Polyvagal nerve stimulation is a powerful tool you can use to help improve your mental and physical state. According to Dr. Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, the vagus nerve is key to regulating the parasympathetic system, which is responsible for many of the body’s processes like digestion, tissue restoration, and relaxation. When the parts of the vagus nerve are over or under-stimulated, it can be hard for the body to heal or overcome mental or physical trauma. Understanding the role of the vagus nerve and polyvagal nerve stimulation treatments can result in life-altering care.
What Exactly Is The Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve is the term for thousands of fibers that run from the brain stem down through each side of the neck and into the torso, branching outward to touch internal organs. The vagus nerve picks up information about how the organs are functioning and relays this information from the brain stem back to the body, helping to control digestion, heart rate, voice, mood and the immune system.1 For those reasons, the vagus nerve is sometimes referred to as an “information superhighway.”
The vagus nerve is the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system. Because of this, the vagus nerve system helps to relax the body and balances the sympathetic nervous system. Without proper regulation from the polyvagal system, the body cannot function properly and heal. In addition, imbalances in the vagus nerve can cause the body to retain stress and lead to wear and tear on the body and mind. Polyvagal nerve stimulation treatments can restore balance and heal many conditions.
The Benefits of Polyvagal Nerve Stimulation
Polyvagal nerve stimulation helps regulate the (ANS), leading to relief of chronic pain, depression, and treating disorders like epilepsy. Treatment may also be helpful for people who haven’t responded to intensive depression treatments, such as antidepressant medications, psychological counseling (psychotherapy) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved vagus nerve stimulation for people with epilepsy and for adults with treatment-resistant depression. Additionally, researchers are studying vagus nerve stimulation as a potential treatment for a variety of conditions, including headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, bipolar disorder, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.2
Ways To Naturally Stimulate The Vagus Nerve
Natural stimulation of the vagus nerve can help along with medical treatment. Some at-home, natural ways to activate the vagus nerve for full-body relief includes:
- Deep, slow breathing with a long exhale to trigger the relaxation response
- Loud gargling with water or loud singing to activate vocal cords
- Cold water face immersion: immerse the forehead, eyes, and both of the cheeks into cold water
- Massaging your abdomen or other body parts in general
Treat Pain and Experience Full-Body Rejuvenation with Kintsugi Physical Therapy & Wellness
Polyvagal nerve stimulation can change the body’s response to pain, increase the results from therapy, and result in a healthier life. You can trust our staff and specialists at Kintsugi Physical Therapy & Wellness to guide you through the treatment so you can rebuild your life.
- Caron, C. (2022, June 2). This nerve influences nearly every internal organ. can it improve our mental state, too? The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/02/well/mind/vagus-nerve-mental-health.html?auth=login-google1tap&login=google1tap
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, November 17). Vagus Nerve Stimulation. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vagus-nerve-stimulation/about/pac-20384565