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Hack Your Vagus Nerve to Feel Better: 14 Easy Ways

For folks with symptoms ranging from fatigue to depression and anxiety, digestive issues from IBS to SIBO to IBD, to brain fog and even food sensitivities, the Vagus Nerve almost always plays an important role in both sickness and healing, and needs to be supported so you can truly and deeply heal.

Hack your Vagus Nerve

What is the vagus nerve?

• Vagus means “wanderer” in Latin, and the vagus nerve wanders from the brain through most of the body.
• The vagus is the longest of the cranial nerves. It starts in the brain, where it sends signals to the cells there. It then wanders through the body, from the brain through the neck and throat to the heart and lungs. The vagus moves down to the gut and digestive organs - liver, pancreas, gallbladder - and all the way through to the kidneys and to the uterus.
• Signals are constantly flowing from the brain to the body and back from the body to the brain, via the vagus nerve.
• Vagus nerve “tone” is key, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The“rest and digest” system, and improved vagal tone supports your body and mind in relaxing faster after stress.
• Studies have shown that there is a positive feedback loop between vagus tone, optimal physical health and positive emotions. That is, the more you support your vagus nerve and improve tone, the better you’ll feel overall.

Think about a Technical Knockout (TKO) punch in boxing - it’s a straight shot to the vagus nerve. Because this nerve goes through most of the body and enervates, or gives nerve activity to, so much of the body, a strike to it knocks you out cold. The body is very protective of the vagus nerve. Any alteration in the normal, pre-programmed flow can lead to big changes downstream in the body.

Some folks with constipation or those with hard or large stools can experience body-wide symptoms resulting from pressure on the vagus nerve – cold sweats, anxiety, tingling in hands and feet, and more - all from a really hard stool! I had a patient once who would frequently literally pass out from a large, hard bowel movement. Which goes to show how much having the correct vagus signaling effects our bodies. (she’s better now, by the way.  She had really intense methane SIBO, which we tested for, found and treated. No more unconsciousness on the bathroom floor, thank goodness)

Some common symptoms of Vagus Nerve Dysregulation:

• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
• Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Chronic Fatigue
• High or Low Heart Rate
• Difficulty Swallowing
• Insomnia or trouble sleeping
• Gasteroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying
• Heartburn, reflux, gastritis or GERD
• Dizziness/Fainting
• B12 Deficiency
• Chronic Inflammation
• Weight regulation issues (1)

Fight or Flight: Lion-Based Consciousness

There are two important nervous systems in our bodies: the sympathetic, or “fight or flight” and the parasympathetic or “rest and digest.”

The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic system. This is the system that supports us in chilling out, centering, calming ourselves, as well as digesting our food, having a healthy reproductive system, and healing.

Back in the day, humans had to keep a constant and vigilant eye out for lions. We had to hide from, run from, possibly fight, lose to and get eaten by, lions. Our bodies are pros at Lion-Based Consciousness. And when we’re on high alert for predators, our bodies are in "fight or flight" or sympathetic dominance. In that state, the vagus nerve is neither giving nor getting the signals it needs to do its job properly, and to support us as we attempt to rest and digest.

Studies show that there aren’t a lot of lions hunting the average American these days.  The percentage of Americans, both urban and rural, reporting actually encountering a lion during the course of their day has dropped precipitously since the recent closing of Barnum & Bailey Circus. Meanwhile, our bodies haven’t caught up to the fact that the little stressors of daily life aren’t likely to lead to us being killed and eaten, and these big and little stressors keep your vagus nerve from signaling optimally. Modern life for the average human is full of imaginary lions, stressors that keep our bodies out of optimal balance, and full of inflammatory chemicals.

