The vagus nerve (/ˈveɪɡəs/ VAY-gəs), historically cited as the pneumogastric nerve, is the tenth cranial nerve or CN X, and interfaces with parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. The vagus nerves are paired; however, they are normally referred to in the singular. It is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system in the human body. The vagus nerve also has a sympathetic function via the peripheral chemoreceptors.
The vagus nerve supplies motor parasympathetic fibres to all the organs (except the adrenal glands), from the neck down to the second segment of the transverse colon. The vagus also controls a few skeletal muscles,
This means that the vagus nerve is responsible for such varied tasks as heart rate, gastrointestinal peristalsis, sweating, and quite a few muscle movements in the mouth, including speech (via the recurrent laryngeal nerve). It also has some afferent fibers that innervate the inner (canal) portion of the outer ear (via the auricular branch, also known as Alderman’s nerve) and part of the meninges. This explains why a person may cough when tickled on the ear, such as when trying to remove ear wax with a cotton swab.\
The vagus nerve also plays a role in satiation following food consumption. Knocking out vagal nerve receptors has been shown to cause hyperphagia (greatly increased food intake).
Excessive activation of the vagal nerve during emotional stress, which is a parasympathetic overcompensation of a strong sympathetic nervous system response associated with stress, can also cause vasovagal syncope due to a sudden drop in cardiac output, causing cerebral hypoperfusion. Vasovagal syncope affects young children and women more than other groups. It can also lead to temporary loss of bladder control under moments of extreme fear.
Research has shown that women having had complete spinal cord injury can experience orgasms through the vagus nerve, which can go from the uterus, cervix, and, it is presumed, the vagina to the brain.
The Latin word vagus means literally “wandering” (the words vagrant, vagabond, and vague come from the same root).
adding page while reading this by @WanderingGaia of @mosaicscience:
There’s a single nerve that connects all of your vital organs — and it might just be the future of medicine – from jun 2015
article by Gaia Vince
The wandering nerve
The vagus nerve starts in the brainstem, just behind the ears.
It travels down each side of the neck, across the chest and down through the abdomen. ‘Vagus’ is Latin for ‘wandering’ and indeed this bundle of nerve fibres roves through the body, networking the brain with the stomach and digestive tract, the lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver and kidneys, not to mention a range of other nerves that are involved in speech, eye contact, facial expressions and even your ability to tune in to other people’s voices.
It is made of thousands and thousands of fibres and 80 per cent of them are sensory, meaning that the vagus nerve reports back to your brain what is going on in your organs.
not yet scrambled ness
Operating far below the level of our conscious minds, the vagus nerve is vital for keeping our bodies healthy.
It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed ‘fight-or-flight’ adrenaline response to danger. Not all vagus nerves are the same, however: some people have stronger vagus activity, which means their bodies can relax faster after a stress.
The strength of your vagus response is known as your vagal tone and it can be determined by using an electrocardiogram to measure heart rate. Every time you breathe in, your heart beats faster in order to speed the flow of oxygenated blood around your body.Breathe out and your heart rate slows. This variability is one of many things regulated by the vagus nerve, which is active when you breathe out but suppressed when you breathe in, so the bigger your difference in heart rate when breathing in and out, the higher your vagal tone.
Research shows that a high vagal tone makes your body better at regulating blood glucose levels, reducing the likelihood of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Low vagal tone, however, has been associated with chronic inflammation.
As part of the immune system, inflammation has a useful role helping the body to heal after an injury, for example, but it can damage organs and blood vessels if it persists when it is not needed.One of the vagus nerve’s jobs is to reset the immune system and switch off production of proteins that fuel inflammation. Low vagal tone means this regulation is less effective and inflammation can become excessive, .. arthritis et al
The vagus nerve works as a two-way messenger, passing electrochemical signals between the organs and the brain.
But what about people who just have low vagal tone, whose physical and mental health could benefit from giving it a boost? Low vagal tone is associated with a range of health risks, whereas people with high vagal tone are not just healthier, they’re also socially and psychologically stronger – better able to concentrate and remember things, happier and less likely to be depressed, more empathetic and more likely to have close friendships.
Twin studies show that to a certain extent, vagal tone is genetically predetermined – some people are born luckier than others. But low vagal tone is more prevalent in those with certain lifestyles – people who do little exercise, for example. This led psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to wonder if the relationship between vagal tone and wellbeing could be harnessed without the need for implants.
As part of the experiment, half of the participants were taught a meditation technique to promote feelings of goodwill towards themselves and others.
Those who meditated showed a significant rise in vagal tone, which was associated with reported increases in positive emotions. “That was the first experimental evidence that if you increased positive emotions and that led to increased social closeness, then vagal tone changed,” Kok says.
The implications of being able to simply and cheaply improve vagal tone, and so relieve major public health burdens such as cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, are enormous. It has the potential to completely change how we view disease.
However the technology develops, our understanding of how the body manages disease has changed for ever. “It’s become increasingly clear that we can’t see organ systems in isolation, like we did in the past,” says Paul-Peter Tak. “We just looked at the immune system and therefore we have medicines that target the immune system.
“But it’s very clear that the human is one entity: mind and body are one. It sounds logical but it’s not how we looked at it before. We didn’t have the science to agree with what may seem intuitive. Now we have new data and new insights.”
Medium (@Medium) tweeted at 5:21 AM – 28 Dec 2019 :
Take a deep breath.
Hug a friend.
Reach for the ceiling and stretch your limbs.
Each of these simple acts bestows a sense of calm and comfort by activating the vagus nerve. (via @elemental) https://t.co/6gSSDU1wmm (http://twitter.com/Medium/status/1210898644989136896?s=17)
Science Confirms That the Vagus Nerve Is Key to Well-being
The mysterious nerve network that quiets pain and stress — and may defeat disease
Take a deep breath. Hug a friend. Reach for the ceiling and stretch your limbs. Each of these simple acts bestows a sense of calm and comfort. And each works its soothing magic in part by activating a complicated system of nerves that connects the brain to the heart, the gut, the immune system, and many of the organs
The vagus nerve is one of the twelve (longest/largest/most-complex/least-understood) cranial nerves, which sprawl out from the brain and into the body like an intricate network of roots. These nerve networks act as lines of communication between the brain and the body’s many systems and organs. Some of the cranial nerves interpret sensory information collected by the skin, eyes, or tongue. Others control muscles or communicate with glands.
its function could unlock new doors to treating all manner of human suffering.
Vagus is Latin for “wandering,”
Field says there are plenty of ways to stimulate vagal activity without a device or implant. “We know that massage and yoga promote parasympathetic nervous system activity, which is vagal activity,” she says.
vagal activity via pressure receptors buried beneath the surface of the skin — receptors located throughout the body, and ones that only firm pressure or a deep stretch can reach. She points out that light touching or stroking is arousing, while a bear hug or powerful handshake are inherently soothing. “A strong hug or a handshake promote parasympathetic activity,” she says.
Silberstein says that almost anything people find relaxing — meditation, deep breathing — is also associated with heightened vagal activity and parasympathetic nervous system activity.
relieve pain, inflammation, sadness, and disease.