You may have already heard of the vagus nerve in one of your school biology lessons.

It’s the longest nerve in your body and is found right behind where you feel for your pulse.

One of 12 cranial nerves, this super nerve starts in the brainstem and runs all the way to your abdomen, cutting through your heart, esophagus and your lungs.

Known as “cranial nerve X”, the nerve is part of your involuntary nervous system, the system that directs your unconscious body activity, such as keeping your heart rate stable and ensuring you digest food properly. It tells the body to heal itself, essentially.

The nerve moves around your body (like a vagabone, hence the name) sending out tiny fibres to your organs, such as your heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines. The vagus nerve is essentially controlling your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for stimulating your “rest and digest” activities.

But the most interesting thing about the vagus nerve is the new research that has revealed its link with treating chronic inflammation, which can lead to high blood pressure, digestive issues, and migraines. Known as the missing link, the nerve may be able to treat these issues without medication! Here’s how:

Vagal Tone

Vagal tone is the control the vagus nerve has over your heart rate. Recent studies have revealed that vagal tone is important in order to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. By tracking your heart rate in addition to your breathing rate your vagal tone can be measured in a person.

When you breathe in your heart usually speeds up slightly, and when you breathe out your heart rate slows down a little. To determine your vagal tone, you need to establish the difference between your inhalation heart rate and your exhalation heart rate. The bigger the difference, the higher your vagal tone will be.

High or low?

Having a higher vagal tone is a good thing. It means you are more likely to be able to relax your body after suffering from stress more quickly, and your internal systems probably function better, such as:

  • Sugar regulations
  • Reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better digestion
  • Fewer migraines
  • Lower depression
  • Less stress and anxiety

Scientists have discovered that the vagus nerve is monitoring and responding to your body. It initiates responses to any inflammation, all of which affects your mood and your ability to cope with your body’s reactions.

vagus nerve

Low vagal tone

If you have a low vagal tone you are more susceptible to heart problems, strokes, diabetes, depression, and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and endometriosis.

However, a number of researchers have discovered that by stimulating the nerve using electrical current you can increase your vagal tone, and improve your resilience to these problems.



However, there are ways you can improve your vagal tone yourself:

1. Hum. It may sound bizarre, but humming stimulates the nerve because it is connected to your vocal chords. Try it!

2. Speak. Speak more and you will raise your vagal tone through your vocal chords.

3. Coldwater. While there is more research to be done on this technique, there has been evidence to suggest that by splashing cold water on your face you stimulate the vagus nerve.

4. Breathe Deeply. Take long, deep breaths and use your diaphragm to stimulate your vagus nerve.

5. Yoga. The relaxed, concentrated breathing practices of yoga can increase to your vagal tone levels.

6. Meditate. A study in 2013 reported that meditation and thinking positive thoughts can have a positive effect on your vagus nerve.



7. Improve gut health. One of the many positives of having a healthy gut is that it increases your vagal tone levels. It works by creating a loop of health from your gut, through the nerve and back. Try probiotics as a healthy bacteria supplement.

Adjust your daily routine to improve your vagal tone and stimulate your vagus nerve, it’s so simple but so effective. It’s time to take control of your nerves!

Charlotte Howell

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This Post Has 113 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Lori Ripple

    Sophia

    1. Avatar
      Sophia Alexandria Parandian

      Just learned ab this in class hahah!

  2. Avatar
    Scott Gibson

    Mahala Taylor no more headaches possibly?

  3. Avatar
    Kim Nadeau

    It also has to do with seizures

  4. Avatar
    Kathyor Jim Byler

    Gonna save this too. Thank you Valerie Allmon

  5. Avatar
    Linsy Ellison

    Ohhhhh I can’t wait to read this. Gotta make my coffee first! Lol

  6. Avatar
    Jacki Kissane Elsbury

    Josie Wyckoff just another take on what we already believe

  7. Avatar
    Jacki Kissane Elsbury

    It’s very simplified but rings true Josie Wyckoff

  8. Avatar
    Deborah York Reiter

    Hmmmm

  9. Avatar
    Angelia Cardenas

    Jeremy Cardenas looks like your damaged vagus nerve might be more serious than they have led us to believe

