What Happens in Vagus Does Not Stay in Vagus
Massage Therapy and Treatment of Diabetes
By M. P. Mansfield AAS, LMT, CNMT
Cardiovascular disease, stroke risk, high blood pressure, and neurological disorders (e.g. Peripheral neuropathy) associated with diabetes have long been considered contraindications to receiving massage therapy. However, with a doctor’s clearance, a therapist with advanced training may provide effective treatment for the diabetes sufferer.
Massage therapy is effective in improving circulation, lymphatic functioning, central nervous system response, and reduction of blood pressure. During a massage therapy session, the body’s nervous system is affected through the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body.
The 10th cranial nerve, the Vagus nerve, is considered to be the master nerve of the body. Vagus is Latin for wandering, aptly describing its path as it descends from brain stem, becoming encased within the sheath containing the jugular vein and carotid artery, and eventually traveling with the esophagus (through the diaphragm) into the abdominal cavity. It serves as a primary conduit of information between the brain and the heart, lungs, and digestive system.
More importantly, for diabetic patients, the vagus provides the energy for the endocrine functioning of the pancreas. Massage therapy assists in reducing the pressure and tension the musculoskeletal system places upon the vagus, allowing it to communicate more efficiently with the brain. Type II and gestational diabetes patients may favorably respond to carefully applied manual therapy techniques.
The simplest way for the diabetes patient to reduce pressure on the vagus is to breathe. The respiratory muscles in the neck, upper chest, and abdomen (diaphragm) often constrict the vagus when the patient has developed the habit of chest or shallowly breathing. Reversing this pattern requires the mobilization of the diaphragm, the master respiratory muscle, otherwise known as diaphragmatic breathing. The vagus nerve is thought to regulate the body’s fight or flight and autoimmune response.
When the vagus is affected, the entire body is affected. Hence, what happens in vagus does NOT stay in vagus! Take the time to free the vagus ~ Stop, Breathe, and BE.