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The Vagus Nerve and CranioSacral Therapy

More knowledge is being spread about the vagus nerve and its functions, but what does it do, and how can we work with it to benefit our overall health?

What is the vagus nerve?

The start location is in the brain stem and is called the 10th Cranial nerve, two nerves that work with the parasympathetic nervous system and control the heart, lungs and digestion.

The vagus nerve supplies motor parasympathetic fibres to all the organs (except the adrenal glands). It's the longest nerve in the body and comprises both motor and sensory fibres. It then branches off into other nerves, which allows the brain to monitor and receive information about several of the body’s different functions.

The parasympathetic side, which the vagus nerve is heavily involved in, decreases alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate and helps calmness, relaxation, and digestion. As a result, the vagus nerve helps with defecation, urination, and sexual arousal.

Other vagus nerve effects include:

  • Communication between the brain and the gut: The vagus nerve delivers information from the gut to the brain.

  • Relaxation with deep breathing: The vagus nerve communicates with the diaphragm. With deep breaths, a person feels more relaxed.

  • Decreasing inflammation: The vagus nerve sends an anti-inflammatory signal to other body parts.

  • Lowering the heart rate and blood pressure: If the vagus nerve is overactive, it can lead to the heart being unable to pump enough blood around the body.

  • Fear management: The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, linked to stress, anxiety, and fear. These signals help a person recover from stressful and scary situations.

How Does Craniosacral help the Vagus Nerve?

It is one of the central areas we work with; if you ever had a CranioSacral session, you may remember taking sudden deep breaths; this is the vagus nerve kicking into gear. You may find after you need to go toilet; this is the vagus nerve kicking in during the session. You may find your tummy makes noises or gurgles, all good signs.

Often after a session, anxiety is reduced, you feel fully relaxed and have fewer stress responses, and there is a decrease in inflammation in the body, so there is less pain.

Your body over time, especially in our current culture, where chronic emotional and physical stress and trauma dominate. Most people suffer from Vagal / stress response issues and years of interrupted digestion, reproductive and growth hormone production, and tissue and cellular repair, causing all sorts of problems and inflammation throughout the body.

BALANCE- CranioSacral therapy brings it back into balance and also helps to release the emotions trapped within the body.

Another way you can balance the Vagus nerve?

Sound therapy - frequency of sound or even making your sound through Chanting and singing will help support the vagus nerve.

One study involving adult singers found that singing in a group affects heart rate variability. Researchers found that singing requires guided breathing, which can influence vagal tone. This type of even breathing helps to improve the vagal response and enhances well-being

Yoga -A study involving healthy adults found that slow breathing and contracting the throat muscles help to improve vagal responses. The yoga techniques helped to lower blood pressure and alleviate anxiety.

Meditation- support the parasympathetic nervous system and help you destress.

Breath work -Deep breathing exercises where you consciously control air intake and output can help relax and stimulate the vagal response.

One study found that doing breathing exercises for 15 minutes a day for two weeks significantly affected how much air people with chronic heart failure could exhale.

Probiotic -You can help to resolve many of the symptoms of vagal dysfunction by taking probiotics to improve your gut’s microbiota. ( Please see a natural health practitioner before starting any probiotic to make sure you are taking the correct ones)

Massage - One of the benefits of having a massage to help you relax is that it helps increase your body's vagal activity.

Fasting -One way to stimulate your vagus nerve naturally and benefit your heart rate variability is to fast intermittently.

Laughing -There is some scientific backing to the saying that laughter is the best medicine. The journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published a study on the effects of yoga laughing on heart rate variability. In addition, controlled laughter sessions helped to reduce anxiety and boost mood.

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