Your Vagus Nerve Does Not Need To Be Stimulated, It Needs To Be Freed

Mar 06, 2023
Recently a friend sent me a video he saw on stimulating the vagus nerve. My friends do this a lot. 

The vagus nerve is having its heyday in the media, which is fun to see because I have been talking about it for so long. 

I have been talking about the vagus nerve in speaking engagements, online and in-person workshops, and networking events for my own business for thirteen years, and while working in clinics and hospitals for at least 13 years before that.

I'd rather tell you how your vagus nerve holds new and ancient belief systems in our bodies that drive our behavior, physical health, and mental well-being, but I always seem to be ten years ahead of the curve, so for now, I want to address some of the potentially dangerous and ineffective thought leadership that I see around the vagus nerve. 

Everyone seems to want to show you how to stimulate it - and that's not always a good idea. It could be harmful in some cases. When appropriate, stimulating the vagus nerve outside of having a stimulator implanted by a neurosurgeon, as some people with seizures and chronic pain do, is an exercise in temporary relief.

That's not good enough. None of us need another thing to do to hold ourselves together, to keep from falling apart on the edge of burnout, anxiety, or depression. We need another way of being. 

When our nervous systems are holding on to an experience of being in freeze mode, we might be best served by upregulating our sympathetic nervous system. You might actually need MORE of that fight-and-flight response. 

The vagus nerve is big - the biggest of our nerves outside of the spinal cord - and gets mechanically stuck, pinched, or compressed at predictable anatomical thresholds in the body. 

If you have ever known anyone with a pinched nerve in their neck or their low back, sciatica, or piriformis syndrome, it's the same thing. 

When it does, we lose shock absorption. Shock absorbers, especially high-end ones, are structured almost exactly like nerves. 

Does it sound like a good idea to stimulate the nerve when it radiates pain?

The answer is no. Clinically, that would be contraindicated. 

It is much easier, more effective, and lasting to give the vagus nerve more space to move, unpinch, decompress, and FREE. 

This strategy is continually reinforced to me based on my client transformations. However, the clinician transformations are the ones that I am really loving these days. 

I got an email from husband and wife private practice owners Justin and Lisa McKinney in Arizona who took my online course (it's not available right now - message me if you are interested).

"It has changed our practice-  people are coming out of the woodwork asking for vagus nerve help, and miracles are happening. We have seen it resolve many issues from long-covid to knee pain. One patient who got immediate relief from his knee pain from the techniques returned a few weeks later (he lives in a different part of the state) and showed us the readout of his CPAP app.  He went from consistently having 35-40 episodes of apnea per hour to 3-5.  This was an extremely abrupt reduction- beginning the night of his vagus nerve treatment.  The reduced apnea results have been maintained for at least another month.

How do you know if it is pinched? What do you do if it is pinched in one place versus another?

Join me at Neuro-Somatic Intelligence 101 on March 9, or hang around for more blog posts and course announcements. 

Feel free to reach out to me with questions. 

Melanie Weller PT, MPT, OCS, ATC, CEEAA
Neurotheology: How Belief Systems Live In Our Nervous Systems
Fearless Presence
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