Do you suffer from poor digestion, depression, muscular pain, or are you a little anxious? It may be all down to just one nerve, the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is called the wandering nerve because it serves so many places. It feeds the face, brain, heart, and gut. Exciting new research has focused on how it affects inflammation, pain, the digestive system, and mental health.
One study found that the vagus nerve can affect how we actually feel pain, and suggests that a stimulated vagus nerve can reduce the level of pain we experience. This is because it activates brain regions that can oppose the brain's ‘pain matrix’.
It is also thought that the vagus nerve can reduce inflammation in the body which could have huge implications for both our physical and mental health.
The vagus nerve runs from the brain down into the throat, carries down to the heart, and then passes down into the gut. It can influence as well as be influenced by these organs.
We will never tell you that there is one magic bullet to all of our problems as it’s simply not true. But addressing your vagus nerve could lead to health benefits and a reduction of pain levels, so it is definitely worth exploring.
The vagus nerve is really simple and non-invasive to stimulate, it’s something that you’re welcome to try at home.
Here are some really easy tips to try to stimulate the vagus nerve yourself;
Sing, chant, and hum. If you’re doing a yoga class, don’t forget your Omm’s and if you’re in the car listening to a good song, don’t be afraid to let go and sing.
Breathe; take time out and practice slow deep breaths from the abdomen, breathe in for six seconds, and then out for six seconds. Make sure the abdomen rises on the breathe in and falls on the breathe out.
Rinsing your face with cold water, perhaps a jump in the ocean or a cold shower could also do the trick
Meditate; the research is overwhelmingly positive on the effects of meditation, so make time in your day to make to yourself and start meditating
As you can see, these are all activities that are proposed to help mental health, and that is because they help to stimulate the vagus nerve. None of it sounds too hard, so pick one a day for the next 4 days, rotate the practice for 2 weeks, and report back - let us know how you are feeling after some vagus stimulation.