Let’s Talk Digestion and the Vagus Nerve

When vagus function is out of whack, digestion is out of whack. Symptoms can include heartburn or GERD, IBD or inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis, and can prevent the body from healing Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), a frequent root cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The vagus nerve is part of the system that tells the stomach to put out digestive acids and juices, and to start the movement of the gut. When we chew our food, we start the process of mixing the fibers in our food with the digestive acids and enzymes that begin to break food down, before it reaches the stomach, before flowing into the small and then large intestines.

When the vagus nerve isn’t getting or sending the right signals, the flow of food-mixed-with-acid through the gut is slowed. This means that overgrowths of bacteria, yeast or parasites -- as well as used up hormones and toxins that the body worked to eliminate from the body -- are moving through the gut at a slower rate. IBS and SIBO risk are increased with more exposure to bacteria, waste products,potentially  worsening any infections present. Exposure to more hormones than your body had planned on can throw hormones out of balance (discussed further below).

Vagus Nerve, MMC and SIBO

In the case of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) the migrating motor complex (MMC) in the gut is not behaving optimally.

I like to think of the MMC as the caboose of a little train moving through our intestines. You eat, and the chewed up food, combined with digestive acids and enzymes, is loaded onto a car on the train, to be moved through your body and out as stool. Every time you eat, the train has to stop and go back to the top of the tracks to pick up the new food.

Several things can stop the train. Reduced vagus nerve firing is a major contributor to MMC dysregulation. Snacking is another one for sure. The train should move all the way through from Central Station, the place right after your stomach (the duodenum) through to its final stop downtown, the anus.

This should be a one-way trip, and the train should leave the station and get to the end of the road every 90-120 minutes. Every time you snack, the train has to stop and go back to pick up this new food-passenger, slowing the movement of food through your digestive track, which can lead to bacterial overgrowth and increased toxin burden in the body.

The MMC can also get derailed or confused by trauma, stress, and other life factors, to be discussed in depth in further articles.

Low Stomach Acid

Folks with IBS, heartburn, reflux and other digestive issues often have low stomach acid, and this too can be a vagus nerve issue. The vagus nerve prompts the cells in the stomach to release histamine, which helps the body to release the stomach acid you need to break down your food.

Low B12 Levels Can Make You Feel Terrible

Many people with chronic digestive concerns also have low B12 levels, which is often due, in part, to not having enough vagus stimulation of the parietal cells in the gut, which leads to low intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor is the chemical that processes B12 in the stomach, and the cells that release it can be hurt or even killed by eating foods we’re sensitive or allergic to or by having untreated heartburn, gut infections or inflammation.

The function of these cells can be slowed by inappropriate vagus nerve stimulation – if the gut isn’t getting the “All Systems Go” signal from the brain, why would your stomach use all that energy to make B12?

Low B12 levels are linked to fatigue, depression, anxiety, memory problems and dementia, nerve problems such as numbness or tingling, weakness in muscles, GI symptoms such as constipation, gas, diarrhea or lack of appetite.

Let’s Talk Hormones and Lions

I want to go back to talking about Lions here – both real and imagined.

When the vagus nerve is over or under-active, the brain’s hypothalamus isn’t signaling the brain’s pituitary gland appropriately, and the downstream signal to the adrenal glands gets confused. This system is known as the HPA Axis, and when this communication is effected, several hormones can get over- or under-produced (CRH, ACTH and cortisol). This can be part of the set of symptoms commonly referred to as “Adrenal Fatigue.” While that name is not exactly scientifically correct, it’s a useful shorthand for chronic exhaustion or hyper-stimulation leading to anxiety, insomnia and just generally feeling revved up.

That is to say:  your body can get triggered into thinking either that All The Lions Are Chasing You Always, or that there is not a single lion out there in the world, nothing to run from, nothing to do, why bother being awake and present to the lion-free world… This can lead to a combination of fatigue, lack of motivation, anxiety, insomnia and generally, a case of the blahs. Vagus nerve stimulation plays a role in helping the body understand when a situation is a True Lion, and when it’s just your boss being your boss, or a looming deadline that feels like doom.

