Vagus Nerve & the Mind-Body Connection

March 25, 2010

The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve, a honking big nerve that runs from your skull, down your chest and into your abdomen. The punch-in-the-gut feeling of a jolt of adrenalin/the start of an anxiety attack is carried on the vagus nerve.

The usual paradigm for emotions is they start in the brain. Most of the body’s hormones have a dual purpose as a neurotransmitter. The vagus nerve helps coordinate the physical feeling with the emotional feeling – they are one and the same. The mind-body connection.

Most of the body’s serotonin is in the gut. A squirt of serotonin doesn’t just happen in the brain, it happens in the whole body. Ditto adrenaline. The vagus nerve conducts information in both directions. I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to blame anxiety on a brain malfunction.

An interesting treatment for anxiety is “Vagus Nerve Stimulation.” In VNS, a device is implanted that applies current to the vagus nerve is to overwhelm it. It’s kind of like a TENS unit for pain. VNS is a last resort for intractible anxiety.

One implication of this is that if you can control the physical aspects of anxiety – relax your muscles, slow down your breathing & heart rate – then the emotional component will follow. Once the emotions are managed you can work out whatever brought on the anxiety.
Candace Pert, Ph.D. discovered opium (endorphin) receptors in the brain. She wrote an enlightening book Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine.

Also check out Timothy Leary. One of his more interesting ideas is that we have receptor sites for chemicals that haven’t been invented yet. Alexander Shulgin was a chemist who formulated a lot of them, but I don’t recommend you try it. 🙂

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The Neurology of Trauma

March 7, 2009

A few weeks ago there was a vehicle in front of me at the coffeeshop window with a phone number and link to The Evolutionary Brain. I called the number and got the guy in the truck, we waved at each other, and he gave me a DVD of the above video, Dr. Robert Scaer on Brain State Technologies and Trauma.

I had a theory about this 18 years ago when I worked for an EEG company and was getting into brainwave synchronization. Doesn’t it seem obvious that if you can “read” brainwaves, then you can also write them? It would be tricky. We’re not looking for ECT, which is more like an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that wipes the whole thing clean. We just want to defrag the mind.

The main site for the technology, Brain State Technologies™ Brain State Conditioning™.

Imnsho, information like this is an absolute necessity if you don’t want to drown in your own drool. YMMV, of course.


Majnoon or Jinn?

April 8, 2008

Today I learned that the Arabic word for mental illness has the same etymology as the Arabic word for evil spirits. This has an unfortunate effect on how the mentally ill are perceived in the Middle East.

Language is an odd thing. It enables you to express your innermost thoughts and feelings. BUT it almost guarantees that the thoughts and feelings you express have been totally shaped by the language itself. In the words of comedian Lenny Bruce,

“Believe me, I’m not profound, this is something that I assume someone must have laid on me, because I do not have an original thought. I am screwed. I speak English. That’s it. I was not born in a vacuum. Every thought I have belongs to somebody else.”
— Lenny Bruce, quoted on Rakes Progress: Lenny Bruce is not afraid

So what’s happening is that as long as the doctors use that old-fashioned word to describe mental illness, demon-possessed the mentally ill will remain.

Arabs don’t have a monopoly on superstition though. The following TinyUrl will take you to a google search for “mental illness exorcism.”
http://tinyurl.com/5gwe4p


TFTD: Hallucination

January 15, 2008

RealMagick Article: The Seven Shaman Principles by Serge Kahill King

Thought for the Day:

Hallucination means “your dream doesn’t match my dream.”


TFTD – Objective Observer

March 28, 2006

Who listens to my thoughts?