? Thank you! Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      I’m so glad you found the information helpful — and you are such a good sister to think of her!

      At POTS Care, we see so, so many mood disorders (including depression and a bipolar-type presentation, but also a lot of high anxiety and OCD-type tendencies). When I was sick I went through every single one of them, and had I not been healthy for 46 years prior I would have wondered if I was just going mad (it certainly felt that way)! My symptoms were secondary to the damage the inflammation was doing to my body and my brain. It can be your first instinct to think that the medications are causing brain fog and constipation, but MY first thought is that the symptoms could be the consequence of the inflammation instead.

      With opioids, for example, constipation results. But Parasym Plus is usually able to restore bowel movements — despite the opioids!

      If your sister was my sister, I would suggest Parasym Plus AND NAC MAX — both of them. NAC MAX will help with the oxidation that can change the brain chemistry, while Parasym Plus gets the GI tract working again. The combination can be amazing. (And don’t forget the “Greenfield” coupon! Ben does such a great job of getting out information — we all want to support his efforts).

      Meanwhile, your sister is lucky to have you.
      Hugs to you both,
      Dr. D

      1. Rebecca says:

        Thank you SO MUCH Dr D. I’ll let you know how we both make out.


  16. Daisy says:

    Hi Diana,

    I was diagnosed with Lupus and POTS in February, months before that I worked out and did strength training 4-5 times a week. When I got sick it was so hard to even stand much less work out, lost a lot of my muscle tone. Some days are better than others, so I’ve decided after almost 6 months I would try going back to the gym. What would you recommend for me as I begin my journey back to the gym?

    1. Hi Daisy,
      I’m so sorry you have been dealing with so much! :( I am so excited, though, that you are ready to get back to exercising! It sounds like you were hitting the gym pretty hard before you got sick! When I was in Mayo’s clinical trials for POTS and I told him I was NOT deconditioned but was an exercise enthusiast like you, he said, “I see this all the time — the more athletic the patient, the harder they fall with POTS.” But why, I ask, do they still treat it as deconditioning? It was such a frustrating time, and nothing made sense for a long time!

      Exercise is great for so many many reasons (preaching to the choir here), but getting back to it after an illness can be hard for a while. Inflammatory cytokine release in exercise is a U-curve, if you will (the higher inflammation being at the tops of the U). Excercise when deconditioned is inflammatory and you can feel worse for a while. A very high amount of exercise (say a triathelon, or what Ben would call “masochistic” exercise :) is also inflammatory. The sweet spot is moderate exercise performed routinely — inflammatory cytokines go down (the bottom of the U).

      So when getting back to exercise (or if you are into more extreme exercise), you want to control the potential for runaway inflammation that can end up damaging the healthy tissue (not just the muscles that need to be broken down to be built stronger). The runaway inflammation goes systemic (throughout the body).

      The vagus nerve is the anti-inflammatory nerve of the body, and if it is not doing well for any reason, you won’t have that to help you! Parasym Plus will do that for you. If you have lupus, will you also consider controlling the oxidation that can contribute to damage? NAC MAX will help with that. Lupus can flare and inflammation and oxidation results. Keeping some of that to a low rumble (without further lowering your immune system) should be hugely helpful.

      Hang in through that tough beginning when you start back! I’m pulling for you!

      I have more on athletes and the vagus nerve here should that help: https://vagusnervesupport.com/athletes-vagus-nerve/

      :) Dr. D

  17. Kristin says:

    Any feedback regarding Parasym Plus helping someone with developmental trauma/ C-PTSD who’s nervous system is in a constant in a state of fear? Thx

    1. Hi Kristin,
      This is such a great question! One of the studies we ran with Genetic Disease Investigators was on autonomic symptoms in PTSD. It was amazing to see that the majority of patients who responded had so many autonomic symptoms — including the majority of vagus nerve symptoms AND those of low acetylcholine!

      I had Hyperadrenergic POTS — which is a rather extreme form of this. I was so flooded with norepinephrine (think “adrenaline”) that not only was I unable to fall asleep (sometimes for days), my anxiety and fear went nuts! I remember telling the doctors that “I think my body is having a panic attack without me”. My doctors tried to drug down my over-active sympathetic nervous system (understandably), but NO ONE ever considered that some of my problems could stem from an under-active parasympathetic nervous system! Amazing, right?

      PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) patients are often similar in this regard. Two things I would strongly suggest are Parasym Plus and NAC MAX. Parasym Plus will support the “rest and digest” system of the body (the parasympathetic nervous system) and NAC MAX will hit the oxidation that results from the chronic inflammation (this alters the brain chemistry toward anxiety). These two are a powerful combination. Information on NAC MAX (Ben and I didn’t get to discuss this — it’s also great after extreme exercise) is here: https://vagusnervesupport.com/nac-max-n-acetylcysteine-supplement/

      There are ways out of feeling that horrible state of constant sympathetic overdrive!! Once that is gone, you will never want to go back, my friend.

      Please don’t forget Ben’s discount coupon — “Greenfield” — and all the very best to you.

      :) Dr. D

  18. Tiffany says:

    Hello. I was wondering if trouble swallowing can be a vague nerve issue? I usually start off fine but about halfway through my meal the food will get to the back of my mouth and it feels like everything freezes up and the normal automatic swallow process doesn’t happen and I have to really concentrate to get the swallow to initiate. Thanks

    1. Hi Tiffany,
      Yes, it can be! The vagus nerve initiates the swallowing reflex. If you are trying to figure this out you can also look for other signs of vagus nerve problems (or like you heard, acetylcholine problems). Any issues with mental fatigue or brain fog, tendency to get constipation or dry eyes — that sort of thing.

      I don’t know anything about your case, but if you are dealing with any sort of “invisible illness”, please keep in mind the possibility of high intracranial pressure. Difficulty initiating a swallow is a weird sign that usually gets missed. Any pressure on the brainstem can cause autonomic symptoms, and difficulty initiating a swallow was something that occurred to me episodically from the intracranial pressure!. It’s so strange to think, “OK, now swallow” and nothing happens! Treating that is a bit more involved (holler if you need a copy of the book that goes into this — The Driscoll Theory), but is so important.
      Hopefully, it IS a vagus nerve issue and Parasym Plus saves the day!


      1. Tiffany says:

        Thank you, I will give Parasym Plus a try! Are there any bad side effects from taking it if the vagus nerve is not having issues?

        1. Tiffany, if your vagus nerve is not having problems, the only thing you may notice with Parasym Plus is improved cognition. Many people take it just for the brain effects!

          My husband has never been sick with vagus nerve issues, but he began to lose his memory — we were both terrified! While the neurologist tried to figure out what was going on I knew that in any form of dementia, you want to boost acetylcholine. He started Parasym Plus and was dramatically better overnight! I kid you not.

          The neurologist figure out that he had sleep apnea, and a C-Pap fixed that. But he still takes Parasym Plus every day for the cognition. My kids take more if they are in final exams or need to be as sharp as possible for some challenge. I lost my short-term memory completely (and even got to the point that I couldn’t read). I never want to go back there, if there is anything I can do to help keep that from happening!

          Brain support + vagus nerve + lacrimal nerve (tear production) — nothing else does it all.
          I wish you nothing but the best,

  19. Randy says:

    Diana, my 92 year old mother was recently hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer. She recovered, thank God but since has suffered from severe constipation. Her doctor simply says “take more Miralax” which doesn’t really help. My question is, does your product cause any issues with someone healing from an ulcer or susceptive to ulcers? For example, she’s been told no nsaids, no alcohol, etc.

    1. Hi Randy,
      I’m so sorry your mom was in the hospital! The severe constipation could be from many things (opioids for pain, some antibiotics, etc), BUT because low acetylcholine release is common as we age (called “inflammaging”) and because inflammation occurs with trauma (physical trauma to the body includes damage from ulcers), Parasym Plus could absolutely help her. I would recommend trying a couple of capsules first thing in the morning. If it irritates the ulcer at all, stop and wait a few days, then try again.

      If you want to play detective, you can see if she may be brain fogged a bit, or suffer with dry eyes, or if her pupils look larger. Those are all clues!

      We just had a patient at POTS Care whose dad is a physician and he said she had chronic constipation from her opioids. It makes sense, right? Parasym Plus gave her immediate relief and she was so excited to tell her dad! It is easy to blame getting older, or taking certain medications, or being stressed, as a reason for many issues. Doing that (and using rescues like MiraLax) is understandable, but the underlying problem is still there, and we are NOT our healthiest (and laxatives can cause issues with electrolytes and malabsorption eventually — caution there).

      My mom developed POTS at the age of 77! These issues have no age requirements.
      I wish the very best for you and your mom.

