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The vagus nerve is critical to optimal health, no matter what your issues are. In this post, we will tell you how to stimulate it, and how it affects your health.

Introduction to the Vagus Nerve

In people with fatigue, food sensitivities, anxiety, gut problems, brain fog, and depersonalization, the vagus nerve is almost always at play. These people have lower vagal tone, which means a lower ability to perform its functions.

The only question is which aspect of the vagus nerve is malfunctioning and to what extent it is the problem vs. other aspects of your biology.

The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, referred to as the rest-and-digest system. It’s not the only nerve in the parasympathetic system, but it’s by far the most important one because it has the most far-reaching effects.

The word vagus means “wanderer,” because it wanders all over the body to various important organs.

The vagus nerve reaches the brain, gut (intestines, stomach), heart, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidney, ureter, spleen, lungs, reproductive organs (female), neck (pharynx, larynx, and esophagus), ears, and tongue.

Given the importance of the vagus nerve to the gut (and other organs), when it’s not working properly, it will cause digestive disorders including dyspepsia, gastroparesis, GERD, ulcerative colitis, anorexia, and bulimia, to name a few.

Vagus Nerve Functions


In the brain, the vagus nerve helps mood and controls anxiety and depression.

The vagus nerve is largely responsible for the mind-body connection since it goes to all the major organs (except the adrenal and thyroid glands).

It’s intimately tied to how we connect with one another — it links directly to nerves that tune our ears to human speech, coordinate eye contact, and regulate emotional expressions. It influences the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is important in social bonding [R].

Studies have found that higher vagal tone is associated with greater closeness to others and more altruistic behavior [R].

Vagus activity of a child can be affected by their mother. Infants had lower vagus activity with mothers who were depressed, angry, or anxious during pregnancy [R].

Some studies suggested that the vagus nerve is important for getting in the mental state of “flow”. It’s believed that the combination of sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and vagus activation creates the right environment for a flow state [R].

Vagus nerve stimulation might increase wakefulness (by increasing orexin in the prefrontal cortex). It has been shown to decrease the amounts of daytime sleep and rapid eye movement in epilepsy patients with traumatic brain injury and also promoted the recovery of consciousness in comatose rats after traumatic brain injury  [R].

However, the vagus nerve also might cause ‘sickness behavior’ (fatigue, sleepiness, depression, anxiety, appetite loss, pain, lowered motivation, and failure to concentrate) in an inflammatory state (IL-1b) [R].


In the gut, it increases stomach acidity, digestive juice secretion, and gut flow. Since the vagus nerve is important for increasing gut flow (motility), having less vagus activation will increase your IBS risk, which is a result of slower flow [R].

Stimulating the vagus nerve increases the release of histamine by stomach cells, which helps release stomach acid [R]. So, low stomach acidity is usually, in part, a vagus nerve problem. By releasing intrinsic factor, the vagus nerve is important to help you absorb vitamin B12.

Satiety and relaxation following a meal are in part caused by activation of the vagus nerve’s transmission to the brain in response to food intake [R].

The vagus nerve is important in conditions like GERD, not only because it controls stomach acidity, but also because it controls the esophagus.


In the heart, it controls heart rate and blood pressure. Vagus activation will lower the risk of heart disease, among other lethal diseases [R].

Liver, Pancreas, and Gallbladder

In the liver and pancreas, it helps control blood glucose balance.

In the gallbladder, it helps release bile, which can help you get rid of toxins and break down fat.

Kidney and Bladder

The vagus nerve promotes general kidney function. It helps with glucose control and increases blood flow [R], which improves blood filtration. Vagus activation also releases dopamine in the kidneys, which helps excrete sodium [R] and, thereby, lower blood pressure.

The vagus nerve also goes to the bladder [R] A side effect of its stimulation is urinary retention [R], which means that less vagus stimulation can cause you to urinate frequently. Indeed, many of my clients complain about frequent urination (also due to low vasopressin, low aldosterone, and high cortisol).


In the spleen, it can reduce inflammation. Note that vagus activation will reduce inflammation in all target organs (by releasing acetylcholine), but when it activates in the spleen the response will probably be more systemic [R].

It helps control fertility and orgasms in women by connecting to the cervix, uterus, and vagina. Women can actually experience orgasms simply from the vagus nerve.

Mouth and Ears

In the tongue, it helps control taste and saliva; while in the eyes, it helps release tears.

The vagus nerve explains why a person may cough when tickled on the ear, such as when trying to remove ear wax with a cotton swab.

Vagus nerve stimulation helps people with tinnitus because of its connection to the ear.

Potential Symptoms of Vagus Nerve Dysfunction

  • Obesity and weight gain [R].
  • Brain problems
  • IBS
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • High or low heart rate
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying,
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness/fainting
  • B12 deficiency
  • Chronic inflammation

Disorders That Vagus Nerve Activation Can Help

Since the vagus nerve is associated with many different functions and brain regions, research shows the positive effects of vagal stimulation on a variety of conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Heart disease
  • OCD
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Obesity
  • Tinnitus
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Autism
  • Bulimia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Memory disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Cancer [R].
  • Bad blood circulation [R].
  • Leaky Gut
  • Severe mental diseases

30 Ways to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve

1) Cold

Studies show that when your body adjusts to cold, your fight-or-flight (sympathetic) system declines and your rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) system increases, which is mediated by the vagus nerve [R].

Any kind of acute cold exposure will increase vagus nerve activation [R].

You can dip your face in cold water to start. I’ve graduated and now take fully cold showers, expose myself to cold, and drink cold water.

2) Singing or Chanting

Singing increases Heart Rate Variability (HRV) [R].

Humming, mantra chanting, hymn singing, and upbeat energetic singing all increase HRV in slightly different ways [R].

I do Om chanting in my infrared sauna.

Singing initiates the work of a vagal pump, sending relaxing waves through the choir [R].

Singing at the top of your lungs works the muscles in the back of the throat to activate the vagus.

Energetic singing activates both your sympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve, which helps to get into a flow state [R].

Singing in unison, which is often done in churches and synagogues, also increases HRV and vagus function [R].

Singing has been found to increase oxytocin [R].

3) Yoga

Yoga increases vagus nerve and parasympathetic system activity in general [RR].

A 12-week yoga intervention was associated with greater improvements in mood and anxiety than a control group who did walking exercises. The study found increased thalamic GABA levels, which are associated with improved mood and decreased anxiety [R].

4) Meditation

There are two types of meditation that can stimulate the vagus nerve.

Loving-kindness meditation increases vagal tone, as measured by heart rate variability.

Also, Om chanting stimulates the vagus nerve [R].

5) Positive Social Relationships

In a study, participants were instructed to sit and think compassionately about others by silently repeating phrases like “May you feel safe, may you feel happy, may you feel healthy, may you live with ease,” and keep returning to these thoughts when their minds wandered.

Compared to the controls, the meditators showed an overall increase in positive emotions, like joy, interest, amusement, serenity, and hope after the class. These emotional and psychological changes were correlated with a greater sense of connectedness to others and to an improvement in vagal function, as seen by heart-rate variability.

Simply meditating, however, didn’t always result in a more toned vagus nerve. The change only occurred in meditators who became happier and felt more socially connected. Those who meditated just as much but didn’t report feeling any closer to others showed no change in the tone of the vagus nerve.

6) Breathe Deeply and Slowly

Deep and slow breathing stimulates the vagus nerve.

Your heart and neck contain neurons that have receptors called “baroreceptors.”

These specialized neurons detect your blood pressure and transmit the neuronal signal to your brain (NTS), which goes on to activate your vagus nerve that connects to your heart to lower blood pressure and heart rate. The result is a lower fight-or-flight activation (sympathetic) and more rest-and-digest (parasympathetic).

Baroreceptors can be variably sensitive. The more sensitive they are, the more likely they are going to fire and tell your brain that the blood pressure is too high and it’s time to activate the vagus nerve to lower it.

Slow breathing, with a roughly equal amount of time breathing in and out, increases the sensitivity of baroreceptors and vagal activation, which lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety by reducing your sympathetic nervous system and increasing your parasympathetic system [R].

For an average adult, breathing around 5-6 breaths per minute can be very helpful.

Tip: You need to breathe from your belly and slowly. That means when you breathe in, your belly should expand or go out. When you breathe out your belly should cave in. The more your belly expands and the more it caves in, the deeper you’re breathing.

7) Laughter

As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. Many studies show the health benefits of laughing [R].

It seems like laughter is capable of stimulating the vagus nerve.

A study done on yoga laughter found increased HRV (heart rate variability) in the laughter group [R].

There are various case reports of people fainting from laughter, which may be from the vagus nerve/parasympathetic system being stimulated too much.

For example, fainting can come after laughter, urination, coughing, swallowing, or bowel movements, all of which are helped along by vagus activation [R].

There are case reports of people passing out from laughter who have a rare syndrome (Angelman’s) that’s associated with increased vagus stimulation [R, R].

Laughter is also sometimes a side effect of vagus nerve stimulation [R].

A good bout of laughter is good for cognitive function and protects against heart disease [R]. It also increases beta-endorphins and nitric oxide and benefits the vascular system [R].

