Most cells in the body react to signals of the autonomic nervous system. This explains the importance of this unconscious part of our nervous system for homeostatic regulation and hemodynamic balance. Searching for a suitable test for the organismic response to acupuncture, Nogier discovered a cardiovascular reaction, which could be triggered by slightly stimulating certain points mechanically on the human ear (Nogier, 1972). He called it “réflexe auriculo cardiaque” or RAC, known in English as Vascular Autonomic Signal or VAS, (Oleson, 2002) without being able to give sufficient physiological explanation or an autonomic regulatory background. Later Bahr developed this method and used it as a diagnostic test in acupuncture (Bahr and Strittmatter, 2010). Indeed, the Nogier reaction has found its way to the Chinese mainland acupuncture textbooks today (Bahr and Strittmatter, 2014). Medical doctors utilizing the Nogier reaction report that even minor disturbances of the autonomic nervous system can be observed.
Averaged Stimulus Responses
The figure below shows averaged stimulus responses of RR-intervals (20 participants). The difference from the mean of the last seven pulse intervals prior to stimulation application is plotted. Stimuli were applied at time zero (0), indicated by vertical green line. Abscissa: Number of beats before/after stimulus, ordinate: RR-interval (ms, mean +/- SEM). A total of 392 sequences were used for each figure. Red asterisks show post hoc t-tests of the total sample against zero with p < 0.01.
Utilizing methods of signal processing, and averaging to highlight a possible physiological explanation of the VAS reaction and make it measurable by scientific methods, this investigation statistically analyzed cardiovascular signals derived during the repeated application of small physiological stimuli. Additionally, the possible application of the Nogier reaction testing for the identification of functional disorders evoked by a disturbed sensitivity or reactivity of the autonomic nervous system was also investigated. The results of this study are important for bedside identification of functional disorders using VAS.
Moser M, Frühwirth M, Messerschmidt D. Investigation of a Micro-Test for Circulatory Autonomic Nervous System Responses. Frontiers in Physiology 2017;8:448. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.00448/full