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Season 4, Episode 8: Vagus Nerve Stimulation with Navaz Habib

By Jodi Cohen

A podcast cover titled "Essential Alchemy: The Ancient Art of Healing Naturally." It features a picture of host Jodi Cohen, NTP, on the left, and guest Navaz Habib on the right. The episode topic is "Vagus Nerve Stimulation with Navaz Habib." The background is purple.

Join Jodi with her friend and fellow vagus nerve expert Navaz Habib as they dive deep into the vital role of the vagus nerve in overall health and well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the “rest and digest” functions of the body. It helps modulate inflammation, heart rate, and digestion.
  • When the vagus nerve is not functioning optimally, it can contribute to a wide range of chronic health issues, including anxiety, depression, brain fog, and inflammatory conditions.
  • Common factors that can impair vagus nerve function include chronic stress, poor gut health, lack of movement/exercise, and an inflammatory diet high in processed foods.
  • Simple vagus nerve stimulation techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, gargling, and listening to certain music can help reboot vagus nerve function and shift the body into a parasympathetic state.
  • Tools like transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulators can also be used to directly target and support vagus nerve activity.

Tune in to learn practical, science-backed strategies to optimize your vagus nerve health and unlock your body’s natural healing potential.


If you liked this episode, please consider sharing a positive review or subscribing. You can also find more information and resources on Jodi Cohen’s website, http://vibrantblueoils.com.

Learn more about Dr. Navaz here! www.drnavazhabib.com | www.healthupgraded.com | Instagram: @drnavazhabib


About Dr. Navaz Habib

Dr. Navaz Habib, is the founder of “Health Upgraded” an online Functional Health Optimization clinic and the host of “The Health Upgrade Podcast”. He works with high performing professionals, athletes and entrepreneurs to dig deeper and find the root causes what is holding back their health. He works with those who want to upgrade their health, allowing them to have a greater impact and serve more people.

Having experienced their own health challenges, Dr. Habib and his team are well equipped to implement personalized recommendations for each of his clients. In identifying the root causes of health imbalances, and addressing them naturally, his patients experience optimal health the way their bodies were meant to feel, and allow them to give back to the world in whatever way they want to serve.

Dr. Habib’s book “Activate Your Vagus Nerve” is a simple to follow guide to help you identify and address a major missing piece in patients dealing with chronic health concerns such as anxiety and depression. By activating the Vagus nerve, he teaches how we can optimize our productivity, focus and energy levels, allowing us to experience the effects of upgraded health.

If you’re enjoying the Essential Alchemy podcast, please leave Jodi a review on iTunes.

 

Jodi Cohen: Hello and welcome to Essential Alchemy. Alchemy is defined as the power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way. My hope is that the information in this podcast can help you transform your mood, energy, physical health, or even some dots to help you shift your mental or emotional state. I’m your host, Jodi Cohen, a bestselling author, award-winning journalist, functional practitioner, lifelong learner, and founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, a company that sells proprietary blends of high-quality, organic, or wildcrafted essential oil remedies designed to help you return to your ideal mental, physical, and emotional state. You can find out more about me and my company at vibrantblueoils.com. And with that, let’s get started with today’s episode.

Hi, I am Jodi Cohen and I am so excited we’re bringing you some very interesting vagus nerve information from my friend Nave Habib, who is the founder of Health, an upgraded and online functional health optimization clinic and the host of the Health Upgrade podcast.

He works with high-performance professionals, athletes, and entrepreneurs to dig deeper and find the root cause of what is holding back their health. He also works with those who want to upgrade their health, allowing them to have a greater impact and serve more people. Having experienced his own health challenges, Dr. Habib and his team are well-equipped to implement personalized recommendations for each of the clients. And his awesome book Activate Your Vagus Nerve is a simple-to-follow guide to help you identify and address a major missing piece in patients dealing with chronic health concerns such as anxiety and depression. So I want to jump in and just help people who aren’t yet familiar with the vagus nerve understand exactly what it is and how it helps your health.

Navaz Habib: Yeah, absolutely. The vagus nerve is one of the most important, and I feel probably one of the most overlooked areas of our overall optimal health. The vagus nerve is our 10th cranial nerve and we actually have two of them. We have one on the left and one on the right. We have one pair of cranial nerves and we have 12 pairs of cranial nerves that come out of our brainstem that basically control everything in and around the face and head. But there’s one nerve that does a bit more, and when I say a bit, I mean a lot more and that’s the vagus nerve. So the vagus nerve, like I said, is the 10th of the 12 cranial nerves and it comes out of the brainstem and immediately courses alongside the two most important blood vessels in our body, the carotid artery and the jugular vein.