Let’s Talk Circadian Rhythm

A very modern problem that I see daily in my patients is an alteration in circadian rhythm, or our body’s natural sleep/wake signaling. Part of this problem is that most of us have limited activity during the day - we take the subway or car to work, sit for 8-10 hours, car or subway home. We don’t see the sun during our work day, and then sit in front of blue lights at night, such as our phones, television, tablets and computers, which actually tell our brains that its daytime. The blue light that is part of every screen we use mimics the sun, which tells our bodies that it’s time to be awake (and that the lions are awake too), and that our pineal glands in our brains shouldn’t put out melatonin.

I know how tempting it is to check social media before bed, and I know I’m not gaining any fans by urging you to read a paper book before bed… but there are few things your body wants more.

The vagus nerve transmits signals from the circadian control center in the brain, and the effect of circadian dysregulation goes in both directions. Interrupting circadian flow affects the brain, and changes in normal melatonin and other hormone levels before bed can lead to problems with the vagus nerve, which then affects the rest of your body. Furthermore, the circadian control center in the brain sends signals to your digestive system and lungs to produce mucin, the substance that keeps your vital organs healthy and well-lubricated, but only if it’s getting the right signals to do so.

How can regaining appropriate Vagus Nerve Stimulation help you?

It’s simple: when you get your vagus nerve back in proper working order, all the systems listed are free to work optimally. The overall function of your heart, lungs, digestion, reproductive and hormone systems can all be improved by optimizing vagus nerve function.

How to start reengaging the vagus nerve:  it’s simple, easy and fun!

Pick one or two things to start adding to your daily routine – start simple, and see if stimulating the vagus nerve can become part of your health care habits!

1. Sing. Loudly! Not a quiet hum, but a full on, top of your lungs good ole sing along. I recommend the shower for this one.

  • The muscles in the back of your throat activate the vagus nerve as they move, so sing as loud as possible. Don’t worry about the neighbors. (2)
  • Oxytocin, the calming hormone released at birth is also released when we sing. (3)

2. Gargle. You can use regular filtered water for this. I’m a lover of efficiency, so I do this in the shower too. I have a water filter on my shower (I like Berkey brand so I can trust that the water I’m gargling is clean and the chlorine has been removed (which my hair and skin and lungs thank me for, too). Once that conditioner is in my hair and doing it’s magic, I gargle like a full-on Muppet. Not a discreet, elegant gargle – the gargle of a small-and-friendly monster.

  • You want to gargle hard enough that your eyes start to water
  • The added benefit of this is that it makes me laugh, and laughter is amazing medicine! (4, 5, 6) In this case, laughter stimulates the vagus nerve too. Laughter increases beta-endorphins and nitric oxide and benefits the vascular system. (7, 8)
  • It’s a win win win. And my hair looks Amazing.

3. Build in some daily prayer and meditation, especially chanting. Try an ommm or two. It may feel silly or weird at first, but it’s good for your health and wellness, as what vibrates the throat stimulates the vagus nerve. It frankly doesn’t matter what you chant, just get to it.

  • I love to think about all the things that humans have done since time immemorial because they were just the things that we did. Most religions have some sort of chanting, singing, meditation – from the Rosary to Buddhist chanting to Pagan spiral song to the rhythmic prayer of Judaism. Atheist or just not down with religion? That’s cool. Try chanting whatever noise feels good for you.
  • I try to channel my toddler nephews – they’ll take any opportunity to make ridiculous noises and to chant what sounds like nonsense any chance they can – they have an inherent kiddo wisdom that helps their little bodies as they grow and learn. Close the bathroom door, gargle, sing the praises of the Universe or just make loud silly noises. It’s surprisingly freeing…

4. Expose yourself to cold water or air. The vagus nerve is stimulated when the body is exposed to cold. The sympathetic fight/flight system is downregulated (works less) and the parasympathetic rest/digest system is upregulated, or asked to work more to calm you.

