top of page

The Vagus Nerve: Your Secret Weapon in Fighting Stress


The Vagus Nerve: Your Secret Weapon in Fighting Stress

Recently, biohackers, doctors and wellness advocates alike have been looking to the vagus nerve as a means of reducing stress, stopping PTSD, assisting with digestion, immunity and more. Many believe it to be a link to better health and wellness.


WHERE IS THE VAGUS NERVE?

The Vagus Nerve is the longest, most complex cranial nerve, which is why it’s derived from the Latin word vagus, meaning “vagrant, wanderer”. It innervates the muscles of the throat (pharynx and larynx) and the organs of respiration (lungs), circulation (heart), digestion (stomach, liver, pancreas, duodenum, small intestine, & the ascending and transverse sections of the large intestine), and elimination (kidneys).


Vagal nerve stimulation can be applied using a small, electrical device that is surgically placed ... [+]WIKIPEDIA COMMONS, MANU5


WHAT DOES THE VAGUS NERVE DO?

The vagus nerve is the primary nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions such as mood, immunity, digestion, and heart rate. It is also a part of what’s known as the “gut-brain axis” which sends signals to and from the digestive system and the brain.


New treatments that modulate the brain-gut axis, such as vagus nerve stimulation, are said to assist with inflammation such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and mood disorders. Healthcare practitioners believe that for these reasons and more, the vagus nerve is a target for better health and wellness.


So how does it fit in with stress? Well first off, let’s look at the autonomic nervous system.


The autonomic nervous system is responsible for involuntary physiological processes, such as your heart rate, digestion, and pupil dilation. It comprises of two parts:


Parasympathetic nervous system aka ‘rest & digest’. Your body is in RELAXATION MODE.


Sympathetic nervous system aka ‘fight or flight’. Your body is in STRESS MODE.

Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System

WHAT ESSENTIAL OILS ARE GOOD FOR THE VAGUS NERVE?

May be beneficial for killing airborne bacteria.
This citrus blend may enhance a feeling of well-being and peace. It is great for diffusing.

Now that we have a better understanding of the vagus nerve, let’s look at some natural ways you can encourage better vagus nerve activity and which essential oils can help.


While traditionally calming essential oils such as lavender and chamomile have been used to soothe the sympathetic nervous system, studies have identified a new approach. When we are stuck in sympathetic dominance the vagus nerve is stagnant, so, when addressing the vagus nerve rather than calming it, we need to stimulate it to perform its task.


To achieve this a blend of Clove and Lime essential oils diluted in a carrier oil have been identified as being highly effective. By applying a couple of drops on each side of the vagus junction this formula can help encourage vagus nerve activation. The beauty of essential oils is that their molecular weight is so minute that they can quickly enter the bloodstream. A gentle blend of 3% within a carrier oil of these two oils has been reported to improve calmness, ease digestive discomfort, and improve the feeling of tiredness.


HOW TO STIMUPATE THE VAGUS NERVE

Like many bodily functions, over time, your vagus nerve’s ability and function can decline. This can lead to low vagal tone which causes negative effects such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and anxiety. Vagus nerve stimulation is believed to promote a healthy vagus nerve and help regulate the parasympathetic state.

  • Breathwork

My favorite is Box Breathing or 4-4-4-4. 

Breathe in counting to 4 slowly.

Pause at the top for 4 seconds.

Slowly exhale for 4 seconds.

Pause at the bottom for 4 seconds.

Begin the pattern anew. Repeat for as long as needed to restore a calm and relaxed feeling.

  • Coffee enemas

  • Eye exercises

This works like a charm every time for me. 

Face straight ahead, eyes to right for 30 seconds or longer and switch when you have a yawn, sigh or swallow. This is your vagus nerve relaxing.

