What is the Vagus Nerve and what does it do?
The Vagus Nerve is the longest and most complex cranial nerve. It runs from your brain to the gut and branches off throughout the body, into your heart, lungs, liver, stomach, kidney, and spleen!
The Vagus Nerve controls several essential functions:
Regulates your sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system (your body’s ability to rest/relax/de-stress). Here is a reminder of what their jobs are:
The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is released by the vagus nerve and promotes anti-inflammatory benefits that can relieve undesired symptoms. A study in 2011 showed that eight rheumatoid arthritis patients that had four minutes of vagus nerve stimulation for 42 days experience a GREAT reduction in symptoms, and two of them completed remission.
Immune system function
Because it helps to reduce inflammation, this helps our immune system out by not putting it under chronic stress
80% of the vagus nerve’s fibers (4 out of 5 traffic lanes) deliver information from the enteric nervous system (the second brain in the gut) to the brain.
There is a connection between heart failure and an underactive vagus nerve. There are several studies currently investigating the effects of vagus stimulation on patients with heart failure and atrial fibrillation (fluttered/irregular heart rate)
Your Vagus Nerve can be activated or toned through a variety of exercises and supplements. Engaging and toning your Vagus Nerve activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to ease anxiety, lower stress, and promote a good mood. This can also help improve blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, inflammation, and more.
How can I tone my Vagus Nerve?
Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing
Humming. Since the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords
Cold exposure: cold showers, cold weather
Balancing the gut microbiome. The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a positive feedback loop through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone.
Taking probiotics can help increase healthy bacteria in the gut and support the vagus nerve.
Omega 3 fatty acids (Fish Oil) – necessary for normal electrical functioning of your brain and nervous system
Toning the Vagus Nerve will help to improve your mood, de-stress, decrease inflammation, calm digestion and regulate your heart rate. You have incredible power within your body to heal using these tools!