Health and Healing with Emmanuel Birstein

The Vagus Nerve and Mental Health

Oct 2018

The vagus nerve is linked to our emotions. So why don't most of us know about this? Especially, those of us who have been in and out of doctors' and therapists' offices for depression or anxiety or panic disorder, perhaps many times over the years. That is because the vagus nerve is probably one of the least-known, but one of the most important, nerves in the body. According to holistic nutritionist, Elissa Goodman, the vagus nerve "plays a role in so many vital functions in our body, from the 'rest and digest' responsibilities of our parasympathetic nervous system to the 'fight or flight' response regulated by our sympathetic nervous system.   (Elissa Goodman Blog)

The Anatomy of the Vagus Nerve

Known as the "wandering nerve," the vagus nerve spans from the cerebellum and brain stem through the neck (with the carotid artery and jugular vein), chest, and abdomen, all the way to the colon. On its way it sends sensory information throughout the body as it touches all the major organs: heart, lungs, and abdomen.

The vagus nerve is tied to the body’s regular daily functions like heart rate, breathing and processing memories, but it also plays an essential role in the "gut." As current scientific and medical data are showing, the brain and the gut are connected to a degree that we never understood. And in this case, the brain and gut are literally connected by the vagus nerve's pathway. For more on this topic, see our blog post: Serotonin, Depression and Your Gut (January 2018).

PIMH provides a unique and pioneering treatment of the vagus nerve that helps many patients suffering from depression, cysts, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, allergies and many other debilitating maladies.To stimulate vagal tone, modern medicine uses vagus stimulation three times a week by implanted electrodes. Unlike such periodical stimulation administered throughout a patient's lifetime, the treatment at PIMH uses a light-touch manual therapy to free the nerve from restriction on its path from its origination in the brain stem, thus restoring its natural functions.

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Vagus Nerve Tone

Here, now, is a simple explanation why our stomachs and intestines react to stress and heightened emotions as they often do. It is the sensitivity of the vagus nerve and the signals it sends. But there is much more.

The health of the vagus nerve is not only critical to our mental health and emotional health, but to other health issues as well. In many cases, for instance, inflammation is our body's response to stress. According to a blog post on Psychology Today (Christopher Bergland, The Athlete's Way, July 6, 2016), the healthy "tone" of the vagus nerve plays an important role in reducing or eliminating inflammation. This has considerable implications for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, including Parkinson's, Crohns, and Alzheimer's. Additionally, it has been asserted that stimulating the vagus nerve can lead to the inhibition of cytokine production. An excess of cytokines can lead to the growth of tumors, both benign and malignant. The vagus nerve can help regulate heart rate and blood pressure and it may have an impact on a range of conditions, including: heart disease, diabetic neuropathy, cysts, autoimmune disorders, MS, and cluster headaches.

Treatment of the Vagus Nerve

The primary treatment of the vagus nerve is Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS). It is stimulation three times a week by an electronic device and implanted electrodes.This process is administered in a medical setting by a neurologist. It can be risky and have serious negative outcomes. The Internet provides information on a number of self-care methods and home remedies for maintaining tone or for stimulating the vagus nerve: singing, laughter, massage, acupuncture, diaphragmatic breathing, etc.

Pittsburgh Integrative Mental Health (PIMH) provides a unique and pioneering treatment of the vagus nerve that helps many patients suffering from depression, cysts, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, allergies and many other debilitating maladies.To stimulate vagal tone, modern medicine uses vagus nerve stimulation three times a week by implanted electrodes. Unlike such periodical stimulation administered throughout a patient's lifetime, the treatment at PIMH uses a light-touch manual therapy to free the nerve from restriction on its path from its origination in the brain stem thus, restoring its natural functions.

See more on the Vagus Nerve.








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