Navaz Habib: These are the blood vessels that send blood to the brain specifically and bring blood back from the brain to the heart. So it’s quite important to realize where it is and what it courses alongside because it’s actually protected within the carotid sheath. It’s an actual tissue that contains these three structures within our neck, and that’s actually right behind our sternocleidomastoid muscle. It’s this muscle that’s here on the side of our neck, so if you ever go to just feel your pulse, you’re actually right beside your vagus nerve. That’s a really important thing to understand that this nerve doesn’t just stick around in the head and neck area. It does send branches to certain areas here. There is a branch to the ear to innervate the skin of the ear, which is really important for sensory and can be used really effectively in therapy for the vagus nerve, which we’ll talk about down the road.

It then sends branches to the pharyngeal and laryngeal muscles, so it helps in the swallowing reflex in keeping the airway open, and it’s heavily involved in vocalization. It’s actually what’s triggering the tightness and loosening of the laryngeal muscles around my vocal cord. So the reason I can go really, really low or really, really high with my voice is because of the vagus nerve. That’s actually innervation that’s going there. It continues on down into the thorax into the chest area where it then sends a branch to the heart, a branch to the lungs, and continues down even further through the diaphragm into the abdomen where it then innervates virtually every organ within our abdomen. So stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, you name it. Every organ gets innervation and information from the brain through the vagus nerve. It also sends way more information from those organs up to the brain.

This is what we now know is the gut-brain axis. It runs through the vagus nerve. 80% of the information on the vagus nerve is actually information coming from the organs within our body going up to the brain, and 20% of the information is going in the opposite direction from the brain to those organs and to those muscles in certain areas as well. It really goes to show how important this nerve is because there isn’t another nerve in the body that does anything as extensively as the vagus nerve truly does, and as we know, the gut is really where all health begins. If the vagus nerve is not working well, then the signals to and from the gut via the brain are not going to be transported well, and that’s so important to understand when we’re looking to optimize our health. That’s really at the very high level of what the vagus nerve does and why it’s so important.

Jodi Cohen: And talk to people about what can kind of go wrong and how that can present as symptoms. Yeah.

Navaz Habib: Vagus nerve is one of those things that there’s a lot of things that can help it, but there’s a lot of things that can hurt it as well. One of the more common things that we know the vagus nerve does is manage the cholinergic, anti-inflammatory system. So the vagus nerve controls inflammation within our body, so I really like to think of this as the breaks. If we really simply break down our body into being like a car, the sympathetic nervous system is the accelerator. It’s the fight-or-flight response. It’s the, Hey, we’re under stress, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to move, we’ve got to go. That type of system is on. So we’re pushing the accelerator and a lot of us are pushing the accelerator way too much and not putting our foot on the brake nearly as much as we need to.

The vagus nerve controls the brakes, and so if that brake line is caught or if the brake fluid is low, then we’re not going to be able to put on the brakes and slow down and get into that rest, digest, and recovery state, which is mediated through the vagus nerve. And one of the things that it controls through this parasympathetic action is inflammation levels. What it uses is acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that’s released at the end of the vagus nerve to actually shut down inflammation in the gut, in the spleen, and in basically every organ that we have. If there’s inflammation that’s showing up because we have bad bacteria levels because we are under a ton of stress and sitting in this sympathetic zone way too much under financial stress or work stress or kid stress, whatever it is that’s causing us this excess emotional and psychological stress or physical stress even that can cause the vagus nerve to decrease in function because it’s essentially putting a strain on the ability to turn on that parasympathetic nervous system and to control the inflammation.

If we continue to add more and more inflammation, it’s going to cause the vagus nerve to not be able to do its job as well. That’s where the accelerator is constantly on and the brakes are just not being turned on, and so the more common reasons why it would not be working well is a really heavily inflammatory diet where we’re looking at heavy sugars and a ton of carbs and ultra processed foods being the main components of the style of diet. We’re looking at bad bacterial populations, either too few good bacteria or too many bad bacteria. Both are present, both are possible, and testing for your gut bacterial microbiome kind of background can really help to identify on an individual basis what’s actually happening within your gut. What is the actual inflammatory trigger within the gut? The vast majority of our inflammation and chronic health conditions begin within the gut, so it’s really important to know what’s going on there.

