Can Chiropractic Help With Vagus Nerve Function?

Can Chiropractic Help With Vagus Nerve Function?

Chiropractic Chanhassen MN Vagus Nerve

Name a bodily function and your vagus nerve probably affects it either directly or indirectly! Fascinating research shows how stimulating the vagus can be good for the mind and body, while chiropractic care ensures full nerve function (at your friendly neighborhood EverHealth Chiropractic, of course!) 

Why You Need Your Vagus Nerve to Function Well

The longest nerve in your body, the vagus begins in the brainstem, traveling down your neck to innervate your heart and other organs. It then reaches through your gut to form your “enteric brain.”  As many as 90% of those nerves connect back up to the brain through the vagus nerve. 

What the Vagus Nerve is Responsible for:

  • Regulating the heartbeat
  • Digestion
  • Respiration rate
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Stress hormone regulation
  • Improved mental cognition 
  • The “rest & digest” parasympathetic state
  • Stress regulation & mental health
  • Immune system 

Symptoms of Vagus Nerve Dysfunction:

  • Trouble focusing & racing thoughts when trying to rest
  • Poor digestion & gut issues 
  • Hyperventilation
  • High blood pressure  
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Low immune response
  • Inflammation

Chiropractic and the Nervous System

The spinal cord is a major part of the nervous system, connecting the brainstem to the rest of the body. The vagus nerve exits just above the first cervical vertebrae, known as the atlas. 

The atlas and other cervical vertebrae can become misaligned from large or small traumas, including birth, falls on the playground, sports, or just repeated motions of daily life. When this happens, it may put pressure on the vagus nerve, affecting and reducing its ability to function.

A chiropractor is specifically trained to identify these misalignments or subluxations and correct them, relieving the pressure off the nerves. 

Studies show that cervical adjustments positively affect parasympathetic responses, which is a major function of the vagus nerve. 

The parasympathetic is the “rest and digest” mode, versus the sympathetic “fight or flight” response. Sympathetic kicks our systems into high gear to take care of a dangerous situation or help us finish an athletic activity, for example. 

Parasympathetic is where we can repair and regenerate, heal and grow. 

Both are definitely necessary for life. However, when our vagus nerve is subluxated, we may have trouble switching from one response to the other. 

Being stuck in sympathetic means we stay stressed, tense, and even angry or anxious. The body can’t catch up on its to-do list of healing this way. 

If we were always in parasympathetic, our reflexes and reactions could be slowed and put us in danger, while driving, for example.

This is why regular checkups with your chiropractor are a great idea to make sure that your nervous system can operate at 100% of its potential!

How the Vagus Nerve Helps You Digest

As we said, the vagus nerve ties into how our digestive system works. We need the vagus nerve to be stimulated so we are in a state of “rest and digest” before eating. This helps us to get the full amount of nutrients from our food. 

On a webinar with Dr. Bethany, Amy Lippert, NLP said “Getting into a parasympathetic state is really easy. You wanna calm down.”

Watch this excerpt for a pre-meal breathing exercise and Dr. Bethany’s explanation of chiropractic’s role.

How to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve:

  • Get a specific chiropractic adjustment, especially of the upper cervical vertebrae.
  • Deep breathing, with longer exhales than inhales.
  • Gargle “aggressively”  to loudly cause vibration, stimulates the vagus nerve where it goes down your neck.
  • Hum or sing to vibrate your vocal cords. 
  • Stimulate your gag reflex.
  • Diving reflex: Immerse your forehead, eyes, and most of your cheeks into cold water. You can also use a cold pack on your face while breathing deeply. 
  • Valsalva Maneuver:  Close your mouth and pinch your nose while breathing out to increase pressure inside your chest cavity for a moment. 
  • Give an extended hug - social connection is a good path to a relaxed parasympathetic state.
  • Laugh - things that bring us joy strengthen our parasympathetic response
  • Time in nature can calm your autonomic nervous system
  • A foot massage can stimulate the parasympathetic and vagus nerve.
  • Eat fiber stimulates vagus impulses to the brain.
  • Take a high-quality probiotic to shift the microbiome.

Have questions or are you ready to get adjusted? Dr. Bethany Curnow offers excellent, compassionate chiropractic care for health-minded families, active athletes and buys professionals at EverHealth Chiropractic in Chanhassen, Minneosta. Click here to schedule an appointment or free consultation.


Resources:

  1. https://www.naturalhealingfoodsnutrition.com/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686395/ 

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EverHealth Chiropractic

480 W. 78th St. Ste. 101A
Chanhassen, MN 55317

(952) 303-6582
Chiropractic Chanhassen MN Minnesota Monthly