8) Prayer

Studies have shown that reciting the rosary prayer increases vagus activation. Specifically, it enhances cardiovascular rhythms such as diastolic blood pressure and HRV [R].

Studies also found that the reading of one cycle of the rosary takes approximately 10 seconds and thus causes readers to breathe at 10-second intervals (includes both in and out breath), which increases HRV and therefore vagus function [R].


Magnetic fields are capable of stimulating the vagus nerve. Studies have found that PEMF can increase heart rate variability and increase vagus stimulation [R].

I use a pulsed magnetic stimulator called ICES in my gut and brain, which stimulates my vagus nerve increasing my appetite and stimulating me.

I recommend using this in your gut, brain, and side of your neck. My gut flow increases and inflammation is reduced everywhere when I put this on my gut.

At first, I didn’t understand how it can have systemic effects if I placed it on my gut, but the vagus nerve must be the main reason given that it’s stimulated by magnets.

10) Breathing Exercises

Breathing in and out with resistance will likely stimulate your vagus nerve better –kind of like jogging with a backpack.

A breathing exercise is to breathe out as hard as you can until it’s really uncomfortable and until you notice how awake you are. I haven’t seen studies on this, but I suspect it will help with your vagus nerve.

11) Probiotics

The gut nervous system connects to the brain through the vagus nerve. There is increasing evidence pointing to an effect of the gut microbiota on the brain.

Animals supplemented with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus experienced various positive changes in GABA receptors mediated by the vagus nerve [R].

12) Exercise

Mild exercise stimulates gut flow. This is mediated by the vagus nerve, which means that exercise also stimulates it [R].

13) Massage

Massaging certain areas like your carotid sinus (located on your neck) can stimulate the vagus nerve. This helps reduce seizures [R].

A pressure massage can activate the vagus nerve. These massages help infants gain weight by stimulating gut function and this is largely mediated by vagus nerve activation [R, R].

Foot massages can also increase vagal activity and heart rate variability, while lower your heart rate and blood pressure [R]. All of these decrease heart disease risk.

14) Fasting

Intermittent fasting and reducing calories both increase high-frequency heart rate variability in animals [R], which is a marker of vagal tone.

Indeed, many anecdotal reports show that intermittent fasting benefits heart rate variability.

When you fast, part of the decrease in metabolism is mediated by the vagus nerve.

Specifically, the vagus detects a decline in blood glucose and a decrease of mechanical and chemical stimuli from the gut. This increases the vagus impulses from the liver to the brain (NTS), which slows the metabolic rate [R].

Hormones such as NPY increase while CCK and CRH decrease during fasting [R].

When we eat, the opposite happens. Satiety-related stimulatory signals from the gut contribute to increased sympathetic activity and stress-responsiveness (higher CRH, CCK, and lower NPY) [R].

Fasting can increase the activity in the subdiaphragmatic vagus, which can increase an unfavorable sensitivity to pain in animals [R].

The vagus nerve may make you more sensitive to estrogen. In female rats, fasting increases the number of estrogen receptors in certain parts of the brain (NTS and PVN) by the vagus nerve [R].

15) Sleep or Lay on Your Right Side

Studies have found that laying on your right side increases heart rate variability and vagal activation more than being on other sides. Laying on your back leads to the lowest vagus activation [R].

Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Check out my book, Biohacking Insomnia so you can finally go to sleep quickly at night and wake up feeling refreshed.

16) Tai Chi

Tai chi increases heart rate variability and, therefore, very likely vagus activation [R].

17) Gargling

The vagus nerve activates the muscles in the back of the throat that allow you to gargle.

Gargling contracts these muscles, which activates the vagus nerve and stimulates the gastrointestinal tract.

Before you swallow water, gargle it first.

18) Seafood (EPA and DHA)

I’m a big proponent of fish in the lectin avoidance diet.

EPA and DHA increase heart rate variability and lower heart rate [R]. This indicates that they stimulate the vagus nerve.

I’ve taken ten pills of fish oil as a megadosing experiment and my heart rate went from 60 to 40. So, in my self-experiments, fish oil does indeed lower heart rate, which is probably mediated, in part, by the vagus nerve.

19) Oxytocin

Oxytocin increases vagal nerve activity from the brain to the gut (in the brain and orally ingested) [R], which induces relaxation and decreases appetite.

Mice who had their vagus taken out didn’t exhibit the appetite-reducing effects of oxytocin [R].

20) Zinc

Zinc increases vagus stimulation in rats fed a zinc-deficient diet for 3 days [R]. It’s a very common mineral that most people don’t get enough of.

21) Tongue Depressors 

Tongue depressors stimulate the gag reflex.

Some say that gag reflexes are like doing push-ups for the vagus nerve while gargling and singing loudly are like doing sprints.

22) Acupuncture

Traditional acupuncture points stimulate the vagus nerve [R].

In particular, acupuncture to the ear stimulates the vagus nerve [R].

Acupuncture is powerful enough that a man died after vagus nerve stimulation from too low of a heart rate [R].

23) 5-HTP (Serotonin)

Serotonin is capable of activating the vagus nerve through various receptors (5HT1A [R], 5-HT2 [R], 5-HT3, 5-HT4 [R], 5-HT6 [R]). On the other hand, 5-HT7 receptors reduce vagus activation [R, R].

So, serotonin has some mixed effects, but overall it should stimulate the vagus nerve. You can take 5-HTP to increase serotonin.

24) Chew Gum (CCK)

CCK directly activates vagal impulses in the brain [R].

CCK ability to reduce food intake and appetite is dependent on the vagus nerve impulse to and from the brain [R].

Chewing gum helps increase CCK release.

25) Eat Fiber (GLP-1)

GLP-1 is a satiating hormone that stimulates vagus impulses to the brain, which acts to slow the emptying of your stomach and make you feel fuller [R].

Fiber is a good way to increase GLP-1 [R].

26) Coffee Enemas

Expanding the bowel increases vagus nerve activation, as is done with enemas.

27) Coughing or Tensing the Stomach Muscles

When you bear down as if to make a bowel movement, you stimulate your vagus nerve. That’s why you might feel relaxed after a bowel movement.

So if you use the bowel movement muscles, it will stimulate your vagus nerve.

28) Thyroid Hormones

In rats, the thyroid hormones (T3) increased appetite through activating the vagus nerve [R].

29) Sun (MSH)

Alpha-MSH prevents damage from a stroke in rats via activating the vagus nerve, which suppresses inflammation [R, R].

Alpha-MSH injection in the brain (DMV) moderately excites the vagus nerve in some conditions [R].

30) Alpha GPC (Acetylcholine)

 While I haven’t seen any studies that it stimulates the vagus nerve itself, Acetylcholine is the main vagal neurotransmitter. This means that it will have many of the effects of vagal stimulation because this is how the vagus nerve stimulates various organs.

Acetylcholine significantly decreases the release of cytokines such as TNF, IL-1b, IL-6, and IL-18 in stimulated human immune cultures [R].

Alpha GPC is a good way to increase acetylcholine. However, I don’t know if it will get to where it needs to go and in the proper dosage.

What Inhibits the Vagus Nerve

1) Carbohydrates (insulin)

Insulin suppresses the vagus nerve from stimulating the liver, which causes increased inflammation in the liver [R].

2) Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the most potent way to inhibit the vagus nerve.

Ginger prevents nausea and vomiting by inhibiting the vagus nerve serotonin function in the digestive tract [R, R].

The Vagus Nerve and Hormones

Vagus nerve stimulation normalizes an overactive nervous system (HPA axis) [R].

The vagus nerve can help reduce pain, and this is the mechanism by which estradiol reduces pain in certain circumstances [R].

Ghrelin increases hunger by stimulating the vagus nerve signal from the brain to the gut, and this is abolished by capsaicin (in chili) [R].

Besides influencing the release of oxytocin [R], the vagus nerve is important for releasing testosterone. If it’s not working well, it could be the cause of low testosterone.

Testosterone can make people more aggressive, but this is not the case when the vagus nerve is functioning right [R].

Proper functioning of the vagus nerve is important for the production of GHRH (growth hormone releasing hormone) and IGF-1 [R].

The vagus nerve can stimulate other hormones such as parathyroid hormone [R], which is important for the conversion of vitamin D3 to active vitamin D (1,25).

Stimulation of the vagus nerve also produces the release of the vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) [R], which is often low in people with CIRS/mold conditions.

NPY blocks some of the vagus nerve effects. NPY is an anti-anxiety and hunger increasing hormone, which prevents heart rate decrease from vagal stimulation [R].


Orexin neurons are found in centers which control vagus nerve activation from the brain (NTS, DMV, and the area postrema) [R].

Orexin stimulates the vagus nerve from the brain, which promotes gut flow.

Orexin A can stimulate the pancreas from the brain [R].

Orexin is capable of increasing glucose tolerance or insulin sensitivity via the liver vagus nerve [R].

On the other hand, orexin is capable of inhibiting the activation of the vagus nerve signals to the brain by competing with CCK [R].


Ghrelin increases growth hormone and hunger by stimulating the vagus nerve signal from the brain to the gut, and this is abolished by capsaicin (in chili) [R].

