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How does the vagus nerve show up in adults?

Imagine your body as a world class symphony orchestra, where every organ is a musical instrument ready to perform. Your nervous system is the conductor, orchestrating all bodily functions in a beautiful harmony. In this symphony, one nerve stands out as the principal violinist- the vagus nerve, essential to the performance.

Now, imagine a scenario where the principal violinist, the vagus nerve, is slightly out of tune, and the orchestra is unable to perform at its best. The interference, no matter how small, has the potential to disrupt the entire harmony of the performance.

An out of tune violinist, just like an out of tune vagus nerve, can lead to an imbalance to how well our nerve system can coordinate many of our bodily functions. A vagus nerve, even slightly out of tune, can create a disharmony to how well we perform and adapt to everyday life.

The Vagus Nerve and Its Role

One of the most vital components of the nervous system is the vagus nerve, which travels from the brain down the neck and into the abdomen. Like the strings on a violin, it vibrates with a certain tone. This ‘vagal tone’ determines our body’s ability to respond and adapt to environmental and internal changes.

In adults, an imbalance in vagal tone can manifest in numerous ways, including digestive issues, anxiety, depression, and chronic inflammation 1-5. Unfortunately, this imbalance often goes unrecognized and untreated.

The Connection to Chiropractic Care

In the realm of healthcare, chiropractic plays a pivotal role akin to a master instrument tuner. Its primary aim is to correct “subluxations” of the spine, which can interfere with the nerve signals that coordinate our bodily functions.

Subluxations hinder the free flow of nerve signals, including those to and from the vagus nerve, causing disturbances in the body’s innate,self-organizing, self-coordinating, and self-healing mechanisms.

The chiropractic adjustment, a precise, gentle force applied to correct these subluxations, is the action that sets things in motion. It can restore the balance and harmony within our bodies, similar to how a tuner brings the violin back into the perfect pitch.

The Evidence: Unveiling the Science Behind The Magic

Research has started to support this connection between chiropractic care and improved vagal tone. Numerous studies 6-8 are beginning to show that chiropractic adjustments could increase heart rate variability, a measure of vagal tone.

In practice we see this every day with our Insight scanning technology, which includes Heart rate Variability, as well as practice member outcomes. Recently a 45-year-old woman who suffered from chronic digestive issues, worked through one of our initial intensive care plans and during her progress exam, she reported a noticeable reduction in her discomfort, stating, “it’s like a switch has been flipped inside me.”

Chiropractic: A Family Affair

Contrary to what is commonly perceived, chiropractic is not about moving this bone or moving that bone relative to the areas that are in discomfort or not working well. Chiropractic care is for individuals and families who wish to express an amazing, vibrant life naturally. Consider chiropractic as your family’s personal instrument tuner, ensuring everyone in your family orchestra is in harmony and playing at their best.

Unleashing The Innate

Chiropractic doesn’t add anything to the body or take anything away from it. It simply removes interference (subluxations), allowing the body’s innate intelligence to fully express itself fully. Just like a well-tuned violin resonating beautifully through an auditorium, a well-adjusted body resonates health and vitality


1. Breit, S., Kupferberg, A., Rogler, G., & Hasler, G. (2018). Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 44.
This review article discusses how the vagus nerve plays a key role in the brain-gut axis, which affects psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression and inflammatory disorders.

2. Bonaz, B., Sinniger, V., & Pellissier, S. (2020). The Vagus Nerve in the Neuro-Immune Axis: Implications in the Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, 1452.
This paper discusses how the vagus nerve’s functioning affects the gastrointestinal tract’s health, influencing inflammation and other issues.

3. Klarer, M., Arnold, M., Günther, L., Winter, C., Langhans, W., & Meyer, U. (2014). Gut Vagal Afferents Differentially Modulate Innate Anxiety and Learned Fear. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(21), 7067-7076.
This research shows the vagus nerve’s role in modulating anxiety and fear responses, indicating its broader role in mental health.

4. Bonaz, B., Bazin, T., & Pellissier, S. (2018). The Vagus Nerve at the Interface of the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Frontiers in neuroscience, 12, 49.
This article describes how the vagus nerve, as a critical part of the microbiota-gut-brain axis, can impact various aspects of health, including mental health and inflammation.

5. Porges, S. W. (2007). The polyvagal perspective. Biological psychology, 74(2), 116-143.
This paper explores the Polyvagal Theory, explaining how the vagus nerve plays a fundamental role in the body’s response to stress and inflammation, and the connection to various mental health disorders.

6. Zhang, J., Dean, D., Nosco, D., Strathopulos, D., & Floros, M. (2006). Effect of chiropractic care on heart rate variability and pain in a multisite clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 29(4), 267-274.
This study showed that chiropractic care could have an effect on the autonomic nervous system as demonstrated by changes in heart rate variability in patients with pain.

7. Budgell, B., & Hirano, F. (2001). Innocuous mechanical stimulation of the neck and alterations in heart-rate variability in healthy young adults. Autonomic Neuroscience, 91(1-2), 96-99.
This study showed that mechanical stimulation of the neck, similar to a chiropractic adjustment, can influence heart rate variability in healthy young adults, suggesting an influence on the autonomic nervous system.

8. Ogura, T., Tashiro, M., Masud, M., Watanuki, S., & Shibuya, K., et al. (2011). Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 17(6), 12-17.
This study reported changes in autonomic nervous system regulation and pain ratings in patients with neck pain following chiropractic care.

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