What is the Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve provides a two-way communication system between the brain and the gut. It originates in the brainstem and innervates many of the body’s organs, including the smooth muscle of the intestines. Stimulation of these muscles causes wavelike contractions that are necessary to transport food through your gut. Normal wavelike movement in the small intestine limits the amount of bacteria that can remain there by continuously propelling them forward. When vagus nerve activity is diminished the wavelike contractions of the gut are also diminished creating a stagnant environment in the small intestine that allows bacteria to proliferate. Overgrowth of bacteria in this region results in digestive discomfort and symptoms such as pain, bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
How Do I Improve Vagus Stimulation?
- Gargle plain water at least 3-4 times daily. Tilt your head back and make sure to gargle aggressively until you feel tears in your eyes.
- Utilize tongue blades (can purchase on Amazon) to stimulate a gag reflex on yourself at least 3-4 times per day. Lightly press down on your tongue to create the gag reflex. Do not put the tongue blade too far back on your tongue.
- Sing loudly from your diaphragm when you’re home alone or in your car. You should feel vibration in the back of your throat.
- At the end of your showers, alternate cold and hot water for a couple minutes at each temperature, with the water hitting first on your chest and then on your back while breathing deeply.