  10. Avatar
    Linsy Ellison

    This is great. I do many of those already, when I’m anxious. However, I should do them more frequently to prevent the anxiety in the first place. ❤ thanks for thinking of me

  11. Avatar
    Helena Graham

    Jessica Graham worth a read x

  12. Avatar
    Betty Byrd

    Kori Nuckolls. This makes sense

  13. Avatar
    Alana Marie Almond

    Something for u my Lully – could help ur suffering??? Kimberley xxx

  14. Avatar
    Sarah Connell

    Ohhhhh worth a read 🙂

  15. Avatar
    Stephen LaughingBoy Hudecki

    Check the 2010 study references:
    Resources
    Gaia Vince made a BBC Radio 4 programme about this topic, first broadcast in November 2014.

    Kevin Tracey wrote about his work in the March 2015 issue of Scientific American.

    A 2012 review of neural reflexes in inflammation and immunity by Tracey.

    And a 2002 review by Tracey in which he predicts vagal modulation could be used to treat inflammatory disease.

    Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kok’s research on positive emotions and vagal tone.

    Plus the links in the comments at the end of the article:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797386/#B80

  16. Avatar
    Caroline Ruth

    My sister has a vagus nerve stimulator to help control her epilepsy, it’s also known as the wandering nerve.

  17. Avatar
    Janelle Bilcliffe

    Sarah … Interesting? Or know this?

    1. Avatar
      Sarah McMullan

      Funny – they cut mine to stop endo pain. My gastro guy is looking into it to see if its having any effect on that whole mess…

  18. Avatar
    Lindie Weston

    I woke up once with a huge pressure in my upper thigh and lower abdomen and had to pee super bad. Turns out my bladder was so full it was pressing on the nerve and when I peed it released the pressure.. I got major nausea tunnel vision and bam woke up on the floor not knowing what happened. Doctor says it usually happens to old men when they pee, I’m a 24 yo female. Fml hahaha

    1. Avatar
      Josh Burchard

      Poor thing

    2. Avatar
      Carrie Spence

      That happened to my ex-H. He kept passing out and was so disoriented that I called an ambulance. The paramedics checked him out and gave the same prognosis as what happened to you. It was scary to witness!

  19. Avatar
    Amy Calitz

    Lindsay Carden for your headaches ?

    1. Avatar
      Lindsay Carden

      thank you ❤

  20. Avatar
    Kevin Allewell

    Viva las vagus..

  21. Avatar
    Elizabeth Millar

    Shawn Carmichael may be of interest to my lil darlin

  22. Avatar
    Rachel Rivera

    ❤❤

  23. Avatar
    Jade Bell

    Georgia Turner here’s that vagus nerve again

  24. Avatar
    Bill Nipper

    ???

  25. Avatar
    Edward Travis

    I have had luck by massageing my head to stimulate the vagus nerves.And if that don”t work I take two acetaminophens. When I was young I tried placing my head in a vise. Problem there is do not let your wife help if she is mad at you.

  26. Avatar
    Estefania Vargas

    Liliam Garzai wonder how accurate this is

  27. Avatar
    Alan Lamb

    We were told as children that too much stimulation of the vagus nerve would make us go blind and grow hair on the palms of our hands.

    1. Avatar
      Lisa Nery Pinnell
  28. Avatar
    Ryan Shrader

    Heather Anderson
    This is where Tosh is off…

  29. Avatar
    Kirsty Pohoiwi

    Graceè Chapman stimulate the vagus

  30. Avatar
    Maria Alvarez

    wow, had done some research but hadn’t come up with this article, interesting

  31. Avatar
    Karen Winchester

    I have a vagus nerve problem. It makes my bills pressure drop to a radical low and I pass out wherever it happens. I have broken a few bones on occasions. Now if I start to feel strange I lie down wherever I am.

  32. Avatar
    Grazzle Loops

    This was a really interesting read, I havent hummed in years

  33. Avatar
    Jai Dotti

    I’m humming now lolll

  34. Avatar
    Rick Reynolds

    What happens in Vagus stays in Vagus.

