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Nature Knows Best: What is the Vagus nerve?!

The longest cranial nerve in your body could need professional attention, and you might not even know it.

I have seen and experienced A LOT in the natural world of medicine and I will be the first to admit that some of it is just downright weird. As my dad would say, “Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it is safe.” Those words always ring in my ears as I study and learn more about our amazing bodies and natural remedies.

But make no bones about it—finding a good Chiropractor has been an absolute game changer for our family. At every visit I am truly amazed at how the systems of our bodies work together. Need proof? I know of one little girl who took a tumble. She soon had a fever so her parents treated her naturally for the fever but nothing helped. After getting adjusted by her Chiropractor the fever went away within minutes. The little girl’s body was out of line and communicating the only way it knew how.

Our chiropractor recently put my rib and scapula back in place when I didn’t even know they were not in their original home. And, my hip has never been happier. In fact after every adjustment, we are more relaxed and our blood pressure goes down…maybe by 17 points!

Chiropractors use manipulation (I prefer the hands-on method) to restore proper alignment of the spine which effects joints, nerves, circulations, inflammation and so much more.

I literally could go on and on about how Chiropractors work to help rid children of ear infections, help pregnant mamas to be more comfortable, aid children in managing ADHD or Sensory Processing Disorder, reverse effects of a traumatic birth, restore homeostasis in all age patients and more! There is literally not much a good adjustment cannot help with.

So, what is the Vagus Nerve? This is an incredible nerve that runs all throughout our bodies…like a vagabond. Vagus actually means “wanderer” in Latin. It is the longest cranial nerve in our body that reaches the brain and runs to our mouth, heart, lungs, gut and most other organs by motor and sensory fibers.

This nerve is behind our autonomic nervous system which is our unconscious body functions…the important stuff like digestion and breathing. Then under this system we have the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response and the parasympathetic nervous systems which is the rest-and-digest system.
When this nerve is compromised—called low vagal tone—it cannot function at its peak. Some things that affect vagal tone are diabetes, bad posture, mercury, botox, stress, an accident, too much alcohol and a poor diet to name a few. And, when the Vagus nerve is compromised it can cause anxiety, leaky gut, migraines, Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease, Multiple sclerosis, eating disorders, poor circulation, mental disorders and much more.
A part of the Vagus nerve is found at the roof of the mouth behind your front teeth. When we put our tongue there, usually by instinct, it stimulates our Vagus nerve and calms tension. That is the correct position our tongue should be in. But, if there is a tongue tie or someone is a mouth breather their tongue cannot reach this spot. This can cause tension, anxiety and chronic stress.

There are ways to stimulate the Vagus nerve such as singing loudly (I’m not kidding), gargling, cold showers, deep breathing and massages. But, make no bones about it, I highly recommend getting frequent adjustments from a Chiropractor which will help maintain a healthy overall body and a healthy vagal tone.

Featured Image: Early anatomical drawing of the vagus nerve.
Source: Wellcome Library/Public Domain

About the Author

Brooke DeLong has a degree in Naturopathy and is passionate about educating and inspiring people. She is a wife and mom to four awesome kids.

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