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Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve

Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism

By Stanley Rosenberg
12-minute read
Audio available
Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg

Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve (2017) is a best-selling guide to understanding the role the cranial nerves – and in particular the vagus nerve – play in our physical and psychological well-being. In addition to explaining the function of the cranial nerves, it offers simple techniques for treating common medical symptoms without pharmacological or surgical intervention.

  • Anyone who hates taking medicine
  • People struggling with depression and anxiety
  • Those who like coming up with their own solutions to problems

Stanley Rosenberg is a craniosacral therapist who has operated a clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the last three decades. He has helped thousands of clients with a wide variety of physical and psychological conditions, including respiratory problems, migraines, bipolar disorder, and autism.

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Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve

Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism

By Stanley Rosenberg
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg
Synopsis

Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve (2017) is a best-selling guide to understanding the role the cranial nerves – and in particular the vagus nerve – play in our physical and psychological well-being. In addition to explaining the function of the cranial nerves, it offers simple techniques for treating common medical symptoms without pharmacological or surgical intervention.

Key idea 1 of 7

Well-functioning cranial nerves are crucial to healthy social engagement.

You probably know the last time you were stressed. But when did you last feel relaxed? Maybe you were sharing a drink and a meal with a friend. Maybe you were taking a long walk with your partner or family. Your body and mind probably felt at ease and safe from any potential threat or danger. 

This is what Stanley Rosenberg calls a state of social engagement. In this state, our minds and bodies rest and recover. We also enjoy intimacy and foster emotional connections with family and friends. But how do we access this state? Well, it all depends on one crucial component of our nervous system: our cranial nerves.

We have twelve cranial nerves, which, through tiny openings in the skull, connect the brain to our organs and muscles. The vagus nerve is the longest of these nerves.

The key message here is: Well-functioning cranial nerves are crucial to healthy social engagement.

Before we learn about the vagus nerve, let’s zoom out a bit. The overall goal of our nervous system is incredibly simple: to keep our physical bodies alive. Each of the twelve cranial nerves serves a different purpose in support of that goal. Many cranial nerves, as you might imagine, are related to helping us find, consume, and digest our food. The ninth cranial nerve – CN IX – is one of these. Its purpose is to facilitate tasting and swallowing.

But our ability to survive isn’t just about the physical requirements for life, like food and water. We need a healthy emotional life, too, and we achieve this through social engagement. Social engagement itself depends on five crucial cranial nerves. If these aren’t functioning properly, they can impede our social relationships and, as a result, hinder our evolutionary success.

To illustrate this point, let’s have a look at the spinal sympathetic nervous system. This system is a bundle of cranial and spinal nerves that, when activated, trigger our fight-or-flight response. If a lion is about to attack, we might appreciate this system being triggered, so we can either run away or brace for impact. But if the fight-or-flight response is triggered because of a stressful day at work, it can make us restless or aggressive, and not much fun to engage with.

These are just a few of the ways in which cranial nerves govern our lives. In the next blink, we’ll learn more about their evolutionary purposes.

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