vagus nerve stimulation

The Vagus Nerve: Why Should It Be Stimulated for Better Health?

vagus nerve stimulation

The vagus nerve is the most important nerve you probably didn’t know you had! It is extremely critical for general health, being closely connected to several organs and systems of the body. The vagus nerve has fibers that touch virtually all of our internal organs. The management and processing of emotions happens through the vagus nerve and the connection with the heart, brain and intestines, which is why we have a strong intestinal reaction to intense mental and emotional states.

Vagal nerve tone is essential for activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Vagal tone is measured by following the heart rate along with the respiratory rate. Heart rate speeds up a little when we breathe and slows down a little when we exhale. The greater the difference between heart rate by inhalation and heart rate by exhalation, the higher the vagal tone. High vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress.

The vagus nerve can be affected by heavy metals such as mercury, multiple conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, respiratory viral infections or by the nerve being accidentally cut during an operation. Stress can inflame the nerve, along with fatigue and anxiety, as well as poor posture and poor nutrition.

Organs and Systems Affected by Vagus Nerve Function.

Gastrointestinal system.

Given the importance of the vagus nerve in the digestive system, when it does not work well it causes a variety of intestinal problems including: constipation, dyspepsia, gastroparesis, gastroesophageal reflux, colitis, anorexia, bulimia, food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome. The vagus nerve regulates stomach acidity, gastric juices and transit. Through the secretion of intrinsic factor, the vagus nerve plays an important role in the absorption of vitamin B12. In the liver and pancreas, it helps control blood glucose. In the gallbladder it helps to eliminate bile, which also causes the elimination of toxins.

Brain.

In the brain, the vagus nerve helps control anxiety and depression.

The cardiac system.

In the heart, the vagus nerve controls the variability of heart rate and blood pressure. Vagus nerve activation releases dopamine into the kidneys, which helps eliminate sodium, lowering blood pressure.

Kidney.

The vagus nerve supports the general function of the kidneys. Lower vagus nerve stimulation may cause frequent urination, in addition to low levels of vasopressin and aldosterone and high levels of cortisol.

The hormonal system.

Vagus nerve stimulation normalizes the high activity of the HPA axis – the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex. Insulin activates the vagus nerve, which lowers glucose production in the liver. In addition to its role in the secretion of oxytocin, the vagus nerve also plays an important role in the secretion of testosterone, the production of growth hormone and the stimulation of parathyroid hormone, important for the conversion of vitamin D3 into active vitamin D, calcitriol.

Other actions of the vagus nerve in the body:

  • activation of the vagus nerve will reduce inflammation in all organs by secreting acetylcholine.
  • helps control female fertility and orgasm by connecting to the cervix, uterus and vagina.
  • helps control taste and saliva, and the secretion of tears.
  • stimulation of the vagus nerve helps people suffering from tinnitus due to its connection with the ear.
  • it is largely responsible for the mind-body connection and the way we interact with each other.
  • higher vagal tone is associated with a greater ability to approach others and more altruistic behavior.
  • vagus nerve activity in the child may be influenced by his mother. It was found that babies with mothers who had been depressed / angry / anxious during pregnancy had lower vagus nerve activity.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Techniques.

Positive social relationships.

A 2013 study found that there is a link between physical health, emotional health and social pleasure. Positive social interactions influence positive emotions, which improve vagal tone. The study concluded that “positive emotions, positive social connections, and physical health influence each other in a self-sustaining, spiraling, upward dynamic.” The study also found that regular meditation and positive affirmation could bring people inside this upward spiral.

Exposure to cold.

Cold showers or immersion of the face in cold water stimulates vagus nerve function. Cold therapy has many benefits, from faster recovery from exercise to improved immune function. Exposure to cold can also increase parasympathetic activity (rest and digestion) through the vagus nerve, decreasing the sympathetic response (alert, fight-or-run).

Gargle, chanting or chanting mantras.

Singing or humming can be relaxing, but there is a physiological reason for it. The vagus nerve is attached to the vocal cords. Research published in Frontiers in Psychology shows that intonation, singing and even gargling cause nerve activation.

Massage.

Research suggests that foot massage and reflexology are beneficial for stimulating the vagus nerve. In a 2012 study, premature babies who were massaged had higher weight gain due to vagal activity. According to a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, foot reflexology increased vagal modulation, decreased sympathetic modulation and decreased blood pressure.