And there’s a ton of new research coming out showing the effect of specific bacterial populations or parasites or yeast that are negatively affecting the neuro pod cells, which send signals via the vagus nerve to the brain. And so that signaling mechanism, if there’s too much inflammation too leaky a gut because of these inflammatory inputs, it can really shut down vagus nerve function. So those are more of the biochemical reasons.

Navaz Habib: On a physical side, either too little or too much movement can push us into this state as well. If we’re sitting on our butt for eight hours a day at work and then we’re going in the car, then we’re sitting on the couch in front of the TV at night and then we’re just not getting out and moving enough, then we’re going to put ourselves into a strained physical environment. Our muscles aren’t going to be able to do the job that they should be able to do, and that’s physical stress.

The other side of this is that over-training, you’re going for 20,000 steps a day and you’re really pushing yourself. That’s still putting the accelerator on and not allowing the brakes to come on, so recovery is a really important piece. And then lastly, we’ve got these emotional and psychological stressors that so many of us experience on a day-to-day basis, the financial stress, the work stress, and if we can understand what’s going on there and learn to manage this using our breath, using our mindset, using our thought processes to actually get into this calm parasympathetic zone, then we can really positively affect the vagus nerve and be able to address these stressors from the root of them with a very logical mind. I will add it as well.

Jodi Cohen: You do such a wonderful job laying it out. In layman’s terms, I do want to dive into the emotional and psychological stressors, but first I’m wondering with the inflammatory aspect of it if you could explain in a little bit more detail how the vagus nerve releases the acetylcholine and kind of shuts down inflammation, and then conversely, how when your body is inflamed, it kind of compromises vagus nerve function.

Navaz Habib: The way that it does. These are the signals that go through the vagus nerve. There are specific branches that go to the spleen and to the intestines, and within the intestines there’s lymphatic tissue or lymphoid tissue, gut-associated lymphoid tissue. That’s where the immune system is. 70% of our immune cells by volume are located in the lining of the gut, and so if there is any compromise to the function of the intestines, we know that there’s going to be some sort of inflammatory trigger. The more common reason for this is leaky gut syndrome. If there’s some sort of bacterial population issue or a food sensitivity that might be triggering that leakiness, then it allows for proteins that should not be entering the body to get into the body and get through that lymphoid tissue and activate the immune system. This can trigger inflammatory cytokine production, and inflammatory signals, these include TNF, alpha IL six, and interleukin six.

These are specific signaling cytokines that are produced by these inflammatory cells that upregulate inflammation. They essentially call the immune system to say, Hey, something is wrong here. We need to attack whatever this is. We need to ensure that this problem does not continue. Send everything here, send reinforcements inflammation.

Navaz Habib: Now, the way that the vagus nerve shuts this down is the acetylcholine sends a signal to those macrophages, to those monocytes, to the white blood cells that are within that lymphoid tissue, and there’s a specific pathway that happens within the spleen, and there’s a different pathway that happens within the gut, but in the gut, it specifically sends a signal to those cells to downregulate the production of those cytokines. It actually tells those white blood cells to shut down TNF alpha and shut down IL six production, so it actually lowers physical signals to lower the production of these inflammatory cytokines.

If this inflammation level is so extensive and chronic and longstanding, you can imagine that holding the brakes, holding the brakes, literally riding the brakes while the accelerator is going, you’re going to wear down those brakes over time in the same way the vagus nerve can’t just sit there and be on all the time trying to signal inflammatory control. So this chronic longstanding type of issue where you’ve had stressor after stressor comes up, let’s think of it in an average patient that I generally see somebody who’s like a 45-year-old female with kids crazy jobs, stress, financial, this, that there’s a lot of stressors that have come up over the last 10, 15 years of their lives. They’re dealing with brain fog, they’re dealing with inflammatory issues, a couple of extra pounds here and water weight there, and now they’re not getting great sleep because they’re dealing with kids and whatnot.

