The vagus nerve is part of the autonomic nervous system of the human body. It not only regulates the way our internal organs work – and specifically the stomach, lungs, heart and liver, but is also closely affiliated to our emotional behaviour and ultimately our state of overall physical health.
In Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve, body therapist Stanley Rosenberg proposes a new approach to healing; one that is based upon his experiences working with the Polyvagal Theory: a system which was developed by Dr Stephen Porges.
In the introduction to his book Rosenberg explains what the Porges theory is and why he feels it forms an effective and practical way to initiate a de-stressing process; whilst at the same time improving social interaction.
According to the theory this requires a rebalancing in the function of the five cranial nerves – each of which originates in the brainstem and forms part of the spinal-cord nerve system; via which it sends neural information out along its branches to various parts of the human body.
When these work together properly they initiate a psychological condition which results in healthy social interaction, strong communication skills, and self-soothing responses. At those times – usually initiated through stress, anxiety and trauma, they fail to act in this optimal state and as a result major social issues arise: indeed, in the case of the two branches of the vagus nerve the results can be even further-reaching and lead to conditions such as autism.
In the book Rosenberg explains why it is that of the five nerves it is the vagus which is so significant in determining our emotional state. He observes that anxiety and depression; as well as various other associated health conditions; such as introversion, low-energy, and over-eating, can be directly linked to chronic activation of the dorsal branch of the vagus circuit.
In part two of Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve Rosenberg offers the reader practical guidance on how to alleviate vagus nerve issues. These include head/neck exercises, eye movements, facial massage, stretching, and posture improvements.
If the hypothesis in this publication is correct then it marks a significant shift in the way that we approach self-healing and the diagnosing of even chronic conditions.
In the book Rosenberg makes an excellent case for the importance that the vagus nerve plays in our lives. He focuses quite a lot on the benefit of vagus nerve therapy in the sphere of social interactions but I would have liked to have seen his ideas developed into a deeper consideration of a wider range of benefits.
In a spiritual context the vagus nerve is also believed to play an important function in linking the two brains of the human body (heart and mind) and in bringing about a higher state of consciousness. These are, sadly, not covered in this book. Instead the work offers a more generalised, but nevertheless extensive, investigation into nerve functioning.
I found Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve to be a fascinating publication. In particular I was impressed in the way that the author explains the way the nerve and its branches are connected to stress and fight or flight functions. Although he presents this in a way that the layperson can understand the book’s accompanying photographs, diagrams, and illustrations aids the readers understanding of the subject considerably.
Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve offers the newcomer an excellent overview of the possibilities that arise from self-healing the vagus nerve and for that reason is a recommended guide for those who are seeking a deeper diagnosis to their physical ailments than those offered by traditional medical practitioners.4/5