  • I splash my face with cold water every morning, and at the end of a shower I turn the water as cold as it will go for as long as I can stand it. I started with 2 seconds, and am working up to 2 minutes. (9) Or you can start slowly by putting your face in ice cold water for a few seconds.
  • In the winter, I like to open a window in the morning to both greet the day and to get a blast of cold air for just a few seconds.

5. Do yoga. Both the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve are stimulated by yoga practice, particularly the Sun Salutation. (10,11)

  • A study that compared a group of people who walked daily to those doing yoga daily found a significant reduction in anxiety and perceived stress in the yoga group, as well as increases in the mood-improving, anti-anxiety brain chemical GABA. (12)

6. Meditate. Meditation and deep breathing stimulate the vagus nerve. (13, 14, 15)

  • Whatever meditation works best for you is the best kind to do – some folks like a guided meditation, some like to focus on the breath, taking 5-10 deep, slow belly breaths. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you make a daily habit of doing at least 2 minutes of meditation every day.

7. Breathe Deeply and Slowly. There are neurons in both the heart and the neck that contain baroreceptors, or cells that monitor your blood pressure, and send signals back and forth with your brain.

  • When we take deep, slow belly breaths, we activate the vagus nerve to lower fight or flight, and activate our rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system, thus lowering heartrate, blood pressure and feeling of anxiety. (16)
  • On average, we take 10 to 14 breaths per minute – but to stimulate the vagus nerve, try to take only 6 breaths per minute. Breathe in deeply, allowing your stomach to expand, then breathe out very slowly. (17)

8. Serotonin and 5HTP. The neurotransmitter chemical Serotonin activates the vagus nerve through a variety of different receptors in the brain, gut and throughout the body. When there is inflammation in the gut, the amount of serotonin made in the brain is reduced via the quinolate pathway.

  • The best way to support optimal brain-body chemistry is start by understanding what is going on in your gut. We can use advanced functional medicine stool and breath tests to evaluate the gut microbiome to see what may be causing inflammation for you. This is something I do for all my patients, especially those with digestive issues, depression, anxiety, skin concerns, hormone imbalances or sleep issues.
  • Taking the serotonin precursor 5HTP can help with systemic serotonin support. This supplement can interact with some medications, so be sure to talk with your licensed healthcare provider before starting 5HTP!

9. Add in Prebiotic and Probiotic foods and supplements. The term “gut microbiome” refers to the millions of bacteria in our digestive track, which play a role in nutrient absorption, mood, hormone and neurotransmitter balance to name a few vital functions. The health of our microbiome is a huge determinant of our overall health.

  • The vagus nerve is the great connector between the brain and the enteric nervous system, which controls digestion and the gut. Our microbiome plays an important role in making this signaling work.
  • Specifically, the probiotic bacterial strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus was shown in animal studies to support optimal levels of the receptors of the calming chemical GABA, which is mediated by the vagus nerve. (18)
  • For more on fermented foods, check out these recipes (sauerkraut, beet kvass) for affordable probiotics you can make at home.
  • Prebiotics, food for the colon cells, are found in fibrous vegetables. Aim for 6 or more servings of a variety of vegetables each day to optimize the health of your gut, microbiome, colon and vagus nerve.

10. Exercise. When we move, the digestive system is stimulated, and the parastaltic wave which moves stool through the colon is also activated.

  • This movement is controlled in part by the vagus nerve, which is also stimulated by exercise, from walking to yoga to crossfit.
  • Whatever exercise or movement works for you is the right thing to start with. Try to get some gentle movement daily! (19)

11. Acupuncture. Humans have been stimulating the vagus nerve with acupuncture for ages, and there are several commonly used points which stimulate improved vagus function. (20) Studies show that auricular or ear acupuncture is particularly stimulating for the vagus nerve. (21) (22)

12. Eat fish! Studies show that comsuming omega 3 fatty acids (like those found in fatty fish like salmon) increases vagal tone and activity and puts us into that calming parasympathetic mode more often. (23) I recommend eating small fish, as they have fewer heavy metals in them.

