The Vagus nerve is a sensory nerve and the longest cranial nerve in the body. It starts at the base of the brain, travels down both sides of the neck and the heart, all throughout the stomach area and into the intestines.

The Vagus nerve can be toned and strengthened similar to any muscle in your body. The Vagus nerve can be overactive as well as underactive.

Most people have an underactive Vagus, also known as lacking vagal tone because we’re often in our stress response, whether from internal stress, like fighting infections or stressful thoughts or emotions or external stress like traffic jams, news arguments, and world events etc. 

A common symptom of an underactive Vagus nerve is constipation. You should be pooping at a minimum of once per day, if not 2-3 times if you are eating 3 meals per day. If you don’t follow this pattern, you are constipated. 

There are many ways to stimulate the Vagus nerve. Here are just a few:

  1. Gargling vigorously with water after you brush your teeth every morning
  2. Humming, singing loudly or chanting– next time you’re in your car, turn up the tunes and belt it out!
  3. Deep breathing– helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate, and it basically sends a signal to the brain to stimulate Vagal activation and put us in rest and digest state rather than fight or flight.
  4. Meditation-this can be hard to do but is very effective
  5. Massage-more so the relaxing/soothing type of massage
  6. Tongue depressors or toothbrush-you can use those to stimulate your gag reflex, which strengthens the Vagus nerve similar to gargling.
  7. Cold water plunge– by putting your body in extreme stress and discomfort, you force your body to breathe slower and deeper which will strengthen your Vagus nerve and parasympathetic (rest, digest part of your nerve system)
  8. Chiropractic adjustments– adjustments to the upper neck will stimulate the Vagus nerve and our rest/digest system.  

All of these work because the vagus nerve communicates in both directions—both to and from the brain. These practices send signals to the brain that increase activity of the vagus nerve. 

That means no more “fight or flight” and a lot more “rest and digest.”👍

Health doesn’t have to be hard. 

We are here to help!