These are continuous stressors that we’re essentially pushing that accelerator over and over and over and riding that accelerator we’re wearing down the brake over time, the vagus nerve is going to slowly and surely be unable to handle that, and so that signal of acetylcholine to shut down the cytokine production, the inflammatory cytokine production is going to decrease over time. That’ll eventually lead to a lack of inflammatory control and most commonly a diagnosis of let’s say Hashimoto thyroiditis or IBS or some other diagnosis that comes up because we’re not able to control the inflammation that’s creating that condition in the first place.

Jodi Cohen: I love that. So what you’re basically saying is that if you have an inflammatory condition, it’s often linked to the vagus nerve and just the floodgates have burst.

Navaz Habib: Yeah, that’s absolutely right.

Jodi Cohen: That’s wonderful. I want to land a little bit on the, and psychological stressors, anxiety and depression feel like an epidemic these days and how that’s linked to the vagus nerve before we get into the solutions.

Navaz Habib: So this is a really important area. The last couple of years have highlighted to us how vulnerable we are to these mental health conditions and we see a rise in suicide rate. We see a rise in anxiety and depression. Loneliness is, as we know, the number one cause mortality worldwide, and let’s add that to a lockdown or mandates where we’re not able to see people smile, right? These are physical and emotional stressors that are going to cause these mental health conditions to occur. It’s sad that we’ve kind of been able to experience what we’ve been experiencing over the last couple of years. That said, there are people that have thrived through this and there are ways to get through this. The way that this signaling mechanism occurs, the way that a lot of how the vagus nerve is really involved in these is that the vast majority of these neurotransmitters that are involved in these conditions, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, the vast majority of these are actually produced within the gut.

They’re produced by gut bacterial populations and the cells within the gut lining. So the stats are somewhere in the range of 94% of our serotonin is actually produced within our gut. That’s our mood molecule. That’s the one that’s heavily involved primarily in depression. Dopamine levels, about 74% are located within the gut, and I believe it’s around 80% for norepinephrine and epinephrine. So these are our stress neurotransmitters, our reward and pursuit, neurotransmitters and dopamine, and our mood and balance, neurotransmitters and serotonin. Those signals are sent up to the brain via the vagus nerve as well. Like I said, 80% of the information goes through the vagus nerves from the gut and all of the other organs up to the brain. And so when we talk about gut feelings, that’s an actual physical thing that’s happening. The vast majority of our feelings are produced through the neurotransmitter present within our gut, and that signal is sent up through the brain. If the vagus nerve is not functioning optimally, if we’re not able to send those signals up because they have been worn out due to tons of excess, chronic inflammatory issues that are going on, then you can imagine that it plays a very, very important role in the production of these neurotransmitter breakdowns and potentially the diagnosis of these conditions.

Jodi Cohen: That was such a beautiful and clear explanation. Thank you so much. I’m sure all of our listeners are like, wait, I can fix anxiety. Their ears are perked up. So can we talk a little about how we get the vagus nerve back online and reboot to factory settings?

Navaz Habib: Yeah, absolutely. And the reboot to factory settings was a great way to put this. I love that entirely, and it really fits with what I’m going to point out. The vast majority of the people I believe that are listening to this have watched a baby breathe. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch a baby breathe, watch what is moving, is their chest or is it their belly?

Navaz Habib: When they’re taking a breath in and out, it should be their belly. Their belly should be rising with every inhale and falling with every exhale. That means they’re breathing diaphragmatically, using their diaphragm to breathe. Now, I want you to test yourself. A great way to do this is to put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly, take a deep breath, and notice which hand is moving. Is it the hand that’s on your chest?

Or is it the hand that’s on your belly? It should be the hand that’s on your belly. Too many of us are breathing with our chests. This is one of the most common things that we see and when we’re signaling, when we’re breathing with our chest, we’re actually sending a signal to our brain that we are under stress. We’re actually sending a signal that we’re breathing short and shallow. Something must be happening and we need to be in fight or flight mode. Right now, chest breathing is a direct sign to the brain that we need to be in a sympathetic fight or flight. The parasympathetic, which is run through the vagus nerve, has to be slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths. So the simplest way to shift your state from sympathetic to parasympathetic is to read your breath. I have people do this hand on their chest, hand on their belly thing, and just take a moment and take three deep breaths and visualize that there’s a balloon in your belly that with every inhale, you need to blow that balloon up. This is a great visual not only for yourself but for kids. I have a five-year-old daughter. I have just over a 1-year-old daughter can imagine. My house is full of chaos at multiple times during the day, but the five-year-old I already find will get stressed out and her breathing will get really, really shallow, and she gets anxious and she gets worried, and I immediately will hold her and have her lie down and say, okay, I want you to blow up the balloon in your tummy.

