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Unleash the Power of Your Vagus Nerve: Transform Your Gut Health with These Exercises!

vagus exercises

Introduction to the Vagus Nerve

Is your brain causing problems with your gut? It might be! Your brain's condition can actually affect the health of your gut. One crucial element in this connection is the vagus nerve, a large nerve responsible for communication between your organs and your brain. When your brain is not in good shape, it can hinder the activity of the vagus nerve, ultimately leading to suboptimal digestive function.

Spotting Poor Vagus Nerve Function

There are ways to identify poor vagus nerve function through a simple examination. For instance, a healthcare practitioner can listen to your abdomen with a stethoscope and should be able to hear rumbling sounds. This rumbling indicates healthy bowel motility, which relies on the proper functioning of the vagus nerve. However, when the gut-brain connection is impaired, you may hear very little rumbling.

Another sign of poor vagus nerve function is the inability of the uvula to rise. The uvula is the tissue hanging at the back of your throat, resembling a punching bag. When you say "ahh" during a doctor's visit, they observe whether the uvula rises as it should. If the vagus nerve is not functioning properly, the uvula will not rise much.

Similarly, the gag reflex can provide insights into vagus nerve activity. If a person with chronic digestive problems and poor brain function exhibits poor gag reflex responses, it strongly suggests that the gut-brain connection is not functioning well.

The Gut-Brain Axis and Neglected Patient Care

Regrettably, many doctors tend to overlook the importance of the gut-brain axis in patients with chronic gut complaints. While interventions such as enzymes, probiotics, and other digestive aids can improve digestive health, it is essential to focus on enhancing brain health to support and improve the gut-brain axis.

The Importance of Stimulating the Vagus Nerve

Just like muscles, neurons require constant stimulation to stay healthy. If you break your arm and wear a cast, your muscles will shrink within a few weeks due to reduced activity. Neurons are no different—they need activation to maintain their function. It is important to note that 90 percent of the brain's output passes through the brainstem. When the brain is not functioning properly, it fails to adequately stimulate the vagus nerve, leading to reduced activity in the gastrointestinal tract.

Strengthening the Vagus Nerve

Functional medicine practitioners focus on rehabilitating the vagus nerve through exercises that strengthen it, similar to how muscles can be developed through targeted exercises. Functional neurology brain rehabilitation follows the same principle. By stimulating weak neurons, they can develop more proteins and become stronger, a process known as positive plasticity. This concept applies to any part of the brain. If you have a poorly functioning gut-brain axis and vagus nerve, specific neurological exercises can increase plasticity and improve the function of the vagus pathway.

You can easily perform vagal exercises in the comfort of your own home. I often recommend the following exercises to my patients who have weak vagal tone and experience issues with the gut-brain axis:

1. Gargle

The first exercise involves gargling with water several times a day. Gargling activates the muscles in the back of your throat that are controlled by the vagus nerve. By contracting these muscles, gargling stimulates the vagus nerve and enhances activity in the gastrointestinal tract. Make sure to drink several large glasses of water per day and gargle with each sip until you finish the glass. It should be challenging enough, just like using a heavier dumbbell to strengthen your arm. Perform this exercise consistently over several weeks to strengthen the vagal pathways.

2. Sing Loudly

I also encourage my patients to sing as loudly as they can while driving or at home. Singing works the muscles in the back of the throat, activating the vagus nerve. Although it may bother your family members, I still recommend it for its beneficial effects on the gut-brain axis.

3. Gag

Another exercise involves using tongue blades to stimulate the gag reflex throughout the day. Be careful not to hurt yourself by jabbing the back of your throat. Instead, place the tongue blade on the back of your tongue and push down gently to activate the gag reflex.

Think of gag reflexes as doing push-ups for your vagus nerve, while gargling and singing loudly are like doing sprints. Consistently performing these exercises for several weeks will help strengthen vagal tone and improve the gut-brain axis. Remember, just like with weight training, you can't expect profound changes after only a couple of days.

4. Coffee Enemas

For patients experiencing significant difficulties with regular bowel movements and brain degeneration, I recommend daily coffee enemas. The enema helps activate the vagus nerve by distending the intestines, while the caffeine in the coffee stimulates intestinal motility through cholinergic receptors. This aids in relieving bowel contents, which is crucial for overall health.

Over time, many people notice improved bowel function and can gradually reduce their reliance on enemas. Coffee enemas also promote positive changes in the vagal system pathways. However, in cases of rapid brain degeneration surpassing the ability to gain positive changes, coffee enemas are used to prevent impacted bowels.


Even if you don't have severe constipation, leaky gut, or other gastrointestinal issues, it's still advisable to work on building vagal tone. Gargling, singing loudly, and performing gag reflexes can contribute to this effort. Remember, the loss of vagal tone is often a result of poor brain function.

Therefore, it is essential to focus on strategies that improve overall brain health when addressing gut function. By diligently practicing these exercises and incorporating them into your routine, you can strengthen your vagus nerve, improve gut health, and enhance the gut-brain axis.


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