Ghrelin stimulates the pancreas from the brain via the vagus [R].


Vagal impulses to the brain are activated by leptin. Leptin potentiates the CCK-induced activation of the vagus nerve [R].

Animals bred to be leptin resistant were hungrier since the vagus nerve became less sensitive to CCK [R].

However, another study found that leptin effect on the vagus signal to the brain doesn’t play a major role in food intake [R].


CRH has variable effects on the vagus nerve. It decreases its activity from the brain to the heart. Vagus nerve activation will slow the heart rate, but CRH inhibits this and increases heart rate [R].

CRH stimulates the vagus impulse from the brain (area postrema) to the colon (by activating the dorsal nucleus of vagi, via cholinergic transmission) [R].


Monosodium Glutamate or MSG increases gut flow in dogs, which is mediated by the vagus nerve [R].

Don’t forget our free audio course containing everything you need to know about the vagus nerve.

How Does the Vagus Nerve Malfunction?

Your vagus nerve system can be messed up in 3 main ways:

  1. Communication from an organ to the brain
  2. Communication within the brain
  3. Communication from the brain to other areas of the body like the heart, liver, and gut.

Genetics/Testing for Vagus Activity

A variation (rs6330) in the nerve growth factor gene is associated with low vagal activity and increased anxiety.

You can upload your genetic data to SelfDecode, and see if you have the version of the gene associated with low activity.

Vagus Nerve Terms

You can stimulate or inhibit the vagus nerve in two ways. First, the vagus nerve impulse (activation) can flow from the brain to the rest of the body or from the body to the brain.

When it flows from the brain it’s called a “vagal efferent.” When it flows from other parts of the body to the brain, it’s called a “vagal afferent.” I don’t use these terms for simplicity.

The high-frequency heart rate variability (HRV) is associated with vagus nerve/parasympathetic activity [R, R].

The low-frequency HRV is associated with both sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) activation.

Disclaimer: The vagus nerve is a complex topic and activating it doesn’t always activate it systemically. For example, insulin may lower vagus activity in the liver, but we don’t know if it lowers the activity in the rest of the body.

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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  • Kim Kordella

    I have self diagnosed myself with vagal atrial fib due to sudden food allergies. Cardiologists can’t find anything wrong with my heart.
    Right now these are the things that send me into afib:
    – MSG (saw it on your list!)
    – the preservative they use in fake lime juice (from the bottle…fresh limes are fine)
    – TBHQ preservative (neurotoxin) found in crackers etc.
    – beer and wine (fermented items)
    Can I somehow reverse this? I’ve never had health issues before (except LYME Disease)
    -Thank you, Kim


    My vagus nerve suffered damage after blood flow was interrupted to the GI tract and I was hospitalized for Ischemia of the GI tract which was infected. I have been dealing with gastroparesis and pots since. My Rheum feels my Raynauds played a role.

  • Olivia Sautter

    You have a lot of great information here. I have a question about what you said above in regards to histamine. I have histamine intolerance so this intrigues me.

    You state, “Stimulating the vagus nerve increases the release of histamine by stomach cells, which helps release stomach acid.” Does this mean those of us with histamine problems have an overstimulated vagus nerve and high stomach acid?

    The reason I ask is because I have diarrhea, a heightened gag reflex, and got a burning pain (an histamine inflammation) with mastic gum that sat around for a few days. It seems my vagus nerve is overstimulated. Do I have high stomach acid? How do I then calm the vagus nerve?

    1. Caroline Lam

      Hi Olivia, unfortunately, due to the high volume of questions we receive, we are not able to advise or respond to individual questions in the comments. If you’d like, you can join the VIP membership program, where you can ask your questions directly to Joe. Hope that helps!

  • Sue

    Found your site through googling vagus stimulation. What a find. Not just about the vagus nerve but your whole website. Loads of unbiased info with invaluable links. I’m a medical doctor. I try and be as open minded as possible for my own learning and for the sake of my patients.

    1. Shea Kennisher

      Thanks, Sue! Glad you like it 🙂

  • Leonardo


  • Natocha Wattenbarger

    Hi I’ve been battling dystonomia since I had my sac shunt surgery 3 years ago for minears disease on my right ear. My trigger is smell which makes it difficult to go out or in crowds temperature changes also set off a blood pressure drop my beta blocker helped with my bowel issue but not the passing out and blood pressure drops the migraines after I pass out are another issue I have a 10 year old that I need to get to school but I was at the ER last week with 54/26 BP so not driving a new grandson will be here anyday please any advice my family would appreciate we are willing to travel as well we just need help thank you Natocha

  • ben

    In the MSG section, where can I find the audio course for the Vagus Nerve?

  • Sue

    I found an interesting article relating the vagus nerve to rheumatoid arthritis.

    Interview with Paul-Peter Tak: Stimulating the vagus nerve to treat rheumatoid arthritis

  • Pepper

    Thank you for the article. I did not realize how ALL my symptoms were related ( 10,000 to 15,000 PVCs daily {already had an ablation done but there are too many bad areas in my heart for another to help]), insomnia, memory issues, brain fog, sudden increase in BP, more frequent urination, muscle cramps, chronic bursitis on the right side, headaches, etc…..then I realized last night, after reading this article and doing much more of my own digging, I also have acid reflux (I didn’t know the “bubbling” in my throat was due to acid reflex). EVERYTHING I have stems from my stomach and the vagus nerve, and I never would have put this all together if I hadn’t first read this article while doing my own research. Although the breathing hasn’t worked 100% for me yet, I have hope. Hope that I won’t have to take the anti arrhythmic drugs they want me on for the rest of my life and that hope has releived some of the stress I feel.

    Question, tho – and I have yet to find any evidence in my own research – I was prescribed Cymbalta many years ago for “fibro”. I had a HELL of a time getting off it – ended up in the ER with seizures and all sorts of bad stuff, which is still affecting me today, 2 years later. Since it’s primarily used for nerve issues, could stopping the medication have caused my Vagus nerve to go wonky?

    Also, how do you know if you have an overactive vagus vs an underactive vagus?



  • Patricia

    My 75 year old husband has developed vasovagel syncope. It is getting worse and making him a recluse. Cardiac workup and vitals are normal. His doctor just says to lie down and elevate his feet – but waiting in line at the pharmacy or dining in a restaurant, that results in the paramedics being called and (unless I’m there) a trip to the ER where he is typically left on a gurney in a corridor for hours before being seen by a doctor (and long after he has recovered). Is there an effective treatment or preventive for this? It seems his is more over- than understimulation. What kind of specialist might be helpful? Our quality of life is really being impaired, and I worry that he could break something if he collapses. He has had to give up all the activities that he loves because this is so unpredictable. Our daughter lives on the a West Coast and we are afraid to get on a plane to visit her when he would have to sit up for five hours. These episodes are stressful for us but also disruptive to people, even strangers, around us when they happen.

  • Dee

    I appreciate the article but did you just recommend MSG? What??? NO! Please do some research on this neurotoxin!!! It can even cause atrial fibrillation!

  • Derrick


    I’ve been getting chills, goosebumps, and a weird sense in the center of my stomach only ocassionally after bowel movements. There is nothing off and everything appears normal, but about 5 minutes after the feeling comes about.

    I get goosebumps and feel on the cold side for hours, then everything just disappears. There’s occasional burping that seems to help, but does anyone know if this would be related to vagus nerve malfunction?

    I’ve been to the doctor over several years with no answers. The frequency is undetectable and coffee is the only thing I have found to aggravate the situation. Any suggestions would be great but the comments have been helpful.

  • George G

    Jason: I had debilitating, intractable GERD which came and went over a multi year period. Literally every night at 2 AM it would start with an intense pain in my upper back, right side. I knew what was coming. This would be followed by a feeling in my esophagus like when you swallow a large, hard pill the wrong way, multiplied by about 1000. The only thing that helped, and I tried everything, was walking constantly for about two to three hours. I got checked out, barium scope, the whole nine yards. Nothing helped. Finally I started taking PPI’s. That helped, but I did not want to be on them. Research suggested to me the vagus nerve was involved here but a leading gastro enterologist told me flat out “the vagus nerve is not implicated in GERD.” Very long story short, I begged to differ and decided to take my health into my own hands. After many herbal and naturopathic remedy searches, I read that melatonin, which is only produced in the gut and the brain, is hugely implicated in GERD. Also, I read that D-Limonine taken every other day over a twenty day period (ten 1 gram doses) stopped GERD in about 80% of patients. I decided to try both. First night, symptoms reduced by 50%. Second night, 75%, third night – gone and never came back. I don’t know which one worked, or if both did, but I am convinced SELFHACKED is right on that the vagus nerve is a key factor here so you must find a way to reset yours. Try melatonin but not more than 5mg per night, and try the D-Limonene. Either or both might work for you as they did for me. It was literally life saving.