Three breaths. And her mood completely shifts. She calms right down. She’s able to get back into her conscious mind. The reason for this is when we take these short shallow breaths, we’re taking in minimal oxygen, we’re getting enough for our muscles to do their job and just enough for the hindbrain to do its job. We are just looking for survival in that time. We’re not looking to think clearly. We’re looking to survive whatever threat we feel like we’re under. When we slow down and we take these deeper breaths, our oxygen content goes up significantly, and when we get hyperoxygenation within our bloodstream, we are then able to send oxygen and blood flow to the frontal cortex, and prefrontal cortex of our brain. That’s where the executive function occurs. That’s where reasoning and very strong thought processes can be thought through. This is where we actually start to think clearly. Oftentimes we’re dealing with things like brain fog or an inability to think clearly, and we’re so focused on survival in those modes because we’re not breathing well, we’re not getting oxygen to that front area of our brain where we then are not able to do that executive function. So the breath really truly is the crux of it all and every other exercise, every other tool that we talk about from here on out is meant to help you breathe effectively and efficiently to shift into that parasympathetic state.

Jodi Cohen: I really love that you called out the executive function piece because that’s something I’ve really noticed in myself and in friends and colleagues is I have friends that were worried about a lump and suddenly it’s like, you have precancer and you have to get surgery tomorrow, and they’re so flooded they can’t think clearly, and I’m like, take a beat. That might be true, and let’s get a second opinion. You have options. And is it just the oxygenation or is it also just survival instincts? Can we delve into that a little bit more because fascinating to me.

Navaz Habib: It’s a bit of both. I think the survival instinct is to go into that sympathetic fight or flight state, and what we’re looking to do in that moment literally is either fight or run away from the threat. And in the case of being diagnosed with a lump and being told that surgery ASAP, you’re immediately put into that survival state and you either want to fight what’s going on internally within you or you want to run away from it. It’s very clear that those are the two options that you’re going to go into. The oxygenation is the pathway by which that survival instinct then determines what the focus is going to be. On our reptilian brain or our hindbrain focuses purely on survival. As humans, we’ve evolved to have a prefrontal cortex, and if we’re not able to use it, we basically devolve into basically, right? We don’t have that executive function, we don’t have that clear thought process.

Jodi Cohen: Well, and to build on your 5-year-old, my 17-year-old gets easily overwhelmed and I can tell she is stuck in sympathetic and her thinking is it’s very re like, oh my God, I get to miss. It’ll never work. And the minute I’m able to calm her down, she suddenly sees possibilities. She’s like, oh, well actually that’s not due until next week, or That’s actually easier than I thought it would be. It’s just really fascinating when you look at something from the parasympathetic perspective versus the sympathetic, how your worldview changes.

Navaz Habib: And it’s funny you say that because your worldview changes from this existential thought process, but it actually changes from a physical standpoint as well because when we’re in sympathetic mode, our eyes, our pupils dilate. We literally are looking for everything. How can I get out of this mess?

What is my escape route? I’m looking at everything and there’s a level of overwhelm that can occur when we sit there and we literally look at everything, but when we go in and we get into this parasympathetic state, our pupils actually will constrict. They’ll actually focus down and we can then pinpoint the solution to the problem at hand and think more clearly about it rather than worry about everything. We could focus on the root, focus on the problem, address it clearly, and then move forward past it. It’s much more difficult to do that within a wide lens than with a narrow lens.

Jodi Cohen: And I just want to really land on this for anyone who’s listening, who suffers from anxiety, who experiences overwhelm, and I definitely fall into this category, this is what I do multiple times a day. I calm myself down and then I’m like, all right. Sometimes it’s like I just need to put on my right shoe. Okay, just my left shoe. Okay, just open the door. I have to delineate it that way, but it helps me kind of go from stuck to moving.

Navaz Habib: Yes, absolutely.

Jodi Cohen: So let’s talk a little bit more. Breathing is the best way to get into parasympathetic. What are some of your other favorite strategies?

