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Which Side of the Neck Do You Apply Parasympathetic?

By Jodi Cohen

Want to know which side of the neck to apply our Parasympathetic blend?

The answer is as simple as just saying “Ahhh”

I am often asked which side of the neck I recommend applying our Parasympathetic oil.  As you may know, your vagus nerve travels down both sides of the neck and is the thickest and most accessible to the surface of your body on your neck – specifically behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone.  

The neck is the optimal place to topically apply the Parasympathetic blend, but the question remains… which side of the neck is better for topical application?

That question varies based on the individual. 

You can, of course, apply a Parasympathetic blend on both sides of the neck.  

But, if you are looking to apply on only one side, you will want to choose the side where vagus nerve function is weaker (low vagal tone) – as using Parasympathetic to stimulate the vagus nerve will strengthen vagus nerve function and better balance both sides of the body.

This is where I am going to ask you to open your mouth and say “ahhh” in front of a mirror.  Look closely in your open mouth and you will see a little teardrop-shaped piece of soft tissue that hangs down from the roof of your mouth.  This is your uvula, which is innervated by nerves that come off of your brain stem, including your vagus nerve.

More specifically, your vagus nerve provides movement functions for the muscles in the neck responsible for swallowing and speech, including your pharynx, a ring-like muscular tube that travels from the back of the mouth, down the neck, and your larynx, also known as your voice box.

Saying “Ahhh” should cause the muscles in the back of your throat to contract and lift a little bit which will result in the pharynx elevating and raising the uvula straight up (not moving to one side or the other).  If vagus nerve function is healthy and balanced, the palatal muscles will work properly, meaning the “Ahhh” sound will be clear, and your right side and your left side contract equally causing your uvula to raise straight up the back of the mouth and not move to one side.

If there is poor nerve input into that muscle, when you say “Ahhh”, that muscle doesn’t raise up equally but instead deviates to one side (i.e. one side lifts up and the other one doesn’t), this indicates that your vagus nerve could have a low tone on one side.  Your uvula swings toward the side with better vagus nerve function.  It’ll swing towards the strong side and away from the weaker side.

For example, if you say “ahhh” and your uvula swings up to the left. That means that your vagus nerve function is stronger on the left and weaker on the right side (i.e. you have a lower vagal tone on the right side) and you may benefit from topically applying a Parasympathetic blend behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone on the right side of the neck to strengthen the weaker side.  It is common to have pain and other issues associated with the weaker side.

If you see the uvula swing more to the left, apply on the right side.   If you see the uvula swing more to the right, apply on the left side.

You can also have an issue with both sides, which means that you hardly see the uvula move up at all. The right and left, both don’t work, so you might benefit from topically applying the Parasympathetic blend to BOTH SIDES of the neck behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone.

Vagal tone is a measure of how quickly your body recovers after a stressful event. It is considered a measurable indicator of the health of your nervous system and your ability to regulate physically, mentally, and emotionally.

A higher vagal tone means that you are able to return to a calm state quickly after a stressful experience ends. A higher vagal tone does not mean that you are less activated by stressful events, but that you are able to recover more easily after safety is restored.  If you have a low vagal tone, you are not able to recover as quickly after safety is restored. 

Stronger Vagal Tone means that signals from the brain and body are better received allowing the body to heal faster.  Research shows that a strong vagal tone makes your body better at regulating blood glucose levels, reducing the likelihood of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Low vagal tone has been associated with chronic inflammation.

In addition to saying “Ahhh” and noticing if your uvula deviates to one side of the other, low vagal tone has also been associated with the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Hearing is off
  • Migraines
  • Clicking popping in the neck
  • Neck stiffness
  • Vision issues.
  • Abdominal pain and bloating.
  • Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD).
  • Changes to heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar.
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice.
  • Loss of appetite, feeling full quickly, or unexplained weight loss.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Stimulating your vagus nerve can help increase your vagal tone, making it easier to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which allows your body and your mind to relax faster after stress.

Research has shown that vagus nerve stimulation improves vagal tone and seems to restore the body’s natural balance. It reduces the over-production of the chemical messenger that causes chronic inflammation but does not affect healthy immune function, so the body can respond normally to infection.  Specifically, research has shown a strong decrease in inflammatory symptoms from stimulation of three minutes a day.

Parasympathetic® blend can be used to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve vagal tone when applied to the vagus nerve, which is most accessible behind the ear lobe on the mastoid bone.  We recommend applying the Parasympathetic® blend to the vagus nerve three times daily (ideally before meals). 

Here’s how easy it is to use:

1. Simply hold the bottle with your thumb on the bottom and pointer finger on the top and quickly flip it upside down, then back up.  This leaves the perfect amount of oil on your finger for one application.

2.  Massage this small amount of the Parasympathetic oil (a little goes a long way!) in the divot between the back of your earlobe and your mastoid bone.  You can apply on either side of your neck or both massaging the oil in a downward motion along the mastoid bone.

3. Repeat as needed, a minimum of 2 -3 times per day.

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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.