Whether you're familiar with the vagus nerve or not, there are many things left to discover about this critical part of the human body. Today, we'll cover everything from the basics of the vagus nerve to vagus nerve sound stimulation and how to stimulate the vagus nerve from home. Let's begin!
What is the Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve is your body's longest cranial nerve. It originates at the base of your brain and extends through the neck and chest to the abdomen.
This nerve plays a vital role in many of the body's functions, including:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Immune response
The vagus nerve is also responsible for controlling the "rest and digest" response, which is essential for relaxation and stress relief. When the vagus nerve is functioning correctly, it helps to keep the body in a state of balance. Unfortunately, when it is not functioning optimally, it can lead to several health problems, including:
- Digestive issues
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory disorders
Luckily, there are many ways to stimulate and strengthen this nerve, which in turn, can improve a number of these conditions for some people. So with that in mind, let's move on to vagus nerve sound stimulation and what it might be able to do for you.
How Does Music Affect the Vagus Nerve?
Humans have been using music as a form of therapy for centuries. In recent years, however, science has begun to uncover just how and why music can be such an effective healing tool.
The vagus nerve plays a starring role in the body's stress response. When we experience psychological stress, the vagus nerve signals the brain to release cortisol, which is a hormone associated with stress. Over time, this can lead to vagus nerve dysfunction and a number of health problems.
Fortunately, music can help to reduce psychological stress and vagus nerve dysfunction.
Numerous studies have found promising results, showing that music therapy can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while improving vagus nerve function.
How it works
So, how does music work to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve these conditions?
Well, it all comes down to vibrations. For example, when we listen to music, sound waves travel through the air and cause our eardrums to vibrate. These vibrations are then transmitted to the brain via the vagus nerve.
Once in the brain, these vibrations can trigger a number of changes, including:
- Reduced heart rate
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved breathing
- Reduced stress hormone levels
- Brighter mood
- Improved sleep
- Faster recovery
In other words, music can help to stimulate the vagus nerve and trigger the "rest and digest" response, which is vital for relaxation and stress relief. However, it also has the potential to reduce vagus nerve dysfunction, which can lead to a number of health problems.
What Frequency Stimulates the Vagus Nerve?
So, now that we know how music can help to stimulate the vagus nerve, you might be wondering what frequency is best for vagus nerve stimulation.
Well, according to one study:
"Classically, low frequency (5–10 Hz) VNS is known to stimulate vagal efferents, i.e., the CAP. However, we have shown in experimental conditions that even at low frequency stimulation vagal afferents are also activated in anesthetized rats under VNS in an fMRI study using dynamic causal modeling to estimate neuronal connectivity (148). We have also reported that long-term low frequency (10 Hz) VNS was able to induce modifications of the electroencephalogram in a CD patient under VNS (149)."
With Xen by Neuvana headphones, you can choose the frequency, duration, and sounds that work best for you.
You can also implement many other strategies to stimulate the vagus nerve, so let's talk about humming, chanting, and singing next.
Did you know the simple act of humming can effectively stimulate the vagus nerve?
Well, when we hum, it causes our vagus nerve to vibrate. This, in turn, can activate the "rest and digest" response and can help to improve a number of conditions.
Humming has been shown to be an effective vagus nerve stimulator in a number of studies. For example, one study found that humming caused a significant decrease in heart rate and blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Not only that but humming has also been shown to be an effective treatment for dystonia, which is a condition characterized by muscle spasms and involuntary muscle contractions.
This practice has been used for centuries in a variety of different cultures.
Like humming, chanting can also help to stimulate the vagus nerve and trigger the "rest and digest" response. It works in a similar fashion. Since the vagus nerve connects to the respiratory system, when we chant, it causes the vagus nerve to vibrate and sends signals to the brain that tell the body to relax.
Some of the other benefits of chanting include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- Slower heart rate
- Improved breathing
- Calmer mind
- Deeper sleep
This might be one of the most enjoyable ways to stimulate the vagus nerve!
Not only is singing a great way to reduce stress and improve vagal tone, but it can also help to boost mood and promote social bonding. All of these benefits are made possible by the vagus nerve. Notably, singing can also help with memory recall!
Singing has been shown to be an effective treatment for a number of conditions, and you can learn more about its health benefits here.
Other ways to stimulate the vagus nerve
There are many other ways you can stimulate the vagus nerve, including:
- Cold exposure
As you can see, many of these are accessible options that can be done from almost anywhere at any time.
The vagus nerve is a critical component of the nervous system that plays a role in various functions.
Fortunately, there are many different ways we can stimulate the vagus nerve. This includes things like humming, chanting, and singing. Each of these activities can help trigger the "rest and digest" response and improve several conditions.
Consider trying our Xen vagus nerve stimulation device if you're looking for a more specific vagus nerve stimulation method. With Xen, you can stimulate the vagus nerve from the comfort of your home while listening to soothing sounds or your favorite music.