  • Jason W

    Vagus Nerve: I think I have any issue with my vagus nerve, but my doctors don’t know too much about it.
    I hope that someone has the same issues that I do and have answers on how to manage or fix. Symptoms have been happening for the last 6 years and it seems at they getting worse. Sometimes after eating and sometimes at any given time I feel that my blood pressure drops, I get light headed and feel that I’m about to pass out (or die of a heart attack, as the feeling has been extremely scary) and it almost feels like a bad panic attack. The crazy thing is that if stretch my back or suck air to make myself burp the feeling subsides. This also has happened while in bed asleep, again feeling like a panic attack. Ive had bad acid reflux the whole 6 years and had been on a mild dr prescribed medicine until the medicine stopped working and now on Dexledent since June of ’17 which really helped out in the beginning. But now I dont know if I am getting use to the medicine and now have more episodes that are happening more often. I am self employed and wondering if this is from stress, even though I don’t feel stressed. I am 6’2″ and 265lbs and have been watching what I eat and exercising when I can and down 15lbs. Any suggestions please.

  • Michelle

    [email protected]
    Hello Olga, I have complex PTSD as well and symptoms of low vagal tone. This includes, among many things, a persistent tachycardia condition which developed long ago after the first round of trauma. A cardiologist confirmed my weak vagal response with testing. I am looking into transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation devices (tVNS). The SaluStim device sounds promising and is actually available in the US and without prescription. Perhaps this would help you. Good luck on your journey.

  • olga

    did you find info on the connection between ptsd and vagal nerve tone? I have complex ptsd and a number of symptoms, like gut dysfunction and chronic pain, that I believe are associated with underfunctioning vagal nerve. Only logical given that the nerve is responsible for the rest digest and heal aspect of the autonomic nervous system. Thanks

  • Dianne McGrath

    Recent research looking at intranasal oxytocin & HRV suggests that the effect may not be what has been seen in animal or in human models that may have some poor study design methods.
    This 2018 study suggests that HRV actually declines marginally due to intranasal oxytocin administration.

  • Nadine McMillon

    Ask your doctor to order a tilt table exam. I recently saw an episode of “Monsters Inside Me” and your situation sounds a lot like one of the lady that was featured on the program.

  • Naira Ermoyan

    Is there a correlation between Vagas nerve and Achalesia?

  • Patricia

    Hi Debra
    There is a fair amount of science that points at damage to the brain connections as a result of PTSD. I had a terrible trauma a few years ago and have been physically unwell ever since, including digestion issues, inflammatory pain, etc. I have used acupuncture weekly for the last two years which has helped enormously, but is not the total solution. Acupuncture can restore nerve connections and speeds up cell repair. it is best if individualised to the person and not a protocol. The studies show that people given individual treatments do better than those treated according to a protocol.
    I am now beginning to understand what is happening to my digestion and trying to sort it out. I think it has been damaged during that time and needs to heal. Coupled with ageing and having coeliac issues, this is a bit trickier than it might be. Fermentable saccharides (FODMAPS) appear to have some of the answer to this and are worth investigation, as well as just observing what makes you feel better or worse when you eat. I have had to take alliums out. I ate loads, convinces these were good for me. What a shocker! The candida diet has also helped as a first attempt, another difficult one, but worth it. Hope this helps. Patricia

  • Patricia

    Hi there

    I have been trying to figure out stuff to do with headaches (inflammation really) , bloating and chest pain for a few years now and have come across the FODMAP science as a possible explanation/management plan. I think it may help. Having just returned from South America, where we ate mostly beef, eggs and tomatoes, I am back to struggling with the same issues. I am a big fan of all things onion, chilli, ginger, cabbage, etc. but think these might just be the problem! FODMAP is not an easy diet, but it is going a long way for me and I am now concluding that I have caused chronic inflammation in my gut which in turn affects my vagus nerve and causes these symptoms. Not quite there yet, but worth exploring…… Sadly, the chillis are next to leave my diet for a while anyway. Removal of the alliums has made the biggest difference. Hope this is useful. Patricia

  • Brandon C Shockley

    Look into H Pylori

  • Mark

    I commented above but this was for you. Please check out Ashok Guptas “ amygdala retraining” its the answer.. healed me after I tried everything… what a journey. When your done please share…

  • Angel

    Debra, I also have C-PTSD and dysautonomia. You’re right; it’s nearly impossible to find sources that discuss the connection. I was fortunate to find a trauma therapist who does understand the relationship between the two. I found great relief with neurofeedback, which is a medical benefit of many insurance plans (not a mental health benefit: I had to explain that to member services several times). For most plans, neurofeedback from a PhD is covered, but an MA may not be. Also, for those readers who are intrigued by the physical effects of complex trauma, check out a book called The Body Keeps the Score. My trauma therapist recommended it.

  • Brian Lincoln


    I had a Ablation for AF in Jun 16, in which l am of the
    opinion that my vagus nerve was damaged. I am still
    suffering from belt-like pain 24/7 and bloating. Appreciate any news on how you are getting on and what has helped you.

    Best Wishes


  • Svie

    Hey all. Is there any advice when none of the above tips are not enough?
    This is so in my case. Where as the A9 system does help a little bit with deperalization but none of the other symptoms.

    Lets say if the Vagus nerve was severly damaged, what is the solution to such thing? A stimulation implant?
    Can a doctor really pinpoint to the issue if a VN is for any reason blocked?

    Thanks for reading.

  • Al

    Hopefully someone be able to help me, any comment is really appreciated.
    Having angina, arrhythmia and bloating issues for years led me to fish oils as a help… developed bradycardia.
    Researching my symptoms led me to Vagus nerve connection.
    And on this place I found the most disturbing information on that topc, in regards to my condition and dangers of stimulating Vagus nerve! The only information you could find on the Net is how to stimulate the Vagus nerve, and apart of these notions of dangers of that stimulation here I couldn’t find anything about how to do the opposite – how to not get killed by overstimulated Vagus nerve.
    Does anybody knows anything about it (I am using cayenne tincture and ginger everyday – it backfires wildly)?
    Thank you

  • Debra

    Have you considered the connection between PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the affects on the Vagus nerve? I have Complex PTSD and have been locked into fight/flight mode since childhood. I am dealing with all the dysfunctional gut symptoms, low blood pressure, major ringing in ears, and other symptoms described in your article. I found out that I had a rest/digest mode with Acupunture treatments that stimulated my Vagus nerve. I would be very interested in any thoughts on this possible connections of PTSD and the Vague nerve…

  • Boghos L. Artinian MD

    Golf swing tachycardia

    My first and only attack of supra-ventricular tachycardia occurred back in 1969 and was clearly precipitated by a strong swing of a golf club during which I felt and heard borborigmi in my esophagus which coincided with the start of the tachycardia.

    So I strongly believe that pressure on the atria from gasses in the esophagus, which lies behind the heart, is one of the main inducers of supra-ventricular tachycardia. The use of two arms in a golf swing constricts the rib cage tremendously at the end of the swing pushing the bloated esophagus against the atria of the heart. A one arm swing in other sports doesn’t constrict the chest as much.

  • Sandi

    I have ordered an ICES but am not sure where to place it for stimulation of the vagus nerve. Can you help?

  • Amalia Carrison

    hello! I simply want to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice information you have here on this post. I might be coming back to your blog for more soon.

  • Jenna

    I was surprised by the capasasin… As I know cayenne is very beneficial to the body.

  • Mihai

    Excellent article, One of the most valuable for me! ,
    Where could I exactly stimulate my VN by pressing around my Occipital bone ? What should I eat for VN stimulation ?

  • Jennifer M. Love

    I’ve also had the VNS for about 7yrs for my seizures and it has greatly reduced my amount of seizures.

  • Woollyhead

    In my experience (SLP), chronic cough is due to reflux (GERD or related reflux disorders such as LPR). Read up on lifestyle strategies to reduce GERD, and try some cough controlling behavioural strategies.

  • Dave

    You mentioned that capsaicin and ginger both inhibit the vagus nerve. Does that mean that excessive intake can lead to a quicker trigger to fight or flight?

  • LesleyExSL

    Can Vagus nerve damage cause persistent coughing and if so how can it be treated. I also have Underactive Thyroid and wonder if this could be connected.

  • Ann

    I’m interested about how the essential oil helped you and which one did you use. Can you refer me to the website for that.

  • Marley Gomez

    Omg how scary about the MSG although I’m not surprised. I cut MSG out of my diet a few years ago along with a ton of other things. I eat pretty clean now and I’m thinking that the seizures may have something to do with my blood sugar levels but I still don’t know.

  • Laura

    MSG is a BIG neurotoxin…It will give me nighttime seizures if I accidently ingest it.

  • Marley Gomez

    I have a seizure disorder and I have been treated by various neurologists in addition to trying homeopathy, naturopathy, and kinesiology yet none of these specialists have been able to identify the cause of these seizures. I eat very clean due to various food allergies. Bottom line: In your opinion, do I want my vagus nerve stimulated or inhibited?

  • Jennifer

    Annika, I just found your note on 11/4/17. I am very much interested in more EO info. I’m a holistic veterinarian, and got a TBI from a MVA in ‘02 and missed the whole technological decade, and had my $10 million settlement stolen by a conman. You can’t make this up, it’s too complicated!

  • Joey Koester

    Hey Joe this is Joe,

    I am going to be around a hot and cold bath soon, the tank gets to 50 degrees farenhiet, and I plan on visting this club everyday to use the infared sauna. Would dipping in the hot tub and then switching over to the cold tub be the best plan of action for vagal nerve function? So i.e. sitting in hot tub for 10 minutes, then cold tub for 5, then 10 in hot tub and 5 again in cold tub etc. and is this something that can be done / be worth doing every day?


