Lowering Stress for Optimum Health Part 1: What is the Vagus Nerve, why you should care and what it controls

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Lowering Stress for Optimum Health Part 1: What is the Vagus nerve, why should I care, and what it controls? Dr. Jason Jones Elizabeth City NC, Chiropractor

Have you ever heard about the vagus nerve? You probably haven’t. Well, it’s no surprise to know because scientists have researched many functions of this nerve, and they are still yet to know all. Well, in this article, we shall keep it simple and tell you about this special cranial nerve. Continue reading!

The body has 12 cranial nerves, which come in pairs and help to link the brain to different parts of the body, such as your head, torso, and neck.

Some of these cranial nerves help to send sensory information, including details about sight, smells, sounds, and tastes to the brain- This is called the sensory function. Other cranial nerves control the function of certain nerves and various muscles, and this is called motor function.

However, some nerves perform both sensory and motor functions, and a good example is the vagus nerve, which is also called the 10th cranial nerve or cranial nerve X.

What is the Vagus nerve?

The word “vagus” is Latin, meaning “Wandering.” This name is given to the cranial nerve because it wanders from the brain into organs in the neck, abdomen, and chest. It is the longest and most complex of the 12 cranial nerves, having two bunches of sensory nerve cells. It basically allows the brain to monitor and receive information about different body functions.

The vagus starts in the medulla oblongata. It has two large nerves – long fibers having smaller cells that carry information around the body. One nerve emerges on the left side of the medulla and the other on the right.

From the medulla, the vagus moves down, up, and around the body. It goes down to control the muscles of the larynx and moves up to reach the inside of the ear. From the back of your throat to the end of the large intestine, different parts of the nerve wrap around these organs and tubes. And it sticks a delicate finger into the heart and even touches the bladder.

What does the vagus nerve do?

The vagus nerve has different functions in the body. However, these are the key functions of this nerve:

  • It senses information from the heart, throat, abdomen, and lungs
  • It provides the taste sensation behind the tongue
  • It supports movement functions for the neck muscles responsible for speech and swallowing
  • It is responsible for respiration, digestive tract, and heart rate functioning
  • It delivers information from the gut to the brain, relating to anxiety, stress, and fear - hence, the common saying “gut feeling.”
  • It communicates with the diaphragm during deep breaths
  • It sends anti-inflammatory signals to other body parts

However, if the vague verve is overactive, your heart may not pump enough blood around the body. Sometimes, it can cause organ damage and loss of consciousness known as a Vasovagal Response.

Why should I care?

Like you’ve seen above, the vagus nerve plays a huge role in our overall health and wellness. However, research has shown that chronic conditions such as diabetes and alcoholism can cause damages to the vague nerve. And if the vagus nerve is damaged, it may result in diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and gastroparesis. That’s more reason why you should learn how to strengthen your vagus nerve naturally.

You can consult Dr. Jason Jones at our chiropractic office in Elizabeth City, NC, to learn about natural ways to strengthen your vagal nerve for better health.

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