How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve and Why It Matters

No one likes feeling stressed out. But what if you had a “calm-down” channel running through your body that you could switch on when you need a dose of self-soothing? We bet you would.

That’s the idea behind vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which means using certain simple, easy wellness practices to activate your vagus nerve. But before we discuss how to do it, here’s a quick primer on the vagus nerve.

What Is the Vagus Nerve?

“The vagus nerve is a major component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ response,” says Caroline Leaf, PhD, a clinical neuroscience and mental health researcher based in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Also called cranial nerve 10 (or cranial nerve X), the vagus nerve starts in a portion of your brain called the medulla and then branches down both sides of your throat, connecting with your tongue, heart, and digestive organs, according to StatPearls. In other words, it’s a communication channel that runs between your gut and brain.

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