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10 Ways to unleash the power of your vagus nerve

Hacking your nervous system

The most important nerve you probably didn't even know you have - The VAGUS Nerve. The longest of the cranial nerves in your body - found right behind where you typically feel for your pulse.

It is one of 12 cranial nerves and it extends from your brainstem all the way to your abdomen and through various organs including your heart, esophagus, and your lungs.

It is sometimes called “cranial nerve X,” and it forms part of your involuntary nervous system that directs all of the unconscious body actions, like stabilizing your heart rate and making sure your digestive tract is working properly.

Interestingly, the vagus nerve was named because it actually “ambles” like a “nomad” and sends out tiny fibres from your brainstem to your visceral organs (organs in your chest and abdomen—heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines.)

The vagus nerve essentially controls your entire parasympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for stimulating what is known as your “rest-and-digest” or “feed and breed” activities when your body is resting and after eating.)

A study done at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research has shown that the vagus nerve may actually be what they call “the missing link” to treating chronic inflammation that can cause a variety of other issues— like high blood pressure, migraines, digestive issues and any inflammatory related things like arthritis etc.—all without medication!

Vagus nerve dysfunction can result in a whole host of problems including obesity, bradycardia (abnormally slow heartbeat), difficulty swallowing, gastrointestinal diseases, fainting, mood disorders, B12 deficiency, chronic inflammation, impaired cough, and seizures.

Meanwhile, the vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to improve conditions such as:

  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Tinnitus ("ringing in the ears")
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Migraines
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Leaky Gut
  • Bad blood circulation
  • Mood disorder
  • To name a few

Here are Dr. Adrian's 10 tips to stimulate your Vagus Nerve

Similarly to a muscle in the body, the vagus nerve can be toned and strengthened.

  1. COLD - Exposure to the cold such as cold showers or dunking your face into cold water can stimulate the vagus nerve.
  2. Humming - You know all of those people you used to think were “new age” because they would sit quietly and repeat the “OM” sound? Well, it turns out they are onto something. Because the vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords, systematic humming can stimulate the nerve.
  3. Breathing Deeply and Slowly - Your heart and neck contain neurons that have receptors called baroreceptors, which detect blood pressure and transmit the neuronal signal to your brain. This activates your vagus nerve that connects to your heart to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Slow breathing, with a roughly equal amount of time breathing in and out, increases the sensitivity of baroreceptors and vagal activation. Breathing around 5-6 breaths per minute in the average adult can be very helpful.
  4. Exercise - Exercise increases your brain’s growth hormone, supports your brain’s mitochondria, and helps reverse cognitive decline. But it’s also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve, which leads to beneficial brain and mental health effects. Mild exercise also stimulates gut flow, which is mediated by the vagus nerve.
  5. Yoga And Tai Chi - Both increase vagus nerve activity and your parasympathetic system in general. Studies have shown that yoga increases GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in your brain. Researchers believe it does this by “stimulating vagal afferents (fibers),” which increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. This is especially helpful for those who struggle with anxiety or depression.
  6. Massage – You can stimulate your vagus nerve by massaging your feet and your neck along the carotid sinus, located along the carotid arteries on either side of your neck. A neck massage can help reduce seizures. A foot massage help can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. A pressure massage can also activate the vagus nerve. These massages are used to help infants gain weight by stimulating gut function, largely mediated by activating the vagus nerve.
  7. Gargling - Another home remedy for an under-stimulated vagus nerve is to gargle with water. Gargling actually stimulates the muscles of the pallet which are fired by the vagus nerve.
  8. Singing, Chanting & Humming - hymn singing, and upbeat energetic singing all increase heart rate variability (HRV) in slightly different ways. Essentially, singing is like initiating a vagal pump sending out relaxing waves. Singing at the top of your lungs works the muscles in the back of the throat to activate the vagus. Singing in unison, which is often done in churches and synagogues, also increases HRV and vagus function. Singing has been found to increase oxytocin, also known as the love hormone because it makes people feel closer to one another.
  9. Increase Good Gut Bacteria - While there are countless benefits to increasing the healthy bacteria in your gut, surprisingly, this also helps to create a positive “feedback loop” through your vagus nerve and thus increase its tone. Probiotics are a good source of healthy bacteria.
  10. THIS ONE IS FOR THE VERY BRAVE AMONG US!! 
    1. Coffee Enemas - Enemas are like sprints for your vagus nerve. Expanding the bowel increases vagus nerve activation, as is done with enemas. This cleansing is accomplished by increasing the liver’s capacity to detoxify toxins in the blood and binding them to the bile. In the process, the liver cleanses itself as it releases the toxic bile into the small, then large, intestine for evacuation. The entire blood supply circulates through the liver every three minutes. 
      1.  By retaining the coffee 12 to 15 minutes, the blood will circulate four to five times for cleansing, much like a dialysis treatment. The water content of the coffee stimulates intestinal peristalsis and helps to empty the large intestine with the accumulated toxic bile.

All of the above methods are beneficial to your overall health simply for the fact that they also help reduce stress, which is a major factor in disease, but also knowing that you can help improve your vagal tone, and the specific issue of inflammation, is a powerful tool.




 

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