      1. Randy says:

        Thank you Diana! Are there any ingredients in the product that to the best of your knowledge might irritate the stomach lining?

        1. Hi Randy,

          No, but just having an ulcer *can* make anything irritating! So it really is trial and error.

          I hope she feels better very soon!

  20. raymond says:

    Hi Dr. Driscoll (and many thanks to Ben for all the greatness that comes from him!)

    I bought a bottle of Paraysym+ for my mom (81) who has constipation, dry eyes & light sensitivity.

    I just read the comment about TBI and dysautonomia. I had 2 trauma’s to my head that required stitches, the 1st was when I was about 5 years old, the 2nd about 12 years old. That probably counts as TBI I suspect. I do have those brain fog, mood and some fatigue issues. Do you think Parasym+ can improve TBI sypmtoms?

    Thank you Dr. Driscoll for sharing your work :)


    1. Hi Raymond, Your mom is a great example of someone who may not be ill, but who could easily blame things like constipation or dry eyes on getting older — but that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do beyond symptomatic treatment! As we get older, inflammation goes up naturally (what is called “inflammaging”). The increase in inflammatory cytokines cause problems to occur — including a slowly increasing blockage of acetylcholine. We get more (mentally) sluggish or (gastrointestinally) constipated — maybe we experience some ocular dryness or more anxiety. But if we support acetylcholine, this can be dramatically improved! In our studies on chronic dry eyes, it took 4-6 weeks for the dry eyes to go away. You want to be sure she takes it basically on an empty stomach the first thing in the morning, OK? In our studies, when we mixed it with food it didn’t work!

      TBI is fascinating and we see a lot of it at POTS Care. I can tie in the science beautifully (maybe Ben will be up for a podcast on this someday), but in the meantime, you need to understand that trauma to the brain is very inflammatory. Some people can take a hit and seem fine — others go DOWN and just can’t recover! If someone struggles (like I do) with some chronic inflammation PRIOR TO THE INJURY, they do much worse. If you have issues with inflammation for any reason, acetylcholine release is diminished. In fact, there is a (peer-review published) journal article about POTS in TBI (and lots of articles about autonomic dysfunction in TBI patients — everything from large pupils to constipation). YES! I think Parasym Plus will help with some of these symptoms. It will boost acetylcholine, not just for the brain, but for the vagus nerve and the lacrimal nerve. Can I also mention that TBI can result in high intracranial pressure that is almost always missed? If you are interested in this, you can call POTS Care and ask for a free copy of “The Driscoll Theory” where this was first released. I hope it helps!

      And I join you in thanking Ben for his work!

      All the best to you,

      1. Ray says:

        Thank you so much for relying!

        I actually bought my mom 2 bottles but I think I’m gonna keep 1 for me!

        I’m very looking forward to receiving it!

        Thank you again for you work,

        1. That’s FUNNY! Nothing wrong with that!

          Please keep me posted, Ray!

          1. Raymond says:

            Good morning Dr Driscoll,

            I wanted to let you know we received our order and started taking Parasym Plus!
            I will be very happy to keep you posted but I wanted to ask if this is the best place to do so?
            I instructed mom to take these on an empty stomach and she is!

            For me, first thing in the morning I take a “binder” type supplement that instructs me to not take anything for at least 30 min after that, So I’ve been taking Parasym after that, washing it down with a buttered up, oiled up style coffee. Is that okay?

            Thanks in advance and have a wonderful day :)

      2. Ray says:

        Hi Dr Driscoll,

        I wanted to share some feedback with you,
        My mom has been taking parasym + since we got it, (about 2 1/2 weeks ago)

        She likes it as it is helping her bathroom experience. Her dry eyes have maybe gotten worse but we know she hasn’t been taking it long enough yet for that benefit.

        As for me, I took parasym + for 3 days and I felt horribly dizzy and generally unwell all over. It took me a while to figure out it was parasym but I’m fairly certain it was the parasym making me feel ill.

        Can you fathom any guess why?

        Thank you &
        Happy September,

        1. Harbormom says:

          Hi Ray,
          I’m curious to know if you figured out your dizziness? I just ordered Parasym+, but I’ve had issues with L-carnitine in the past. Not dizziness, but cranky mood. Also, the Parasym+ does contain microcrystalline cellulose which is said to be well tolerated. However, many people with chronic health issues react to it and it’s a hard one to trace. I am hesistant to try the product, but still hopeful.

  21. Brittney says:

    Hi Dr Driscoll!

    Great information from you and Ben here. Curious if this would be safe for my 11 year old son to take? My integrative med doctor gave him a vagus nerve supplement to take recently. He’s tested positive for epstein barr and other viruses which we’ve treated holistically. Seems when viral issues flair up he will complain of stomach pain, nausea and pain behind the eyes. He gets a “tiredness” behind the eyes. Eyes seem to show us issues he’s having because he recently had eye therapy for convergence insufficiency. Interestingly enough I seem to have similar issues too with that eye strain and digestive distress. Thank you!

    1. Hi Brittney, I’m so sorry that your son is having some issues. First – YES — not only is this safe for kids, my son was what he likes to call “Patient Zero”! Of course, he was actually Patient One — I was Patient Zero (lol), but his lack of nutrient absorption, leading to severe osteoporosis when he was about your son’s age was one of my biggest motivators to getting answers! I gave him two doses /day for a long time — until I was certain he was absorbing! He continues with one dose a day (an occasional extra dose for exams) and does just fine. In fact, he told me today that he bench-pressed 196lbs for the first time today (osteoporosis is certainly a thing of the past). One thing you said, though, gives me pause — his nausea and pain behind his eyes. Did you see “The Driscoll Theory”? The book is on my old blog — www.Prettyill.com — or you can call POTS Care (www.POTSCare.com) and ask for a free copy. (just mention Ben). Please take a look! What I released was a propensity for high intracranial pressure in the majority of patients with autonomic dysfunction. It explains it all.

      All the best to you and your son,
      Dr. D :)

  22. Randeep says:

    Really enjoyed the episode and much props to Dr. Driscoll for not giving up here. For someone like me that doesn’t really have any problems, is this still a valid supplement to take just to improve overall health?

    1. Hi Randeep, You may be the rare bird who is just fine — someone I *really* envy!. If you show no indications of poor vagus nerve function (constipation, fatigue, dry eyes, brain fog, high heart rate variability) the only reason I could see that you may want to still consider Parasym Plus may be for cognition. My kids even take it for finals — it can really help! But if not, I’d put my money in some Kion coffee and enjoy yourself! :)

  23. Hans says:

    Hi Ben, Dr. Diana, I was mesmerized by this podcast. My Mom is 89. She has had a list of health concerns all her life. She has every symptom that you mentioned. One of my brothers and I have several of the issues you mentioned. My Mom was constipated most of her life. For the past year, she has suffered from Diarrhea. Could the diarrhea be possibly be helped by your formula?

    All the best, Hans

    1. Hi Hans, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s issues and even some things that may affect you and your brother. Interestingly, my mom developed POTS when she was 77! When I looked back on my life and that of my kids I could see signs — and wish I knew then what I know now so we could have avoided becoming so sick! With diarrhea, you, of course, need to rule out the “regular stuff”. You don’t want to miss something like C. Diff or Crohn’s disease, right? If the doctors end up stumped, your mom could have some generalized inflammation that her doctors don’t understand (BEEN THERE)! At one point, my diarrhea got so bad that I was having around 35 “bowel movements” a day — Gads! It stopped on a double dose of Zantac after just a few days. THEN, the underlying constipation/gastroparesis showed itself once again! That’s when Parasym Plus can slip into place. For me, my inflammation was not only the cause of diarrhea (which I could stop), but also (ironically), the constipation/gastroparesis (because it blocked the release of acetylcholine). It was a difficult path to answers, but staying firmly in the science revealed it all. BTW, for my mom, we put her on both Zantac and Zyrtec (double doses), and started what is now known as Parasym Plus. Everyone is different, but perhaps what we learned (and what was missed by our doctors) could be helpful for you? :)

      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. D:)

  24. Meredith says:

    Hello Ben and Diana. Fascinating podcast, loved it. Has helped me immensely with some of what I’ve been very slowly piecing together for myself and given me a new boost to keep pushing…because that can be the hard thing. My diagnosed IBS-C has responded relatively well to a prokinetic agent (prucalopride) for 2 months now, but as well as not being able to remain on it long term it’s still not a perfect fix and requires a host of other actions on my part to keep things moving. Also, any stressful episode is enough to undo my good works…My autonomic nervous system is not automated. I’m keen to try ParaSym but as I live in Australia (& shipping is expensive and takes ages) I’m pondering trying a nicotine patch to see if my body responds to that first to confirm whether ParaSym is the right direction to go. As a never-smoker…can I assume the lowest dose nicotine patch is enough, and I place it over the area and leave it on for the time recommended on the box? And will one patch be enough to give me some indication as to how well my body responds to nicotine? It’s a bit like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together in the dark, so any suggestions or personal experiences if trying something similar will be welcomed, thank you.