  • Exercise

  • Exposure to cold

Shower 30 seconds warm and 30 seconds cold for 6 or more cycles

Polar Plunge in the winter

Get outside in the winter

Sauna & cold plunge

  • Intermittent Fasting

  • Healthy Fats

avocados

coconut cream, shredded coconut, coconut oil

olives, extra virgin olive oil

nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts)

seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, sesame, chia seeds and ground flax seeds)

nut and seed butters:

  • Peanut butter

  • Almond butter

  • Cashew butter

  • Walnut butter

  • Pistachio butter

  • Brazil nuts butter

  • Hazelnut butter

  • Macadamia nut butter

  • Pecan butter

  • Chestnut butter

  • Pine nut butter

  • Sunflower seed butte

  • Sesame seed butter (aka tahini).

  • Coconut butter

  • Pumpkin seeds butter

  • Mixed nut butters

sea food (wild caught fish, salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines

dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa

whole eggs

grass-fed beef, butter and ghee

full fat dairy (heavy whipping cream, whole milk cheese)

  • Hugging

  • Massage

Professional massage

Self massage.


Vagus nerve massage techniques.

Vagus Nerve Neck Massage

Identify the SEM (Sternocleidom astoid) in your neck (shown in image above)

Pinch firmly along the SEM line

Start from the lower SEM and work your way to below the jawline

You may feel tension in certain places that you’d like to continue to massage

You can also pull the SEM gently away from the skin

Repeat on both sides


Massage 1

Find this pressure point in the hollow right above the ridge above your ear canal (shown in above image)

Make gentle circles in this pressure point

Try to move the skin of your ear around in circles

Do no press too hard

You may notice changes in your breathing, a yawn, a swallow or general calmness

Repeat on both ears


Massage 2

Find the back of your ear canal (shown in image above) and press towards the back of your head

Make gentle circles and massage this area

Repeat on both sides


Massage 3

Lightly grab the side of your ear and pull gently away from the skull

Stretch your ear down and away from your skull

Stretch your ear up and away from your skull

Repeat on both sides

Note: This can be relieving for people with TMJ or tension heads


Note: You may want to use essential oils or moisturizer to facilitate the comfort of these massage techniques.

  • Meditation

  • Probiotics from food

Kimchi

Sauerkraut

Kefir, Yogurt

Cultured buttermilk

Lacto-fermented pickles

Tempeh

Miso

Natto

Kombucha

  • Singing, humming, gargling & "om"

  • Sleep in right side gently applies pressure to the nerve

Sleeping on the back is the worst option

  • Yoga or Yin Yoga

Final Thoughts

Stimulating the vagus nerve has been shown to have many benefits, so why not give it a try?

If you’re looking for ways to improve your health, adding in a combination of the suggestions posted above in your self-care routine may be a good place to start. Eye exercises, neck and ear massages are three easy ways to get started. Other techniques to help heal the vagus nerve include breathwork and singing or humming. These are all easy to do to bring your body back in to the rest and digest mode by reducing stress, stopping PTSD, assisting with digestion, immunity and more.


Feel like you have something bigger going on in your life?

My signature health assessment is a deep dive into your current health. I listen closely to what you're experiencing and help to triangulate what is happening within your body systems.


For your initial consultation please fill out the online intake form, and submit back the day before your appointment. Also, a link will be provided to upload 3 facial photos to.


You can expect your initial visit to last approximately 2 hours, since building a strong relationship is an important component of effective care. You can expect an in-depth discussion about your health history, diet, sleep, exercise, stress levels, environmental factors and use of alcohol/drugs/tobacco. You can expect to have a urinalysis to check 10 biomarkers, a ZYTO Bioscan, facial analysis and other possible evaluation procedures, which may include: physical observation, MRT (Muscle Response Testing), and/or iridology reading. From this, I will look for root causes of any dis-ease you may be having, formulate a plan to best meet your needs, & work toward your overall wellness.


Bioenergetic drops, supplements, essential oils, Bach Flower Remedies, as well as life style changes may be recommended as part of the wellness plan. The need and/or frequency of return visits will be determined individually.


Then an customized plan is uniquely tailored to you, your lifestyle and your goals. This consultation is not meant to diagnose, prescribe for, or cure any medical disease, rather it is a way for you to maximize your wellness capability & enable your body to heal itself.



To Your thriving Health,

Gwen


Medical disclaimer: This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment. Medical conditions require medical care.

23 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page