  • Carla

    Hi Marie, I would definitely recommend the VNS. It has helped me. I have had seizures since I was 16. I have had two brain surgeries on my right temporal lobe. Part of my hippocampus was removed. With the right medication and the VNS I only have simple and complex partial seizures now. Actually I have been seizure free for almost a year now. For me the VNS surgery was a day surgery. There was an incision about 4 inches long in the folds of the neck. Also, there is an incision on the left side above the breast almost under the arm. The unit is about the size of a half dollar. Marie, this is very hard to explain by typing. LOL If you would be interested you can give me your number and I would be glad to give you a call and I can explain fully. The VNS has a magnet that activates it. When the person has an aura or feels a seizure is imminent they or the caregiver swipes the magnet over the unit and it will send an electrical impulse through the vagal nerve to the affected area of the brain. There is so much more. I cannot begin to explain how the doctor controls the unit after the surgery. I would love to be able to explain fully. I have been here for about an hour trying to find the words to explain the rest of what to say but it’s just to complicated. If you would rather I guess maybe you could try to google it and try to see if you can find out what happens after surgery. Thank you very much for replying to my question. I look forward to hearing from you again. Carla

  • Christie

    Not sure in fasting why you say CCK is a stress hormone, so beneficial when it’s not released whilst you fast, then you say in chewing gum that it’s beneficial that CCK is released. Whilst both statements are true about the physiological response to CCK, your view on it is opposing.

  • An-Marie

    Great article. I would like to follow further comments.

  • Dan D.

    Hi! This is definitely an interesting article! My question is: I have recently had a hiatal hernia repair with a Reese twist procedure. (Hope the spelling is correct as I am a novice on my body function, especially this Vegas Nerve.) I have experienced problems ever since I tried t go back on normal food (vs. soft foods). I have been in the emergency room hospital 3 times in the last 2 weeks because of diarrhea & also abdominal pain if I control the diarrhea with various medicine. It has been almost 2 MONTHS since my surgery and I did NOt have these symptoms before the Surgery. In the last visit I was told my problems involve the Vegas Nerve being damaged. The Doctor says he thinks the situation will correct over time as the Vegas Nerve returns to normal. Does this diagnose sound reasonable. Does this happen very much to people that have Hiatal Hernia Surgery. I would really appreciate your response.

  • Mark

    Im interested in the answers to this. I had an ablation done and the vagus nerve was burned on purpose.

  • Pat

    Can you tell me why the codes rs6330 are not on my 23 and me? Are you using other codes? And can you tell me if a vagus nerve is also damaged from spinal nerve damage (mid L-T). And if there is any help for this problem to pursue?

  • anony

    Vomiting also rises blood pressure and may have adverse effects. it can be dangerous for some people.

  • Nejc

    Yes it does. Beside general infectiona there are no commercialy available that are targeted. Probably with a biopsy.

  • Gustavo Fernando Lourenço

    Does the theory of the virus-infected or bacteria-infected vagus nerve have any foundation? If yes, which exam could detect this type of problem and which treatment could be applied?

  • Carla Havard

    I have epilepsy and I have a Vagus Nerve Stimulator to prevent seizures. Every 2.8 minutes the stimulator sends an electric impulse to my brain through the Vagus nerve. I am wondering since I get automatic stimulation, how will this affect my body.

  • Maddy

    Sometimes severing the main trunk is considered or misrepresented as removal.

  • Maddy

    Hey there is a company with a new product which is like a pacemaker for the vagus nerve. Surgically implanted 2 wires and a small subcutaneous controller. FDA approved for obesity and elevated cholesterol at moment. BTW, vagus Stim increases adiponectin. Why it works for obesity, it increases insulin sensitivity that way.

  • hello

    i was diagnosed with a weak vagus nerve last 2013. what came with it was bradycardia (all though i stopped at sports for quite a while), arrhythmia, depression, ringing in the ears, hypersensitivities to food (my skin flares up when i eat unknown stuff even those things i normally eat), gastritis, and snowstorm faintings. while the other doctors were cracking their heads identifying what’s wrong with me, it was my neuro who nailed it. she was kind to me and explained all what i have been experiencing. she referred me to a new cardiologist who now monitors my heart.

    in all my stress test, it was discovered by the cardio that my heart stabilises when i run. it means i didn’t have arrhythmia and my heart is on a normal pace. he then suggested i start running.

    cut to now, i am on a whole foods plant-based diet. no more allergies, i can sleep 8 hours a day, less ears ringing and fainting. and now, i am about to run my first 100k trail run!

  • paula

    Hi adrea I have the same symtoms and I’m not doing well an

  • Colleeen

    i’m so sorry to hear of your distress. I’m not a scientific person either, but “vagus nerve” kept coming up and I decided to look into it. Recently I started doing deep breathing exercizes and it’s kind of amazing. Breathe in and out slowly but with the aim of filling up (inbreath) and actually pushing out your stomach muscles to the point you feel like you are bearing down and your pants are getting really tight. And the outbreath pull your stomach muscles and anus in as well (root lock in yoga). Eazy peazy and can do it while driving!!
    Good luck and may you and all beings everywhere be peaceful happy and free

  • Ramesh Gupta

    I am trying to keep my Valgus nerve stimulated as much as possible and I feel better, more relaxed and happier!

  • Andrea

    Hi Emily and everyone, can I ask what triggers the blood pressure to drop to your husband? I suffer from vaso vagal syncope too (and also HB A+A2 Alpha Thalassemia trait). In most cases I suffer too often from stomachaches and they are triggered when I am still digesting and there is a draft of wind, particularly if I am sweat, even if outside there are 28 degrees or if I am eating for example complex food in the morning, not well cooked like a pizza, or if the food even if fresh is 3 days old. This lead after few or even several hours to acidity or having an upset stomach which can last even 18 hours, even when cured with digestives and I can feel light headed, dizzy, difficulty to focus and answer even simple question, prolonged burping, heavy stomach. It can get worse when I experience numbness on my face, cold hands, and I barely answer to question as I feel low pressure as the blood goes away from my brain (this is close to fainting). If the difference of temperature between my body and the external environment is big this can escalate to food congestion which if not cured/noticed in time can lead to fainting first and puking after (this also happens with viruses to my stomach). If taken in time I could spend 5 hours lying down before feeling better and able to stand up. My digestive time seems longer than usual between 4-6 hours (without counting 30 min to start digestion), my diet is composed mainly of fresh food.

    As you can imagine is affecting my social life and draining my energy, when I go out I got used to bring with me a shell jacket and a wind jacket even if it is really warm, this is palliative measure as it just increases my body heat, it does however protect me from external agents. After finding this topic I am determined to go at the bottom of this despite all doctors said there is not cure and get better when I get older.

  • heather

    the vagus nerve can be injured or compressed and it may be a cause of chronic regional pain syndrome according to some neurologists, osteopaths and scientists who see crps as dysfunction of autonomic nerve

  • bob

    Huperzine doesnt interfere with Acetylcholine, but with Acetylcholinerase. Big difference there.

  • Nicole

    Hi Mark, curious what your doctor said about the connection with the ablation and the new symptoms you are having. I’m scheduled to have an ablation for benign PVCs in 2 months and I’ve seen very mixed reviews of the after effects. Hopeful you are getting better by now.

  • Oriononthehorizon

    Great article! I didn’t see huperzine a mentioned. It is from the plant Huperzia Serrata. Huperzine inhibits acetylcholine, the main neurotransmitter the vagus nerve operates with. This makes acetylcholine work better. Anyone trying huperzine a should exercise extreme caution however, and never take more than the recommended dosage. Taking more than the recommended dosage can cause very uncomfortable symptoms, such as muscle paralysis.

  • Loola

    Hi, thanks for this article! I am very confused though. Should it be stimulated if it can cause such problems? For example, me, after having a bowel movement, I feel like passing out. I feel tired, headaches, literally drained. So what does that mean? What should I do, stimulate it? I’m lost, someone please explain..

  • Kez

    This is so interesting. I lost all feelings of hunger (not appetite as so many people confuse it with) over 17 years ago. I was going through a stressful time in my life and it seemed to disappear overnight. I’ve only felt the hunger a few times since, lasting less than 5 seconds. At the same time I also lost general feelings of joy over things I used feel very excited or joyful about such things as an upcoming holiday, being given a present, seeing a beautiful flower or sunset etc. After counselling, acupuncture and homeopathy not making any difference, I’d given up on ever having it resolved, but a couple of months ago I came across a different article about the vagus nerve, I’d never heard of it before. Not being a very scientific person I do find it all very confusing, but this article has really sparked my interest, as on the rare occasions I’ve felt joy it has sometimes been whilst being in a cold lake or the cold sea. If anyone could point me in a more specific direction to help resolve my issues I’d be ever so grateful as I’d love to feel fully alive again.

