The vagus nerve plays a vital role in the mind-body connection. It helps in reducing anxiety, depression and stress, according to health experts.

Dr Sweta Adatia, specialist neurologist at RAK Hospital and RAK Diabetes Center — Dubai, says the vagus nerve is made of both motor and sensory fibres and connects the brain stem to organs and systems. These include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and female sex organs, as well as linking the neck, ears and tongue to the brain.

Dr Adatia recommends people to tap into the power of the vagus nerve to help improve and strengthen their mental health.

Most diseases start in the mind, moving to the organic brain and then later follow with the systemic symptoms, the pattern known as psycho-neuro-physio-immuno-endocrinology.

The nerve influences the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is important in social bonding.

‘A well-toned vagus nerve helps to regulate blood pressure, glucose levels, digestion and automatic responses like breathing and perspiration and is a fundamental part also of a healthy gut.’

In the brain, the nerve helps control anxiety and depression. Dr Adatia recommends regular meditation or mindfulness as useful ways to self-manage stress. She also suggests spending 5 minutes a day breathing deeply (well enough to utilise your diaphragm and not just your lungs) as the best way to keep the stress at bay.