Natural Vagus Nerve Stimulation

by | Jul 21, 2019

The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex nerve connecting the brain to the major internal organs.

This is how we regulate breathing, heart rate, digestion and more.

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

It can be confusing when people talk about

  • calming the vagus nerve
  • vagus nerve stimulation
  • ways to reset vagus nerve
  • high vagal tone

Although some of these expressions sound at odds with others, it all amounts to the same thing.

We want to restore the vagus nerve to optimal function.

In this way we spend more time in the parasympathetic nervous state of ‘rest and digest’ rather than ‘fight or flight’.

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Vagus Nerve;

Key to Health

Good vagal tone, where the vagus nerve is functioning well, brings a host of health benefits including:

 

  • Relaxation of mind and body
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved communication between the brain and the gut (digestion)
  • Better recovery from stress, fear and anxiety

Today’s Guest

Founder of the Ortho Healing Center, Portland Oregon

and author of

Reverse Button: Learn What the Doctors Aren’t Telling You, Avoid Back Surgery,and Get Your Full Life Back

Abby Beauchamp

 

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery

My guest today is Abby Beauchamp.

We talk about the importance of the vagus nerve for chronic back pain particularly in stressful situations.

 

“The vagus nerve is definitely one of my one of my passions, because I think it was one of my biggest challenges to over, overcome. And I think so many of us have this issue”

A common way to stimulate the vagus nerve is through deep, relaxed breathing which is something that I have practiced for many years.

One of the great things about having a podcast is that I learn new stuff all the time from my guests.

This time, Abby opened my eyes to some new ways to improve vagal tone.

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

In the end self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve Naturally

There are a number of ways to activate the vagus nerve without using any device.

Abby says:

“A lot of people do it through humming and vibrational singing and things like that, I actually I do it through a very physical exercise that I teach people”

As an extra which you won’t hear in the podcast, here are 6 ways to stimulate the vagus nerve naturally:

  1. Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing.
  2. Humming/speaking/singing – the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords
  3. Washing your face with cold water
  4. Gargling
  5. Meditation
  6. Balancing the gut microbiome (probiotics)

Most of these techniques will give a noticeable result quite quickly.

For instance, it’s fairly easy to induce the relaxation response by lying comfortably, emptying the mind and breathing deeply and slowly.

But it gets better.

As you practice vagus nerve stimulation regularly, you will improve your baseline vagal tone.

You will become more resilient to stress and less prone to muscular tension and pain.

Full Episode Transcript – BPL32

Iain Barker

So you mentioned the importance of, of community as to what we just been talking about. This is something that comes up in the book.

Abby Beauchamp

Again, it goes back to environment, it goes back to intentional living. I love there was a report a while back that came out on how to live for longevity of life. It was called longevity of life. And not just how to live the, to be the oldest person but to actually live with the best quality of life. [Yeah], number one thing on the list of three things was community. And I thought, Wow, that’s so true. Because when, you know, as a nervous system expert, like that’s, that’s the key like we do, we need each other’s we need each other, and we read off of each other, just like all the birds in the sky know, to turn at the same time, we have that internally inside of ourselves to we need this information to to navigate the world and navigate our best comfort and function. And so yeah, number one is community. Number two is scientifically what it is a scientifically based nutrition. And number three was walking movement, but just it really came down to walking. I thought, isn’t that brilliant? You know, we we try to think it’s all these other things. And the current science in this this very large research that they did was it came down to those three things for true quality of life, long, long quality of life.

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Iain Barker

So what if some people are naturally extrovert, aren’t they and they naturally engage with others? What if you’re not one of these people and your kind of quite happy? maybe find socializing difficult or tiring and prefer to spend time by yourself?

Abby Beauchamp

Well, I’m a I’m an extroverted introvert. I always say, I’m right on that

Iain Barker

That sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’ve never heard that before. What’s an extroverted introvert?

Abby Beauchamp

Well, every anytime I have ever taken a personality test, I land right in the middle. It’s like I I love, you know, I love to be on a stage talking with hundreds of people and helping, you know, help them out. Right, that excites me. I love doing that. That used to exhaust me as well, like I loved it, and then I will be wiped out for a couple of days.

Iain Barker

That sounds familiar to me, actually. Yeah.

