You have heard the expression, “You have a lotta nerve”, before, but the following information gives it a whole new meaning. l am referring to the Vagus Nerve, which is the second largest nerve in the body, and one responsible for a whole bunch of vital functions. Let’s look at some of what it does:
1. It alerts the brain and elicits anti-inflammatory neurotransmitters. Some inflammation after injury or illness is normal, but too much is linked with diseases and conditions like the autoimmune condition of rheumatoid arthritis.
2. In a study with rats the vagus nerve was stimulated and their memories were strengthened. Related studies were done on humans, opening some promising treatments for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
3. The vagus nerve is involved with telling our lungs to breathe. Abdominal breathing and other techniques with breath, can be used to stimulate this nerve.
4. This nerve is intimately involved in controlling the heart rate and slowing the heart eliciting the relaxation response. People with stronger vagus responses may recover more quickly from stress, injury, or illness.
5. Our gut uses the vagus nerve like a walkie-talkie to tell the brain how you are feeling. “Gut” feelings are very real!
6. Overstimulation of the vagus nerve can cause fainting. The body, responding to stress, i.e. sight of needles, overstimulates the nerve, causing blood pressure and heart rate to drop. Most of the time sitting or laying down solves the problem.
7. Very promising experiments have show that electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve can reduce inflammation in humans. This has great potential for certain diseases where medication over time, causes severe side effects. Bioelectronics may be the future of medicine where using implants that deliver and electric impulses to various body parts can treat illness with fewer medications and negative side effects!
So, the next time someone tells you “ya gotta lotta nerve”, you can tell them they are correct, and thank goodness we do!!!
Best to you!