What happens in Vagus is actually pretty important. Your vagus nerve, which is the tenth cranial nerve (CN X) is involved in many necessary functions to keep you alive. Let’s back up a bit and explain what a cranial nerve actually is. Everyone has twelve pairs of cranial nerves, these are housed, exactly as it sounds in your cranium or your skull. Each of these twelve cranial nerves has a specific function or sometimes many functions. The tenth cranial is no exception to this rule, in fact it is probably the most important one.

It begins or originates in the medulla of the brainstem and exits the cranium via the jugular foramen1.

This is the longest cranial nerve and contains both motor and sensory fibers. Thus it is involved with motion (motor) and touch or feel (sensory)2.

The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent (returning) nerve fibers3.

Another fascinating thing about the vagus nerve is that many scientists are showing a connection that if there is a mechanical stimulation of the vagus nerve it may help with depression, epilepsy, and even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). They theorize that it is through the treatments that target the vagus nerve that this can increase vagal tone and inhibit cytokine (harmful inflammatory chemicals) production3.

In the article Attenuation Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Neuropathic and Postoperative Pain Through Activating Endogenous Anti-Inflammatory Cytokine Interleukin 10 in Rat Spinal Cord findings show that spinal manipulation may activate the endogenous anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 in the spinal cord and thus has the potential to alleviate neuropathic & postoperative pain4. If this can help with inhibiting cytokine production then a good argument could be made for chiropractic adjustments in alleviating a myriad of neurological, behavioral and emotional issues.

References:

  1. https://teachmeanatomy.info/head/cranial-nerves/vagus-nerve-cn-x/ Opens in new window
  2. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1875813-overview Opens in new window
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859128/ Opens in new window
  4. Song et al. Journal Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics. 2016 Jan;39(1):42-53.