What is a Vagus Nerve? How does it function in our Body and what symptoms of a Dysfunction Vagus Nerve?

May 14, 2018
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How Vagus Nerves Functioning | Innovative Health Wellness

How Vagus Nerves Functioning | Innovative Health Wellness

The vagus nerves, often referred to as the “wandering nerve,” is one of the most important nerves in the human body, playing a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions. From controlling heart rate and digestion to influencing mood and inflammation, the vagus nerve is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. 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.

Anatomy of the Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve, extending from the brainstem down to the abdomen. It is divided into two main branches: the sensory and motor pathways. The sensory fibers relay information from the body’s organs to the brain, while the motor fibers transmit signals from the brain to the organs, controlling their function.


Functions of the Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is primarily responsible for regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion. It helps to lower heart rate, stimulate digestion, and promote relaxation. Additionally, the vagus nerve plays a role in regulating inflammation and immune response, influencing various aspects of health.

  • Brain: Controls 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, the release of dopamine 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 — 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.


Importance of a Healthy Vagus Nerve

A healthy vagus nerve is essential for overall well-being. Research suggests that stimulating the vagus nerve can improve mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, a properly functioning vagus nerve can help regulate inflammation levels in the body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.


Symptoms of Vagus Nerve Dysfunction

When the vagus nerves is not functioning properly, it can lead to a range of symptoms, including digestive issues such as nausea, bloating, and indigestion. Additionally, dysfunction of the vagus nerve has been linked to anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. Some individuals may also experience heart rhythm abnormalities, fainting spells, or difficulty swallowing.

  • Obesity and weight gain [R].
  • Brain problems
  • IBS
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • High or low heart rate
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying,
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness/fainting
  • B12 deficiency
  • Chronic inflammation


Causes of Vagus Nerve Dysfunction

Several factors can contribute to vagus nerves dysfunction, including chronic stress, trauma or injury, and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders. Lifestyle factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise can also impact vagus nerve function.


Diagnosing Vagus Nerve Dysfunction

Diagnosing vagus nerves dysfunction can be challenging, as symptoms can vary widely and may overlap with other conditions. Healthcare providers may conduct a thorough clinical assessment, including a review of symptoms and medical history. Diagnostic tests such as nerve conduction studies or imaging scans may also be used to evaluate vagus nerve function.


Treatment Options

The approach to treating vagus nerves dysfunction is contingent upon both the underlying cause and the severity of symptoms. Lifestyle modifications, including stress management techniques, dietary adjustments, and consistent exercise, are often recommended to enhance vagus nerve function. These proactive measures can contribute significantly to symptom improvement. In certain instances, healthcare professionals may advise vagus nerve stimulation therapy or prescribe medications as part of the treatment plan to effectively manage and alleviate symptoms associated with vagus nerve dysfunction. The tailored approach to treatment aims to address the specific needs and conditions of each individual affected.


Prevention and Management

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing vagus nerve dysfunction. Stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help support vagal tone. A balanced diet rich in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids can also promote vagus nerve health. Regular exercise is another important aspect of vagus nerve management, as it helps to improve circulation and overall well-being.


The Future of Vagus Nerve Research

As our understanding of the vagus nerves continues to evolve, researchers are exploring new therapeutic applications for vagus nerve stimulation. From treating mental health disorders to managing chronic inflammation, the future looks promising for harnessing the power of the vagus nerve to improve health outcomes.



The vagus nerve plays a vital role in regulating numerous bodily functions, from heart rate and digestion to mood and inflammation. Dysfunction of the vagus nerves can lead to a range of symptoms, including digestive issues, anxiety, and heart rhythm abnormalities. By prioritizing lifestyle factors such as stress management, healthy eating, and regular exercise, individuals can support vagus nerve health and overall well-being.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)


Can vagus nerve dysfunction be cured?

While there is no cure for vagus nerves dysfunction, symptoms can often be managed through lifestyle changes and appropriate medical treatment.


Is vagus nerve stimulation safe?

Vagus nerves stimulation is generally considered safe, but like any medical procedure, it carries some risks. It’s important to discuss the potential benefits and risks with a healthcare provider.


Can stress affect vagus nerves function?

Yes, chronic stress can negatively impact vagus nerve function, leading to symptoms such as digestive issues and mood disorders.


Are there natural ways to stimulate the vagus nerve?

Yes, techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help stimulate the vagus nerve and improve vagal tone.


What conditions are associated with vagus nerve dysfunction?

Vagus nerve dysfunction has been linked to various conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders, mood disorders, and heart rhythm abnormalities.

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