At its very foundation, chiropractic care helps improve the function of the nervous system by making adjustments to the spine. The nervous system can be complicated and convoluted to those who aren’t versed in it, but the more you understand your nervous system the more you understand chiropractic care and how it works.
One large part of the nervous system is the vagus nerve. It plays a vital role in your entire body and its balance. As chiropractors, we’re able to access the vagus nerve without surgery or medication to balance your nervous system and improve your immune system.
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body which originates in the brain, travels down from the neck and then passes around the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart, and lungs. This nerve is a major component in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is also referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ part, versus the commonly mentioned ‘fight or flight’ system (AKA sympathetic nervous system).
The vagus has many responsibilities, since 75% of its function is for sending signals from the brain to the organs it controls. It regulates heart rate, plays a vital role in blood pressure, and can improve gastrointestinal considering problems, to name a few responsibilities.
It is also important to note that the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) and the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) must work together and complement one another for your immune system to work correctly. If these nervous systems are not balanced, it can cause many types of adverse health conditions and disease.
How can we measure the productivity of the vagus nerve?
The productivity of the vagus nerve is referred to as vagal activity or vagal tone. The strength of your vagal tone can be measured by heart rate variability, which is directly related to the regulatory system and in turn, your efficiency and health.
If a person has low vagal activity, or decreased activity of the vagus nerve, the body will experience irregularities regarding the organs and digestive system that the vagus nerve controls. If the brain cannot interpret the information coming in, the brain will not know how to fix any problems going on.
How does the vagus nerve relate to the immune system?
The first response of your immune system is to inflame the stressed, injured or infected area to protect the rest of your body. Inflammation is perfectly normal as long as it’s temporary. Once this stress, injury or infection has been addressed by your immune system and it feels your body is protected, your body begins to relax and restore balance.
This is when your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, which again, the vagus nerve is a major component of. Stress caused by the injury or infection is reduced, heart and breathing rates return to normal, and inflammation begins to dissipate.
However, if this nervous system is not working properly, heart and breathing rates can stay elevated and inflammation can stick around, and thus become chronic. This opens the door to health problems. But this is where chiropractic care can help.
Why the balance of your nervous system is so important
Keeping your vagus nerve and your entire nervous system healthy is vital to overall health and wellness. A healthy nervous system keeps all other systems of your body functioning properly—including your immune system.
If your vagus nerve is not functioning properly it can lead to a long list of problematic health conditions associated with chronic inflammation. These conditions include but are not limited to:
- Susceptibility to infections
- Acid reflex
- Skin conditions
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Urinary tract infections
Since the brain, spinal cord, and spinal nerves compromise the nervous system, receiving a chiropractic adjustment can help your nervous system and your vagus nerve function better. This, in turn, helps your entire body work better.
Our team at Millard Family Chiropractic & Wellness is committed to restoring and maintaining the overall health of the nervous system, including the vagus nerve, and your immune system. If you would like to find out more about how chiropractic care can help you, contact us today.