Vagus Nerve Stimulation Might Be A Missing Link for Better Health
How in touch are you with your Vagus Nerve? Do you struggle with inflammation, depression, or other chronic health challenges? Has anybody ever suggested that you do anything specific to support your Vagus Nerve or suggested Vagus Nerve Stimulation? Do you even have a clue as to what it is, where it is, or what it does? I know…me neither. The Vagus Nerve links communication between the head, heart, and digestive tract. And of course before you go running off willy-nilly seeking the Holy Grail of answers for your health problems on the internet, check with your doctor and get proper medical advice before doing anything!
I saved the link to an article on the Vagus Nerve Inflammation Connection months ago because it interested me. Unfortunately, I am just now getting around to looking at it and realized that the website it’s posted on is no longer being updated, but I’ll go ahead and post the article link (below) that prompted this post.
I’m not much of a research junkie because I get lost in the technical mumbo-jumbo. However, in my personal struggle to maintain good health, I appreciate insights from every angle. Western medicine has failed me more times than I can count, and for many of my issues it’s been a struggle of mind over matter since finding a solution has been a nebulous quest. While it would be great if there were a magic pill, potion, or food that would “fix” it all, our bodies are complex organisms and there are a lot of factors involved in getting everything to function optimally.
Inflammation has been a HUGE struggle for me throughout my life, that along with depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, Optic Neuritis, joint pain, and muscle aches. I’m hyper-sensitive to foods, chemicals, and smells. Sometimes I can get away with more, other times I’m over the edge and in-trouble faster than I can blink. For some reason this past fall and winter were particularly challenging. My lows have been lower and I fall faster to the pit of despair than I ever have in my life.
It’s scary, but I’m also talking about it because I know I’m not alone. I am also sick of people saying; “It’s just a choice!” “Choose to feel better.” “Choose to think positively.” “Choose to be happy.”
You, my friend (or psychologist), obviously have never spent a day in my body where the norm is to wake up every morning trying to fight off the feelings of wanting to be 6 feet under. TRUST ME, nobody would willingly want to spend their life feeling like crap – physically, mentally, or emotionally. These are reasons why I’ve always exercised. Physical activity is my “drug of choice” because I really can’t take medications. Most of the time I feel better when I am physically active. But sometimes even that doesn’t help.
It’s funny, a dear friend sent me an article about TMS Therapy – magnetic therapy that is helping people with depression/anxiety without medication. Interested in checking it out, I called my local provider to find out more. It’s almost $20,000 for treatment (they’ll take $10K cash if you’re paying out-of-pocket). I was told some insurance providers will help cover it, but here’s the catch – you must be referred by a physician or psychiatrist AND you must have documented proof that you’ve been on at least 4 different depression medications that have failed.
The last time I took an anti-depressant it was prescribed by a gastroenterologist for digestive issues. I told him I can’t take antidepressants because they make me psychotic; he said do it anyway! So rather than listening to what I know about my body, I tried it… one little pill (1/2 as much as I was supposed to take) and I could barely wake up the next morning. I couldn’t answer any simple questions like when’s your birthday, social security number, or address! I can’t be on an anti-depressant long enough to document that I’ve tried 4 and failed; I’d be whack-a-doodle and in lock-up just trying to get to the point that I might be eligible for TMS Therapy!
Our healthcare system is badly failing at helping people get and stay healthy! And while I’m a high-functioning, severely depressed person, I know that I’m missing out on LIFE because my brain and body don’t always cooperate. Inflammation is real and the spiral-out-of-control health challenges accumulate. Is it a “head-game” or real physical issues? They feel real! Am I broken or fixable? Exercise helps, but if I’m not careful, I end up with inflammation issues from exercise! SIGH…vicious circle of living life from health crisis to health crisis – and I know I’m not alone. Which leads me back to this interesting article on the Vagus Nerve and the important role it plays between the head, heart, and digestive tract. The neurotransmitters needed to support it can be squashed into submission by anti-histamines and psych or stomach meds. And, there’s a chance that simulating this very important nerve can improve health for a myriad of health issues from itching, infection, fatigue, depression, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
From reading this article it appears that there are several different machines out there to help Vagus Nerve Stimulation (like the TMS Therapy I mentioned above). But, there are also simple things we can do without expensive procedures. Here’s a short list:
- Eating Healthy
Hmmmm…all things that I’ve done off and on (or do a form of) but not always consistently and not with conscious thoughts of Vagus Nerve Stimulation. These all make me feel better when I do them, but somehow finding the “time” to take care of me doesn’t always happen. How good are you at taking care of #1?
The focus on breathing and low reps with efficient body mechanics and doing Pilates has been a life saver for me. Pilates is definitely a moving meditation and is at an intensity level that works to enhance wellness. I know it’s helped me avoid injuries and improve healthy movement to stay strong, fit, and flexible because I can do Pilates and feel better. But a heavy weight workout, Crossfit, or high intensity training, and I’m quickly injured or dealing with the repercussions of inflammation from training programs that are too intense for my body to tolerate.
Years ago I learned (and taught) Bigu Qigong; a form of Qigong for weight management. Because of my chronic inflammation issues, depression, digestive distress, and hormonal challenges, it’s no wonder that my body weight has always easily gone UP and never really goes down. The few times in my life I have lost weight it’s been very low-calorie, which is challenging to maintain for a healthy LIFESTYLE. Bigu Qigong was different. While it took my body 10 times longer than a normal person to begin to change… It eventually began to self-regulate. And besides the benefit of weight loss, it was during this period of my life that I had a 6-month window with no depression! It was a blissful 6 months, the happiest most productive time of my life. I realized how the folks who don’t deal with anxiety and depression feel every day of their lives. And because I got a glimpse through this little window into what it feels like to be on the other side of the fence, I can see why these happy folks have zero comprehension of what it’s like to be any other way. And then the window closed. I’ve spent years trying to get back to my happy place! I wonder if, after reading this info about the Vagus Nerve, this 6-month window was the first and only time my body was in balance with everything working properly?
Knowing that meds are out of the question and sometimes even supplements are more than my system can handle, I’m now looking forward to seeing if a little focus on Vagus Nerve Stimulation can help reduce inflammation and help transform my body to a healthier, happier version of me. It’s time to double up my efforts with the 5 simple things I can do to affect change! I might dust off my Bigu Qigong notes and get this practice back into my weekly wellness routine.
Interested in reading the articles that prompted this post? Check them out at the links below.
I initially found this Vagus Nerve info from Yasmina Ykelenstam. Her new site is HealingHistamine.com. She has tons of very interesting articles and research, as well as recipes and suggestions for dealing with chronic health issues. Well worth a click over to her site to learn more…