Can being on the peace train aid in the fight against inflammation?
Last week my wife mssg’d me with this article from Uplift – Control Inflamation. Which was a cover story from another article on how to hack inflammation by hacking the nervous system
The articles talk about the power of the Vagus Nerve, what it is, and how we can activiate it for self-healing through what is known as ‘controlling the vagal tones’ of the body. This is especially important to those struggling with inflammation issues and other chronic issues, such as heart disease – Which I work on managing both on a day-to-day basis. Both articles are great and I highly urge you read them as rebalancing activities such as this becoming more and more mainstream as a means to aid in the fight against rising health concerns.
So what is the vagus nerve?
Per Dr. Shawna Daru, ND (Author of the Uplift Article) – “The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body which originates in the brain as cranial nerve ten, travels down from the neck and then passes around the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart and lungs. This nerve is a major player in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the ‘rest and digest’ part (opposite to the sympathetic nervous system which is ‘fight or flight’).” – How to Control Inflammation
Per Gia Vince (Author of the article “Hacking the nervous system” ) Dr. Kevin Tracey “A neurosurgeon based in New York” and dubbed “The Nerve Hunter” discovered the power of the vagus nerve and its potential applications through an experiment in the late 1990’s. What he discovered was this…
“Operating far below the level of our conscious minds, the vagus nerve is vital for keeping our bodies healthy. It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed ‘fight-or-flight’ adrenaline response to danger. Not all vagus nerves are the same, however: some people have stronger vagus activity, which means their bodies can relax faster after a stress.” (Hacking the Nervous System)
So why would this be important or even matter?
(I so want to say – studies show right now… But I will refrain ) This is something I picked up along the way in my studies. We are not aware of our subconscious. Though it is what operates a majority of our day. When we sleep and wake up it is the subconscious that is in complete control of our body’s. The conscious communicates to our subconscious and our subconscious communicates to our conscious awareness of everything it picked up throughout the day – this what we all know as (drum roll please) – dreams.
Dreams are not only good for picking up what you were not aware of during your waking moments but it is the time to reset your brain, and your heart. If we are so stressed that we cannot reset the buildup blocks our ability to move forward – in essence we are wearing ourselves down and keeping ourselves from growing. No rest and restoration will cause your body to shut down on itself.
When you are constantly in a state of stress things become inflamed – add foods that trigger inflammation, don’t get a good night’s sleep, don’t restore, and you will have a buildup of pain – Emotionally, physically, and yes… even spiritually.
So how do we combat this besides just eating/drinking higher spectrum foods, exercise/activity, connections with others, and rest? Deep controlled breathing and/or meditation.
Shortly after my heart attack my doctor taught me something that has become a part of my everyday routine. Not just any breathing either – diaphragm breathing. I really didn’t think too much of it at first – until I started jalking (Jogging + Walking) and helping with our local youth football program. Want to beat a side stitch – learn to breathe from your diaphragm. Want to learn how to get a kid to calm down in the middle of a heated football or calm down from a nasty hit that scared them out of their shoes so they can get back in the game so they can think and respond… get them to do diaphragm breathing.
How is that possible or rather how does that work?
“The strength of your vagus response is known as your vagal tone and it can be determined by using an electrocardiogram to measure heart rate. Every time you breathe in, your heart beats faster in order to speed the flow of oxygenated blood around your body. Breathe out and your heart rate slows. This variability is one of many things regulated by the vagus nerve, which is active when you breathe out but suppressed when you breathe in, so the bigger your difference in heart rate when breathing in and out, the higher your vagal tone” – Gaia Vince
I have sense started incorporating this breathing technique in my meditation sessions (which are not as often as I would like) and OMG… talk about total chill.
Well… Why would this benefit anyone?
“Research shows that a high vagal tone makes your body better at regulating blood glucose levels, reducing the likelihood of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Low vagal tone, however, has been associated with chronic inflammation. As part of the immune system, inflammation has a useful role helping the body to heal after an injury, for example, but it can damage organs and blood vessels if it persists when it is not needed. One of the vagus nerve’s jobs is to reset the immune system and switch off production of proteins that fuel inflammation. Low vagal tone means this regulation is less effective and inflammation can become excessive…” (- Gaia Vince / Hacking the nervous system)
One of the main components, aside from foods that trigger inflamation, is our stress response (aka fight or flight response). If we are in a constant state of stress or feel that we are in a constant state of survival without rest and restoration – our bodies functions become dis-ordered (aka dis-eased).
Why is this so important? (At least to me)
Additional studies and implication have been discovered that there are ways to improve our vagal tones. Those that practice meditation, are active, and eat higher spectrum foods not only have higher vagal tones, but “they’re also socially and psychologically stronger – better able to concentrate and remember things, happier and less likely to be depressed, more empathetic and more likely to have close friendships.” Says doctor Kok (Rasing your vagal tone “Hacking The Nervous System”)
In the article Dr. Kok also goes on to say “Those who meditated showed a significant rise in vagal tone, which was associated with reported increases in positive emotions. “That was the first experimental evidence that if you increased positive emotions and that led to increased social closeness, then vagal tone changed…”
So… when you are really frantic, or your heart rate is elevated – Try some deep breathing. So besides, creating positive connections with others, eating/drinking higher spectrum fuels.
So yes… there are ways to fight inflammation naturally – Our bodies our designed to do miraculous things. And even with all the advancements in technology and in medicine we are just scratching the surface of what we are capable of.
Be mindful – this is not saying this is a cure all. Please… If your doctor is telling you that you should probably take some medicines take them. Understand those meds are not a cure either. It is to aide you in your fight with what you are dealing with. It takes work to turn the boat in a different direction. Sometimes those changes come too late… does not mean that you can’t make those changes. Just remember… it takes work. Its a daily practice, discipline and commitment to choose higher spectrum foods and drinks, activities that are of greater benefit, deeper connections with others… But it is absolutely worth it.
the greatest implication I found from the articles –
In the article hacking the nervous system the Gaia Vince quotes on of the doctors “… Our understanding of how the body manages disease has changed forever”. Though I love that more and more doctors are saying this. I think a more appropriate thought Is – which excites me more than anything else – is that there is a paradigm shift occurring where we are letting go of some old concepts and thoughts and rediscovering what the ancients have always tried to teach us.
To quote Doctor Paul-Peter Tak from ‘Hacking the nervous system’ – “… it’s very clear that the human is one entity: mind and body are one. It sounds logical but it’s not how we looked at it before. We didn’t have the science to agree with what may seem intuitive. Now we have new data and new insights.”
And I am thankful for it to.
Please read the articles and share with others, it is my hope that they bring to you as much insight and hope as they have me.
I can never truly close a post without asking from you – What are your thoughts?