The article “Hacking the Nervous System” by Gaia Vince brings the story of a woman who suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis and who was treated with a device which stimulated the vagus nerve and thus reduced inflammation. In other words, activating the vagus nerve through the parasympathetic nervous system affects inflammation and the immune system.
WHAT IS THE VAGUS NERVE?
Vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, starting from the brain, going down the neck and then travelling around the digestive system, spleen, liver, pancreas, heart, and lungs. This nerve has a critical role in the parasympathetic nervous system.
The vagal tone has a key role in activating the parasympathetic nervous system. It is measured by tracking the heart-rate and breathing rate. The heart-rate tends to accelerate while you are inhaling and to slow down while exhaling. Higher vaginal tone means that your body is able to relax faster after enduring some sort of stress.
WHAT IS HIGH VAGAL TONE ASSOCIATED WITH?
High vagal tone is associated with less anxiety, resistance to stress, and better mood. It also improves the function of many body systems, causing reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, improved digestion, reduced migraines, lower blood pressure, and blood sugar regulation. If you are wondering how gut it affects the mood, stress levels, and overall inflammation, note that the key lies in its ability to detect the gut microbiome, whether they are pathogenic or non-pathogenic versus and responding properly.
WHAT IS LOW VAGAL TONE ASSOCIATED WITH?
On the other hand, low vagal tone is linked to diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, stroke, depression, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory conditions, including lupus, autoimmune thyroid conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
HOW DO WE INCREASE VAGAL TONE?
Even though we are genetically predisposed to varying levels of vagal tone, we still can stimulate the vagus nerve and thus increase it. Read on to learn how to tone the vagus nerve:
1.SLOW, RHYTHMIC, DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING
To tone the vagus nerve, you should breathe from the diaphragm, instead of breathing from the top of the lungs.
Humming stimulates the vagus nerve since it is directly linked to the vocal cords. It is recommended to repeat the sound “OM” or pick a song and hum it.
Again, given the fact that the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords, speaking can help you tone it as well.
4.WASHING YOUR FACE WITH COLD WATER
Although this one is still unclear, using cold water on your face stimulates the vagus nerve.
5.BALANCING THE GUT MICROBIOME
As mentioned above, the presence of beneficial gut bacteria increases the vagus tone.
According to a 2012 study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kik, increasing positive emotions leads to improvement in the vagal tone. And, what`s better way of promoting positive emotions than meditation?
Although we already know that meditation and breathing exercises are good for our wellbeing, it is really amazing to see how they really work. It is really amazing to learn that such simple practices can have such positive impact on blood pressure, digestive system, depression, and inflammation, isn’t it?
Sources : besthealthyguide.com