Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders


Vagus nerve has direct connections between your brain and organs (e.g. stomach, lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver and kidneys). It is vital for keeping our bodies healthy by regulating our immune system, controlling stress and reducing inflammation.

The vagus nerve is an essential part of the brain–gut axis and plays an important role in the modulation of inflammation, the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis, and the regulation of food intake, satiety, and energy homeostasis. Vagal tone can influence food intake and weight gain. Furthermore, the vagus nerve plays an important role in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders, obesity and inflammatory diseases.

The thyroid is controlled by branches of the vagus nerve. From the other side, hypothyroidism has an effect on the vagus nerve and this can lead to slowing movement through the intestines.

The  interaction  between the gut and the brain is based on a complex system that includes not only neural but also endocrine, immune, and humoral links.

Problems arise when vagus is underactive or inactive, or over-reactive to ordinary stimuli. If the vagus nerve is not healthy it cannot balance sympathetic nervous system and reset immune system which can lead to all kind of health conditions associated with chronic inflammation.

Working with vagus nerve can be achieved by its stimulation and some meditation techniques, which have therapeutic effect by its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.



10 thoughts on “Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders

  • How to cure hypothyroidsm without suplument pills like tyrax or euthyrax? And how to reduce the gain since i am obesitas due to hypothyroid?

    • Dear Tania, supplementing with thyroid hormone may be necessary if your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid. Discuss with your physician the possibility to prescribe a thyroid medication without fillers or a combination T4/T3 medication. Further, having in mind that above 90 % of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s, the weight gain you are experiencing very likely is due to inflammatory process in your body. Make sure that you take care of balancing your immune system. Here the program which can be of benefit for you:

  • I was diagnosed with Hashi’s after experiencing symptoms of both over and under active thyroid and my anti bodies were above 3000!! I have achalasia too, which makes swallowing worse. But I have noticed that when I get stressed or even if the people around me make me stressed, my Vagus Nerve causes a popping and jolting sensation in my stomach, which also in turn causes anxiety! It is a mad world but I would like to try to soothe my Vagus Nerve, desperately!

  • I take Synthyroid for hypothyroidism. My stomach feels upset while my bowels are moving then usually it passes. Also sometimes wake up with anxiety till bowels have finished moving. Why????

  • Hello!

    Full thyroidectomy for cancer 8 years ago. A year ago, stress caused some issues with neck and endo lowered thyroid meds. After about a week, started having random panic attacks out of nowhere. Now, have a multitude of issues including gut, leg weakness, and weird energy in arm muscles and legs. Endo is slowly taking my meds back up because I was extremely hypothyroid but these symptoms are bothersome. Could the hypothyroid be causing issues with my vagus nerve?

    • Hi Karlo, so sorry for the problems you are experiencing. Keep in mind that big part of hypothyroid is caused by Hashimoto’s. Thus, by immune system inbalance. Coming to your question: Could the hypothyroid be causing issues with my vagus nerve?This is double sided. From one side, the thyroid is controlled by the vagus nerve. From the other side, hypothyroidism has an effect on the vagus nerve. Working on balancing vagus nerve can be beneficial. Here, Reset your immune system: Hashimoto’s heart program can very helpful.
      Stay well. Warm regards, Anna

  • I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s a year ago. I have been able to improve my Hashimoto’s without drugs. I’ve done this by seeing a functional medicine Dr., who looks at the underlying cause of the Hashimoto’s, and by changing my diet. The Dr. I see, Dr. Ben Galyardt, has a youtube channel called Functional Medicine Center of Fort Collins. Lots of short videos discussing how to deal with various diseases. His main concept is to get your blood sugar under control. Buy a glucose monitor and check your waking/fasting blood sugar. It should be below 100. If it’s higher then your previous day blood sugar was too high. Check before you eat and also check an hour after you eat to see which foods are raising your blood sugar. It should always be between 85 and 110. If it is higher then try to figure out which food may it up. If it is low before a meal you may be waiting too long between meals or your previous meal may have went really high. Your swings will balance out the longer you stick with it. This is not a temporary ‘diet’. It is something you should stick to the rest of your life. As a general rule stick to foods with a low glycemic load. Check out the youtube website above. It will help.

  • Anyone here suffer from Histamine Intolerance and/or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome & have found there’s a connection with the Vagus nerve?

    • Hi Daniella, thank you for the interesting question. Studies show that the stimulation of the vagus nerve fights mast cell-induced inflammation and prevents the release of multiple mast cell inflammatory cytokines.

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