What is the Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve is the most important nerve which you probably did not know you have.
The vagus nerve is a bundle of sensory fibers that links the brain stem to your heart, lungs, and gut. It also branches out to interact with the spleen, liver, ureter, gallbladder, female fertility organs, ears, neck, kidneys and tongue. It powers up the parasympathetic nervous system and controls body functions such as keeping your heart rate constant, food digestion, breathing and sweating. It helps control your blood pressure and blood glucose balance, as well as promotes general kidney function. You vagus nerve also helps release bile and testosterone, stimulates the secretion of saliva, assists in detection of taste and releasing of tears. Vagus nerve is known play an important role in fertility issues and orgasms in women.
Key functions that keep us alive would not be maintained if the vagus nerve becomes deficient.
What the vagus nerve do in your body?
The vagus nerve has fibers that stimulate virtually all of our internal organs. The vagal nerve between the heart, brain and gut manages and processes emotions from what is happening around you. Have you ever notice that you have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states? This is some vagus nerve-related reactions.
Vagus nerve processes emotions through the vagal nerve between the brain, heart and gut.
Any dysfunction of the vagus nerve can result in a host of problems like bradycardia (abnormally slow heartbeat), obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, mood disorders, B12 deficiency, fainting, chronic inflammation, impaired cough, and seizures.
Meanwhile, any stimulation of the vagus nerve can improve conditions including, heart disease, anxiety disorder, tinnitus, alcohol addiction, obesity, alzheimer’s, leaky gut, migraines, bad blood circulation, cancer, mood disorder, and more.
A Closer Look At This Super Nerve
Among your 12 cranial nerves, the vagus nerve is the longest. Only your spinal column has a larger nerve system. Most of its nerve fibers or four of its five ‘lanes’ drive information from your body to the brain. The fifth lane runs in the opposite direction, carrying and processing signals from the brain throughout the body., The vagus is well anchored in the brain stem to process signals through the neck and into the chest. In this huge traffic, you have the left vagus and the right vagus. Each road has nerve fibers that branch into the heart, lungs, pancreas, stomach, and other organs in the abdomen.
The vagus nerve uses acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that stimulates muscle contractions in the parasympathetic nervous system. To understand how it works, a neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger which is released at the end of a nerve fiber. Signals move along from point to point, to stimulate various organs. For instance, if your brain could not communicate with your diaphragm via the release of acetylcholine from the vagus nerve, then you could stop breathing and die.
Substances that are a threat to the vagus nerve
Substances like botox in cosmetology and heavy metal mercury found in seafood can interfere with acetylcholine production. Botox can shut down the vagus nerve, which can cause death. When mercury clings to thiol protein in the heart muscle receptors, the heart cannot receive the electrical impulse that is sent by the vagus nerve to tell the heart to contract, which will result inevitably in heart or panic attacks. There was also a recent study by the NCBI, showing how antibiotics upset the microbiome balance in our gut.
Food supplements that may help the vagus nerve
Normally, natural nootropics like huperzine and galantamine are used to improve the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors.
What is the vagus nerve damaged?
Stress, along with fatigue and anxiety can inflame the nerve. Even a bad posture can impact the nerve. A bad diet can also be responsible! A high-fat, high-carb, and spicy junk food reduces the sensitivity of the vagus nerve.
Your gut and your vagus nerve
It is not just an imagination when you feel something in your gut, mainly after eating some unhealthy food like a super spicy and fat burger with all the added sauces. This is because the gastrointestinal tract, communicates with the brain via the vagus nerve. This is called the gut-brain axis.
Probiotics are good for your vagus nerve
According to a report in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) probiotics can help keep the gut and vagus nerve signals. According to Dr Abby Kramer, a practitioner and chiropractor in Glenview, Illinois, keeping the gut and vagus nerve gateway healthy, impacts our mental health. He further explains that probiotics encourage vagal activity, due to the nerve’s connection to the gut and digestive functions.
So, go and get that delicious yogurt in your fridge. It is full of good things for your vagus nerves. That is probably why when we eat a yogurt we usually feel so satisfied and happy.