13. Get a massage. Massaging different parts of the body, especially the feet or along the carotid sinus (on the ride side of your neck), which you can do on your own for free, can also stimulate the vagus nerve. Massage is often used to get newborn babies to gain weight because it stimulates their vagus nerves, thereby increasing their gut function. (24)

14. Try Intermittent Fasting. Research shows that fasting may increase vagal tone as well. Fasting may sound intimidating but it is easily accomplished by simply eating dinner around 6-7pm and then not eating again until breakfast at 7 or 8am – that’s a 13-14 hour fast right there! Or you can compress your eating into an 8-10 hour window, say 9am-7pm, for an even longer fast. (25)

There are many different ways to stimulate your vagus nerve. choose 2-3 things that work for you, and make them daily habits by tying them to things you do anyway. If you brush your teeth daily, gargle before or after. If you heat water for coffee or tea daily, hum or sing to yourself while you do it. Make new habits simple, and you'll integrate them with ease.

The beneficial effects of increased vagal nerve function are so far-reaching that it is more than worthwhile for all of us to add some of these new habits into our daily lives.

Imagine feeling more calm and centered - stimulating your vagus nerve is a great place to start. Choose one or two of these options and start today!







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  1. Eileen Dervisevic on March 13, 2019 at 2:52 am

    Great article! Would love to know any similar professionals here in the Bay Area for my daughter.

    • Victoria Albina on March 13, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks so much! I HIGHLY recommend Dr. April Blake, ND ( and Dr. Jenny Mann, ND ( Tell them both I sent you and thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • Lisa Wolf on November 10, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Thank you sooo much! What a great article! Do you know of anyone in Suffolk or Nassau on Long Island that you would recommend?

      • Victoria Albina on November 11, 2019 at 10:41 am

        My pleasure Lisa!

        I LOVE LOVE LOVE Dr. Anita Sadaty, MD. She’s AMAZING. Tell her I sent you 🙂


  2. Laural Blake on May 18, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Do you know any practitioners on Vancouver Island? Tx

    • Victoria Albina on May 22, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      Hi Laura. I would recommend you check out the directories at the Institute for Functional Medicine webpage and Chris Kresser’s ADAPT training webpage. All the best to you!

  3. Heather on August 8, 2019 at 2:32 am

    Hello! Any similar practitioners in coloraodo Springs you could recommend?

    • Victoria Albina on August 8, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Heather! I don’t know anyone in Colorado Springs personally, but you could search the Institute for Functional Medicine website and Chris Kresser’s provider database. I also do virtual life coaching and Breathwork Meditation at a distance, so those are great opportunities for folks worldwide to work with me directly! All the best to you! – Victoria

    • Wendy Linnington on November 25, 2020 at 2:30 pm

      Your article is amazing I am suffering for years now with what you have described above.

      I live in Montreal. Quebec do you know anyone here or maybe we could zoom call?

      Thanks, so much. Wendy Linnington

      • Victoria Albina on November 25, 2020 at 2:47 pm

        Hi Wendy, so glad you liked the article!

        Look at the bottom of the article – the answers you seek are there.

        All the best to you!

  4. Rosi on August 28, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you, Victoria. Helpful article. I love the vagus nerve hacks, especially modelling myself on toddler’s playfulness in making ridiculous noises.

    Do you know anyone skilled at teaching this in Portland, Oregon?

    • Victoria Albina on September 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Rosi! Thanks for writing in – so glad you liked the article. I work with folks worldwide and would love to teach you more about the vagus nerve 🙂 Reach out to my team to learn more about working with me.

      all the best!!


