What does the vagus nerve do? And why is it so important?
(Hint: It’s NOT the courage you need to gamble in Nevada’s casinos.)
The vagus nerve is actually a bundle of nerve fibers that stretch from the brain stem down into the colon.
It’s called “vagus” because it wanders like a vagabond from the back of the neck down into the digestive system.
These nerve fibers can be found on the right and left sides of your body, connecting most of your major organs.
It’s known as the “wonder nerve” because of the crucial role it plays in your well-being.
When this nerve is stimulated, it activates your body’s relaxation response to help deal with stress and a wide range of other conditions.
It’s also thought to play a huge role in the mind-body connection.
And hypnosis is one of the easiest ways to stimulate it so that your subjects and clients can reap the benefits.
But before you find out how hypnosis can help activate the vagus nerve, let’s take a look at its key functions.
What Does The Vagus Nerve Do?
Your nervous system can be divided into two parts: sympathetic and parasympathetic.
The sympathetic part increases your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, alertness and energy levels when needed, while the parasympathetic part decreases them.
The sympathetic side is often called the “fight or flight” system, while the parasympathetic side is referred to as the “rest and digest” system.
The vagus nerve operates mainly within the parasympathetic nervous system linking major organ activity to the brain.
According to Medical News Today, its 4 main functions are:
1. Sensory – providing sensory information from the throat, heart, lungs and abdomen
2. Special sensory – providing taste sensation behind the tongue
3. Motor – providing movement for neck muscles so you can swallow and speak
4. Parasympathetic – responsible for your digestive tract, respiration and heart rate functioning
As you can see, it plays a crucial role when it comes to the well-being of your body!
It does this by communicating with various organs by sending out signals using the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
These signals are vital in order to keep your body working properly. If your brain was unable to communicate with your lungs, for instance, then you wouldn’t be able to breathe.
While the sympathetic nervous system controls the fight or flight response, sending out stress-releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol so you can take action.
The vagus nerve does the opposite: helping you get rid of stress and remain calm. The more things you do to stimulate the vagus nerve, the more relaxed and less stressed you’ll feel.
That’s what happens when people meditate or chant mantras over and over, or when they’re deeply involved in prayers.
Their breathing rate synchronizes itself to an optimum level that activates the vagus nerve and promotes relaxation.
Conditions Affected Positively & Negatively By The Vagus Nerve
While stimulation of the vagus nerve is thought to be a good thing, like any other part of the human body, it can also malfunction.
If that happens it can result in a variety of different issues, such as:
- Mood disorders
- Difficulty swallowing
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Chronic inflammation
- B12 deficiency
On the other hand, vagus nerve stimulation has the ability to improve certain conditions, including:
- Alcohol addiction
- Mood disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Heart disease
- Leaky gut
- Poor blood circulation
Doctors use a special technique to stimulate the vagus nerve, sending electrical energy pulses to the brain via the nerve. According to Uplift Connect, this vagus nerve stimulation (or VNS) has been shown to be an effective way to treat epilepsy, depression and arthritis. And for epilepsy patients it had an added benefit of helping to improve their mood.
VNS is done using a device similar to a pacemaker, and only with the proper medical supervision, of course.
But there are lots of natural ways to stimulate the vagus nerve as well.
Natural Techniques For Stimulating The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve can be strengthened and toned like a muscle, just by using it more often. And when you do, you’ll be improving your health at the same time.
Here are some simple and completely natural ways to naturally stimulate the vagus nerve:
Deep breathing has long been associated with relaxation, and the fact that it stimulates the vagus nerve helps to explain why that happens.
It also helps us understand why hypnosis is such a great way to stimulate the nerve and contribute to your overall health and well-being.
The Link Between The Vagus Nerve And Better Hypnosis
As you know, there are bucketloads of things you can help people with using hypnosis. And the way hypnosis works is that it bypasses the conscious mind and communicates with the unconscious mind.
That’s where the power to change really lies. Tap into that power, and you open a portal to infinite possibilities.
People who have had life-long fears can finally let them go. Or people who have struggled to stop smoking can suddenly quit.
It isn’t magic: it’s just that the unconscious mind has an enormous amount of influence over the things people say and do.
How does this tie in with the vagus nerve?
Well, brain research scientists now believe that the vagus nerve is a kind of “communication superhighway” linking the conscious and unconscious minds.
The vagus nerve links the brain stem to the heart, lungs and gut. As part of the parasympathetic nervous system, it controls unconscious body functions such as breathing, heart rate, digestion of food and sweating.
It also helps to regulate blood pressure, to stimulate saliva production and contributes to taste and tear production.
It plays such a major role in key body functions that, without it, life as you know it would be impossible. Therefore, a properly functioning vagus nerve is crucial for good emotional and physical health.
Going back to hypnosis, when someone is hypnotized, the hypnotist begins by getting them to relax. This can be accomplished by asking them to focus on their breathing or by using a variety of induction techniques.
After a time, the person’s breathing should become slower and more regular before they enter a hypnotic trance. This is exactly the kind of breathing that will help to stimulate the vagus nerve.
It’s only after the trance is established (with focused breathing to help stimulate the vagus nerve) that you’re able to help clients make significant life changes using a variety of positive techniques.
Once you’ve gotten to that stage, you’ve already stimulated and activated the vagus nerve. From there, you’ll communicate with the unconscious mind by planting hypnotic suggestions that will help your client make the changes they want to make.
And since you know that the vagus nerve’s main job is to communicate between the conscious and unconscious minds, that can only help those suggestions to grab a foothold.
So while hypnosis can be seen to be a great way to stimulate the vagus nerve, you can see that the vagus nerve in return offers a great way to ensure that your hypnotic suggestions have as much impact as possible.
Yep, this wandering vagabond of a nerve really is the ultimate “communication superhighway.”