I recently found that my Vagus Nerve was functioning sub optimally and although it manages many bodily functions as you will learn below, for me, it was my digestion. For years, I have utilized herbs or minerals to stimulate the bowels to keep things moving so-to-speak. If I didn’t, severe constipation would ensue. This was my life for many years – manageable yet frustrating. Any diet changes (and yes, I tried it all) would not correct the issue. One day I decided that since food clearly wasn’t the culprit, to go to a myofascial release specialist to do physical manipulation of the fascia around the abdomen. When I got temporary relief (3 wonderful days in fact), it occurred to me that the therapist may have stimulated some nerve endings (fascia release was often permanent in my experience). After much research, I realized that the Vagus Nerve was likely to be the focal point of my next steps. Normally I might not have gone down this path since I don’t feel to be in a chronic-stress state often associated with poor “Vagal Tone.”
I learned that the Vagus Nerve is controlled by a neurotransitter called acetylcholine. This discovery prompted a recollection from reviewing my 23nMe DNA data, that I had several gene mutations that impact assimilation of certain nutrients. Choline, the nutrient found in egg yolks (which I eat a lot of), was one of these nutrients. I thought, maybe, just maybe, if this nutrient is so critical in the operation of the Vagus Nerve, perhaps it was the cause of my digestion woes. I will share below how I corrected my digestion nearly overnight with this new discovery. But first, more on the Vagus Nerve to set some groundwork.
What Health Conditions are associated with Vagus Nerve Function?
The Vagus Nerve is often associated with the parasympathetic nervous system. This is when we are in a more Zen-like state rather than a chronic stressed mode (fight/flight). But most don’t understand the depth of function this Nerve performs in our bodies. “The vagus nerve helps to regulate many critical aspects of human physiology, including the heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, and even speaking.”¹
My personal experience with Vagus Nerve stimulation resulted in a properly functioning digestive system. Turns out the Vagus Nerve controls most aspects of digestion from salivary gland production, stomach acid production, enzyme production, blood sugar regulation, liver and gallbladder function, and bowel transit to name some of them. Others that have successfully improved their Vagal Tone may find that their fast heart rate improves, or brain fog lifts. And some people find their tear production improves (dry eyes), or anxiousness/depression lifts. The Vagus Nerve also regulates inflammation in the body and can even relieve migraines.²
According to The International Alliance of Healthcare Educators (IAHE), “Low vagal tone is associated with cardiovascular conditions and strokes, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, and much higher rates of inflammatory conditions. Inflammatory conditions include all autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, autoimmune thyroid conditions, lupus and more).”³
Tools to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
So how can we “tone” our Vagus Nerve for optimal health? Turns out there are actual electrical stimulating devices that will activate the Vagus Nerve. But there are also things you can incorporate yourself right at home.
Since the Vagus Nerve starts in the cranium and travels down through the throat area, stimulating this area like humming, chanting, and gargling can activate the Vagus Nerve. Massaging the right side of neck may also help. And if you suspect your cranium is not aligned, see a chiropractor that specializes in adjusting the Atlas bone.⁴
One tool that I personally struggle with is turning the faucet to cold for the last minute or two of your shower. This is especially hard in cold winter months. It’s important to relax into the cold sensation (rather than tensing up). Likely, a cold plunge in a pool or simply splashing cold water on your face in the morning is a good ritual for strengthening your Vagal Tone.
Of course things like meditation and mindfulness is going to strengthen this nerve as well. The more we can get into the parasympathetic nervous system, the better off we will be. Slowing your breathing would fall into this category as well as yoga, Tai-Chi and Qigong. You get the idea…
Finally, I want to mention a patented supplement called Parasym Plus for Vagus Nerve stimulation. As I incorporate many of the tools above, it was this supplement that started to work immediately on my digestion. After 14 years in business, this is the first supplement that I decided to promote and supply to my clientele. This is how strongly I feel about it. With clinical studies to back the science, I felt confident trying it and so glad I did.
The ingredients Parasym Plus contain natural components for aerobic metabolism, cell growth, and acetylcholine synthesis. It also has a potent form of choline and an amino acid that assists memory, fatigue, heart health and aging.
There is so much more information on the Vagus Nerve that you can research should you feel inclined to learn more as I did. I wanted to introduce you to my experience and what I have learned about this nerve. It just could be the missing link to certain health challenges. For me, it was. Be well and start humming :-).
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vagus_nerve_stimulation.jpg