    1. Annika

      Hello Kez…your story touched my heart and I wanted to say a few words. I have just recently learned more in depth about the vagus nerve and the importance of vagal tone. I am subscribed to many wonder news letters from various nutritionists, doctors and health enthusiasts. One of the news letters I recently received has information about the nerve, its’ functions and essential oils that can be used to tone it. She is selling the oil blend through her company and I haven’t tried it yet but I will be ordering it next week (I’m not affiliated with her, her company/products or a paid spokesperson), just someone who has been learning a lot about the medicinal benefits of essentials oils to human health and firmly believe that this will work. This particular article deals with the vagus nerve and digestion. Coupling it with all the info in this article, we can see how extremely important it is for this nerve to function at an optimum level. I hope this helps and leads you to a new path of health and happiness. Many blessings!

      1. Tanya

        What were the oils and methods to use.

    2. Nono

      I think you can go to a doctor for vagus nerve stimulation

  • A Zimmerman

    Information: Stephen Porges , Polyvagal Theory. Somatic Experiencing might help with some cases.

  • Laura

    Why do some students occasionally experience nausea in Yoga class? I’ve heard it’s related to the vagus nerve. Thanks.

  • Robin

    Would the above suggestions help reduce vagus nerve inflammation from porphyria or autoimmune antibodies? Can it heal?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD

      well you have to deal w the inflammation first.

  • Andy

    Hi I am buying a tens digital device , I need to buy new electrodes that are better for the ear, as it comes with pads , does anyone know the correct frequency and Herz range I put in the machine for vagal nerve stimulus through the inner ear in two places with gel, are their other areas I can stimulate? My aim is to help with relaxation, depression anxiety,I thought it may have been 250 hz not sure new to tens treatment just about to order a device , I never responded to meds

  • Dan

    Can a chiropractor Damage the Vagus Nerve? as after having a Neck Adjustment have been feeling sick and having a headache type feeling? Sickness feeling is getting worse?

    Can this be a pinched Nerve?

    If so will this likely go away on its own?

    Or would you reccomemnd another adjustment to try and fix the issue?

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      I’ve had some injuries from adjustments (or maybe because I didn’t take it easy afterwards). Ask the doctor so they can do an assessment and see what’s going on. It’s also possible that it will go away on its own.

      1. Dan

        If the Nerve is inflamed or irritated will this calm down. My chiro mentioned something about the Vagus Nerve being inflamed and will settle down.

  • Rebekah Durham

    Wonderful information and well written. Thank you.

  • Cherylin

    Thank you for this detailed article. In the 80s, a brilliant chiropractor/ND figured out the most likely cause for Vagus Nerve dysfunction. His name is Theodore Baroody. I highly recommend his book and/or a book by Steven Rochlitz who expanded on Baroody’s work. Here’s an excellent article by Rochlitz –

    1. Mark Brown

      Great link, Thank You

  • Bluebirdy

    I enjoyed all of your research and this article, but I fear that others whom I send to this site will stop reading, thinking you don’t know what you are talking about, as soon as they read “Sickness behavior (fatigue, sleepiness, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, pain, lowered motivation, and failure to concentrate) is blocked when the vagus nerve is taken out. ”
    The vagus nerve is wrapped around every organ of the body. There is no way to remove it. I also appreciate the comments of others who warned not to do this or that, and the reasons.

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      Hi Bluebirdy,
      Those studies are done in rats or mice, with terms simplified to make sure people understand. We are not suggesting people remove their vagal nerves.

    2. deejayvj

      Pretty sure that refers to cutting the vagal nerve

  • Karl

    Im a bit confused when I eat I get brain effect.what do I do. Activate or relax the vagus nerve also experience some dizzy feeling n brain fog n blurring eyes.also a continuous ringing ears .what do I do.plz tell me

    1. Jen

      I’ve had the symptoms you mention along with several others related to this nerve. I have recently been reading a book called Medial Medium by Anthony William and he addresses all of that. He claims it’s a virus attacking the nervous symptom. It’s on page 50. I’ve been doing the detox and taking supplements to kill the virus and have started to feel much better. I’ve suffered for 30+ years and am now seeing some improvements after only one month.

      1. Marion

        I also read Medical Medium and follow his lifestyle suggestions. Have never felt better.

      2. Veronique

        Hello Jen, Reading your post resonates with me. I have been suffering for almost 30 years and looking for answers. Not sure it is the same as you but can you tell me more? Just the hope that there can be a way out of the suffering is helpful
        In any case I am getting the book

        1. Jennifer

          Anthony William has two books out and one available for pre order. I would highly recommend getting both books. I have been sharing this info with everyone I know because it’s been so beneficial for me. For those of my friends and family who have joined me on this journey; they too have seen amazing results. The bottom line is a change in lifestyle. We feed our bodies with the nutrients they need to heal. It can take a year or even 18 months for those who have been severely compromised but the self discipline is always worth the reward in the end! You can’t put a price on excellent health!

  • Bill

    Joe, can you PLEASE post a warning in your article above to be extremely careful massaging the carotid sinus on both sides! It can cause major reactions in some people (especially older people) and can dislodge plaques to cause strokes if they are present. Also can cause sudden death/heart failure etc.:

    (scroll down to ‘Carotid sinus reflex death’). I don’t think it happens in everyone, but it is risky to find out. Especially don’t massage on both sides at the same time as it it signals blood pressure changes to the brain. I quite often feel pulse on neck when I’m anxious and didn’t realise I might actually be causing more problems!

    1. Jan Fleenor-Short

      It is dangerous. It can severely lower the heart rate.

  • Rees

    So very grateful for this exhaustive piece. Indeed, everything we need to know. Thank you!

  • Valeria

    Joe do you treat vagus nerve caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, do you also help with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,gastroparesis?

    1. Kelly

      I would also like to know this as I have gastroparesis and SIBO.

  • Jon Nixon

    Vomiting is a strong stimulator of vagal tone. There is at least one theory suggesting that anorexics who perform self- emesis are doing so for that purpose. Interesting idea…..

    1. Marcy

      I’ve also heard migraine sufferers get relief from vomiting. I wonder if this is due to vagus nerve stimulation.

  • usatrooper77

    Thanks for the info, just wondering where you got your info, so hard to find it online. I had gastroparesis for quite awhile, but I am recovering. Hopefully some of this will help me keep going in the right direction.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      There are references by every statement. “(R)”

    2. linda

      What did you do to heal your gastroperisis? I’m just recently diagnosed.

  • brian

    Viscum album (Mistletoe) and Dgitalis purpurea (Foxglove – in sub-clinical doses) stimulate the vagus nerve

    1. Jon Nixon

      Foxglove can be a DEADLY cardiac poison- (it is the source of digitalis alkaloids)-if you don’t know EXACTLY what you are doing best NOT to self- experiment with this one- a single leaf can kill a child. Concentration of the theraputic alkaloids varies dramatically depending on where and how the plant was grown, which was why the main ingredient (digitalis) was modified to a more stable and predicably absorbed compound called digoxin, which is still in use, but has largely been replaced by more effective ( and predicable) medications. Every medical student is still required to be able to identify the particular EKG pattern associated with digoxin TOXICITY…….

  • Linda

    Is it possible that there’s a connection between benign non-positional vertigo and Afib because of the Vagus nerve?

  • Amanda Gray

    What about different herbs that stimulate the Vagus nerve?

    1. Daniel Lappin

      From my experience, Bitter herbs trigger the vegus. Try Flora Swedish Bitters.
      Also, from my experience, essential oils trigger the vegus. inhaling and topical applications have a mild effect. Oral ingestion of the essential oils is a powerful treatment. only a few drops, don’t swallow, absorb in mouth, then spit out. Try Basil, rosemary, thyme, cardamon.
      yet you need to consult an aromatherapy practitioner for safety reasons. Search ‘ingestion of essential oils. Some people state risk of ingestion. I found it to be quickly beneficial.

  • Ron

    Great article. Thank you

  • Luke Daniel Borel

    Massage, Rolfing, accupressure, reminds me of thinking about my golf swing. I tend to focus on what I am thinking about and comparing my swing to someone else’s swing. I find that working backwards from the end and working forward from the beginning and then it is like two trains meeting head on in the middle and creating a beautiful wreck. So you can start with a current condition and work backwards, and then work from the result you want and work backwards, and then the two lines of thought meet in the middle at a solution.

  • christine heilman

    Thank you for all your information I will try to implement these in my life I’m in the recovery mode after a total hip replacement I taught physiology and anatomy and massage therapy . My practice included many different holistic modalities , I feel I need to get back to help myself and others. I am very inspired again pain can sure hold you back but no more.

  • Emily

    I’m kind of confused by a lot of this information. I have some of the conditions listed, and my vagus nerve definitely isn’t working correctly. (Dysautonomia/POTS along with a long list of me/cfs, ibs, endo, low testosterone+cortisol, bradycardia, hypotension, seizures, etc.) Please tell me if I’m not understanding this page correctly, but my interpretation is that stimulating the vagus nerve will help it to function better and improve symptoms.

    However, some of the effects you list from stimulating the vagus nerve are–while frequently described as ‘positive’ effects–would be deadly for me….such as lowering blood pressure (singing, breathing), lowering resting heart rate (fish oil & acupuncture especially, breathing, massages), increased likelihood/rates of passing out (laughter), and lowering cortisol levels (laughing). Should I instead, then, explicitly avoid things that would stimulate my vagus nerve and work to somehow de-activate it?

