Life is getting faster and faster. It’s no wonder that our health gets out of balance from time to time. The vagus nerve plays an important role in the autonomic nervous system and thus has a great influence on our health. It ensures inner balance and harmony. If it is strong, we feel good and are healthy. If it is weak, our well-being is affected. Proper stimulation of the vagus activates serenity and new energy.
Consciously perceive the universe
To perceive the world consciously with all senses and to rest within oneself is a high art. In the hectic of our fast-paced world, this usually comes far too short. We quickly become stressed and cannot really switch off. Already at breakfast we realize that the whole day is planned. We run from appointment to appointment. In the evening we think about the past or already the next day. It is very important to restore inner balance and harmony and to know and pay attention to the signals of our own body. This is exactly what the vagus nerve can help us with.
The power of the vagus nerve
The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve. Vagus comes from Latin and has the meaning “roving.” It spreads like a fan throughout the organism, and has a special influence on the gastrointestinal, lung, heart, and nervous systems. Stimulation of the vagus can even treat depression and anxiety. It gives us serenity, strength and fresh energy. It was erroneously believed that the action of the vagus cannot be influenced. However, new research has proven the opposite. Through meditation or other exercises, the vagus nerve can be activated specifically and in the long term, thus providing more balance.
Complaints caused by disorders of the vagus
To understand the complaints and symptoms caused by disorders of the vagus, it is necessary to know where the nerve is located in the body. The nerve runs from the brain along the neck to the thoracic cavity to the abdomen. Due to its central location, it is involved in regulating the activities of almost all major organs. Through its vegetative functions, it transmits touch and taste sensations of the larynx, pharynx and external auditory canal. It is also involved in motor control of the upper esophagus, pharynx and larynx. The vagus is also called the resting nerve because it has a regulating effect on heart activity and respiration. Furthermore, it stimulates digestion. In summary, it performs the following functions:
- Stimulation of gastric acid
- Control of peristalsis (intestinal movements in the digestive phase)
- Regulation of mood
- Heart rhythm
- Regulation of the feeling of hunger
- Stimulation of gallbladder/bile
- sweat regulation
Due to the involvement of the vagus nerve in such important and extensive functions in the organism, complaints can also arise if it does not function properly. This is then a malfunction of the vegetative nervous system (vegetative dystonia), which may possibly be caused by an atlas malposition. The following complaints or symptoms may occur:
- Headache and neck pain
- Dizziness and nausea
- Diarrhea or constipation
- sleep disturbances
- Increased sweating
- cardiovascular problems
- Decreased or increased pulse
- Shaking hands
- Neck stiffness
- Thyroid problems
- Lumpy feeling in the throat
- Tingling sensation on the scalp or numbness on one side of the head
- Vasovagal syncope (sudden unexplained fainting)
- Epilepsy and vagus nerve seizures
- Negative influence on pancreas and gall bladder
Finding rhythm and balance
Stress, of course, cannot be completely avoided. When something is very important to us, it can get on our nerves. This causes stress to arise. A life completely without stress is not conceivable, because then we would lack the drive. It all depends on the right balance. If tension and stress predominate, countermeasures must be taken. Then a gear down is called for, so that one’s own balance and rhythm can be re-established. This is achieved by establishing a connection to the vagus.
To live in the here and now
It is important to live in the here and now and to find fulfillment. Fulfillment does not lie in the future, as is often mistakenly assumed, but in the here and now. Therefore, one should consciously incorporate small breaks in everyday life, simply take a deep breath and thus release new energy. If the vagus perceives this peace and quiet, it passes the signal on to the entire organism and the stress level decreases. This flow of energy through the body can be felt.
Listening to signals from your own body
Over time, small problems become bigger and bigger if the person cannot actively let go. As a result, sooner or later access to the vagus is blocked. One should listen to the signals of one’s own body at an early stage. Small tricks can help to get rid of one’s worries and problems for good. Just write all your little fears and worries on a piece of paper, go out into nature to a beautiful place, tear the paper into a thousand pieces and let the wind blow your problems away. After that, you will immediately feel liberated and motivated and additionally strengthen your self-confidence.
Be sociable and affectionate
Another way to release new energies are social gatherings with friends. The Italians claim: A sociable evening with one’s friends gives a person a year of life. Simply talking to your friends in peace, being boisterous and silly. This releases new energy and stimulates the vagus. You should take time for this regularly. Love for yourself and your partner also plays an important role. Kisses, closeness and caresses are a nice way to prove your love to your partner and at the same time activate the vagus. Through love and feelings in an intact relationship, stress is automatically lowered. During the exchange of caresses, everything around us fades out, and our own body is perceived consciously and intensively. The entire organism comes into harmony. This simplest way to stimulate the vagus is unfortunately often neglected in our hectic everyday life.
Weakness of the Vagus
The vagus nerve runs mainly along soft tissue organs and is therefore well protected. However, there is a weak spot where the nerve can be pinched. In fact, it happens very often. At the point where the vagus exits the base of the skull, it runs along the first cervical vertebra along with the great jugular vein and the carotid artery. If the neck is dislocated or overstretched, or if the patient suffers from a chronic misalignment of the vertebra, the important conduction pathway can become blocked.
Exercises to stimulate the vagus nerve
Breathing exercises are perfect for stimulating the vagus nerve. To do this, simply assume a comfortable sitting posture. Inhale slowly and exhale even more slowly and consciously. The best way to do this is to sing, hum or buzz lightly while exhaling. Then the larynx starts to vibrate and the vagus is activated. You feel how you automatically become calmer and the tension falls away from you.
Another option is a mantra. While breathing, simply concentrate on a positive sentence, a picture or a song line. Recite your self-chosen mantra mentally over and over again and let go of all negative thoughts. Consciously perceive the positive sensations and feel the happiness that is triggered in your heart. Memorize it and recall it again and again in difficult situations.
The eyes can also be used to stimulate the vagus nerve. Close your eyes and fix the eyelids from behind. At first everything seems to be black, but after a short time colors appear. At first soft yellow tones, eventually some green, blue or red. In addition, black dots fly through the picture. Concentrate exactly on the colors, feel the deep relaxation and thereby activate the vagus.
In addition to the above exercises and techniques, the vagus nerve can be stimulated by the following:
- Intermittent fasting
There are numerous ways to stimulate the vagus. It is especially important to recognize the body’s own stress signals and to react to them as early as possible. Even very simple exercises can help to regain inner balance. Mindfulness plays a very important role in our lives. It is about consciously perceiving everything in the here and now. Our happiness does not lie in the future. It is much more important to be in harmony with ourselves in this very moment. People who succeed in this will be happier and more balanced in the long run.