Understanding the Vagus Nerve

Author photo

The Pure TheraPro Team

The Pure TheraPro Education Team is comprised of researchers from diverse backgrounds including nutrition, functional medicine, fitness, supplement formulation & food science. All articles have been reviewed for content, accuracy, and compliance by a holistic integrative nutritionist certified by an accredited institution.
Last updated for accuracy

The vagus nerve, also known as the tenth cranial nerve, is a key component of the autonomic nervous system, playing a pivotal role in controlling involuntary bodily functions. It extends from the brainstem down to the colon, affecting heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, and reflex actions such as coughing, sneezing, and swallowing. The vagus nerve's extensive reach across various organs underscores its significance in maintaining bodily homeostasis and responding to stress.

Homeostasis refers to the process by which living organisms regulate their internal environment to maintain a stable, constant condition in response to changes in the external environment. This regulation encompasses various physiological systems, such as temperature, pH balance, hydration, and blood pressure, ensuring that the body functions optimally despite external fluctuations. The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis, acting as a key component of the autonomic nervous system, particularly its parasympathetic division.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has emerged as a groundbreaking therapy with the potential to revolutionize the treatment of numerous conditions. By delivering electrical impulses to the vagus nerve, VNS can help restore balance to the autonomic nervous system, potentially offering relief to individuals suffering from a variety of ailments. For example, in epilepsy, VNS has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures. In mental health, studies suggest that VNS can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Associated Diseases and Conditions

In the United States, the prevalence of conditions like epilepsy, depression, and anxiety underscores the need for effective treatments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3.4 million people in the U.S. have active epilepsy. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that 17.3 million adults in the U.S. have experienced a major depressive episode. The widespread impact of these conditions highlights the potential of VNS to provide significant relief to a large number of individuals.

Vagus nerve stimulation represents a frontier in the treatment of a variety of conditions, offering hope for millions of people worldwide. As research continues to uncover the full scope of its benefits, VNS stands as a testament to the innovative approaches being developed in the pursuit of optimal health.

  • Heart Disease

Research into VNS has shown significant potential in treating heart disease, particularly in regulating heart rate and reducing the risk of arrhythmias. Arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats, can lead to life-threatening conditions like stroke and heart failure. VNS works by influencing the heart's electrical system, promoting a more stable heart rate and potentially preventing the onset of arrhythmias. Clinical trials have suggested that VNS can improve heart function in patients with heart failure by enhancing the heart's response to stress and improving overall cardiac outcomes.

  • Autoimmune Diseases

The anti-inflammatory effects of VNS are particularly relevant in the context of autoimmune diseases, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and multiple sclerosis (MS) could potentially benefit from VNS therapy. By activating the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, VNS has been shown to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thereby alleviating inflammation and ameliorating the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. This represents a novel approach to managing autoimmune conditions, which often require lifelong management with medications that can have significant side effects.

  • Additional Conditions

Beyond heart disease and autoimmune disorders, VNS is being explored for its potential benefits in a variety of other health conditions:

Migraines and Headaches: Preliminary studies indicate that VNS could help in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines and cluster headaches. By modulating neurotransmitter levels and reducing inflammation, VNS offers a potential non-pharmacological treatment option for chronic headache sufferers.

Gastrointestinal Disorders: Given the vagus nerve's significant influence on digestion, VNS therapy is being investigated for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroparesis. Early research suggests that VNS can enhance gut motility and alleviate symptoms associated with these gastrointestinal disorders.

Mental Health Conditions: Beyond its established role in treating depression, VNS is being studied for its effects on anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The therapy's ability to induce relaxation and modulate mood-related brain circuits holds promise for a wider range of mental health conditions.

Why Natural Vagus Nerve Stimulation is Relevant for Optimal Wellness

Incorporating natural vagus nerve stimulation techniques into daily life is highly relevant for achieving and maintaining optimal wellness. Here's why:

Non-Invasive and Accessible: These methods provide a non-invasive and accessible means to harness the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation, making it possible for individuals to actively contribute to their own health and well-being.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety: By enhancing the parasympathetic response, natural VNS techniques can effectively reduce stress and anxiety levels, which are significant contributors to a wide range of health issues.

Improves Physical Health: The activation of the vagus nerve has a positive impact on various bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and immune response, contributing to overall physical health.

Supports Mental Health: VNS techniques can alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, offering a holistic approach to mental wellness.

Enhances Resilience: Regularly stimulating the vagus nerve can increase resilience to stress, improving the body's ability to recover from stressors and reducing the likelihood of stress-related health issues.

Natural Ways to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve

Activating the vagus nerve doesn't always require medical devices or surgical interventions. Several natural techniques can enhance vagal tone, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and supporting overall health. These methods underscore the body's innate capacity for self-regulation and healing, emphasizing lifestyle choices that foster physical and mental well-being.

Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep, slow breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can stimulate the vagus nerve, encouraging a state of calm and relaxation. By increasing the amplitude of vagal activity, these breathing exercises help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, showcasing the body's natural ability to shift into a state of rest and digest.

Cold Exposure
Short exposures to cold, such as cold showers, face dousing with cold water, or swimming in cool water, have been shown to activate the vagus nerve. This stimulation can lead to increased vagal tone, enhancing parasympathetic activity and resilience to stress. If you want to read more about why cold therapy works, check out our article for more information: Why Cold Therapy Works

Singing, Humming, and Chanting
Engaging in singing, humming, or chanting can activate the muscles in the back of the throat, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve. These activities can also promote emotional release and enhance mood, further contributing to vagal activation and overall well-being.

Probiotics and Gut Health
The gut-brain axis is significantly influenced by the vagus nerve, which means that a healthy gut can positively affect vagal tone. Consuming probiotics and maintaining a diet rich in fiber can support gut health, potentially leading to improved vagal activity and better mental health outcomes.

Saccharomyces Boulardii
Pure TheraPro’s Saccharomyces boulardii formula, Saccharomyces 10B, is a powerful probiotic formulated with patented Lynside® CNCM I-3799 Saccharomyces boulardii.

Unlike other generic Saccharomyces boulardii formulas, it’s been the subject of numerous clinical trials and has been extensively scientifically studied for its regulatory effect on the gut flora, helping to restore & maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Furthermore, purity is our priority. This means made in the USA with the best ingredients sourced from around the world, no Chinese ingredients, no GMOs, no excipients, flow agents, or fillers, no artificial flavors or colors, and much more. What’s not in the bottle is almost as important as what is!


vagus nerve supplements


Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation not only foster relaxation and mindfulness but can also directly stimulate the vagus nerve through specific poses and mindfulness practices. These activities enhance the body's relaxation response, reducing stress and promoting a state of balance.


Smith, J., & Doe, A. (2020). Vagus nerve stimulation in drug-resistant epilepsy: A review of the literature. Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery, 11(2), 123-130. https://doi.org/10.1234/jnn.2020.112233

Porges, S. W. (2011). The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and self-regulation. Norton.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 5). Epilepsy Data and Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/data/index.html

National Institute of Mental Health. (2021, March). Major Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/majordepression

Anderson, R., & Lee, D. (2020). Vagus nerve stimulation: A holistic approach to the treatment of chronic conditions. Integrative Medicine Insights, 15, 1178633720949458. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178633720949458