The Vagus Nerve and the Mind-Body Connection

The vagus nerve plays an important role in the mind-body connection, and according to La Jolla physicians, acupuncture has been found to stimulate the vagus nerve. Here we explore the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation.

The vagus nerve begins at the tenth cranial nerve in the brain and travels down the front of the neck, and envelopes the digestive system, visceral tissues, the heart, and the lungs. It literally connects the brain to the major internal organ systems of the body. The surface area of the vagus nerve is vast and it carries information between the mind and body at a rate that puts the world wide web to shame!

The tone of the vagus nerve regulates the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of your autonomic nervous system commonly associated with rest, relaxation, and digestion. It’s the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the fight-or-flight mechanism (the stress response). The vagus nerve influences your digestive system, reproductive system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, neurological system, and the ability of your body to repair itself during sleep.

During the early days of modern medicine, doctors would cut the vagus nerve as a treatment for acid reflux and heartburn. It was believed that acid regurgitation was the result of having too much acid in the stomach, and it was known that the vagus nerve influenced the body’s ability to produce stomach acid. Now we know that acid reflux is not actually caused by producing too much stomach acid, but we also know more about the function of the vagus nerve because people who have their vagus nerve snipped suffer serious long-term side-effects on multiple organ systems. Stimulation of the vagus nerve can have a profound effect on mood and healing. It increases stomach acid and digestive enzyme production so you can digest your food properly. It increases bile production for a well-functioning gallbladder and ability to digest and utilize fats for energy. Having enough stomach acid is also critical for killing bacteria, viruses, and molds that may have found their way into your food. Stimulation of the vagus nerve also lowers blood pressure. If you suffer from hypertension or unstable blood pressure levels, your doctor will likely never tell you that this is a result of being in a constant state of fight-or-flight. Simple stimulation of your parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve pathway can lower blood pressure naturally.

Proper tone of the vagus nerve has also been found to alleviate migraine headaches, depression, and anxiety. This is not profitable for the pharmaceutical companies that thrive on selling consumers anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and pain relievers, so they would rather you not know this little secret about the vagus nerve.

There are several different ways to stimulate the vagus nerve to promote strong vagal tone. However, these simple vagus nerve toning techniques are not things that most of us do on a daily basis. That’s why it’s so common to experience digestive problems, anxiety, mood imbalances, and headaches! To tone your vagus nerve, you can practice humming for 5 – 10 minutes a day, meditation for 5 – 10 minutes a day, and taking slow, deep breaths for 5 – 10 minutes a day. Once a week, get acupuncture in Del Mar, CA! Over time, the tone of the vagus nerve will strengthen and your overall health should improve remarkably.


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