Improve Almost Any Chronic Health Condition in Less Than 3 Days
Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a miracle drug. But what if there was a miracle nerve? What might seem like a marvel today has actually been a common practice in many branches of ancient medicine for centuries. We’re talking about the vagus nerve — not to be confused with Las Vegas — and Dr. Navaz Habib is here to tell us why activating it is the “miracle drug” of wellness.
Dr. Habib, a chiropractor and functional medicine practitioner, is the author of the upcoming book, Activate Your Vagus Nerve, out in early February. Dr. Habib was drawn to study the vagus nerve because of its far-reaching effects on the human body.
“I noticed it was one of the missing pieces in so many different conditions. It actually affects so many different people in different ways,” Dr. Habib explains. The vagus nerve is most often referred to as a parasympathetic nerve, but it actually has four functions, and its parasympathetic function consists of just 15% of vagus nerve activity.
Four Functions of the Vagus Nerve
- Parasympathetic: Activates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the body out of fight-or-flight mode to relaxation.
- Afferent: Acts as an information superhighway, communicating information back and forth between the brain and the body’s organs.
- Motor: Controls the contraction of the muscles at the back of the neck, as well as the muscles that activate the vocal cords.
- Sensory: Responsible for sensory of the skin within the ear, an important factor when working to improve the activity of the vagus nerve.
According to Dr. Habib, the afferent quality of the vagus nerve is its most important function. “Eighty percent of the information that is transmitted through the vagus nerve is actually from the organs to the brain.”
So how do you improve the connection between your organs and your brain? By improving the function of the vagus nerve, and according to Dr. Habib, there are two ways to do this:
Passive Method ➞ Seek out the assistance of a medical practitioner or specialist in activating the vagus nerve.
Active Method ➞ Incorporate several at-home methods and routines to activate the vagus nerve.
You’re probably already familiar with the two major branches of the passive method, since they are quite common: acupuncture and massage. “Auricular acupuncture treatment (acupuncture of the ear) is one of the most effective ways to improve vagus nerve function,” Dr. Habib says.
Another important aspect in the passive method is measuring changes in vagus nerve functionality through measuring heart rate variability (HRV), or the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. You can accomplish this with wearables, such as an Oura ring or HeartMath. There should be variability between heartbeats, rather than equal time. A high HRV is a sign that your parasympathetic nerves are working, specifically the vagus nerve itself.
The active method is where YOU come in. There are many more active ways to affect the vagus nerve than there are passive. Three easy and accessible methods you can incorporate right away include gargling, activating the gag reflex, and humming or chanting.
How: Fill a glass with salted warm water and gargle it at the back of your throat. Gargle so hard that you actually start to tear up.
Why: The four functions of the vagus nerve are innervated by different closely related nuclei in your brain stem. You know that electrical activity is happening when your tearing glands get activated, which means you’re stimulating enough to activate the afferent reflex of the vagus nerve.
Activate the Gag Reflex
How: Everytime you brush your teeth, use the toothbrush to stimulate your gag reflex.
Why: The muscles in the back of the throat are activated by the vagus nerve, so if we stimulate the gag reflex, we stimulate the vagus nerve.
Humming and Chanting
How: The easiest way is through chanting Om, but it can be as simple as singing along to the radio. Put your hand on your throat when you do this and notice the vibration there.
Why: A monotone voice can be one symptom of low vagus nerve activity. If the muscles that activate your vocal cords are not strong, you won’t be able to go up and down with your voice. You need to train the muscles, and chanting or humming is one of the most effective ways to do this.
Two other passive methods to add to your routine have to do with controlling the breath. Many of us, when asked to take a deep breath, raise our shoulders and puff out our chests. This utilizes the secondary muscles of the chests to breathe, which creates tension in the neck and shoulders. We should be breathing from our diaphragm.
“Deep belly breathing is a really great tool to help you learn how to breathe again and slow your breath rate, which will increase your vagal tone. The more parasympathetic activity you have, the greater HRV you have,” explains Dr. Habib.
Learning to control your breath during stressful situations is another effective passive method. You can achieve this with a cold shower. Most of us, when doused with a stream of cold water, tense up and hold our breath. Your job is to train yourself to breathe through the stress. You can also maximize this opportunity to flush out your lymph nodes by raising up your arms and using a wand to target lymph nodes around the body.
Taking the time to improve vagus nerve functionality is going to have a significant impact on your life, no matter what illness you may be dealing with. Dr. Habib says, “We are in a constant state of stress, of sympathetic activation, of fight or flight, like we’re chronically be chased by a lion. It’s our stressful thoughts that lead us into a fight or flight state. We need to work ourselves into being able to rest, digest, and take care of ourselves, and that will activate the vagus nerve.”
Look for Dr. Habib’s book, Activate Your Vagus Nerve, coming out February 19th. You can learn more about Dr. Habib (here), and by following him on Facebook @DrNavazHabib.
In addition, Dr. Habib invites you to visit www.speakwithdrhabib.com and book a 20-minute complimentary phone call where you can ask questions and learn more about what you can do to start improving your vagus nerve functionality.
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