I wanted to provide some more information on Vagus Nerve activation for treating Anxiety. This talk was given by Navaz Habib- (go to navazhabib,ca for more info). The vagus nerve exits the cranium at the base of the skull and innervates most organs(lung, heart, stomach, intestines for starters). The vagus nerve establishes the gut to brain pathway. There is talk between the gut and brain and the vagus nerve is believed to be a major part of this connection.
To evaluate the vagus nerve in terms of motor nerve activity, evaluate your bowel transit time. You can pick up some white sesame seeds and add a tsp to a glass of water. Don’t chew them. Look to when you have a bowel movement after ingesting. Count the hours since you have swallowed the sesame seeds- optimal time is 12-20 hours. You have to look at your poop to do this test!
Stimulating the vagus nerve can help promote the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. This is also called the rest and digest part of the nervous system. When you are most relaxed, you can optimally digest and utilize the nutrients in your food. You feel calm about your life. This also reduces sympathetic nervous system activity which is the fight or flight aspect of health most associated with the stress response. Vagus nerve stimulation can help alleviate depression. Information flowing through the vagus nerve can promote GABA (the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter). The vagus nerve’s cholinergic aspect acetylcholine is the brakes for inflammation. So stimulation of the vagus nerve can help reduce inflammation.
In some cases, if you have a chronic cough, you are dealing with a vagus nerve issue. The vagus nerve feeds the larynx and throat. If you have a monotonous voice, you may be dealing with a vagus nerve dysfunction. Sunlight and sleep support optimal vagus nerve function. I would aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. Treating insulin resistance and supporting liver detoxification will support your vagus nerve. Come in to see me for a consult if you want to know how to do this.
There are ways in which you can start to stimulate your vagus nerve. End your shower with cold water for 30 seconds. Cold exposure has been shown to stimulate vagus nerve activity. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which has calming activity on your mind/body/soul.
Deep breathing is another way. Take 20 deep breaths twice daily where you have slow deep inhalations from your abdomen and a long slow exhalation through your nose. Counting out six long seconds for inhalation and six long seconds for exhalation can help. This triggers your parasympathetic nervous system which helps your whole system relax. Make time in your day and do breathing exercises twice daily. Your lungs and breathing in general is an overlooked aspect of detoxification. You are breathing out carbon dioxide which is a major waste product.
Other ways to stimulate the vagus nerve include gargling with a little warm salt water (1/4 tsp salt plus 1/4 cup warm water which will also get rid of biofilms and mouth bacteria) for 3-5 minutes.
Singing and chanting are other wonderful ways to stimulate vagus nerve function.
Meditation helps activate the vagus nerve as well and promotes good feeling neurotransmitters. Meditation calms the brain down. It increases vagal nerve tone and helps with bi-directional communication between the gut and brain. I recommend doing a 20 minute meditation twice daily to manage your stress levels.
Being social stimulates your vagus nerve. Get together with people that you love and hang out!
Do one positive action step I have blogged about; add it to your health care routine daily to help your overall health thrive. To book a consult, call Parallel Wellness at 4032321283. Be well! Dr. Robin Vinge, N.D.