The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, referred to as the rest-and-digest system.
The word vagus means “wanderer,” because it wanders all over the body to various important organs. The vagus nerve is largely responsible for the mind-body connection since the vagus nerve reaches the brain, gut (intestines, stomach), heart, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidney, ureter, spleen, lungs, reproductive organs (female), neck (pharynx, larynx, and esophagus), ears, and tongue.
- Brain: control anxiety and depression.
- Gut: It increases stomach acidity, digestive juice secretion, and gut flow. It also helps absorb Vitamin B12
- Heart: decreases heart rate and blood pressure
- Liver and pancreas: control blood glucose balance.
- Gallbladder: release of bile for fat breakdown
- Kidney function: glucose control and increases blood flow improving blood filtration. Also, release of dopamine which helps excrete sodium and thereby, lower blood pressure.
- Spleen: reduces inflammation
- Tongue: control taste and saliva
- Eyes: release tears.
- Intestines: controls both mucous production and colon flow.
- It’s intimately tied to how we connect with one another — it links directly to nerves that tune our ears to human speech, coordinate eye contact, and regulate emotional expressions. It influences the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is important in social bonding.
Symptoms of Vagus Nerve Dysfunction:
- Obesity and weight gain [R].
- Brain problems
- Chronic fatigue
- High or low heart rate
- Difficulty swallowing
- Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying,
- B12 deficiency
- Chronic inflammation
Next week we will discuss exercises to strengthen the vagus nerve. Stay tuned!