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The Vagus Nerve

Discussion in 'Medical Discussion' started by EverythingsHazy, Mar 31, 2018.

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Which statement best describes you. (votes are changeable and private)

  1. I knew about this, and practice stimulation of my vagus nerve, and notice benefits.

  2. I knew about this, and practiced stimulation of my vagus nerve, but didn't notice benefits.

  3. I knew about this, but never practiced stimlation of my vagus nerve.

  4. I knew about this, and think it's nonsense.

  5. I didn't know about this, but it seems interesting.

  6. I didn't know about this, but it seems like nonsense.

  7. I learned about this, in this thread, and have tried it. I find there are benefits.

  8. I learned about this, in this thread, and have tried it. I find there are no benefits.

  9. Other (specify in post)

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    THE VAGUS NERVE

    This thread is for the discussion of the vagus nerve. It connects many parts of our bodies to our brains (image in spoiler below), and it plays an important role in many of our biological functions.

    [​IMG]

    "What does the vagus nerve affect?

    The vagus nerve has a number of different functions. The four key functions of the vagus nerve are:


    • Sensory: From the throat, heart, lungs, and abdomen.
    • Special sensory: Provides taste sensation behind the tongue.
    • Motor: Provides movement functions for the muscles in the neck responsible for swallowing and speech.
    • Parasympathetic: Responsible for the digestive tract, respiration, and heart rate functioning.

    Its functions can be broken down even further into seven categories. One of these is balancing the nervous system.


    The nervous system can be divided into two areas: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic side increases alertness, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.


    The parasympathetic side, which the vagus nerve is heavily involved in, decreases alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate, and helps with calmness, relaxation, and digestion. As a result, the vagus nerve also helps with defecation, urination, and sexual arousal.


    Other vagus nerve effects include:


    • Communication between the brain and the gut: The vagus nerve delivers information from the gut to the brain.
    • Relaxation with deep breathing: The vagus nerve communicates with the diaphragm. With deep breaths, a person feels more relaxed.
    • Decreasing inflammation: The vagus nerve sends an anti-inflammatory signal to other parts of the body.
    • Lowering the heart rate and blood pressure: If the vagus nerve is overactive, it can lead to the heart being unable to pump enough blood around the body. In some cases, excessive vagus nerve activity can cause loss of consciousness and organ damage.
    • Fear management: The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, which is linked to dealing with stress, anxiety, and fear - hence the saying, "gut feeling." These signals help a person to recover from stressful and scary situations."

    How can we stimulate the vagus nerve, to achieve the benefits listed above?

    Here are some ways:

    -Deep breathing with slow exhales.

    -Humming

    -Singing

    -Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Prebiotics/Probiotics can help with this.

    -Taking cold showers and covering your face with cold water can be used to stimulate your natural diving reflex, which nearly instantly lowers our heart rate and anxiety levels.

    -Meditation



    ***I am not a doctor, and am not recommending that you do anything mentioned above.***
    ***This is just information that I am reading about, and would like to share/discuss with you guys. ***
     
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  2. looney2nz

    looney2nz Research Geek, Mad Scientist

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  3. hibeam

    hibeam alpha +

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Brave New World
    The way I vape with my Lotus is the breathing exercise. :)

    I think inversions and torso bends and twists also work.
     
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  4. C No Ego

    C No Ego Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,429
    so gambling in Vegas can have effect on the Vagus nerve?
     
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  5. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    Today was Day 2 for me, of taking cycling Hot-Cold showers. Roughly 3:1 hot to cold time per cycle, for 4 cycles, ending with cold.

    The first cold period is the hardest, and they get easier each time.
     
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  6. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

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    Wow, fascinating information, Thank you!. Extremely interested in this topic.
     
  7. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    Day 5 of Contrast Showers

    Here are some things I've noticed, so far:
    1. More alertness.
    2. More calmness.
    3. Cleared out nasal passages, which is HUGE for me, since I am very often congested (likely due to allergies). It’s nasal passage inflammation that causes this, for me. This is seriously alleviated by these showers.
    4. It gets easier to tolerate, as the days pass. (I'm using colder water, and yet I'm able to control my breathing better.



