vagus nerve back of woman in sports bra

We could talk about avocado toast all day (and sometimes at TCM HQ we actually do), but the wellness topics that really get us going are ones like this from anti-aging expert and Guest Editor, Dr. Sara Gottfried

Get to know your vagus nerve, baby. We’ve all got one and learning to keep it “toned” has a few surprising health benefits…

Vagus means “wanderer.” This nerve — the longest one in your body — wanders all through your body to important organs and areas such as the brain, neck, ears, tongue, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidney, spleen and reproductive organs in women. The vagus nerve contains motor and sensory fibers. It has wide distribution throughout the body as it passes through the neck and thorax to the abdomen. Think of it as the most important nerve in your parasympathetic nervous system.

So what happens when it’s whacked? An amped-up perception of stress causes lower vagal tone (or responsiveness), which means the vagus nerve is having performance issues and operating at a lower capacity. If the vagus nerve isn’t tended to, you won’t be healthy and you’re more likely to age faster.

High vagal tone is a marker of greater altruistic behavior and closeness to others. Lower vagal tone is linked to a variety of problems:

Mind: stress; anxiety; weakened sense of connectivity

Body:low stomach-acid secretion; poor absorption of B12; low or slow bile acid production, so it’s harder to clear fats and toxins; poor blood flow to kidneys; higher blood pressure; poor glucose control; poor heart rate variability and greater risk of heart disease; high resting heart rate; frequent urination; limited or absent capacity for orgasms

Both: poor satiety or sense of relaxation while eating; difficulty accessing mind-body connection and flow state

7 Ways to Rehab Your Vagus Nerve

These actions may trigger your stress genes to turn off, bringing a greater sense of calmness.

01 | Connect positively with others. Read this: 5 Meaningful Ideas For Phone-Free Friend Dates

02 | Take a cold shower. Try it, but if it stresses you out, you may have the same TH gene as me!). Read this: Is The DIY Plunge Pool The New Hot Tub? Wellness At Home In 2021

03 | Schedule a reflexology (foot massage) session.

04 | Sleep on your right side.

05 | Sing! This actually tones the vagus nerve. (We recommend Aretha or Adele)

06 | Get acupuncture, especially in the ear. Read this: Got Anxiety? Ear Seeds May Be The Natural (And Chic) Answer

07 | Book a craniosacral session. Read this: The Fascinating Practice Of Craniosacral Therapy – Can It Help Us Heal?

This story originally ran in 2017, but we loved it so much we brought it back!

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 

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Meet one of our fave pros on the topic of hormones, aging and women's health, Dr. Sara Gottfried. We're talking about easy ways to anti-age, including a killer red sangria recipe...

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