    • Rex Jantze on November 22, 2019 at 2:36 am

      I am in Portland, and I am also interested in vagus nerve hacks. I have a few of my own, or at least I now understand more fully to be associated with vagus stimulation. It’s the only model that makes sense.
      I finally sat down and did a search on vagus nerve stimulation (in regards to yawning at first) and found this great article. I’ve been doing a form of accupressure called emotional freedom technique for about 15 years. I recently began presuming it was probably vagus nerve stimulation by way of bone conduction. I don’t buy the chi meridian model, but EFT (and a few extra somatic operations and attentional shifts) changed everything for me. But I was wondering why I yawned all the time I do the tapping, and it may have something to do with a release of nitric oxide, or the inhibition of NO inhibitors. The elevated state I feel when tapping for a few minutes doesn’t feel like an emotion, but nonetheless it feels very good. I also found if I put mental attention on my temples and the area where the vagus starts (in a kind of imaginative volume of space) I can also stimulate a similar feeling.

      • Victoria Albina on November 22, 2019 at 2:26 pm

        Hi Rex!

        I love EFT and have found it very helpful for my healing and that of my clients/patients. Thanks for sharing your experience with it and I’m so glad that it’s supportive for you



  5. Laurie on September 11, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Can you recommend or suggest any practitioner in the Philadelphia area? Thank you

    • Victoria Albina on September 12, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Laurie! Thanks for reading the article and thanks for writing in 🙂

      I don’t know anyone in Philly personally, but you could search the Institute for Functional Medicine website and Chris Kresser’s provider database.

      I also do virtual life coaching and Breathwork Meditation at a distance, so those are great opportunities for folks worldwide to work with me directly! All the best to you! – Victoria

  6. Mary Whitlock on October 22, 2019 at 2:24 am

    Can you recommend a practitioner in Phoenix, AZ area

    • Victoria Albina on October 30, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I don’t know anyone there – try and Chris Kresser’s database. I do life coaching at a distance if you’re interested in that



  7. Marissa E on November 27, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you! This is a great article. If you republish it, add chiropractic as adjustments of the occiput and atlas stimulate the vagus- you can even hear the gut rumbling immediately!

  8. Cecilia Ituarte on November 30, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Hello Victoria, I have been struggling with my health for the past three years and I have not found anyone that can help me here. Doctors have dismissed me saying that it is all stress related and “Take it easy” is what I get all the time, however my symptoms keep coming back randomly and my doctor in Mexico suggested to look into Vagus Nerve dysfunction… As I read this article it makes more and more sense and I am very appreciative of all the information included here. I am still in the search for answers but I can’t wait to start bringing your suggestions to my life to to see if they work for me. Thank you for a light at the end of this tunnel and I would love to chat some time soon, when my expenses due to health are not so high.
    In all gratitude!
    Cecilia Ituarte

    • Victoria Albina on December 5, 2019 at 1:38 pm

      Hola Cecilia! I’m so glad this info was helpful for you. Looking forward to working together when the time is right



  9. LINDA MCNEELEY on December 28, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    What a fabulous article and I think it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for and didn’t even know it. Do you happen to know any practitioners in Maryland? All my doctors think I have anxiety only and throw drugs at me and of course don’t believe in anything remotely alternative or that requires thinking outside of the box. Very discouraging but a lot of good tips right here to get started on my own.

    • Victoria Albina on January 7, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Linda,

      Great to hear from you. I work with folks at a distance and would love to work with you on your anxiety. Hop on my scheduler to book a consult call, and if you don’t find a time that suits, email my staff:

      Looking forward to working with you!


  10. Samantha on January 25, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Hi Victoria, I loved your article — do you happen to know any practitioners like you in downtown Chicago?

    • Victoria Albina on January 28, 2020 at 1:24 pm

      Hi Samantha,

      Great to hear from you and Im so glad you liked the article! I work with folks worldwide to learn to attend and befriend their vagus nerve.