Abby Beauchamp

So that’s, that’s part of learning how to be be in present time and protecting yourself through present time. So I can now do that. And it does not exhaust me. But I also really, really, really need to take at least a couple hours every single week, and I I do a dead sea mud and salt bath every single week. And I light candles and I sometimes put a movie on sometimes I listen to a great podcast, sometimes I listen to nothing or, or just music like whatever. Sometimes I bring wine and ice cream into the bath. Whatever I need in that moment, but I need I need my reset time every every week. And my family knows very much if I miss it. Because they’re like what happened? What’s going on with you, mom? Oh, you didn’t get your bath this week. Okay. And so I and I, you know, every morning I have a I have a routine of meditation and yoga that I do every morning. I have to have that quiet time to be my best self out in the world. Otherwise, I don’t. And that’s where that balance peace comes from. For me that I’ve recognized. I can’t just always be out with people. I need both both pieces. But back to your question of, of the introverts. Like, again, I honor everybody’s journey and their own their own experience of the world. And if your experience of the world and your you know is that you need a lot more personal time. That doesn’t. You still can have a great you could still have a great life with community, even even the the introverts, I know I’m thinking of one in particular, she, you know, her happiest if she can spend 90% of her time in her garden and not talk to anybody. Like that’s her, her happy life. Right? But in that 10% she knows she can’t be there 100% of the time, like she does still reach out. She has a very small group. You know, she has very, very small group of intimate people in her life. But she still knows she needs something like that. Like there’s still something internally that makes her reach out, because she has some element of that for her to have her best life. So I think even introverts we’re all a social nervous system. We all all need other people at some point. Yes, yeah.

Iain Barker

So it’s about finding what works for you.

Abby Beauchamp

We’re all human beings we’re not there is no I think there’s curiosity and there’s intentionality there’s not black and white there’s not protocol. I mean, that’s that’s, I don’t believe in in protocol and black and white because we’re all unique.

Iain Barker

We can’t all be like George

Abby Beauchamp

George my skeleton. Yes.

Iain Barker

The perfectly aligned. I imagine I imagine when I read about George the skeleton, I imagined that George was hanging from his or her because we were not sure. head so so the all the all the bones were kind of hanging in perfect alignment. Is that kind of accurate?

Abby Beauchamp

Actually no, George is on a stand in my office.

Iain Barker

On a stand okay.

Abby Beauchamp

And I did just learn my my oldest daughter is studying anthropology and archaeology. She just came and explained to me that George actually has a head of a man and the pelvis of the female.

Iain Barker

Okay, that’s very modern, isn’t it?

Abby Beauchamp

…nose shape on his head. I thought, Oh, that’s so I had no idea. So I’m always learning and growing. So George, yeah, George is in our family George is both a female and a male name. So we decided George was the right name. But yeah, I don’t. I don’t believe anybody should look like George. I don’t think that I don’t, I don’t want somebody walks in and they’re hunched back, I’m going to say, how was your comfort and function? I’m not going to say What’s wrong with you? Right? Because it’s so I don’t believe there’s anything wrong, I don’t believe. And this is this is another big paradigm shift. I think that in every moment that we think that there’s a problem, there’s also an equal solution at that exact same moment in time. [Yes]. Right. So it’s just learning how you know, is that glass, full glass empty? They, [yes], the pain that we’re going to be upset about, and we’re going to walk down and we’re going to fall apart and not fall apart. But we’re going to let our whole life slip away because we’re so focused on the pain, or are we going to, at that same time, maybe learn about something new, and we we become friends with the pain, and we have new options come into our life. And I and I recognize I mean, I’ve been somebody who’s had extreme pain, like, when I was after my car, my last car accident I was hit by a semi truck going 55 miles an hour a log truck.

Iain Barker

I was actually hit by a truck carrying logs a couple of years ago, fortunately didn’t get injured, but it was it was not pleasant, shall we say? They’re massive aren’t they? And if you just in a car, there’s only going to be one winner in that confrontation.

Abby Beauchamp

Exactly, exactly. Yeah, mine ended up being a four car pile up. And it was just unbelievable that we all were able to walk away

Iain Barker

Modern cars are fantastic, aren’t they all the effort and design that’s put into them to protect the people inside is that we should be grateful for that?

Abby Beauchamp

Yes. Although I learned actually in that accident was that you know like I was talking about.. I didn’t know ortho-bionomy me back then. And I What happened was six months after the car accident, I was getting worse. And I was seeing an osteopath at the time. And he was talking about he had shoe lifts in for me and he was talking about surgery and and I was just miserable. And I didn’t know what else to do. And my oldest daughter was having some anxiety and I was referred to this this woman that she did a work called EFT a type of tapping and and

Iain Barker

so this is Emotional Freedom Technique.

