Understanding what the vagus nerve is and what its functions are can give you a better understanding of how essential oils can assist in the overall health of your body.
The vagus nerve is important as it is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves. It extends from the brainstem down to the abdomen via multiple organs including the heart, esophagus, lungs, digestive organs, eyes, nose, and endocrine system
It is the command center of the involuntary nervous system – the parasympathetic nervous system. This is your “rest & digest” system as opposed to your sympathetic nervous system which is dubbed as the “fight or flight” system.
If your vagus nerve (parasympathetic nervous system) is not operating optimally you can see how relaxation and calmness are going to be difficult to achieve. Our body is not meant to be in constant “fight or flight” mode. That is a lot of nervous energy and an over production of cortisol. You cannot “rest & digest” if your vagus nerve is overstimulated.
When your vagus nerve is working correctly it:
- Helps connect gut to brain emotionally (think “gut feeling”)
- Helps with memory
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps relaxation and when you are calm you can emotionally bond and interact with others
- Helps control heart rate via electrical impulses and tells your lungs to breathe
You can have a high or a low vagal tone. Having a high vagal tone means you can calm down and relax quicker after stress.
A high vagal tone: improves many body systems causing better blood sugar regulation, reduced risk of stroke/cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, improved digestion because of better production of stomach enzymes, reduced migraines, better mood, less anxiety and more resiliency to stress.
A low vagal tone: associated with stroke, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, higher rates of inflammatory conditions (and there are MANY!) which include autoimmune diseases.
Essential oils I recommend to improve the function of the vagus nerve are:
- German and Roman Chamomile
A clove and lime blend are great together to help promote a higher vagal tone. Apply to back of neck, wrists and even diffuse for these benefits.