What is the vagus nerve? Vagus means “wandering” in Latin. It’s a nerve that drops right out of the base of your brain and wanders to all your viscera. It is the nerve that controls the parasympathetic nervous system and relaxation response. And you can consciously activate your vagus nerve. Yup, you have direct control over how relaxed you feel. Below are several articles I’ve come across over the years that were interesting. I hope you do too. Read on to find out more about your vagus nerve.
FROM PSYCHOLOGY TODAY:
“Visceral feelings and gut instincts are literally emotional intuitions transferred up to your brain via the vagus nerve. In previous studies, signals from the vagus nerve traveling from the gut to the brain have been linked to modulating mood and distinctive types of fear and anxiety.
As with any mind-body feedback loop, messages also travel “downstream” from your conscious mind through the vagus nerve (via efferent nerves) signaling your organs to create an inner-calm so you can “rest-and-digest” during times of safety, or to prepare your body for “fight-or-flight” in dangerous situations.”
“Healthy vagal tone is indicated by a slight increase of heart rate when you inhale, and a decrease of heart rate when you exhale. Deep diaphragmatic breathing—with a long, slow exhale—is key to stimulating the vagus nerve and slowing heart rate and blood pressure, especially in times of performance anxiety. A higher vagal tone index is linked to physical and psychological well-being. A low vagal tone index is linked to inflammation, negative moods, loneliness, and heart attacks.”
FROM ÉIRIU EOLAS (Irish Gaelic for “Growth of Knowledge”):
“One of the best means of inducing a relaxation response is through diaphragmatic breathing: inhaling deeply through the chest and virtually into the stomach. Engaging the diaphragm may be the key to inducing a relaxation response through deep breathing because the diaphragm’s close proximity to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve which supplies approximately 75 percent of all parasympathetic fibers to the rest of the body, and may be stimulated through diaphragmatic movement. Conversely, thoracic breathing that is limited to the chest cavity is associated with the sympathetic branch stress response.”
“Well, by activating the vagus nerve, you can control your immune cells, reduce inflammation, and even prevent disease and aging!”
FROM THE HEALTH MATRIX:
“The vagus nerve is the heart of the parasympathetic nervous system, the anti-stress system. The vagus nerve is your calming and relaxing nerve which goes from your brain and down to your abdomen, dividing itself into multiple branches that reach your throat, your heart, and all your viscera.”
FROM IEEE SPECTRUM:
Here’s a very interesting article on Vagus Nerve stimulation to treat epilepsy, heart failure, stroke, arthritis, and a half dozen other ailments: