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Activate Your Vagus Nerve

These are notes I took from reading the book and in preparing for my podcast interview with Dr. Navaz Habib below (on Youtube, my podcast page, or any podcast player).

I. Science

What is the VN?

out of the 12 cranial nerves, the Vagus nerve stuck out. it is the only one that passes out of the head

Vagus nerve is the a nerve that begins in the brainstem and processes and regulates autonomic function of the body. vagus comes from the Latin word meaning wanderer.

80% Afferent - toward the brain - and 20% Efferent - brain to body.

Where is it?

brainstem stemming from 4 different nuclei. There is a R and L VN


The conductor of the human body

Sensing Skin of the 👂

Allowing Food to be Swallowed 👄

Managing airways and vocal chords 🧣

Controlling Breathing 🌬️

Heart Rate 💗

Maintaining Optimal Blood Pressure 🆎

Liver functions

Gall Bladder Emptying 💩

Managing Hunger and Satiety

Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels 🍬

Release of Digestive Enzymes from the Pancreas

Gut Motor Function

Immune System Activity

Managing Inflammation in the Gut

Relaying Information from the Microbiome

Allowing us to create memories

How it manages it all

for a neuron's signal to affect the intended cells:

  1. The neuron needs to send an electrically charged signal throughout its entire length

  2. It needs to release a protein called a neurotransmitter into the space between itself and the cell it wants to affect

  3. It must fit into a protein receptor on the surface of , and elicit activity within, the next cell.

II. What could go wrong?

In this section Dr. Habib compares the charging wire of a cell phone to the VN, which I find interesting especially since there are various comparisons to cell phones with meditation - can a damaged VN affect practicing meditation?

Going on this analogy, how do you help your clients - or how do you determine - if it is a physiological problem, the wire - like an unoptimal VN - or a software problem, the phone?

Dysfunctional Breathing 🌬️

hand on belly and chest - did tummy expand or did the shoulders rise to accommodate the expansion of the lungs

The correct way is: diaphragm must contract and the belly expands. Diaphragmatic breathing is the process of using this major muscle rather than accessory muscles for breathing.

because it is not attractive to expand our abdomen, we mistakenly learn to breathe with accessory muscles - back up muscles that are more important and useful during times of stress (p.67)