Navaz Habib: Yeah, there’s some really great ones, really simple ones to add into a daily protocol that literally cost you nothing other than a couple of minutes per day. So one of my favorites is gargling. Gargling is a really good one. We know that we have innervation to the laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles, so these are the airway in the back of the throat, the swallowing muscles, and the muscles around our vocal cords. And so gargling is something my dad used to do when I was a kid. I used to laugh at him and be like, what are you going for? And then I did some research while writing the book and immediately was like, oh my God, he knew what he was doing and now I’ve made this mistake of laughing at my dad, and then now I have to write about his next book.

What this is a great simple tool that we can add on to brushing our teeth in the morning and the evening, we’re all going to brush our teeth. Why not keep a cup by the sink? Put a little bit of warm water in there, and add a little bit of salt in there as well. It helped to break up some of the mucus at the back of the throat, and then what I want you to do is gargle and literally you take a sip, hold it for anywhere between 10 to 30 seconds, whatever you’re capable of, depending on your individual nature here and what you’re capable of, and the goal is to increase this, but what you want to do is take the sip and gargle as hard as you physically possibly can. Don’t just sit there and go, no big deal. You need to try to make it bubble out of your mouth and you know that it’s working when you start to actually tear out of your eyes.

Not everybody will do this on the first or second try. It might even take a couple of months to get to this point where you start to tear up in your eyes, but that’s a sign that you’re actually physically stimulating the brainstem enough to get the vagus nerve nuclei stimulated and upregulated so that it is actually functioning and producing this vagus nerve activation that you, you’re looking to provide.

Navaz Habib: What it’s also doing, and if you think about it in depth is when you’re doing that gargle, when you’re trying to blow the air out and physically hold the water there is you’re actually extending by a long shot your exhale, and that’s really going to help to slow down the breathing and get us back to that breathing slow diaphragmatic breath that we want when we’re in that parasympathetic zone. So gardening will stimulate the muscles that the vagus nerve is innervating, plus it’ll help to slow the breath at the same time. If you can do that between 10 and 30 seconds, three to four times in the morning and the evening, we’re talking about a couple of minutes here, it can really help to tone the vagus nerve, get you into this zone, and get you ready to take on the day or to calm down and get into a restful sleep.

Jodi Cohen: You said something that I want to land on to make sure people pick up on it, the vagus nerve and nerve aids, all these organs, and so you can kind of stimulate the vagus nerve at any point through that organ to get it back our mind.

Navaz Habib: Yeah, absolutely. You can, and specifically in the neck and the throat, we’re talking about muscles that are being innervated. There are no organs per se here that are directly innervated, but the muscles that we have, innervation two are what we can utilize to help stimulate that. And so let’s say it’s happening in the middle of the day and you can’t go and grab your cup and go gargle at work or something like that. Humming is a great tool to use or just go into that deep breathing. It’s a simple, great, easy way to get yourself into this very calming zone. Okay.

Jodi Cohen: Yeah, and you can pick your favorite song.

Navaz Habib: Yeah, totally.

Jodi Cohen: Are there any other favorite strategies that you found worked well with your clients?

Navaz Habib: Yeah, there are a few really fun ones listening to music. You mentioned this earlier with humming to your favorite song but listening to particular music, in particular, Mozart classical music is really, really cool. There’s actually been studies done on the Mozart Effect to see if it actually makes you smarter. It actually helps to increase heart rate variability and blood flow then to your executive function areas, your prefrontal cortex. There’s a particular piece that was tested to have the highest increase in heart rate variability. It’s called K 4 48 2 Pianos by Mozart and highly recommend it. I actually, when I found it in the research that I was doing, I started listening to it while I was writing the book, and it really helped to get the book-writing process to go a little bit faster and a little bit easier. I just kind of would get into a flow zone much more easily, just go on YouTube or Spotify and play it while I was writing the book. This is years ago now.

Jodi Cohen: Love that. K 4 48.

Navaz Habib: YK 4 48, 2 pianos.

Jodi Cohen: Okay. We’ll have a link below this.

Navaz Habib: Yes, absolutely.

Jodi Cohen: Fabulous. Any other closing points that you want to make sure that we share?