    I had thought that the vagus nerve was involved in ‘regulating’, rather than explicitly ‘lowering’.

    Are you confusing, as is often the infuriating case in America, that ‘less’ of anything is always better, and that rather than say that doing X will stabilize levels of Y… instead claim that doing X will lower levels of Y because levels of Y in America are frequently too high? (‘Y’ in America frequently being cholestrol, blood pressure, weight.)

    If so, I’d be happy to know that I can safely go about stimulating my vagus nerve and that it could potentially improve my symptoms. However, please keep in mind that hypotension, bradycardia, hypocortisolemia are all serious problems and that ‘stabilizing’ is a more accurate and responsible description. If not, I will avoid and try to stop doing many of the things on this list.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Lowers, doesn’t stabilize

    2. Luke Daniel Borel

      I find abdominal and stomach and solar plexus and Vega nerve massage to be the most important self massage that I can do. I also massage my kidneys and liver. Doing this self massage on all of the above makes me feel like a Happy Bhudda I do this self massage to myself for about one hour a day, every other day.


      1. Ellen

        Can you elaborate on the correct procedure to massage the Vagas nerve? I’ve had several episodes the past year that lead me to believe mine may be out of whack. Id love to try this method before going to a traditional doctor.

    3. lillian

      Wonderful article. I am not sure what my husband should be doing as he was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope which used to be triggered by needles or seeing surgical procedures. He hasn’t experienced an episode in 10 years (weirdly enough he was overweight) but recently lost weight through diet and exercise and has had a few fainting episodes. He also has trouble sleeping and other issues that are mentioned. I suspect his Vegas nerve isn’t working properly but this leaves me to wonder should he be stimulating the Vegas nerve? Would this help his fainting episodes and sleeping issues. Oddly he already does alot of things mentioned before we even knew about it. (Cold showers, breaking out in song)

    4. Decagrog

      I strongly suggest to avoid stimulation of the vagus nerve, specially if you already suffer from and overactive parasympathetic system.
      You risk to go in deep bradycardia and have a vasovagal syncope if not worse.
      This suggestion is valid for everyone, overstimulating the vagus nerve is not a child play, you are putting your finger to a delicate balance that control your cardiac muscle.

  • Rashida

    I am facing several issues which I suspect aee vagal related. I get these sudden episodes ,generally after I wake up from deep sleep, where i feel the blood draining out of my hands n legs; my breathing becomes shallow, pulse races and I feel light headed. The experience is frightening and lasts forr A couple of minutes, subsides and isometimes, s repeated agsin after a few minutes.
    I feel the urgeto defeacate two to three times. That relieves me a little.
    Since last week, I wake up evry night, from sound sleep around 3 am, generally after my first phase of sleep is over. I feel yhe pulse rise suddenly and hands and feet turning cold. I am really confused about what is happening.

    1. Rashida

      I forgot to mention a tightness in the chest during some of these episodes. At night, since the whole last week, i have been unable to sleep properly. The moment i fall asleep, i wake up again suddenly with the onset of these episodes. My cardiologist discharged my case after the results from a holter and stress test showed nothing. I have been ad,mitted to emergency throice in the past six months but the routine examinations reveal nothing.

      1. Nuxa Anca

        I think your adrenals might be acting up…have you done your 24 hours Saliva test to see how your cortisone curve is?

        1. Joseph M. Cohen
          1. Catherine Romanick

            Bunk? Please cite?

            reply icon
          2. Science Writer

            Adrenal glands rarely “fatigue”. It is far more likely that there is dis-regulation in parts of the brain responsible for sending stimulatory signals to the adrenals. Oftentimes this is a result of a disrupted circadian rhythm, but not always.

            reply icon
          3. Tina

            Try being a critical care nurse for 25 years and then you can tell me it’s bunk!

            reply icon
      2. Sally Sensy

        Rashida, i had very similar symptoms several years ago and it turned out i was in peri-menopause and the symptoms were caused by extreme hormonal fluctuations (of which my body is extremely sensitive). MDs are not taught to diagnose perimenopause so it is frequently missed. If u are 35-55 its likely hormonal. Symptos start at night when estrogen is lowest. In addition many conditions cfs, fibrimyalgia, anxiety, depression, thyroud, adrenal, gut issues, etc etc are all made worse by female hormonal fluctuations. Find a GOOD female OB/GYN as starting place. Cardiologists will likely think you are crazy and most will say you have anxiety which u may well have after all your experiences! Good luck 🙂

    2. Ortolansings

      I would ask for a neurologist’s advice.

  • Bassam

    Great article, one note though. MSG is a neurotoxine

    1. HumanThatUsesGoogleToLearnAndSpreadKnowledge

      It is not a neurotoxin. MSG is a salt and an amino acid that separate when introduced with a polar liquid such as water. Monosodium Glutamate can be found when you mix most proteins with table salt or natural salts in meats.

      Just dont inject table salt into your brain as they did in the research that claims it is dangerous.

  • samar

    Hi, I use a Polar H7 and RHRV to determine measures of parasympathetic activation. I was intrigued by your experience and wondered which part of the occipital bone area would be most beneficial.
    I massaged first the lowest part close to the neck for a minute and then waited for a minute, then the part slightly higher in the same way, and then the part closest to the upper reaches of the occipital bone in the same way.
    The results of SD1 and SD2 as determined from the non linear approach were as follows:
    First – lowest: During massage: SD1=11.4 : SD2=28.1 For 1min after: SD1=14.7: SD2=47.6
    Second – Mid height: During massage: SD1=10 : SD2=45.4 For 1min after: SD1=18.1: SD2=51.9
    Third – Uppermost: During massage: SD1=12 : SD2=45.5 For 1 min after: SD1=10.9: SD2=21.8

    Incidentally SD1 is a measure of Parasympathetic and SD2 a measure of sympathetic activity.

    It would seem that the middle region is the most effective and the results take some time to come through i.e. they are not apparent while you are engaged in the massage. There is however some slight increase in heart rate during massage.

  • LoLo

    Thank you for this article and then all the amazing comments.

  • Susan

    I have gastroparesis caused by neuropathy of the vagus nerve. I have nearly all the symptoms of an under active vagus nerve

    1. Julie

      How are you coping with gastroparesis? My 22 yr old son has been diagnosed with gastroparesis 16 months ago. He has been in and out of hospital since then (20 times )

      1. Daniel Lappin

        HI, I’ve had crippling gastro paresis for 20 years. Over the past few years I’ve found relief. This info may not apply to your case.
        Try bitter hers to stimulate the digestive tract/vegal nerve. Product: Flora Swedish bitters.

        Also, CDB Cannabis ingested or topical to the mid-lower spice.can help.

        Also, from my experience, essential oils trigger the vegus and stimulates gastric motility.. inhaling and topical applications have a mild effect. Oral ingestion of the essential oils is a powerful treatment. only a few drops, don’t swallow, absorb in mouth, then spit out. Try Basil, rosemary, thyme, cardamon.
        yet you need to consult an aromatherapy practitioner for safety reasons unless you do alot of reading. search: ingesting essential oils..

        Supplement with Choline – the nutrient source that feeds the vegal nerve.

        Embedded stress and trauma can play a role. See my website:

        Best wishes,

  • D. G. Brown

    Does anyone have any tips or techniques on using vagus verve stimulation to control arrhythmia, especially a-fib / a-flutter?

    1. BiancaD

      You might want to try this. Carotid Sinus massage to balance vagus nerve function

    2. Mark Brown

      I had a heart abblation 2.years ago where the vagus nerve was burned on purpose. Been a wreck ever sense. Should have never had it done. The doc made a lot of money and I’m a sick mo fo

      1. Kelli

        Why did u have the abblayion? With it for a heart arrhythmia and if so which one if I msy ask

        1. Mark

          I experience about 6 afib and a couple of SVT in 5 years. It was an annoyance. After the ablation ( he was in there for 4 1/2 hrs) I had 10 tachycardia events in 2 months and had to be cardioverted once and was sick with low blood pressure and Dizzyness. I am still suffering from that 2 years out. Not good

  • Sooz Gould

    My Vegas Nerve was cut accidentally during a Nissan Fundoplication surgery…what do you suggest that would help me with not having a working nerve? I am hyperthyroid, have bowel issues for which I take 3 different medications, am always either too hot or too cold and can not seem to lose weight. I am a 67 year old female with a moderate activity level.

    1. Very sorry to hear Sooz about this terrible mishap and the consequences today. I have no answer to offer, but I wonder, as our body is so amazing, might it be possible to GRAPH the cut side, across to the other side, to the good vagus nerve? Surely the Vagus can manage that (and of course, they can pay for it too). With best wishes.

  • Yes indeed, that looks so amazing, I’m just sorry I didn’t think of it first! They say it will be available this Spring. In the meantime, there was yet another article – nit directly on the vagus but not far – about a “patch placed on the forehead”, releasing some kind of elecrical impulse too, and having wonderful results on sleep and mood, by releasing dopamine and oxytocin. Exciting times !

