Human body is a complex system, composed of different systems. Each system is controlled by a central nervous system. There are many nerves that are carrying out the functions of sensing, responding, and controlling different body parts. There are two types of nerves in the body, one is cranial nerves, and other is spinal nerves. The topic for today is on Vagus nerve. We will try to cover the following points in this article i.e. what is vagus nerve? Different functions of the vagus nerve in humans, its importance and ways to activate it.
Vagus nerve is the 10th and longest cranial nerve, originating from medulla. The latin meaning of the Vagus is wandering, it relates to the vagus nerve as it supplies different parts of the body. It connects the brain with different parts of the body like heart, lungs and gut (intestines and stomach). A healthy heart, good capacious lungs, and good gut is key to a healthy state, so as the vagus nerve supplies all three major systems, it plays an important role in maintaining health. What is Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia?
Why to activate the Vagus Nerve
You might wonder why it is necessary to activate your vagus nerve? Then the answer is not lying far away, just have a look around you, or just pick a newspaper and you will find the newspaper full with news that is related to stressful incidents, divorce, suicide, depression, violence etc. Why has it become so common these days? Because we have lost our peace of mind. We are into jobs, businesses that we don't even like, but still pursuing for our bread and butter. But what about inner happiness and satisfaction? We have totally lost it. Here comes the role of activation of the vagus nerve. For example, you are going to catch a train, and for some reason you got late, and wondering if you will reach on time or not. You are driving fast, jumping lights and under stress consciously or unconsciously. Then, you reach the station and hear the announcement that the train which you wanted to board is running 30 minutes late. Your reaction changes and you take a deep breath and thank the almighty. This deep breath is an indication that your breathing was not relaxed until now. This is one of the reasons why it is necessary to activate the vagus nerve
Different ways to activate vagus nerve
1. With Cold Exposure
Taking a quick dip in the cold water, or taking a cold showers increases stimulation of the vagus nerve by activating cholinergic neurons. Sympathetic activity decreases whereas parasympathetic activity increases. Taking cold showers or ice showers not only activates the vagus nerve, but also reduces inflammation. Nowadays, it is a common trend to take an ice bath after intense workout. It promotes faster excretion of lactic acid, an acid in your muscles, which accumulated after workout, therefore a faster recovery.
This is an ancient tool available for us (Indians), which now is again coming up after years of ignorance. It is a technique which calms our body by telling our mind that there is no need for panic. Meditation helps us to know ourselves better. We come to know about our real talents and strengths.
3. Singing, Humming and Chanting
Vocal cords and a group of muscles in the back of our throat are connected with the vagus nerve. With the help of chanting and humming we could actually activate the vagus nerve. Chanting "Om" is really helpful as it is considered as the sound of the universe. And sound is a wave energy, so chanting the energy of the universe will be helpful in a number of ways.
This is one of the commonest and easiest ways of activating the vagus nerve. Doing exercise daily in a routine proves to be helping in many ways. Not only it freshens your mind, it corrects the circulation and increases release of growth hormone.
5. Deep Breathing
Breathing is one of the vital life processes. Average respiratory rate is 13-15 breaths per minute. Taking a deep breath will increase the parasympathetic system by stimulating the vagus nerve.;
According to H.Glasgow - Laughter is the best tranquilizer with no side effects. It helps to reduce the sympathetic activity and relaxed parasympathetic activity. With the help of laughter we could tap out stress by the activity of diaphragm's activity.
7. Intermittent Fasting
Keeping your body calorie deficit also increases heart rhythm variability. This indicates that it involves increased activity of parasympathetic and vagal tone. With this you could also lose some inches from your waist, and find the benefits of activated vagus tone in the form of less stressful life than before.
You must have been in the situation at least once in your life, where you were not able to clear your gut when you had constipation. That day would not have gone well. You must have felt bad all day. This is an indication that there is a link between the brain and your gut. Therefore adding good bacteria to your gut is good for your vagus nerve.
9. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fats which the body can not synthesise on its own. The main source of Omega-3 fatty acid is fish. It is mandatory for the proper functioning of our brain. Omega-3 fatty acid not only helps to activate the vagal tone, but also helps in overcoming addiction.
Yoga is helpful in plenty of ways. It keeps your body fit by balancing the energy and releasing the anti-stress hormones. There are many asanas in Yoga which are quite helpful in activation of vagal tone like Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined bound angle pose), Viparita karani, Supta Virasana etc.
There are many ways with the help of which we could lead a happy life, free of stress and worries. Life is a long journey, there are many milestones in it. At every milestone, there is a challenge which comes with some stress, but it is up to us how we want to deal with it. Like we could either break down and get affected, or find a solution and move on. In this time of stress, anxiety, sadness there is still a hope. Hope for a better tomorrow and we all have to believe it is much better late than never. So, let's take care of our body which is a valuable asset and adapt to a healthy lifestyle. By activating the vagus tone, we could be able to control our body and get relief from stress.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan is one of the best Ayurvedic doctor from Chandigarh, North India. Chandigarh is situated in north India about 200 miles north of New Delhi. Ayurvedic medicine is getting quiet popular now a days and Dr. Vikram Chauhan is leading Ayurvedist from Chandigarh having solved many complicated cases from North India as well as rest of the world. Know More about Dr. Vikram Chauhan www.planetayurveda.com