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Introducing Vagus – Your Brain’s Magic Wand For Calmness

Human bodies consist of trillions of nerves, all performing intricate functions. Now while you may know about some obvious ones, have you heard of the nerve that single-handedly has the potential to impact both minor and serious health conditions? 

Known as the Vagus or the 10th cranial nerve, it’s the longest nerve in the human body. It originates from the base of your brain, goes down your neck through the diaphragm, and makes its way through the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. Your vagus nerve plays an extremely important role in maintaining the overall well-being of your body from controlling the heart rate to lowering inflammation and improving digestion. Meaning, if your vagus nerve functions correctly, your body will be in good shape.

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Robina Weermeijer/Unsplash | Your vagus nerve plays an extremely important role in maintaining the overall well-being of your body

Functions of the vagus nerve

One of its best-known functions involves the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps in regulating alertness and relaxation. For instance, if you’re stressed out, the vagus nerve will become overstimulated, resulting in a drop in your blood pressure levels and heart rate which might make you feel a little lightheaded and dizzy. 

On the contrary, the vagus nerve can also release an opposite response, where it can initiate the release of chemicals that will make you feel more relaxed and calmer. Research claims that in many cases people can manipulate the vagus nerve in order to improve certain health conditions. 

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the critical things the vagus can help you with.

#1 – Easing pinching headaches

Back in 2018, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a man-made vagus nerve stimulator to ease out intense migraines in adults. It works best when placed over the affected nerve on the back of the neck. The device provides mild electrical stimulation that helps in distributing the pain. The stimulator can be used on a daily basis for small intervals or depending on your physician’s recommendation.

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Usman Yousaf/Unsplash | Back in 2018, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a man made vagus nerve stimulator to ease out intense migraines in adults

#2 – Recovery after stroke

Researchers claim that when a vagus nerve stimulator is paired with rehabilitation, it helps in treating the after-effects of a stroke. The stimulator allows in treating severe arm impairment that is a major after-effect of having a stroke. 

#3 – Improving mental health

Vagus nerve stimulation is FDA approved in terms of treating mental health issues like depression and anxiety. In fact, people suffering from bipolar disorder have also shown great results after this stimulation technique.

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JM Lova/Unsplash | Vagus nerve stimulation is FDA approved in terms of treating mental health issues like depression and anxiety

How can you activate the vagus?

The simplest and most effective way to influence and activate better functioning of the vagus nerve is by practicing deep breathing on a regular basis. The trick here is to exhale more as compared to inhalations, to help your body relax better. Do eight cycles of inhalation and exhalation twice a day, especially when you’re anxious or stressed. 

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