Vagus Nerve Stimulation

We continue to learn more about the Vagus Nerve and its role in our overall health.

Vagus nerve stimulation was named as one of the top ten wellness trends for this year.

This is not a new concept. “Vagal tone provides resilience.” – Dr Stephen Porges

This long wandering nerve connects the gut to the brain, bringing information of our organs. It’s an incredible part of the body’s architecture that is involved in our digestive system, immune response, and heart rate. Our vagal tone is also connected with our stress response and so inflammation. (A low vagal tone relates to high inflammation in the body.) The vagus nerve reminds us that we are not parts and nothing is isolated.

“Braak’s Hypothesis” of Parkinson’s Disease has this condition spread via the vagus nerve from the stomach.

Gary Sharpe’s interest in the vagus nerve began upon learning this and continues to research and experiment with his own condition. Over the years he’s seen improvement and his personal practice includes yoga nidra mediation, sound/music therapy, hopping, skipping, and jumping, and Andrew Cook’s “Positive Body Awareness“. You can find additional resources on Gary’s website, Out-thinking Parkinsons

“Irregularities in the vagus nerve can cause tremendous distress in physical and emotional health. Physical consequences can include GERD, IBS, nausea or vomiting, fainting, migraines, tinnitus, auto-immune disorders, and seizures. Mental health consequences include fatigue, depression, panic attacks, or a classic alternation between feeling overwhelmed and shut-down. 

Stimulating the vagus nerve helps to regulate bothsympathetic hyper-arousal and parasympathetic hypo-arousal. Since all vagus nerve stimulation initiates a relaxation response, it is important to develop tolerance for the parasympathetic state without going into dysfunctional hypo-arousal in which you might feel collapsed or shut-down.” – Dr Arielle Schwartz


“Culturally, we find ourselves at a crisis point in terms of ongoing low-level sympathetic activation. There is a reciprocal relationship between fear and the tendency to shift into left-hemisphere dominance. In general, the conditions of our culture are not conducive to ventral settling, and once we have made the adaptive shift into left-hemisphere dominance, our disconnection from others combined with cultural conditions supports remaining in that state.” – Bonnie Badendock, The Heart of Trauma

What happens with left-hemisphere dominance? There is a focus on task completion and behaviour that is controlling. This means that the connection with the other is weakened or lost. Task-focused may be appropriate if it is correct; however, as a shift from fear, it has costs in well-being.

When anxiety and stress are normalized, society pays a deep price in human spirit. It’s important for us to remember that the body has wisdom and is intelligent. There is a reason that we experience certain states of being. The question is why. What in our lives is pushing our body to adapt, in a way that over the long run is unhealthy on all levels?