Abby Beauchamp

Yeah, Emotional Freedom Technique. And some sort of she was some sort of energetic, gifted woman. I don’t even know what else she did. But she really was helping my daughter with with her anxiety. And I was looking at her flyer one day, and I saw that she helped with pain. And I thought what the heck, I’m willing to try anything at this point. [Yeah]. And I really didn’t want the surgery. And what that What was that? And so I went in and in one appointment. The pain was all gone. And I went back to my osteopath. And we told him what happened. And he said, He’s like, Oh, my gosh, can I have a card? And I said, Wait back up, like, what did she do? I used to have somebody I referred to, but she moved and I really been looking for somebody who does this type of work. She’s he said, she just got you out of trauma. When you were in the car accident, your body locked down into this trauma loop. And you’ve been stuck there. I’m like, but wait a minute. He said, Yeah, you won’t need to see me again. Now. She’s got you out of it. Now you’re done. And I know, but you are going to cut on me. And he’s like, yeah, yeah, you know, but that was, you know, I don’t have the tools she has, like, you’re done, you know, won’t need to see me ever again. I’m like, what about the shoe lifts? . He’s like, Oh, yeah, you can take those out now to just like, but but but you were going to cut on me. You told me these are the only options. And yet I have this one appointment with this one woman at one point, and she just unlocked my trauma. And now it’s gone. Like, like, I was so baffled until I went into my ortho-bionomy training. And I went, this makes so much sense. Like, this is what they’re talking about. I’ve experienced this in my own body. Absolutely. You know, yeah, when you can unlock somebody’s trauma, it can happen in one session, it could, you know, sometimes it takes longer, but it can also incredible things I’ve seen happen in just one session. It’s It’s unbelievable when you can get out of the trauma loop.

Iain Barker

Yeah, the constant, the chronic pain, you get to a desperation stage where you’re willing to try anything up to and including surgery. I saw years ago, an orthopedic surgeon and just being worn down by constant pain, I would have actually, if he’d have said yeah surgery would help, I would without a doubt I would have I would have done it. Fortunately, he said, No, it’s not suitable for you. And I was forced to try other things, you know, explore all different options. And I found something else that worked for me, which which was really mind body training, basically, first yoga, and then Tai Chi and Qi Gong, which was life changing for me.

Abby Beauchamp

Now you podcast it to teach others and give give options to other people. This is it.. you went you went through the journey for a purpose.

Iain Barker

I really did. Yeah. And I will as did you. Yeah,

Abby Beauchamp

Absolutely. Which is why I write the book. It’s not it couldn’t just be for the, you know, 20 people I see a week in in Portland and needed to be beyond just like you’re you’re reaching out with your story.

Iain Barker

Exactly. Exactly. Right. Yeah. So chapter nine, why it’s so hard to get rid of back pain. And you mentioned the that you spent a lot of time you realize now looking back with your vagus nerve turned on. So what’s that about?

Abby Beauchamp

The vagus nerve is definitely one of my one of my passions, because I think it was one of my biggest challenges to over, overcome. And I think so many of us have this issue. So the vagus nerve is your 10th Brain, Brain nerve and it it actually controls your fight or flight system. And what I think happened at some point, maybe even in utero was a baby, the stress response locked on and my body. My body worked from a stress response. Going forward, if, for example, it showed up like I was diagnosed with PTSD at one point I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue blowing out my my adrenal cortisol flooding, all of these conversations that had been happening. And then at one point, I started gaining weight and I had gained, I was gaining about one to two pounds a week. And I gained over 50 pounds. And I was like the best time of my life, traditionally like when you when you think of diet and exercise, like it was my best time I was eating so clean, I was exercising five days a week, an hour at a time, I should not have been gaining weight in any way. And my my doctor, my, my hormone levels were great. My doctors, like I don’t know what to tell you, other than maybe you need to, you know, exercise seven days a week, like, this is craziness, there’s got to be something

Iain Barker

This is not working, do more of it.

Abby Beauchamp

Please, and, and so I went to an ortho-bionomy class on trauma was my first one on trauma that I learned specifically about the vagus nerve. And that you have, in this functionality of the fight or flight system, you have below flight fight or flight is freeze and your body can actually kind of freeze its functionality on the inside and often that looks like disease and, and dysfunction in your body. And so, in that weekend of getting about eight hours worth of work done with just my vagus nerve. That’s where I first came up with the term reverse button, it felt like somebody hit the reverse button. And the sudden, I had lost 10 pounds that weekend, I just just doing the exact same thing, the weight started coming back off my my energy increase my my functionality, and my whole body shifted. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, there’s something here. And then not shortly after that my husband at the time was a dual citizen of New Zealand and we were driving in New Zealand and looking for retirement property. And he, you know, we’re, as far as I was concerned, we were driving on the wrong side of the road, you know, my nervous system was already a little bit not sure it feels uncomfortable to be on the other side of the road. And we’re in a camper van and and we’re in this dirt road, country road and and as a log truck comes flying down the mountainside at us. And he pulls to the side of the road. And all I see is that the ocean below us. And I’m instantly upset. And he’s instead he’s instantly upset because he thinks I’m criticizing his driving ability. And

Iain Barker

Yeah,that we’re a bit touchy about that.

