The vagus nerve


This is a good overview: https://healthfixit.com/vagus-nerve/

Hopefully based on anatomy. The vagus nerve travels nearer to the skin are various points along the way.

Some doctors or bodywork practitioners have suggested the manual methods described above.

A quote from another source:

“The incoming signals lead to many reflex responses, mediated at cell stations in the brain stem, and entailing either autonomic or somatic motor responses. For example: irritants in the airways stimulate vagal sensory nerve endings and lead to a cough reflex; information on the state of inflation of the lungs causes modification of the breathing pattern; distension of the stomach leads to reflex relaxation of its wall.

“The outgoing, motor fibres in the vagus nerves represent most of the cranial component of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. Vagal stimulation slows the heart beat, and excessive stimulation can stop it entirely. When Otto Loewi first showed, in 1921, that stimulation of the vagus nerve to a frog heart caused something to be released that could slow down another heart that was linked to the first only by fluid perfusion, he called the unknown factor Vagusstoff. We know now that vagal nerve endings act on the heart's pacemaker by the release of the transmitter acetylcholine; this modulation of the heart rate is continuous, counterbalancing the action of the sympathetic nerves at the same site. The vagus nerves also provide a pathway for reflex reduction of the cardiac output if the blood pressure tends to rise. In the lungs, they stimulate the smooth muscle in the wall of the bronchial tree, tending to increase the resistance to airflow (by causing bronchoconstriction), again counterbalancing the sympathetic effect which tends towards relaxation. In the alimentary tract they stimulate smooth muscle in the walls of the stomach and of the intestines, acting through the nerve networks between the layers of smooth muscle, but they have the opposite action on the smooth muscle sphincter that tends to prevent the stomach contents from moving on. They stimulate glandular secretions of stomach acid and of the digestive enzymes that are released into the stomach and intestine, and the ejection of bile from the gall bladder. They also influence the release from the pancreas of the hormones that promote the storage of absorbed nutrients. All these effects add up to support of activity in the alimentary system during and after eating, when the parasympathetic effects predominate over the opposite quietening effects of the sympathetic nerve supply.

“The term ‘vaso-vagal’ attack refers to fainting, when — from a variety of causes ranging from emotional shock to the pain of injury — there is a strong parasympathetic outflow in the vagus nerves, causing slowing of the heart that leads to a fall in blood pressure sufficient to cause unconsciousness.

So, you can actually stop your heart with excessive stimulation? I didn't know that!

what do we know?

The vagus nerve connects the brain to almost all the vital organs in the body, running from the brain stem down both sides of the neck, across the chest and into the abdomen. In the brain, it is linked directly to two regions known to play roles in alertness and consciousness.

Different researchers have also identified that the vagus nerve controls glucose homeostasis, independent of changes in insulin (via Leptin). At least, it works that way in non-diabetics.

The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that runs from brainstem to abdomen and is responsible for communicating with our nervous system to turn on our bodies’ parasympathetic nervous system, or relaxation response. When the vagus nerve is stimulated it releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. According to an article by Angela Savitri Petersen, “Acetylcholine is responsible for learning and memory. It is also calming and relaxing, which is used by the vagus nerve to send messages of peace and relaxation throughout your body. New research has found that acetylcholine is a major brake on inflammationThe complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli such as pathogens or damaged cells. It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli as well as initiate the healing process for the tissue. in the body.”

Stimulation of the vagus

Patients lying in a vegetative state present severe impairments of consciousness [1] caused by lesions in the cortex, the brainstem, the thalamus and the white matter [2]. There is agreement that this condition may involve disconnections in long-range cortico–cortical and thalamo-cortical pathways [3]. Hence, in the vegetative state cortical activity is ‘deafferented’ from subcortical modulation and/or principally disrupted between fronto-parietal regions. Some patients in a vegetative state recover while others persistently remain in such a state. The neural signature of spontaneous recovery is linked to increased thalamo-cortical activity and improved fronto-parietal functional connectivity [3]. The likelihood of consciousness recovery depends on the extent of brain damage and patients’ etiology, but after one year of unresponsive behavior, chances become low [1]. There is thus a need to explore novel ways of repairing lost consciousness. Here we report beneficial effects of vagus nerve stimulation on consciousness level of a single patient in a vegetative state, including improved behavioral responsiveness and enhanced brain connectivity patterns.

in Restoring consciousness

These findings show that stimulation of the vagus nerve promoted the spread of cortical signals and caused an increase of metabolic activity leading to behavioral improvement as measured with the CRS-R scale and as reported by clinicians and family members. Thus, potentiating vagus nerve inputs to the brain helps to restore consciousness even after many years of being in a vegetative state, thus challenging the belief that disorders of consciousness persisting after 12 months are irreversible [1]. The direct connection between the NTS where the vagus nerve originates and the thalamus may be at the origin of the significant increase in theta signal recorded at the cortical level. In particular, the parietal cortex appears to be a major player in guiding the expansion of neural activity across brain areas. The enhanced neural activity might also be mediated by neurotransmission changes given that vagus nerve projections target key regions important for the liberation of norepinephrine and serotonin [7]. Finally, since the vagus nerve has bidirectional control over the brain and the body, reactivation of sensory/visceral afferences might have enhanced brain activity within a body/brain closed loop process. Our study demonstrates the therapeutic potential of vagus nerve stimulation to modulate large-scale human brain activity and alleviate disorders of consciousness

Patients experiences

re TENS unit

I became interested in vagus nerve stimulation back when we heard the news about Kevin Tracey's work, which was focused on the response of RA patients.

TENS seems like something very different to me. I had a TENS unit some years ago. I found the sensation mostly unpleasant.

I believe vagal nerve stimulation is possible using simple external methods. (No cost!)

Massaging on either side of the upper chest, just below the clavicles in a circular motion has been suggested by some. Or gentle upper chest “thumping”. Or gentle massage/pull of ear lobes or area behind ear lobes.

Joyful Foundation staff

There were other ideas that were free and interesting, like *humming, singing, inversion, cold water*, and other body based methods.

I just spent some time on youtube looking for massage of the vagus nerve and found every imaginable way of stimulating the nerve but almost nothing using massage. Some of the ways mentioned I am already doing, fasting, cold shower, exercise, and I still have weak balance and tinnitus.

Further reading

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