  35. Avatar
    Cara Montgomery

    Did you see the article. About vegas nerve & blood pressure?

  36. Avatar
    Bill Nipper

    No

  37. Avatar
    Grazzle Loops

    Lol I was humming too

  38. Avatar
    Heather Clemons

    yes

  39. Avatar
    Mariette De Meijer

    My vagus nerve is ruinend during operation….

  40. Avatar
    Toni Warner

    Very interesting

  41. Avatar
    Di Jackson

    Vicky Flynn thought this might interest you with the migraines but xx

  42. Avatar
    Erik Lindquist

    Good looks dude

  43. Avatar
    Erik Lindquist

    All I do is stimulate vagus

  44. Avatar
    Glori G Gylsson

    Hello, my inhalation raises my heart rate a little but exhalation doesn’t increase any further. In fact it lowers the reading. I am doing this on an Oximeter. Would you say this is a reliable way of monitoring the heart?

  45. Avatar
    Madeleine Sinclaire

    Brooke Ashley Hughes

    1. Avatar
      Brooke Ashley Hughes

      Thanks boo!!!

  46. Avatar
    Danielle Francois

    Thanks for sharing.

  47. Avatar
    Anthony LoCicero

    Makes sense considering that the Vagus nerve innervates the Functions of the Digestive System via stimulating the parietal cell and the gastric cell.

  48. Avatar
    Jillian Westphal

    Jenna Barnes worth looking into!

    1. Avatar
      Jenna Barnes

      Yeah definitely!! Thanks: )

  49. Avatar
    Brianna Elyse Woods

    Me reading

  50. Avatar
    Brianna Elyse Woods

    Interesting

  51. Avatar
    Jeff Woods

    Figured I’d share to tou

  52. Avatar
    Amber Healy

    Going to look into this

  53. Avatar
    Jennifer Hughes

    Thanks very interesting!!

  54. Avatar
    Frank Cordova

    Follow

  55. Avatar
    Christine Fasano

    Very interesting steph, thank you

  56. Avatar
    Leah Ullom Reynolds

    Omg the first time I saw an image of that nerve I thought “well that’s what is hurting when I have a migraine!”

  57. Avatar
    Eric Simmons

    No more headaches ever from vagal inhibition.

  58. Avatar
    Amy Richardson

    This one particular nerve is responsible for many many many issues.

  59. Avatar
    Helen Butterworth

    Wow- Tiffany Butterworth

  60. Avatar
    Arti Wagh Sharma

    Thank you Neeta. Useful information.

  61. Avatar
    Molly Hurditch

    Gemma Hunter no wonder you love to chant

  62. Avatar
    James Willner

    Only read the ‘front page’ but this looks interesting Patti Willner

  63. Avatar
    Denise Briceno West

    Jennifer Eckert Toler. Interesting…just in case you haven’t seen this. You see EVERYTHING : )

  64. Avatar
    Nayantara Kulkarni

    Thanks Arti Wagh Sharma. Very good information

  65. Avatar
    Charissa Krasnow

    I have gastroparesis which means I don’t digest food properly and it causes very frequent vomiting and nausea. It is truly debilitating and they say it is caused by my vagus nerve not working. Just wondering if anyone else has this?? It is pretty rare but I’ve noticed I have every symptom (health issue) listed in the article. Can you stimulate a paralyzed nerve?

    1. Avatar
      Suzie Shepard

      I wouldn’t ask medical questions to the followers of this page. Consult your doctor.

    2. Avatar
      Suzie Shepard

      And, best of luck.

    3. Avatar
      Mahrukh Sutaria

      Very sound advice suzie

    4. Avatar
      Jackie Silance

      I am not a doctor and yes definitely talk to a doctor who could refer you to a physical therapist. You can stimulate a paralyzed nerve to get it to “remember or wake up what it used to do” using “TENS”
      (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). Supposedly they have ones at the store that are “behind the counter” I wouldn’t buy any other those especially if you are not sure of the direct cause of the problem.
      http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/transcutaneous-electrical-nerve-stimulation-tens-topic-overview

    5. Avatar
      Charissa Krasnow

      Thanks! I’ll ask my doc about those

  66. Avatar
    Alex Claire

    Yoga massages the vagus nerve! In just 2 weeks of doing traditional Hath yoga for 2 hours everyday you will see a difference!

