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The link between vagus nerve and dysfunction

What is the vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve is the main nerve of your parasympathetic nervous system. It makes up around 75% of the parasympathetic nervous system and is the primary pathway that the gut and brain communicate through. The vagus nerve has a huge impact on your state of rest and digest.

The vagus nerve controls specific physiological functions such as digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate, immune system, as well as certain motions such as coughing, sneezing, and swallowing.

Vagal tone

Vagal tone is the activity of the vagus nerve. Low vagal tone means the vagus nerve is not functioning as it should be and is associated with a number of digestive and neurological conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, colitis, other digestive disorders, heart disease, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, parkinsons, depression, and anxiety.

Chronic stress and trauma

Chronic stress and trauma can negatively impact the function of the vagus nerve. Being stuck in a state of chronic stress or carrying unhealed stuck trauma, can overload the nervous system, which can be too much for the body to process. These emotions get stored, and this is when the body can become stuck in fight or flight mode, creating low vagal tone, leading to health issues. Gut issues can impact it too. And vice versa!

Benefits of stimulating the vagus nerve

Stimulating the vagus nerve can help put our body back into a parasympathetic state. When we are operating from a parasympathetic state, rest and digest, it can help support healthy bodily functions, such as a calm nervous system, help lift the weight of depression and anxiety, promote healthy digestion, support the immune system, lower Inflammation, and promote happy hormones.

Ways to stimulate the vagus nerve

  • Laughing

  • Humming

  • Therapeutic breathing

  • Exercise

  • Prayer

  • Connection

  • Massage

  • Time in nature

  • Gut health

  • Bitter herbs

  • Near infrared light

  • Time with animals

  • EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing) therapy

  • Craniosacral therapy

  • Lower inflammation

  • Grounding

  • Ear massage

  • Stroke from ear, down to clavicle, x 10

  • Move pelvis

  • Foot massage

  • Crying

  • Acupuncture

  • Speak your truth


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