Yoga and Tai Chi.

Studies have shown that yoga increases GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in the brain. The researchers believe it does so by “stimulating vagal fibers, which increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.” This is especially useful for those struggling with anxiety or depression. Studies show that tai chi can also “improve vagal modulation.”

Deep breathing.

It is well known that deep and slow breathing, diaphragmatic breathing and yogic breathing called ujjayi help induce relaxation. Vagal stimulation can cause relaxation, but the reciprocal is also true. Relaxation can stimulate the vagus nerve.

Coffee enemas.

These are like “sprints” for the vagus nerve. The extension of the intestines which happens with enemas will increase vagus nerve activation. This increases the liver’s ability to detoxify toxins in the blood and bind them to the bile. The whole blood supply circulates through the liver every three minutes. By keeping the coffee in the intestines for 12-15 minutes, the blood will circulate four to five times for cleansing, just like a dialysis treatment. The water content of coffee stimulates intestinal peristalsis and helps empty the large intestine with accumulated bile.

Balancing the intestinal microbiome.

The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a loop of positive feedback through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone. Supplementation with quality pro- and prebiotics contributes to adequate diversity and health of the microbiome and thus better vagus nerve function.

The vagus nerve has been getting a lot of attention lately for all the amazing things it can do for health. It is simple and easy to stimulate the vagus nerve and get these benefits, making it an affordable (and low-cost) way to improve physical and emotional health. I frequently work with several of these techniques presented above in my daily routine and recommend them to my clients.

For specialized consultation for your health problems you can schedule an appointment here.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556849/

Kok, B. E. et al. (2013). How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health: Perceived Positive Social Connections Account for the Upward Spiral Between Positive Emotions and Vagal Tone. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1123–1132. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797612470827

Pavlov, V. A., Wang, H., Czura, C. J., Friedman, S. G., & Tracey, K. J. (2003). The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway: a missing link in neuroimmunomodulation. Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.), 9(5-8), 125–134. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1430829

Frieda A. Koopman et al. Vagus nerve stimulation inhibits cytokine production and attenuates disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis. PNAS July 19, 2016 113 (29) 8284-8289. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605635113

Yuan PQ, Taché Y, Miampamba M, Yang H. Acute cold exposure induces vagally mediated Fos expression in gastric myenteric neurons in conscious rats. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2001;281(2):G560-8. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.2001.281.2.G560

Mäkinen TM et al., Autonomic nervous function during whole-body cold exposure before and after cold acclimation. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2008 Sep;79(9):875-82. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18785356

Vickhoff, B. et al. (2013). Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 334. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00334

health therapies

Favorite Body-Mind Therapies for a Better Health.

health therapies

Do you think that if you focus only on proper and clean eating you will be as healthy as possible? Or if you take all the necessary supplements will you better ensure this? Or is it much more important to do daily sports? Or meditate? Or do you care about mental and emotional health first? I am convinced that nowadays it is necessary to consider all these aspects, in order to benefit from optimal health and longevity. There is no use if you do daily sports, and then eat fast food. Or if you eat perfectly healthy for your type, but you are emotionally and mentally wrecked. So, the more open and curios you’ll be to explore and apply various therapies for health, the more you’ll improve and new horizons will open up to you.

Below is a summary of some favorite therapies and practices I follow. I started with some longer time ago, others are more recent. I strive, as you do, to remain consistent and to draw up a daily plan in this regard. It is not easy. I know from my own experience. But I know as long as I maintain my motivation and do not lose sight of the end goal – a better version of my person, both physiologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and energetically, then it will be possible. The real desire for change is so important.

In conclusion, I invite you to try at least some of the practices below, to experiment and see what you resonate with the most. Sure, you can go to a specialized class, but some practices can be followed (or even started) at home. For me personally, a combination of these, depending on how I feel on that day is the most beneficial. It is important as I mentioned, to allocate that “time for evolution and health.” It will be an investment you will not regret!

QI GONG

Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese practice, which is based on repetitions of very precise movements. The purpose is to promote energy (Qi) in the body; this is done by opening certain gates and stimulating the energy channels. A key point in Qi Gong practice is relaxation and deep breathing, both of which are premised to allow Qi flow.

