The vagus nerve is the main connection between the brain and the gut. Here’s how to stimulate your vagus nerve and why you should.
Stimulation of the vagus nerve causes the release of the body’s own natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) which the body (in its infinite wisdom) uses to treat and balance itself at the specific site of a problem.
It is known that many health conditions have inflammation as a root cause. The neurotransmitters help to regulate inflammation via their connection to the immune system in the gut.
Here again, the gut/brain connection is a key to keeping inflammation and the immune system in balance.
Clearly, a method that can target a specific site of inflammation and use the body’s own curative materials (neurotransmitters), is much better than having to use risky medications with widespread, destructive side effects – not to mention the huge expense of the current biologic medications in use for inflammatory autoimmune diseases.
For instance, Enbrel, a rheumatoid arthritis drug had $4.7 billion in sales last year, which made it No. 7 on the industry’s best-seller list.
The vagus nerve is actually two nerves, right and left, but is usually referred to as one. It is the tenth cranial nerve and travels from the medulla oblongata in the brain through the neck and chest to the colon.
Importantly, it innervates tissues and all the major organs along the way.
As part of the autonomic nervous system, it regulates things that happen automatically (and unconsciously) in the body such as, breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and digestion.
The vagus nerve also provides communication between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) systems.
A healthy body has a balance between the two systems, but many people with our modern lifestyle have trouble maintaining the balance. As a result they suffer from chronic conditions of modern living such as obesity, hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, immune dysfunction, etc.
This imbalance promotes inflammation.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a cytokine that induces inflammation. Dr. Tracey, in his lab at the Feinstein Institute has discovered that the vagus nerve transmits TNF throughout the body. He has performed experiments in which inflammation is induced and then the vagus nerve is cut. When the vagus nerve is cut the inflammation stops.
Of course, you don’t want to cut your vagus nerve – you want to control how it transmits TNF throughout the body.
It will be interesting to see if new research is applied to the knowledge we now have of the immune system surrounding the brain and how that affects us functionally.
The authors of a study, called, Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels, published in Nature, June 2015 said,
The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.
Functional medicine docs have been talking about the connection between the brain and the gut for years. Now it is proven by science!
It is becoming clear that the food you put into your body has an effect, no matter how unrelated it seems to be.
According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian in his book Why isn’t my Brain Working? there are three ways to naturally stimulate the vagus nerve:
Dr. Kharrazian recommends one practices these things in order to improve gut health.
Others have also recommended practices that folks have been doing for centuries:
So, first thing in the morning, gag yourself then gargle. Go into the shower and sing and hum with all your heart – really belt it out. Then, pray, chant or meditate, practice tai chi, yoga or qi gong, breathe deeply and then go on and start your day!
But seriously, pick something here, because there are many ways to stimulate your vagus nerve, which will help reduce inflammation and balance your sympathetic with your parasympathetic systems for better health!
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