    Deep breathing, with slow, purposeful exhales (I keep the tip of my tongue against the roof of my mouth, about 1cm behind my front teeth, and actively blow the air out of my lungs), definitely induces instant calmness, for me. Interestingly enough, this deep breathing brings about a sensation that I feel is very similar to a mild Cannabis buzz.

    The 4-7-8 technique provides even more of this feeling, but I wouldn’t recommend it while driving or operating machinery/etc..

    You're welcome! I hope you get something positive out of this thread! Do share your experiences with us!
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
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  8. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

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    1,159
    For clarity, 4 second inhale, 7 second exhale, 8 second pause before inhale. I really find a great amount of relief using the managed breathing. The pause at the bottom of the exhale can get very deep, almost meditative. For that small amount of time, it seems like a small gift of serenity. Getting more into yoga, and brainwave enhancement through guided meditation. My brain wants to run at high rpms most of my waking hours. Breathing exercises help me remember that the body can prompt the brain to relax and "coast" a bit.
     
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  9. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

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    1,144
    That’s slightly different than the method I’m used to using, which is 4 second inhale, 7 second breath hold, 8 second exhale.

    Regardless of the method, controlled breathing definitely has a powerful effect on the body/brain. I recommend it for anyone. It’s surprising how effective just one minute of controlled breathing can be, for centering yourself and quieting some of the mental white noise.
     
    mephisto likes this.
  10. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Oh cool, I misunderstood. I tried it counting the way I mentioned as I drove to work and it was calming nonetheless. I think your method of counting is more on point with the relaxation response. It is interesting to see if there is a difference felt when holding after exhale vs. holding after inhale. Thanks for the direction.
     
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  11. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

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    1,144
    I'm curious what altering each time period (inhale, hold, exhale, hold) does. I have a lot of research to do about breathing and our nervous system.

    I'm also getting very interested in cold/contrast showers. I've been taking them for 11 days (sometimes twice a day), and I feel great. I'm also much calmer during the day.
     
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  12. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

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    1,159
    I have read that Buddhist monks who had studied this meditation for years would use the empty space at the end of an exhale, before an inhale. They would lower their breathing rate to a state similar to suspended animation.......I use this technique at the end of a yoga session to see how deeply I can relax and clear any thoughts. Please tell more about the hot/cold shower therapy.....sounds shocking!
     
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  13. hafalump

    hafalump Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Down the rabbit hole
    Also try yogic viloma, this technique intrupts either the inhale or exhale.
    Focusing on the in breathe gives energy, interrupting the exhale stimulates the vagus nerve and lowers BP and heart rate. Holding the breath creates a pause of stillness, place your awareness there.
    Holding at the top of the inhale is easier for a beginner than on an exhale, they both create stillness.
    Apply ujjayi breath with these techniques.

    The cold shower is a Kundalini thing, I have not tried them, I'm a wimp, love me a hot shower or tub.
    Other pranayama like kapalabhati are beneficial.
    My advanced breathing count is 4 inhale, 16 hold, 8 exhale, 4 hold. You need to work slowly to this level
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  14. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    When you hold your breath after the exhale, do you stil have air in your lungs that you can forcefully exhale, or did you forcefully empty your lungs before the hold? I find that if I've completely emptied my lungs, it feels like there is a vacuum in my chest when I don't inhale. If I just breathe out to where exhales normally stop, it's a lot more comfortable. However, I would imagine there would be a different physiological effect from each of those two methods, since there is more carbon dioxide in your body if you haven't fully exhaled it.

    I know when I meditate (I have to get back into making this a regular thing) for 10+ minutes, my breathing rate can get surprisingly low. I should time it, sometime.



    For the contrast showers I've been taking, this is my method:

    -Hot for several minutes, while washing up.

    -Cold (30 seconds)

    -Hot (90 seconds)

    -Cold (30 seconds)

    -Hot (90 seconds)

    -Cold (30 seconds)

    -Hot (90 seconds)

    -Cold (30-60 seconds)

    -Get out

    I try to spend roughly 3x as much time in the hot part of each cycle than I do in the cold, and I try to do a minimum of 30 seconds cold, going longer if I want to. I also try to stay longer in the last cold portion, before getting out.