    1. Hi Meredith, I think stepping back and looking at your body as a whole will help you get some answers. If you are dealing with IBS-C and your doctors have ruled out the usual causes, you can look at other signs/symptoms of autonomic dysfunction. After all, what this turned out to be for most of us was NOT just a vagus nerve problem! This was a neurotransmitter problem, which means it can affect other areas of the body that depend upon the same neurotransmitter (acetylcholine). The brain uses acetylcholine for short-term memory, for sharp cognition, and for “executive function” (the ability to juggle many things at once and still stay organized). Many people describe low acetylcholine in the brain as “brain fog” or “thinking through oil”. Does this affect you? The lacrimal nerve depends upon acetylcholine, too, so when that is low, people begin to develop dry eyes — I’d watch both for dryness and large pupils (which also demonstrate a low parasympathetic nervous system). Your mention of a poor stress response was one of my worst symptoms! I got so bad that I couldn’t even answer the phone — it was too stressful! Now if you try a nicotine patch, lowest doses should be fine. In our studies, we had a couple of people who didn’t have bowel movements because they were impacted (they had hard stool that wouldn’t move with a blow torch), so don’t let your stool get hard! Interestingly, in our studies, oral nicotine did not produce the same response — it had to be transdermal. If a bowel movement results, remember that nicotine won’t offer help with your other acetylcholine nerves, though (and boy, did it activate inflammation in my body!). Fingers crossed for you! :)

  25. Biff says:

    Wow! Couldn’t finish, dumbest podcast I’ve run across in awhile.

    1. hans says:

      You should have finished it, and then listened two more times. Unbelievably good podcast. My mom has suffered from exactly the same symptoms. I guess. that if you or none of your loved ones are dealing with any these symptoms it could be hard to follow but calling this podcast dumb is incomprehensible to me.

      1. Thank you for the support, Hans! If we get super sick (as your mom and I did) it DOES become more important to us, but I see SO MANY people who think they just need to deal with some things because they are getting old, or are stressed out, or are working (or working out) too hard. These are the folks who, although not sick, can really improve the quality of their lives — cognition, digestion, nutrient levels, even organ function! I can’t tell you how many gallbladders I see that are yanked, but nothing good comes from it. If we can do a better job of recognizing this, many of us will be healthier and better overall.
        I wish the very best for your mom,
        :) Dr. D

    2. I get it, Biff! If you are an athlete who is healthy and happy, this may all seem unimportant, right? What Ben was saying was that he saw a fair number of athletes demonstrating low parasympathetic nervous system function — and it even affected him! I think there is a reason for that, and by recognizing the signs/symptoms, your performance can increase AND any supplements or stacks that you take will be more likely to be absorbed. Many of us push through some symptoms, thinking we’re just stressed or working out too hard. But if acetylcholine is getting blocked by the inflammatory cytokines that are released in intense exercise, we can address this directly — and be better, stronger, and healthier. I have more information about athletes and the vagus nerve here (if I’m allowed to put links here, I’m not sure!): https://vagusnervesupport.com/athletes-vagus-nerve/
      All the Best!
      :) Dr. D

  26. Maryanne says:

    Chased down many similar issues with my daughter who was a division 1 swimmer…. so confusing that a athlete could perform at that intense level and have these physical issues. A neurological chiropractor was integral in her healing- the eye exercises he did with her made a difference.

  27. Liz says:

    Hi, the discount code for the Parasym product does not seem to work. Help?

    1. Can you try again? "GREENFIELD" Seems to be working on my end.

      1. Melissa says:

        I can’t get the code GREENFIELD to work either :(

        1. Mary says:

          I can’t use the code either.

        2. It's still working for me. Can you send a screenshot of your error message to [email protected]?

  28. Bailey says:

    I hear Ben say a lot of negative things about soy and soy products but have never heard why he steers clear of it. Anyone know which article or podcast to listen to and learn more?