  67. Avatar
    J Ames Marsh

    Might help ur headache Becky Ellis x

  68. Avatar
    Kelly McCleery

    Interesting must give it a read thanks xx

  69. Avatar
    Anna Carol Jensen

    Jane Simmons Prisk don’t know if this will help? Maybe worth a read xx

  70. Avatar
    Wendy Aldred

    Holly Aldred have a read

  71. Avatar
    Tricia Carter

    Mikel Reed-Williams..interesting read

  72. Avatar
    Dawn Braithwaite

    Good input thanx

  73. Avatar
    Cherie Perusse

    Michele Marie Jackson hope doin ok.

  74. Avatar
    Annik Sabourin-Yee

    Carrie, Pam, Rosemary, Leanne
    A really good article

  75. Avatar
    Gina Markiel

    Interesting article

  76. Avatar
    John H. Romero

    Zachary Schneider comments have good/more information as well.

  77. Avatar
    Kim Lind

    Dani Bailey have you read up on this? interesting…

    1. Avatar
      Dani Bailey

      Oh my gosh… No I haven’t thank you so much!

  78. Avatar
    Jaki Armstrong

    Interesting

  79. Avatar
    Brandi Tabaldo

    I’ll have to try that out

  80. Avatar
    Rayna Bee

    This is great thanks Gopi!

  81. Avatar
    Brandi Tabaldo

    Wait…. I talk all the time, it doesn’t help

  82. Avatar
    Julia Eden

    Aren’t our bodies amazing?!

  83. Avatar
    Ferisha Mohammed-Williams

    Naomi Ali…see if this can help

  84. Avatar
    Lenise Dozier

    I have been suffering from ‘Phantom Nausea’ for 13 months and I can not figure out why! Had an EGD…nothing showed up….I call mine ‘episodes’. I can feel my blood pressure dropping, I have to sit down and put my head low, the nausea comes whenever it wants to and it lasts as long as a Labor Contraction.
    I do not vomit, I just have SEVERE nausea, it is painful…
    Is this POTS?

  85. Avatar
    Debbi Harry

    Marnie look what popped up in my feed – my friend the vagus nerve.

  86. Avatar
    Silvia Gill

    Wow, amazing…and Yoga again…Yoga, Breathing & Mediatation…OOoooommmmm 🙂 XX

  87. Avatar
    Armin Trgo

    Amina Zejnilović might be useful ☺️

  88. Avatar
    Munira Patel

    Interesting.

  89. Avatar
    Susan Lan

    Yes!

  90. Avatar
    Jeni Spice

    Interesting reading. I’m humming as I type… x

  91. Avatar
    Pat Buckley

    I thought men didn’t have vagus nerves. 🙂

  92. Avatar
    Karen Mercier

    Rachel Whitaker c how u go w your vagus nerve

  93. Avatar
    Ralph Wladyslaw Bielski

    Yeah smoke pot…

  94. Avatar
    Katie Atkins

    I’m gonna start doing yoga and hopefully, it improves. I have a cyst in my left sinus pocket so a lot of my migraines are from that and my appointment to have it looked at isn’t until October ‍♀️

  95. Avatar
    Shelby Tayla

    Oh babe that would be so painful 🙁 sinus shit sucks so much let alone adding migranes too it

  96. Avatar
    Katie Atkins

    i reckon!! Haha oh well it will be gone soon enough

  97. Avatar
    Alyssa Schultz-Van Etten

    It works! That and eating real food lol

  98. Avatar
    Debra Kinsel Hurst

    Thank you!

  99. Avatar
    Yosh

    My son was completely disoriented all of a sudden after a tooth extraction he almost lost his life, he lost his voice like something caught his throat he could not talk could not walk, was wobley, his whole body was jerks, once it felt like something was jumping in him, he could not eat, lasted a week, now completely normal, this is the second time it happened to him, is this a medical or spiritual thing

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