Optimum vagus nerve health and function is critical for health, facilitating communication between the brain and many other organs of the body. It is the longest and most complex nerve in the body and is a major facilitator in the brain-body connection.
A vagus nerve that functions optimally is crucial for mental and physical health as it helps to manage the stress response in the body, keeps inflammation under control, helps to store memories, keeps the body in a state of balance and promotes the formation of neurotransmitters - the body's chemical messengers.
The vagus nerve communicates with the body's other 'brain', the gut. The gut is known as the 'second brain' because to contains 100 million nerve cells, which is more than the central nervous system. The vagus nerve is a major component of the automatic nervous system and a conduit of the parasympathetic nervous system.
The health and function of the vagus nerve is known as your vagal tone; high vagal tone is linked to good physical and mental health and a resilience to stress, whilst a low vagal tone may be linked to high levels of stress and anxiety, digestive disorders, constipation, migraines, hoarseness and difficulty in swallowing.
There are lots of good reasons to keep the vagus nerve functioning at it's best, and the following activities hep do just that:
Yoga is said to increase the parasympathetic nervous system which in turn increases vagal tone. It is said to release GABA, the neurotransmitter of relaxation, helping to alleviate anxiety and everyday stress.
2. Reflexology & Acupuncture
Working by balancing the energy in body, both these therapies help to strengthen vagal tone.
Smelling pleasant and relaxing essential oils modulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which prepares your body for rest.
4. Laughter & Singing
Singing is a brain boosting activity that stimulates the vagus nerve , whilst laughter strengthens relationships thus helping vagal simulation and the release of oxytocin.
There are also supplements that may help with vagus nerve health and function, including ginger root, zinc, omega-3 and probiotics.
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