    1. Brandon says:

      Soy products increase the production of estrogen in your system. Increased Estrogen is not ideal for peak male performance.

      1. Michael Rosen says:

        what are the genetic markers for chronic vagal nerve issues that you have Diana? Would like to check myself, thanks!

  29. Nick says:

    Interesting learning/memory stack. I already take something similar (less aGPC though because I get a lot of choline through pastured eggs). Even with an on-off split, curious about the effects of long term acetylcholinesterase inhibition.

  30. Stefanie Hilton says:

    Is she saying that her supplement will help with Sjorgen’s syndrome?

    1. Hi Stephanie, If Sjogren’s is in its early stages (that is, the lacrimal gland is not completely destroyed), then Parasym Plus will provide the lacrimal nerve the stimulus needed for the lacrimal gland to produce more tears. Because it also stimulates the (postganglionic) vagus nerve, it will also help with the inflammation that occurs with Sjogren’s. The trick is that you still need some functional gland! If blood tests are negative for Sjogren’s, but you were diagnosed from the presentation of dry eyes and dry mouth, that would be all the more reason to take Parasym Plus. We have seen what other doctors have called “the worst case of dry eyes I’ve ever seen” reverse completely. In our studies, it took 4-6 weeks. Fingers crossed for you!

      1. Stefanie Hilton says:

        Thank you so much!

      2. Deneen says:

        This is the reason I have ordered it! I have dry eyes so bad I have a chronic corneal ulcer in my left eye. Imagine feeling like you have sand in your eye all of the time. Fingers crossed!!

  31. Barbara Simoes says:

    Ben, you are so insanely amazing. I wish you aaaallll the health, wealth and wisdom as you can take!! Infinite thanks from Brazil

  32. Kathleen says:

    This sounds like classic Beriberi- thiamine deficiency. I highly suggest looking at Dr. Derrick Longsdales work. Here is his book: https://www.amazon.com/Thiamine-Deficiency-Diseas…

    1. Hi Kathleen, I absolutely developed Vitamin B1 deficiency — but I became deficient in most everything! I WISH it had been limited to Vitamin B1! ;) A propensity for Vitamin B1 deficiency has already been published concerning POTS (as has Vitamin B12 deficiency). What I ask, instead, is WHY? It is so easy to get sufficient B vitamins! Why are we not absorbing? As you heard, this ended up not being just a vagus nerve problem, nor was it limited to a handful of vitamin deficiencies! In fact, my doctors wanted me to remove my gallbladder – my ejection fraction was a pitiful 8%. My gallbladder works like a champ now! :)

  33. Tara says:

    Have you interviewed Stephen Porges on the Polyvagal Theory? It’s part of the right-brained nervous system regulation work of SRT (Self Regulation Therapy) as developed by the Canadian Foundation for Trauma Research and Education and gives health practiioners a ton of insight into vagal tone and how to use it to guide diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy progress among other things. Includes of course a lot of vagus nerve info as well. Huge monster of a book but he’s the guru on this stuff neuroscientifically.

    With regards to genetic expression and epigenetics – have you touched base with Dr. Dan Stickler of Aperion? Wow. He is a wealth of information on this and his performance centers are the next wave of integrated medicine. Highly recommend along with checking in with Kirk Parsley again on new projects/products in this same alignment.

    1. Barbara says:

      Thank you very much for your comment!!

  34. Ashley says:

    Hi Ben, I listen to your podcasts using the podcasts app on my iPhone but your episodes aren’t updating. I’ve received a few emails about new podcasts but none of them are actually showing up. The last podcast was from July 18th.

    1. Hans says:

      Hi Ashley, I had the same issue using the podcasts app on my iphone. I downloaded “Podbean” and it loaded with all the podcasts! you may choose to try that.

    2. Deneen says:

      Same was happening to me on Castbox, Ben’s podcast was the only one not updating. When I got a new phone, placed my old SIM card in it and opened Castbox, there was all the podcasts and it updates now. My recommendation is to do a hard reset of you phone or take the SIM card out and put back in.

  35. Mary says:

    No podcast – no media.

  36. Teja says:

    HI Ben, thank you for your fabulous podcasts and amazing body of work. Perhaps it’s just my browser saying: ‘No media found’ on top of the page – under Dr. Driscoll’s image and BENGREENFIELDFITTNESS. Have a delightful weekend, keep on rocking. :)
    All best wishes, Teja

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