  • Lori Patterson

    So, back in 2006 I had a VN stimulator implanted for depression. I have continually wondered what the constant stimulation (every 5 minutes for 30 seconds) has done FOR me and TO me. And now that I’m 10 years into this ‘treatment’ and feel like it is going off sporadically, probably due to battery issues, what am I facing when it no longer stimulates?? Thank you for this article! It’s the most informative I’ve ever read on vagal stimulation.

    1. Thank you for your input Lori. Please let us know what happens next, your contribution will be unique, and indeed a gem on this fantastic article. Best wishes.

  • Martin

    Would oil pulling make it to your list?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen


    2. Daniel Lappin

      HI, I find oil pulling helpful but not a powerful trigger for multiple systems in my body, especially vegal and digestive organs.

      From my experience, essential oils trigger the vegus. I use it lick oil pulling. inhaling and topical applications have a mild effect. Oral ingestion of the essential oils is a powerful treatment. only a few drops, don’t swallow, swish and absorb in mouth, then spit out. Try Basil, rosemary, thyme, cardamon.

      Read up on ‘ingesting essential oils’.

      1. Karl

        Do u experience RIngin ears like tinnitus

  • Raymond, craniosacral relexologist & Trauma therapist

    Wow ! Thanks for that Scott 🙂

  • Laura

    Wow very informative. I actually was diagnosed with vagus nerve depressor syndrome. I actually need to do the reverse and not stimulate the vagus nerve.
    I was getting spells where all of a sudden my blood pressure would drop, I would lose color in my face and turn pale, feel dizzy, light headed and then heart rate would speed up. It would last 15 minutes. Lifting weights at gym I would get weak. Lots of other things. Finally a heart doctor did a tilt test and discovered everything was caused my this vagus nerve conditiion.
    Its a bummer because I do a lot of things mentioned in your article and didnt realize that could affect my vagus nerve. Wish there was a way to cure this condition.

    1. Barbara Power

      Interested in your comment of a tilt test. I had a test where my blood pressure was measured, then I was told to lie down flat, then get up fast. My blood pressure dropped too many points. apparently related to low adrenals. Would this have anything to do with the Vagus nerve?

      1. Joseph M. Cohen


  • Lin Coady

    Daughter has an over reactive Vegas nerve that she was born with. Anything invasive, immunizations, injury etc caused a grand mal seizure. Heart rate dropped, quit breathing at the start and lost bladder control. Mimicked epelipsy but was ruled out. As an adult seizures are almost non existent but she still gets the feeling that she use to get just prior to having one occasionally and breathes through it. It’s been 6 years since last major seizure. Would love your thoughts. Low vegal tone= over reactive vegal nerve.? Father and uncle has similar issues, passing out without seizure.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Try chilli.

    2. Jessica

      I am struggling with this same issue at this time, seems mostly related to my gut flow, I have had major constipation issues, and if not relieved, I have a huge Vagas response , causing pulse in the 40-50’s, and I sink to the floor. As I get older, these episodes are lasting longer and longer. Is there any info that you know of to AVIOD a Vagas response, or to reverse the response once it’s started? Besides to try and stay regular with my bowel movements , I am at a loss on how to bounce back from these scary episodes. Also what type of physician treats the Vagas nerve? This last episode lasted so long with such low pulse that they had to call ambulance . Thank you for any info.

      1. Laura

        Hi Jessica, see if you can find a dr to do a Tilt Test, my heart dr did this and diagnosed me with vagus nerve depressor syndrome. So I get those episodes similar to you when I activate my vagus nerve

        1. Emily

          My husband has this issue as well. Blood pressure drops, ringing in the ears before he passes out. He’s had his heart and brain checked and no doctors could tell us what caused this. Eventually I worked it out from Google. Now when it starts to happen I get him to make fists, opening and closing. I get him to lie on the floor and raise his feet above his head as well and to take deep breaths. This has worked for him and stops him passing out and he feels better within 5 minutes.

          1. Trevor

            Sounds like vasovagal syncope

            reply icon

    This is amazing and exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m hoping to use Vagal stimulation to help heal my gut and get rid of SIBO.

    1. Kelly

      Has it worked for you?

  • Aaron Morgan

    Regarding (17) Acupuncture, the abstract shows:

    “A medico-legal autopsy disclosed severe haemorrhaging around the right vagus nerve in the neck. Other organs and laboratory data showed no significant findings. Thus, it was determined that the man could have died from severe vagal bradycardia and/or arrhythmia resulting from vagus nerve stimulation following acupuncture.”

    Does that mean that just the act of stimulating the nerve caused haemorrhaging / bradycardia / arrhythmia, and, subsequently, death? Or, was it possibly the Acupuncture needle itself that did some sort of structural damage?

    Forgive me, if this is a silly question. I’m a layperson and not proficient in such topics.

    Many thanks,


  • Michael Taggart

    A lot of good info one major omission was upper cervical chiropractic care and cranial work both huge for vagus.

    1. Dwight

      YES! GREAT truth Michael!

  • Keith

    Especially after reading this article, I became convinced many of my most pronounced inflammation symptoms were vagus related.

    For those who are interested, my latest “Vagus nerve hacks.”

    — I’ve been implementing many of the items on Joseph’s list, which do help to calm the inflammation, especially ICES, breathing exercises, Oxytocin and a few others.
    — One thing seems to have helped me the most: returning to Proteolytic Enzymes (specifically Enzyme Defense, formerly “ViraStop”). (Disclaimer: Not sure at all what Joseph thinks of these…)
    — I used to take this product twice daily for years, then stopped. For a recent trip, I felt a cold coming on, so I started up again, and for the first time in months, my worst symptoms subsided. To test the hypothesis, I stopped the PE upon returning home, and the symptoms returned with a vengeance. Started up again, they’ve remained calmed.

    — Doing some more VN research, I found the following article, positing that “CFS”-type fatigue symptoms can be spurred by an infection on the vagus nerve itself: (from a site that’s really excellent, by the way):

    From a quoted study in her article: “The Vagus Nerve Infection Hypothesis (VNIH) of CFS is as follows: While the sensory vagus nerve normally signals the body to rest when it senses a peripheral infection, that fatigue signal is pathologically exaggerated when an infection is located on the vagus nerve itself.”

    — Bottom line: I’m no doctor or scientist, but could there be some connection between some of my symptoms, the Proteolytic Enzymes, and a VN viral infection?

      1. Keith

        Raymond, this is an excellent article, thanks.
        I notice your specialty (craniosacral work) — I’ve been helped most recently by a chiropractor adjusting my C1. I’ve found it keeps my symptoms at bay.

        1. Raymond, craniosacral relexologist & Trauma therapist

          Hi Keith. Glad you liked it and that you got help from your chiropractor. But the real surprise is the ‘other’ thing which I practice more now. Find out and be better for it at my little site called TREIreland dot ie 🙂

  • Lisa Bloomquist

    Thank you so much for this article and for all the research you put into it! I very strongly suspect that the vagus nerve is damaged by fluoroquinolones in those who suffer from fluoroquinolone toxicity. I wrote this post about the possible involvement – If anyone who is reading this got sick after taking cipro, levaquin or another fluoroquinolone, there is help available. Please reach out via floxie hope. Thanks!

  • lordilol is dead(?)

    there is no israel in the ices shipping list, meh.

  • Keith

    Excellent article, one of the most valuable for me! Interestingly, I was having a Rolfing session this past week, and he stimulated my VN by pressing around my Occipital bone — I became so dizzy, I almost passed out, but felt fantastic afterwards — anyway, will be using your suggestions, thanks!

    1. Joseph M. Cohen


  • jmiguez74

    What an interesting article! I came across this through a kind of weird path, but am glad I found it. I have used what I call ice therapy on my face before, usually to help with muscle tension, and found that it helped with anxiety and congestion as well, and now I have an answer to why it does that. I have also used mindfulness, yoga, massage, breathing techniques and tapping (which you may want to look into) for my anxiety, stress, tension headaches, and IBS.

  • lordilol

    hi, do u take adaptogens before food,after food or with food?

    i just received all the adaptogens you posted about but have no idea when to take them except 2 of them morning and one evening, yes this is irrelevant to the current post, i know.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      With food, will be starting a forum soon.

      1. lordilol

        i took them today before food like 30 min.
        damn the effect is noticeable Joe, i am thinking that my stress response is out of whack. will take euthero before bed.

        lol u are going to expand business operations now huh?

  • Betsy

    So many people are talking about the vagus nerve causing so many issues, and saying that stimulating it will help. But what is wrong with it, as in the root cause? Why are signals getting through?

    1. Libby Cole

      My daughter has Pots, Autonomic neuropathy, and sensory neuropathy. About 50% of the time the above onsets after a bad virus. She started showing signs of Pots a month after having Hand,Foot, Mouth disease. This virus, as any virus really could, ultimately caused nerve damage. Anything that can cause nerve damage, even autonomic, can affect the Vagas nerve. It’s been five years now and everything she has matches up to her Vagas nerve being affected (since it wanders all over the upper half of the body). I believe her nerve damage, also damaged that Vagas nerve setting off a whole new world of symptoms.
      Our bodies are amazing.

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