    I like to feel fully chilled and fully warmed before changing the temperature each time, to fully activate the constriction and dilation effects on the circulatory system, and potentially the lymphatic system as well (so I've read... needs confirmation though).

    During each cold period, I move my face./head in and out of the water several times, to stimulate the diving reflex (which lowers your heart rate and has anti-anxiety effects), long enough to get cold, but not past the point of my face starting to hurt or my head feeling like it has a brain freeze.

    These showers instantly clear up my nasal passages, which is a huge relief for someone like me, who is always stuffy due to swelling. Normally, when I blow my nose, my nasal passages will swell up to the point of having to brethe through my mouth.

    They also do a great job of waking me up in the morning, while simultaneously calming me down, both mentally and physically, and, ironically, they help me relax, before sleep, as well. My night shower is often just one or two longer cycles, as opposed to four, and I don't always take one. I always take morning shower, though.

    Today was day 11.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  15. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Man, I will definitely try the @hafalump breathing protocol. Gonna work up to the cold/hot shower, but it sounds so tempting. Especially since this technique has been helping with sinus congestion. I have breathing issues/ dev. septum so this motivates me more to grow a sack and hit the shower!

    I do not forcefully exhale when reaching for the silence at the bottom of a breath. I try and allow the diaphragm to fall naturally and squeeze the air out gently. I tend to have more trouble holding a full breath, than holding out for a fresh intake of breath. It amazes me the extent of mental quietude (made that up) that is achievable. I have an endless, multilayer playlist of internal conversation playing on autoloop in my subconscious . When I can get ALL of the background noise to pause, it brings about a giant sense of calm and peace. Its a welcome break from all of the problem solving my brain thinks it is doing.......
     
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  16. hafalump

    hafalump Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    @mephisto Sounds like you are on to it. Breath should be even and soft. If using ujjayi the sound in your head should b smooth and even through the entire breath. Also nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is very centering. Even a few minutes every day is better than a longer session with days off in between. You will begin to see the stillness creep into the rest of your life.
     
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  17. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Thank you for all of the shared information. Always a great tangential experience through the threads of FC, and always a pleasure to read others' contributions. @hafalump I have tried the alternate breathing technique, though I had forgotten all about it.....It takes a bit of focus to be sure. My wife has me doing Brain Yoga which has shown some promise with helping speech related disabilities. It is thought to calibrate the interaction of the left and right hemispheres. It may be sheer hogwash as well. To perform this exercise, place opposite thumb and forefinger in a pinching grip on the earlobes. Thumb facing outwards, exert moderate pressure on the earlobe. Tongue touching the top of the mouth, just behind the teeth. Inhale as you lower yourself to a seated/crouched position, Exhale as you (slowly) rise back to a standing position. This is done 14 times. Naturally, it is an exercise done slowly and without haste. I believe there is another anecdotal account of this exercise helping eliminate a child's lazy eye.
     
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  18. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    So, it's been over two weeks since my first contrast shower, and I've been taking them every day, when I wake up, and often at night, although my night showers are usually shorter (often 2 cycles).

    While the weather is warming up, and the water is likely warming up a bit too, I definitely feel like I am much more tolerant to the cold. I can control my breathing much more than I was able to in the beginning, and I now do at least 60 seconds of cold before getting out. I also am using full cold water, as opposed to mixing in some hot water to make it more tolerable.

    I definitely feel more awake and alert after the shower, in the morning, and that feeling lasts for a long time, throughout the day. As I mentioned before, despite being able to wake me up in the morning, the showers also do wonders for relaxing before getting in bed to sleep. Also, the nasal decongestant effect is a huge bonus, for me. I can finally breathe freely through my nose.

    The showers also seem to clear up most of the day after effects of Cannabis use, which is great. I like to spend my mornings sober and alert/energized, so I can do everything that needs to be done, and then relax at night with no more work to think about.

    If you are medically fit for these shocking showers, I highly recommend you give them a chance.



