If you’re familiar with vagus nerve stimulation, you might have heard of it in terms of how it can help patients with seizures or other medical conditions. While these uses are certainly exciting, there are also many other health benefits of vagus nerve stimulation you might not expect. This post will discuss three of these health benefits in detail, along with explaining how you can experience them for yourself with a vagus nerve stimulation device, such as the Xen device by Neuvana.
What is the Parasympathetic Nervous System?
Before we get into the three health benefits, we must first understand vagus nerve stimulation a little better. The vagus nerve is actually part of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) – one of two larger divisions of the autonomic nervous system. This system controls all of the automatic processes in your body that keep you alive and functioning, like heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.
The vagus nerve specifically innervates (or sends signals to) many different organs in your body, including the:
Because of this, vagus nerve stimulation can have widespread effects on many different systems in your body.
Rest and Digest Response
It’s also worth discussing the PNS and the rest and digest response it’s responsible for. Most of the time, this is the “relaxed” state your body should be in when you’re not exercising, working, or experiencing stress.
In this state, your heart rate slows down and blood pressure lowers. You also experience increased blood flow to your digestive organs, which can help improve digestion. This is in contrast to the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which controls the fight-or-flight response. This response kicks in when you’re in danger or experiencing stress, and it’s characterized by an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
In today’s world, we’re constantly bombarded with stressors – whether it’s work deadlines, family obligations, or just day-to-day life. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for people to be in a state of sympathetic overdrive, which can lead to many health problems. This is where vagus nerve stimulation comes in – activating the PNS can help your body return to a state of rest and digest, and improve your overall health in the process.
We’ll get back to these specific benefits in a moment, but let’s first share some strategies for how to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
How to Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System
There are actually a few different ways you can activate the PNS and vagus nerve. Some of these include:
- Deep breathing: Take deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe out, let your whole body relax.
- Yoga: This is a fantastic way to stretch and relieve your body’s tension while promoting deep breathing.
- Meditation: Meditation can help quiet the mind and promote relaxation.
- Cold exposure: Exposing your body to cold water (such as through cold showers or ice baths) can help stimulate the vagus nerve.
- With a vagus nerve stimulation device: A vagus nerve stimulation device like the Xen by Neuvana actually sends electrical signals to the vagus nerve through the ear, which can help activate the PNS.
3 Unexpected Health Benefits of Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Now, let’s get into the three health benefits of vagus nerve stimulation we’re covering today.
1. Vagus Nerve Stimulation Can Help Treat Depression
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can profoundly impact every aspect of your life. It’s estimated that more than 21 million adults in the United States suffer from depression-related symptoms, and it’s one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.
There are several different treatment options for depression, but many people don’t respond well to traditional treatments like antidepressant medications or talk therapy. This is where vagus nerve stimulation comes in – research has shown that vagus nerve stimulation can actually be an effective treatment for depression, even when other methods have failed. However, rather than replacing other methods, it’s often best used in conjunction with other therapy.
2. Vagus Nerve Stimulation Can Help Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a response by your body’s immune system to infection, injury, or illness. While it’s a necessary and beneficial part of the healing process, chronic inflammation can contribute to various health problems. This is because, over time, inflammation can damage healthy tissue and lead to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Studies have shown that VNS can help to reduce inflammation in a number of different ways. First, it can help modulate the production of cytokines – proteins that play an important role in the inflammatory response. Additionally, vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to increase levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-10.
3. Vagus Nerve Stimulation Can Help Improve Digestion
The vagus nerve is a major player in the digestive system – it extends from your brainstem down to your abdomen, and it’s responsible for sending signals between the brain and gut. Because of this, vagus nerve stimulation can significantly impact digestion.
There are a few different ways vagus nerve stimulation can help with digestion. For one, it can help improve motility – or food movement through the digestive tract. Additionally, vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to increase stomach acid levels, which can help with nutrient absorption. Finally, vagus nerve stimulation can help improve gut-brain communication, which is important for overall digestive health.
Vagus nerve stimulation is a safe and effective way to improve vagal tone and promote relaxation. It can also have a number of unexpected health benefits, from reducing inflammation to improving digestion. So if you’re looking for a natural way to improve your health, vagus nerve stimulation may be worth considering.
Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Yourself
If these and other benefits of VNS excite you, we encourage you to consider trying a vagus nerve stimulation device such as the Xen device from Neuvana. These vagus nerve-stimulating headphones are easy to use and can be used anywhere. They are an excellent way to experience vagus nerve stimulation for yourself!