The Gut-Brain Connection: Vagus Nerve
By Georgia Tetlow, MD and Jill Maddock, PIM Office Manager
What is the vagus nerve?
Cranial Nerve X (ten), also known as the Vagus nerve, is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves. It contains both sensory and motor neurons and is part of the parasympathetic nervous system or PNS. See our last posts on the SNS and PNS. Join us at Cabrini on 4/4 for our FREE class on the Latest in Mind-Body Connection! Sleep and cognitive health will be highlighted. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, extending from the brainstem to the abdomen, attaching to organs along the way including the heart, lungs and esophagus. The Vagus Nerve quite literally connects your gastrointestinal tract to you brain. This nerve acts as a two-way street controlling the involuntary function of organs like your heart, lungs, esophagus, and gastrointestinal organs. The vagus nerve is responsible for involuntary nervous system commands like digestion and heart rate. Have you ever heard of the “Gut-Brain Connection”?
Because of the connection of the vagus nerve to so many of our vital organs, it’s health is essential to one’s well being.
Ways to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve-and our Parasympathetic (Rest and Digest) Nervous System, from Annmarie McManus, PA-C, PT, IFMCP
1. Cold water- Splashing the face with cold water or in the shower doing warm/hot water for 2 minutes then cold water for 20-30 seconds, repeat 3 x (this will also help mitochondrial function)
2. Singing/Chanting- As loud as you can, hold long notes, try to vibrate throat
3. Gargling- Take a small sip of water and gargle. Goal is to get up to gargling for 2 minutes vigorously. When doing it correctly the eyes should start to water
4. Tongue Depressor- gag reflex, start very gently
5. Coughing- forceful from the belly
6. Chewing gum
7. Laughter- Belly busting laughter
8. Breathing- Many techniques, want to hold on the inspiration before exhaling. Recommend 4-7-8 breathing or Pranayama breathing
10. Meditation or Mindfulness
13. Tai Chi or Qi Gong
14. Massage- anterior neck and foot massage
15. Supportive sleep- on your right side
16. EPA/DHA- 2000mg minimum, also anti-inflammatory
18. Zinc carnosine- also helps to repair gut
21. Coffee enemas
23. Sun- especially in the early part of the day, helps to set up circadian hormones
24. Healthy supportive relationships
PIM wants to hear from you! Do you have an experience with managing your gut-brain-connection? Did you find this article helpful? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Interested in connecting with PIM? Register for one of our upcoming events - FREE Group Classes at Cabrini College (please RSVP online) OR Nutrition Classes with our very own Rachel Hershberger, MS, CNS, LDN, tickets just $45 at sign up (limited to 8 participants for individual attention, no walkins, please).
If you or your loved one has ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, or they are suffering from a chronic illness, please consider scheduling a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lauren Houser, MS, MSN, CRNP or Annmarie McManus, MMSc, PA-C, PT, IFMCP.