      If you’re looking for functional medicine provider, try

      Best! Victoria

  11. Flo W Ryder on February 2, 2020 at 5:55 am

    This is a really great article, thank you! It’s beautifully written; scientific yet soulful and accessible. I’m going to share it with my facebook group that I have associated with my Yoga for Gut Health & Healing business. It’s wonderful to offer actual practices for people to try in order to support their own health and ability to listen to their bodies. Yours are wonderful and very effective! And very importantly, as with your information, not proffered with any elements of fear mongering.

    Thanks again!

    • Victoria Albina on February 10, 2020 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Flo! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ll be doing a lot more content around the vagus nerve and polyvagal theory in the coming months here and on my podcast, Feminist Wellness, so keep an eye out for it!

      Thanks for the share and for taking the time to share your kind words!

      xo, Victoria

  12. Denise Parker on February 23, 2020 at 1:23 am

    Thank you! I found your article by chance, as I was trolling Pinterest. I have been suffering with slow bowel motility all my life. In the last 2 years, I have blacked-out on the toilet 3 times, cracking my head on the tile wall in front of me. It was obviously from the pressure of a full colon on my vagus nerve. I am a retired RN, and felt I was trying to navigate this issue alone, because no one seemed to know why this was happening. Your article has given me a wealth of information that I can and will use! I had found on my own that a glass of cold water seemed to stimulate a bowel movement. So grateful to have so many other ways! I had no idea there was more I could do! I had purchased compression stockings to use when I felt the cramping, nausea and sweats starting, in order to prevent blacking out. So upsetting! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I feel so relieved and enabled!

    • Victoria Albina on February 24, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Denise! I’m sooo glad this was helpful for you!

      xoxo, Victoria

  13. Mike on February 23, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    This was so interesting. It hits so close to home. I have so many of the symptoms and feel like doctors just want to push medications instead of trying to identify the problem. I have anxiety, acid reflux, celiac disease, and now a lot of bloating and distended stomach issues. I started going to an acupuncturist and have seen improvements vs the prescription and take more OTC drugs. Perhaps I will discuss with acupuncturist as she’s more receptive than doctors. Would you happen to know any practitioners in Atlanta area?

    • Victoria Albina on February 24, 2020 at 9:05 am

      HI Mike,

      So glad this was helpful! Check out for local practitioners

      Best! Victoria

  14. Miriam on March 1, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Victoria, I am so glad I came across your article. I found it very educational and it made so much sense. Do you know any practitioners in or near Westchester County/NYC area?

  15. Kelly Zolinski on March 5, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Hi Victoria,
    Thanks for sharing this great information in your article. I recently was treated for h. Pylori and have a history of ribs and anxiety and depression. I am having a lot of problems with digestion motility, and overstimulation of my vagus nerve, particularly at night when sleeping. Do you know anyone in the Lansing, Michigan area that I could see regarding this?

    • Victoria Albina on March 5, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Hi Kelly! See the links above 🙂

      Best – Victoria

  16. Bill on March 23, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    Hello Victoria
    I have a friend in her 50’s who has been through SIBO treatments FOD map etc to find the cause of her periodic abdominal cramping leading to vomiting. Several ER visits over the last 5 yrs. seems to be brought on by stress as it often happens on holidays or during difficult times in life.
    Super sensitive to light and sound much like a migraine. Getting a little desperate here in Portland Or. Resources.? Thoughts?
    Practitioners? Thank you !

    • Victoria Albina on March 24, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Bill. I’m sorry this friend is suffering so much.

      If she is looking for support to manage her mind and reduce her experience of stress, that’s my specialty and I’d be happy to have a call with her to see if we’re a good fit.

      If she/you are looking for traditional medical support, labs/diet/supplements, then look at the end of the article – there are resources listed there.

      All the best!


  17. Robert on May 2, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for the tremendous article!

    • Victoria Albina on May 4, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      I’m so glad this was helpful for you!

