What crazy days we are living in! We’re all on overload. Fight, flight, freeze energy is ramped up. We are feeling a wide range of emotions. So much has happened to alter the tone of our nervous systems.
Inflammation lies at the root of most chronic diseases. While acute inflammation can be useful as part of the immune and healing responses, inflammation can damage the body when it becomes chronic or imbalanced. The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) is the main nerve of the parasympathetic (rest and digest) division of the autonomic nervous system. It is an important route of communication between the brain, cardiovascular system, gut, and immune system. This bi-directional nerve pathway travels all the way from the brainstem down through the chest and into the abdomen, branching off to multiple organs. This wide-reaching pathway gave rise to its name, vagus, which means “wandering” in Latin.
The body is intricately connected, and the vagus nerve plays a key role in coordinating communication. The vagus nerve helps orchestrate this communication network by signaling the brain to produce neurotransmitters and hormones, coordinating responses, regulating stress reactions, and helping to keep inflammation in check. We need the parasympathetic relaxation response, helping to slow down breathing and heart rate, promote relaxation, stimulate digestion, and bring about a sense of peace and calm. To help coordinate this relaxation response, the vagus nerve releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which seems to be a major brake on inflammation in the body.
If I feel out of balance, what can be done?
1. An emerging technique for reducing inflammation and toning the vagus nerve is a type of self-abdominal massage. Many massage therapists can teach you this.
2. Experience Network Spinal Care. This powerful technique is very effective at bringing balance to the nervous system. Contact me to learn more.
3. Participate in Breathwork. Lots of variations are available for this.
Try out these practices for accessing the power of your vagus nerve. Perform these techniques for a few minutes once or twice a day for several weeks. You may be surprised by the rewards of reduced stress, improved digestion, better detoxification, decreased pain, and squelched inflammation!