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What is the Vagus Nerve?

The Vagus Nerve is the longest nerve in your body, connecting your brain to some of the most important organs throughout your body – this includes:

  • The heart
  • Lungs
  • Gut (intestines and stomach).

Just to name a few..

The Latin word for Vagus means 'wanderer', and that is a perfectly accurate representation of exactly what the Vagus Nerve does, the nerve wanders all over the body and reaches several different important organs.

The nerve is a key element of your parasympathetic nervous system – “Rest and Digest”. It influences your digestive function, heart rate, breathing and all these specific areas have a huge impact on your general Mental Health.

What is the Vagal Tone?

The area you need to pay special attention to is the ‘tone’ of your Vagus Nerve. Sounds very unusual but the Vagal Tone is an internal biological process that represents the activity of the Vagus Nerve. Increasing your Vagal Tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which usually translates to: A higher Vagal Tone = the body can relax far faster after stress. This can be done through a Vagus Nerve Stimulator or via other means - you can find these below in another link. 

A study in 2010 discovered that there was positive feedback around a high Vagal Tone which led to positive emotions and very good physical health – so, the more you increase your Vagal Tone, the more likely your physical and mental health will improve. The vagal response is very important when reducing stress, heart rates and blood pressure (lowering heart rates and blood pressure). In fact, it changes the function of certain parts of the brain positively, stimulating digestion and relaxing you.

Find one of the studies here.

One of the very interesting points around some of the studies available has even shown that Vagal Tone is passed on from mother to child. Mothers who are anxious, angry or even depressed during their pregnancy have shown to have lower Vagal activity. Once they give birth to their child, the child also has been known to have low vagal activity, low serotonin and dopamine levels.

Which leads to HRV (heart rate variability) – this is the number of heart beats per minute. HRV is the fluctuation in the time intervals between adjacent heart beats.

When your heart rate variability is high, your vagal tone is also high – they correlate with each other. If your vagal tone is low, there is really no need to worry as you can take steps to increasing it naturally or via a machine which is safe to use.

By stimulating your Vagus Nerve, you can send messages to your body to relax and de-stress which can lead to long-term improvements in your mood, well-being and resilience – thus improving your mental health. Increasing your Vagal Tone has helped a lot of people overcome anxiety, depression and better manage it when it arises.

Click here: How do I Stimulate my Vagus Nerve?

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