    On another note, I am practicing breathing exercises throughout the day, and they help keep my mind present and calm. When I am indoors, I often do the 4-7-8 (inhale-hold-exhale) technique, but when I am biking, I leave out the holding portion, as it can produce a very strong buzz effect, even if just for a few seconds. If you do these deep breathing exercises, make sure you are focusing on your diaphragm/core, as opposed to moving your chest and shoulders. Your chest and shoulders can move if you feel like it lets you inhale more deeply, but don't fool yourself in to thinking you're taking deep breaths, by raising your shoulders to your ears without fully filling your lungs.
     
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  19. mephisto

    mephisto Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Good to see you back, I did not mean to hijack your thread......still growing the confidence to try the cold showers. Suffered horrible high fevers as a kid and I remember the ice cube baths Mom used to try and bring the body temp down. Need to get over the nostalgia, and then I think the hot/cold combo will be a great addition.
     
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  20. olivianewtonjohn

    olivianewtonjohn Well-Known Member

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    You guys might want to check out Wim Hof if you have not already, he advocates for many of the same techniques
     
  21. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    Thanks, and no worries. Mediation and breathing are definitely on-topic.

    As the cycles go by, the cold periods get easier to tolerate. By the fourth period of cold, before getting out, I can handle 60 seconds much more comfortably than the first cycle's 30 seconds of cold. The hot/cold somewhat numbs your skin. Keeping that in mind, be careful not to go too hot, because you might not be able to tell, at first. I find that my face (surprisingly) is the quickest to warm back up, and the best judge of the hot temperature. My back and chest are the most numb, since the water is mostly hitting my body in those spots. I do make sure to get my entire body chilled, though. I don't keep my face/head under the water for more than several seconds at a time, because I'll start to get a brain freeze, so I stick my fae and head in and out, throughout the cold periods.
     
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  22. lazylathe

    lazylathe Almost there...

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    Location:
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    @EverythingsHazy

    I saw your post on matcha in another thread and am very intrigued!
    Coffee for me is a no-no as i makes me super jittery and I won't sleep for a full 24 hours off one cup...LOL!
    So this calm, focused energy in the morning intrigues me!
    I have been reading up on it and the quality is key, apparently as well as freshness.
    Most is available in vacuum sealed bags or tins or in bulk.
    Can it be incorporated into a breakfast dish instead of drinking it?
    I will try it both ways and see how it goes but any info would be awesome!!
     
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  23. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    I love the stuff. You can use it in a meal, or milkshake or even baked goods. If you do so, it is probably a better idea to get what is called "culinary grade" matcha. It's about 3x cheaper than "ceremonial grade", which is the one you want for pure tea preparations (matcha and water only). You want to make sure the powder is bright green. It shouldn't be bitter.

    Coffee makes me way too jittery and restless, but matcha tea doesn't. I believe it is because of the L-Theanine.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
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  24. Helios

    Helios Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I love this thread, I stumbled on this from another one @EverythingsHazy, I have been into mindfulness breathing exercises for well over a decade, I like your counts longer holds, I have always done the four square or 4 in, 4 hold, 4 exhale.. repeat 4 times. At my gym in the pool area is a hot tub and a cold plunge, I utilize the two pools almost religiously, staying in the cold pool for about a minute, then back in the hot tub for another 2-5 min. Interesting shower protocol 30s hot 90s cold:tup:
     
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  25. EverythingsHazy

    EverythingsHazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,144
    I now do the following:

    -Hot (180 seconds)

    -Cold (60 seconds)

    -Hot (180 seconds)

    -Cold (60 seconds)

    -Hot (180 seconds)

    -Cold (60 seconds)

    -Hot (180 seconds)

    -Cold (120-180 seconds)

    -Get out

    Thanks! I'm glad to have another member on board, who has some personal experience to share!

    I've heard of that breathing method. I can see it being useful, since it slows you down to 4 breath cycles per minute. I'm very interested in how various breathing exercises and timings affect how we feel/operate. The fact that you can get (albeit short) a strong buzz from many of these techniques, shows how powerful our breathing practices are.

    I would love a hot tub and cold bath. That's pretty much a submerged version of my showers.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
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