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The Vagus Nerve – Why Re-Setting Your Nervous System is Important

Updated: Feb 12

Did you know that resetting your nervous system can go a long way to restoring your gut health, as well as a host of other complex chronic health conditions including hormone imbalances, thyroid conditions, autoimmunity, chronic fatigue, headaches, back pain, anxiety, and depression?


Fixing imbalances in the gut needs to start with the nervous system. This is because we need a regulated nervous system in order to heal.


If you have a history of trauma you’re more likely to have a gut disorder. This is due to the bi-directional communication highway between the brain and the digestive system (also known as the gut-brain axis).


Chronic or traumatic stress inhibits the vagus nerve, which can lead to changes in gut motility, and can cause abdominal bloating, pain, spasms, and cramping.


Your nervous system is at the heart of many of our life challenges. Nervous system dysregulation can lead to imbalances in our health, our thoughts, behaviours, moods, sleep, energy levels, and relationships. When the NS is dysregulated, it impairs our ability to heal.


We need to be present and connected in the moment in order to be able to heal, and not in a state of nervous system shut down, which can occur as a result of adverse childhood events, chronic stress, trauma, and injury to the body.


When our nervous system is dysregulated, it will impact our body’s ability to heal and repair itself.


Re-establishing a balanced nervous system through self-regulation and increasing vagal tone, helps us to get to the root cause of stress-related illnesses, as opposed to just treating the symptoms.



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What is the vagus nerve?


The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve, ‘vagus’ comes from the Latin word ‘wandering’. It is known as the wandering nerve because it wanders from the brainstem into organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen. The vagus nerve is how our brain connects to the rest of our body. It is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system.


It regulates our heart rate, blood pressure, our breathing, and digestion.


One of the vagus nerve’s main functions is to stimulate peristalsis, the contractions that move food through the digestive system.


It is also involved in a bi-directional communication system between the gut and the brain, therefore having an effect on our mental health.


If your life is busy or stressful, it’s really important to practice techniques that can help to dampen down the sympathetic nervous system (“flight or fight” response) and encourage vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system activity (“rest and digest”).


Meditation, breathwork, yoga, humming, chanting, cold water exposure, reflexology, and nature therapy are some examples of ways to activate the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system.


Ideally, we should practice stress-reducing techniques on a daily basis, to swing the pendulum back in favour of the parasympathetic nervous system.


Try out this nervous system breathwork guided practice by Othership.


DISCLAIMER - Please do not perform breathwork while pregnant. Always check with your doctor first before starting a breathwork practice, if you have a heart condition, or suffer from epilepsy.



The Well Life Lab’s next Vagus Nerve Reset Day Retreat will be held on Sunday 14th January at Launceston Farm, Tarrant Launceston, near Blandford Forum.


This day retreat was designed to equip you with the knowledge to reset your vagus nerve, while encouraging a place of deep rest and rejuvenation.


Helen Ross, a BANT registered nutritional therapist, is the retreat organiser. She uses a functional medicine approach helping her clients get to the root cause of their health issues.


Consultations are available from Yellow Gorse, Bridport and Aquae Sulis Therapy Centre in Dorchester, as well as online.


More details about the retreat can be found at: https://thewelllifelab.systeme.io/dayretreatjanuary


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