      Best, Victoria

  18. Sara Mathias on May 23, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Hola Victoria
    My name is Sara, I’m from Barcelona, Spain. Thanks for this great article! I have been trying to find help for the past 3 years as I have panic like symptoms just before, during and after a bowel movement. I start to sweat, shake, have difficulty breathing and my heart rate goes up. After about 15 to 30 mins I’m ok again. Do you think this could be related to the vagus nerve? Have you ever come accross these symptoms? Do you do online consultations? Thank you in advance, Sara

    • Victoria Albina on May 26, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      Hola Sara!

      Gracias por escribir, reina. That does sound like a vasovagal experience, but of course I’m not there and not your clinician so I am not diagnosing or making any sort of medical statement on it.

      I would look for someone local to you. Personally I would start with a pelvic floor/abdominal physical therapist.

      Best (y abrazos!)


      • Sara on May 28, 2020 at 8:55 am

        Mil gracias and a warm hug for you x

        • Victoria Albina on May 28, 2020 at 9:39 am


  19. Margaret Cho on July 14, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Victoria, I’m so glad I came across your information. This article is very helpful. I think my whole mind and body went through trauma as my brother tested positive for covid and almost died in back in April. He is now well.

    But everything you described here makes sense. From what I went through w my brother in April, my mind and body are now experiencing the effects. My anxiety has escalated. I cannot shake it off. Oh i was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago. Again, it’s only gotten worse during this pandemic. I’ve also started seeking counseling. But would you happen to have any recommendations on any professionals that can help me heal my gut?

    Thank you,

    • Victoria Albina on July 15, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Hi Margaret,

      So so so glad this information was helpful for you – make sure you check out my podcast, Feminist Wellness — I think you’ll really like it!

      Look above and you’ll see my recommendations of places to find Functional Medicine providers.



  20. Ruby S on August 16, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information. I’m glad I ran across this article. I suffer from most of these symptoms and I’ve had numerous treatments and surgery but I’m still having problems. I will most definitely try the suggestions you made to see if it works for me. Do you know any doctors near Dallas Texas or the Shreveport La area that may can assist me?

    • Victoria Albina on August 17, 2020 at 9:10 am

      Hi Ruby! So glad the suggestions here are helpful – referral recommendations are right in the article (at the end).

      All the best!


      • Ranga Nathan on October 6, 2020 at 5:59 am

        Excellent article . I have been practicing a lot of these routines to heal from the after effects of quitting smoking and an antidepressant that was prescribed for disrupted sleep Iam still dealing with this particular issue after almost 3 years, and it mainly occurs between 11-4am, as I am ready to goto bed. It starts off with burps, followed by gut noises and then flatulence that can go all night long. Sometimes it is accompanied by tingling, muscle pain and cold in the extremities, and at other times there is a lot of vasodilation/air movement in my sinuses.

        Given my history of chronic ibs (mainly burping, bloating and frequent BM, reflux esophagitis,) , which I have been able to manage this year on a low fodmap/low fibre,/ low sugar, gluten and dairy free diet, I am running out of possible solutions. I have already been tested and treated for SIBO last year, and my symptoms this year don’t feel like a relapse.

        Would be interested in talking with you based on your experience with these conditions.

        • Victoria Albina on October 21, 2020 at 10:18 am

          Hi there!

          It sounds like follow up with a skilled Functional Medicine provider could be a useful thing for you – check out



  21. Katye on December 14, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Love this, please consider recommending DHA and EPA from algae. There are no heavy metals and it’s so much better for the environment and ethics than fish! Also, this is where fish get all of their omega 3s, so you’re being more efficient.

    • Victoria Albina on January 8, 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Katye,

      I recommend Cod Liver Oil because it’s what I like and thus, what I recommend. I have no ethical qualms with it, or I wouldn’t recommend it. 🙂

      Be well!


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