What is the Vagus Nerve?
The Vagus Nerve is incredibly important to the body and the brain. The nerve allows the brain to properly monitor and receive information about several different types of bodily functions and various areas of the body.
The Vagus nerve contributes to the general functionality of the autonomic nervous system, which consists of the sympathetic nervous system which connects the internal organs to the brain by spinal nerve – focusing on the heart rate, increasing blood flow to the muscles and decreasing blood flow to the skin. The autonomic nervous system also includes the parasympathetic nervous system which is called the rest and digest system – this focuses on conserving energy as it slows the heart rate, increase gland and intestinal activity and much more.
The nerve is responsible for motor information for the movement within the body and certain sensory activity. The nerve is essential to the workings of the body and a circuit that links the lungs, heart, neck and the brain.
5 Fascinating things about the Vagus Nerve
- Vagus Nerve prompts relaxation after stress - Your sympathetic nervous system can sometimes trigger your body’s fight or flight response which ends up increasing the amount of adrenaline in your body and pushing your stress hormone cortisol. The Vagus nerve plays a strong part in calming down your body by releasing acetylcholine.
The Vagus nerve extends to many different organs, almost acting as if it were a cable that sends instructions to release proteins like prolactin, oxytocin and other enzymes, which aim at calming you down. People who have far stronger Vagus nerve response are more likely to recover far quicker after injury, illness or stress.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation through electrical stimulation helps reduce and potentially stop inflammation – Several studies have shown that when stimulating the Vagus nerve, you can reduce inflammation significantly. Electronic stimulation of the nerve shows a reduction in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory syndrome and haemorrhagic shock.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation has created a whole new field of medicine – There is a new study / field of medicine beginning to show itself to the world, known as bioelectronics which could be the future of medicine as we know it!
The use of a Vagus Nerve device used to deliver electrical impulses to various parts of the body - scientists and doctors one day hope to treat illnesses with fewer medicines and far few side effects, some illnesses or issues that many thought couldn’t be treated without medicine.
- The nerve tells your lungs to breathe – The Vagus Nerve draws out the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which tells your lungs to breathe. Another way to stimulate the Vagus Nerve would be by doing abdominal breathing or holding your breathe for four seconds.
- It Controls your Heart Rate – The Vagus Nerve is responsible for controlling your heart rate through impulses to specialised muscle tissues, normally known as the hearts natural pacemaker. The nerve can release the chemical acetylcholine to help slow the heart rate down.
Doctors can determine your heart rate variability (HRV) by measuring the time between your individual heart beats, and then plotting this onto a chart over time. This is known to offer clues about the resilience of your Vagus nerve and your heart.