Research has found that the gut and the brain are actually connected! The information highway connecting the two is called THE VAGUS NERVE, aka Cranial Nerve X. The super-powerful nerve meanders throughout your body, connecting your brain to the rest of your organs, and transmitting information back and forth between them. As a matter of fact, the name “vagus” actually means “wandering” in Latin. Also known as the 10th cranial nerve, the vagus runs through your neck, chest, and stomach, and without it, you couldn’t perform a number of essential bodily functions.
What the Vagus Nerve Helps Your Body Do
Almost everything you do relates back to the vagus nerve, from the ability to taste food on your tongue to breathing — the nerve is what your brain uses to tell your lungs to work! Just take a look at some of the amazing facts:
1) Prevents Inflammation
We know that 85% of the immune system resides in the gut. Once inflammation is present, the Vagus Nerve tells the brain to release some anti-inflammation chemicals to put out the fire. TOO much inflammation has even been proven to lead to autoimmune diseases and a host of other issues as well.
2) Helps with Memory
I know I have your attention now. Just don’t forget this part. The University of Virginia found that stimulating the Vagus Nerve caused rats to have better memory and recall. Just think of the implications for humans!
3) Stimulates Breathing
The Vagus Nerve actually stimulates the chemicals that tell you to breathe. This can be thrown off if the Vagus Nerve gets overstimulated, but it can also be controlled and retrained with proper breathing and exercises.
4) Gives You Butterflies
That roller coaster feeling in your stomach is a sign your Vagus Nerve is being stimulated. This is also one of the most common reasons people faint.
5) Can Help You Chill Out
People with a more sensitive Vagus response have been shown to have stronger Vagus stimuli, which allows them to relax faster and more easily then those who do not.
6) Can Make You Happy
The neurotransmitters (the chemicals in your brain that control hormones) that make you happy and sad are produced 90% of the time by the gut. Since the Vagus Nerve has a VIP pass to the brain, it has a direct effect on emotions when stimulated.
Some other bodily functions that relate back to the vagus nerve include:
- Heart rate
- Reduction of anxiety after a stressful situation
- Recovery from injury or illness
- Guidance for the muscles in your neck to move properly so you can swallow and talk
- Manages the digestive tract so you can urinate or defecate
- Sexual arousal
- Decrease in inflammation in your body
- Blood pressure
How Vagus Nerve Stimulation May Help You
Though testing is still being completed, the US Food and Drug Administration allows vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of depression and epilepsy when neither disease responds to medications. This is done by using a device that sends electronic pulses to the nerve. Trials and research are also being completed to determine whether this type of stimulation can help resolve other health issues like anxiety disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, obesity, heart failure, and migraines and severe headaches.
In recent years, researchers have discovered that vagus nerve stimulation may also reduce or prevent inflammation in the body, which could resolve many health issues. Some initial trials have shown that cureless diseases like rheumatoid arthritis may even go into remission when a device is implanted into the body to send pulses to the nerve. Because of these findings, doctors are now studying the effects of other electric impulse devices on other body parts in order to treat disease without using so many harmful medications.
How You Can Help Your Vagus Nerve Do Its Job Better
The Vagus Nerve can be positively influenced by a healthy diet, exercise, and meditation to name a few. But while these have all been proven effective ways to help the Vagus Nerve do its job better, one of the most effective ways is getting a chiropractic adjustment. But not just any adjustment! Not the kind you twist your own neck or have your girlfriend wrench on your neck (yes we get this in the office all the time).
The most effective method is a specific upper cervical adjustment to the top bone of your spine, called the Atlas. We have seen amazing results with patients from an hour old to 95 years old doing this technique.
If you are currently suffering from issues such as migraines, obesity, back pain, and other health issues, contact your local AlignLife Clinic to find out what we can do for you today.