Some benefits: improving sleep, balance, reducing stress, improving digestion, immune system, balancing body temperature.

You can start here:

Qi Gong Self-Massage Head and Face (I recommend this especially after being tired from computer work, when you have a cold or a headache!)

Daily Qi Gong Routine

Health Qi Gong Eight Peces of Brocade

TAI CHI

Tai Chi is a practice that was born in ancient China and is the most common form of exercise for adults in this country. The essential principles refer to the integration of the mind with the body, the control of movement and breathing, the generation of internal energy, and serenity. The ultimate goal of tai chi is to cultivate the qi or energy of life within us to flow smoothly and powerfully throughout the body.

Some benefits: improved muscle strength, balance and flexibility, increased cognitive function, improved sleep, decreased fibromyalgia symptoms, support for the respiratory and cardiovascular system, reduced risk of falls in the elderly.

You can start here:

Top Tai Chi Moves for Beginners

Tai Chi Chuan for Beginners

COLD THERAPY: WIM HOF METHOD

The specific breathing exercises of the Wim Hof ​​method are focused on deep and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations, described by Wim as “controlled hyperventilation” and are followed by a retention time, in which you hold your breath for a certain time. By practicing the breathing exercises, you release more energy, influencing your autonomic nervous system and changing various physiological reactions. Frequent exposure to cold is linked to a number of health benefits and is an ancient practice in the Nordic countries.

Breathing exercises are one of the three pillars that make up the Wim Hof ​​method. When combined with the other two pillars – cold therapy and mind training, it will all determine better stress resistance, you will feel stronger and you will enjoy better health.

Some benefits: reduced stress, accelerated metabolism, faster recovery after physical exertion, better sleep, improved sports performance, increased creativity, more focus and mental clarity, reduced inflammation, and muscle aches, better function of the immune system, more energy.

You can start here:

Wim Hof Method

Wim Hof Breathing Tutorial

This Trick Makes You Immune To Illness | Wim Hof on Impact Theory

YOGA

Yoga is a practice of mind and body, with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various yoga styles combine physical exercises, breathing techniques and meditation or relaxation. In recent years, it has become popular as a form of exercise based on postures that result in improved control of mind and body, as well as well-being.

Some benefits: it improves flexibility, builds strength, increases muscle tone, improves balance, prevents back pain, contributes to more accurate and deep breathing, promotes mental calm, reduces stress.

You can start here:

Sun Salutation – Step by Step

Alternate Nostril Breathing (helps with mental clarity, headaches)

EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

The technique of emotional release is a technique that involves reaching the end points of the “energy meridians” located in different areas of the body. The “tapping” process is performed to reduce physical, emotional and mental tension and to establish a deeper mind-body connection.

It can be used to manage both psychological problems and physical pain.

Beneficial for: chronic pain, anxiety and depression, post traumatic stress, fear of public speaking and other forms of anxiety / social fear, chronic stress, muscle tension and joint pain, fatigue improves energy, headaches, food cravings and emotional eating, emotional problems related to low self-esteem, difficulties with athletic performance, concentration and coordination, problems with sleep.

You can start here:

Emo Free

The Tapping Solution

How to Tap

MEDITATION with DR JOE DISPENZA

Meditation has been practiced since ancient times in many traditions, often as part of the path to enlightenment and self-realization. Meditation is a practice in which the individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to train attention and awareness and to obtain a calm and emotionally stable mental state. Researchers found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both with and within traditions. I recommend meditation with Dr. Joe Dispenza here as one of my favorites. Dr. Dispenza is an expert who offers extremely interesting information about the convergence between neuroscience, epigenetics and quantum physics and a very accessible education on how to heal your mind through his incredible techniques.

His studies have shown that when they are well practiced correctly, these tools can put us on the path to understanding and breaking bad rooted habits and even healing diseases.

Some benefits: reducing stress, anxiety, depression and pain, obtaining a sense of peace, love, increasing perception, and well being.

You can start here:

Dr Joe Dispenza

DO THIS FOR 7 DAYS AND YOU WILL SEE INCREDIBLE RESULTS

Learn How To Control Your Mind

In conclusion, do not postpone this “self-therapy”, you certainly need at least one of the practices presented or similar, as we all do! It’s just like eating or breathing. It has always been a necessity that modern people “forgot” or were not educated that it exists.

raluca schachter