Navaz Habib: Yeah, if you really want to know how well your vagus nerve is functioning, heart rate variability is the best tool to help understand what this is. There are a lot of devices that are coming out more recently, the Whoop band. I personally use the Aura Ring. One of my favorites helps me to really gauge my recovery status and if I should be able to push myself on the Peloton or go for a crazy bike ride, or should I take a day off and really chill out. So the higher the heart rate variability, the better your vagus nervous functioning, and the more recovered you are, the lower it is, the more recovery you require. So on a day-to-day basis, we’re able to fully see what our capabilities are based on a lot of the data that’s here, and there are tools for people that are really, truly suffering. There are DI devices that have been cleared like migraine and cluster headaches are some of the more common comorbidities for a lot of people that are dealing with these issues, and they’re actually studies that show that tools like electrical stimulation tools like the gamma core sapphire here, so a vagus nerve stimulation tool that you can literally hold on your neck for two minutes, FDA and Health Canada cleared against migraines and cluster headaches. These are…

Jodi Cohen: How many times a day do you do that for? Two minutes?

Navaz Habib: Do this two minutes, two minutes on each side, two to three times a day, depending on the person, depending on the issue.

Jodi Cohen: Oh, that’s interesting question. What’s your theory on the different side? The vagus nerve goes on both sides of the neck. Do they do different things?

Navaz Habib: Yeah, they do. They branch slightly differently. One becomes the ventral, one becomes a dorsal vagal. There shouldn’t be a dominance of one versus the other. They should be ideally functioning together. One does a little bit more. The left side goes a little bit more towards the heart. The right side goes a little bit more towards the gut, depending more on what you’re personally dealing with, you can stimulate either one.

Navaz Habib: The issue is with breathing and with a lot of these other things that we talked about, you can’t stimulate one side versus the other. But if you have a tool like these transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulators, like gamma core, for example, you can actually physically target one side versus the other. And so if it is a heart rate type of issue where your heart rate is elevated, we need to get into that parasympathetic zone.

The left side may be far more effective whereas if it’s more of an IBS gut-type issue, immune inflammatory type of issue, the right side may be more effective. We’re looking at a lot of different research. I’m actually working with the company on a lot of the research that they’re doing right now, and I’m quite impressed by what we’re able to accomplish already. Things like improved breathing and asthma. It’s actually an emergency use authorized for COVID-19 to help with breathing, to help open up the airflow. It helps reduce the histamine reactions in asthma, so it actually will allow for airways to open up without needing pharmaceutical puffers and stuff like that. And it is very, very effective against cluster headaches and quite effective against migraines as well. So it really does help both in an acute scenario and chronic health conditions can be managed using this tool.

Jodi Cohen: It’s kind of amazing. You and I have been shouting about the vagus nerve into the wind for at least a decade, and now everyone’s catching up, which is very exciting.

Navaz Habib: It is. It is. It’s exciting to see that there were a few ears out there in the wind that were starting to hear these things, and it’s really quite amazing because I’m actually going to be starting a new podcast called the Vagus Nerve Podcast with.

Jodi Cohen: Oh, I love that.

Navaz Habib: With a couple of amazing people. So we’re excited to get this going, and the fact that we can even consider starting something like this will be, it just goes to show how informed people are and how ready they are to take on responsibility for their own health.

Jodi Cohen: No, it’s wonderful, and please share. I know you have a free gift for everyone. Please share that.

Navaz Habib: Yeah, I’ve got a great little download for everybody. You can definitely take advantage of that. I believe it’s in the show notes, and that is basically a simple breakdown of the exercises that I recommend to a lot of my patients to help to stimulate the vagus nerve. I believe it’s 10 vagus nerve stimulating exercises that you can do. A couple of them, we included here, a bunch more are available there on the download, and if you’re interested, there’s a whole lot more, and if you really want to get into the science, you can check.

Jodi Cohen: Yes, it’s a great book, very easy read, and then if people want to work directly with you, where can they find you?

Navaz Habib: Yeah, look us up at healthupgraded.com. You can also follow me on Instagram at Dr. Nabib.

Jodi Cohen: Thank you so much for your time. This was so great. It’s always great to connect with you.

Navaz Habib: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Jodi Cohen: Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. I hope this podcast empowered you with some useful information and takeaways. If you liked this episode, please consider sharing a positive review or subscribing. I would also love to offer you my free parasympathetic toolkit as a gift just for listening. It will teach you how to activate the most important nerve in your body to turn on your ability to heal. This free toolkit includes a checklist, a video, and a detailed guide. If this podcast prompted any questions, you can always find answers at my blog at vibrantblueoils.com or my book Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal the Body. Until next time, wishing you vibrant Health.

About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.