Why the Vagus Nerve is So Popular?
One can never pay too much attention to the vagus nerve. It is one of the hottest topics in integrative medicine to date, coming up behind the microbiome. In fact, several amazing experts have already highlighted how important the vagus nerve is for overall wellness on several episodes of the Essential Oils Revolution!
This tenth cranial nerve is popular for good reason. It is critical in regulating many essential body functions, including of the heart, gut, brain, and lungs. Therefore, if it is not optimally functioning, our health suffers in multiple ways.
Known as the “calming nerve”, the vagus nerve assists with the “rest and digest” part of our autonomic nervous system (ANS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). It puts the body and mind into a state of restoration and repair so it can effortlessly perform its subconscious functions. In contrast, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is the “fight and flee” part of the ANS. The SNS keeps one’s body on guard and ready to defend against threats.
The polyvagal theory integrates the physiology of our vagus nerve’s functions with our psychology. It offers an innovative approach to dealing with mental health issues, specifically related to trauma. The aim is to promote a feeling of safety, calmness, and a restoration of the mind and body of the sufferer.
What Do Essential Oils Have to Do with the Vagus Nerve?
Essential oils are one of my favorite tools to act as vagus nerve modulators. This is because they support the vagus nerve’s influence on our physiology, psychology, and biochemistry.
Aromatherapy also complements the polyvagal theory in that it invites one to heal, grow, and release trauma. Through various mechanisms, essential oils can enhance our brain health, uplift our mood, and calm our reactive nervous system down. The feeling of safety that emerges from inhaling these plant secondary metabolites allows for more rational response patterns to life and in relationships.
In this episode of the Essential Oil Revolution, I join you again for another solosode discussing the vagus nerve and essential oils. As we’ve just come off the holidays and are starting the new year, there was a pause in scheduling some for my esteemed guests. So, I thought this was a perfect time to share with you some of my favorite essential oils to support vagal tone based on the literature. Although I’ve discussed this topic before, I’ve added some additional information within the podcast.
The essential oils I review during the show include lavender, bergamot, and ylang ylang oil. I also highlight two honorable mentions. The essential oils I selected were based on my clinical experience, their traditional use, and that they also have some evidence of impacting the nervous system in scientific research.
Below is an overview of what you will learn in the full episode:
- The three parts of your autonomic nervous system and how they impact our physiology.
- The functions of the vagus nerve and how it can affect healing and restoration.
- An overview of the multiple ways essential oils can calm the mind-body and support vagal tone.
- How essential oils influence our biochemistry and neurology to favorably benefit the vagus nerve.
- A review of the ways that lavender essential oil modulates the nervous system and vagal tone.
- What we can use to measure parasympathetic activity, including heart rate variability, which reflects vagal tone.
- Some of the issues with essential oil research.
- An overview of the research on bergamot oil for calming the parasympathetic nervous system, which is mediated by the vagus nerve.
- The studies on ylang ylang oil for positively influencing the vagal response.
- If you should use an essential oil if you don’t like the smell and how this relates to the nervous system.
- Two honorable mentions of essential oils for regulating the vagus nerve response, petitgrain and fir oils.
- How volatile compounds from tree oils can mediate the negative effects of stress.
- A summary of how essential oils can optimize vagus nerve function and are applicable to the polyvagal theory.
Have you used lavender oil, bergamot oil, ylang ylang, petitgrain, or fir oils to support your emotional health and vagus nerve?
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Resources Related to the Podcast:
My Blogs, Videos, and Research Reviews on the Vagus Nerve
- What is the Vagus Nerve and Why is It So Popular
- Healing Trauma Through the Vagus Nerve: The Polyvagal Theory, the Nervous System, and Essential Oils
- Essential Oils, the Vagus Nerve, and the Polyvagal Theory
- My Three Favorite Essential Oils for the Vagus Nerve (+ 2 Honorable Mentions)
Previous Episodes with Expert Guest Who Highlighted the Vagus Nerve
- Ep. 396: Calming the Parasympathetic Nervous System and Brain Support with Essential Oils with Jodi Cohen
- Ep. 392: Releasing Physical and Emotional Scars and Restoring Mind-Body Resiliency Using the Power of Essential Oils with Dr. Kim Trager
- Ep. 387: Using Essential Oils for Healthy, Thriving, Happy Kids with Integrative Pediatrician Dr. Elisa Song
- Ep. 386: The Polyvagal Theory, Calming the Limbic System, and Essential Oils with Dr. Thomas Moorcroft
- Ep. 298: Applied Neurology, The Vagus Nerve, and EOs with Dr. Kim Trager
- Ep. 281: Burgeoning Science & Bergamot with Dr. Danielle Daniel
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- Tools for coping with isolation and separation.
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Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.