The vagus nerve is the longest nerve from the brain and considered the most important. It is the root of the gut-brain axis. It is the root of our health!
Your vagus nerve is crying for help if you have the following symptoms:
As you can see, the vagus nerve covers some ground! If it is imbalanced, it can prohibit the body’s ability to heal itself and may manifest with multiple symptoms.
A low vagal tone means your vagus nerve needs support. If you’re experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, overthinking, insomnia, mood swings, chronic inflammation and nothing seems to be working to alleviate these symptoms, your vagus nerve just might be the missing piece.
So, how can you naturally help strengthen and increase your vagal tone to help correct such imbalances? Here is a great list:
That’s right. Yoga and diaphragmatic breathing helps strengthen vagal tone. Deep breathing activates receptor sites called baroreceptors which signal your vagus nerve, resulting in reduced anxiety and improved mood.
Aside from expanding your microbiome, which strengthens immune function, socializing also helps improve mood, reduce anxiety and strengthen vagal tone. Socialization is part of being human, and social connectedness is essential for optimal health and reducing stress. In-person, face-to-face interactions have been found to reduce the flight or fight stress response by calming the parasympathetic nervous system, according to research.
Omega 3 fatty acids help support the parasympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve. Several scientific studies indicate that both EPA and DHA lower heart rate by increasing heart rate variability (HRV).
Vagal tone is linked with increased HRV. This is a good thing! High HRV is associated with rest, relaxation, being calm and content. A low HRV is associated with the opposite--tension, stress, illness and exhaustion
Also known as “earthing,” putting your bare feet on the ground helps recharge your body and support vagal tone. Grounding equalizes this energy through the transfer of electrons from the Earth to our bodies, so literally go roll in the dirt! The body and the earth come together with the same electric potential, which cancels, reduces or recharges electric fields in our bodies, hence both protecting and refueling us down to the cellular level.
Grounding studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce and regulate certain hormones, such as cortisol, which is the body’s stress response hormone. Grounding also helped control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism and even improve memory.
Grounding may have an impact on circulatory and blood-related issues, even cardiovascular function. Another study showed that grounding reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
Exercise can help support vagal tone. What’s down below affects the circuit above, and because of this, movement as in moderate exercise may help elevate vagal tone. Exercise increases gut transit and can help create a healthy microbiome. As a result, this influences the vagus nerve. Exercise also helps balance neurotransmitters and hormones in the body, which are impacted by the vagus nerve. These help alleviate stress, elevate mood and promote better sleep.
Laugh a Little:
There is truth to the saying that “laughter is the greatest medicine.” As it turns out, laughing stimulates the vagus nerve. Laughter increases HRV, according to research. It also releases oxytocin, the feel-good chemical in our bodies that is associated with empathy. Oxytocin helps us bind together, build community, be social creatures--and as noted above, sociability is a key to elevated vagal tone.
The vagus nerve is the main communication highway of the gut-brain axis. As above so below! This is why brain fog, depression, mood disorders and other mental health issues are frequently associated with gut issues.
An enema distends the intestines, particularly enemas that are intended to be “held” for a period of time before released, such as a coffee enema. This distention is like a pilates workout for the vagus nerve, helping to increase vagal tone. Most people today are stuck in a “fight or flight” mentality due to chronic stress. Coffee enemas may help improve both the workings of the parasympathetic nervous system and gut health and promote more relaxation. In addition, coffee enemas are noted to increase intrinsic glutathione production by up to 700%!
Probiotics may help strengthen vagal tone, being that the vagus nerve interfaces with the microbiome and is the central force of the gut-brain axis. Because of this gut-brain connection, a diversified gut microbiome can affect overall mood, even influence neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA.
Promoting a sense of calm and optimal sleep patterns can also support the vagus nerve. Magnesium, responsible for over 300 bodily functions, naturally relaxes the body, alleviates pain, can be instrumental in managing chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, reduces brain fog, irritability and does much more. There are many forms of magnesium, so it’s important to research which one is best for you. Magnesium threonate, specifically, crosses the blood brain barrier.
Aside from mental clarity and increased cognitive function, magnesium L-threonate can also help reduce stress and anxiety and chronic nerve pain, according to research. These findings are promising for those with traumatic injury and chronic pain as well as people with mental health issues, such as PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder, who would also likely be diagnosed as having a low vagal tone.
Because the vagus nerve travels deep through the body, it may affect multiple systems. Depending on the area of dysfunction, issues can manifest as multiple disease states and disorders. These include migraines, memory loss, mood disorders, thyroid issues, heart disease, circulatory issues, addiction, digestive issues, autoimmune disease, cancer-- pretty much everything. This is why it’s vital to address vagal tone along with everything else you are currently doing to maintain optimal health.