Yes, that is spelled correctly, because we are talking about the vagus nerve. Las Vegas, that’s not quite our area of expertise, but we’ve heard they have a great shrimp buffet.
Do you think anyone visiting the casinos has a high load of physical, chemical, or mental stress? Stress hormones are regulated by the autonomic nervous system, which has two divisions that balance each other: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is your “fight and flight” system, which maintains alertness and physical activity. The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) is the “rest and digest” system, which is essential for relaxation, healing, and reproduction. If you were a car, your SNS is the gas pedal, and your PSNS is the brake. If you are experiencing a lot of stress, your body can stay stuck in “gas” mode. Not good.
The vagus nerve is part of the PSNS. It originates from the brain stem, at the top of the spinal cord. It winds its way around the upper neck bones by the ear and travels down to the heart, lungs, and digestive organs. In the picture, the vagus nerve is the yellow bundle that starts below and to the right of the ear, traveling down the neck. The vagus nerve uses a neurotransmitter chemical called acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is responsible for learning and memory. It has a calming, relaxing effect on the human body, and new research has found that it also keeps inflammation in check in the body, which means that acetylcholine from the vagus nerve also acts on the immune system.
Vagus nerve travels so close to the spine that misalignment of the upper neck bones can prevent vagus nerve from transmitting its signals correctly. Since vagus nerve controls digestion, misalignments of the upper neck can lead to heartburn, indigestion, and IBS symptoms. It is amazing to see chronic heartburn disappear after several chiropractic treatments. At our office in Eagan, MN, we specialize in Torque Release Technique, which uses light-force chiropractic adjustments that focus largely on the upper neck (upper cervical region). Patients who called our office because of their back pain or headaches often see their digestion or breathing improve as well.
The human body is designed to heal itself, but the stress of modern life often gets in the way. It is the job of the chiropractor to restore normal nervous system function so healing can resume. Watching this happen is much better than neon lights, fountains, or even an endless seafood buffet. So remember the importance of vagus in your life, and consult a chiropractor if you want to live in a higher state!