Abby Beauchamp

So we have little thing that happens. And he keeps going and it happens the second time and I said I need you to pull over. So he pulls over, I drain my adrenal, I get myself back in present time, I I’m able to get my vagus nerve to calm down and I get back in the car. And I said, you know, we’re looking for retirement property right now. Like what are we doing on this road? I don’t want to live on this road. Let’s go look at that other place we were talking about. Instead, he’s like, okay, he wasn’t attached. He so he, he gets in the car and he starts driving the other direction. And he turns to me 10 minutes later, and we have been together 16 years at this point. And he says, You’re better. I’m like, I know. Yeah, we’re going the other way. He’s like, No, no, you’re better. 10 minutes, this usually something like this would have had you kind of upset and his words jacked up for like, a couple days. And I was like, Oh, my vagus nerve worked. Oh my gosh, like, my first recognition of what it felt like to turn it off. Like, back into present time and true what they call homeostasis to true calm in my body. I was totally calm. And it was like, wow. And I think, like, so many of my clients that I see, I see this, this is the core element of the problem is that there? I think we just live in such a fast paced life. We live in stress state that we have to work from this higher intensity. But if it blows up our body, or we’re not really meant to live in fight or flight and freeze all the time, we’re not supposed to be like there and then come back off. And,

Iain Barker

Exactly.

Abby Beauchamp

And I think I talked to some, like high achievers that get worried like, well, if I were, if it wasn’t that way, then would I do nothing like, what does it look like to have your biggest like, there’s fear around that sometimes. [Yeah.] And I can very honestly say I’m still a very, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a doer, I have three companies. I’m a single mom now. And like, I, I live a full life, I do a lot of things, I enjoy my life fully. But I do it from a state where I’m where my body can, can be in good comfort and function. So I still accomplish just as much probably more, I would say now than I did when I was when I was running around. I mean, in some ways, it just sounds like I felt like I was running around with my foot on the gas and the brake at all times. [Yeah], it was like, doing doing but not getting anywhere doing doing and not getting, like, yeah. And, you know, if you look back at my history, I accomplished, you know, like, a traditional person’s look like I’ve accomplished a lot in my life already in my mid-life. But I did that at a huge cost to my health. Yeah, and I’m not that way anymore. I still am accomplishing and now, you know, I’m accomplishing more. And I’m in a good alignment in in support of my health because I support my vagus nerve. Yeah.

Iain Barker

So when, when we talk about the vagus nerve response, I think about the relaxation response, I think about deep breathing effectively, is this what you mean? Or is there another way that you can stimulate the vagus nerve,

Abby Beauchamp

A lot of people do it through humming and vibrational singing and things like that, I actually I do it through a very physical exercise that I teach people how to do so from draining your adrenals to your I was talking about earlier, when I drive I check in with my master fascia point on my head, neck and shoulders is also in acupuncture, you would call your third eye. And that’s that I have a very physical way to, to feel through that. And make sure that it’s all opened up that you’re getting the blood flow you need to your brain that you’re getting your consciousness level from, from being opened up. So we do that on our on the head. And we also do that on around the stomach with the gut brain and all the intelligence there. And together that supports the vagus nerve. I also use a referral point to the adrenals just to get the adrenals to calm down enough that your vagus nerve can reset. When I when I had to teach my oldest daughter to drive that was like, my best gift ever.

Iain Barker

I can imagine, but my kids are still too young to drive. But I can imagine that it’s going to be quite a stressful time.

Abby Beauchamp

Especially after being in a car accident. So many car accidents [Yeah], to sit there in not being in controll in any way, with your life. in your daughter’s hands, and she’s [inaudible] right? she has to she has to make mistakes to learn. And yeah, and it’s terrifying. And so I would there’s an adrenal point. So if you take your, your thumb and your, your second finger, and you put it belly button, and it is a measuring tool, and you go out about an inch on each side and up about two on each side, just under the rib cage. Yeah, theory, it’s a referral point to your adrenal. So it’s in the back. And so by holding your hand, there, not pressing, but just acknowledging that, and I keep my other fingers open as a drain, drain for the energy. And then sometimes I’ll even shake my other hand, or I’ll wiggle my toes, so my body can let go through my extremities, that that can that will keep your cortisol levels down, it’ll keep your adrenaline level down. So you can actually think and that’s, she would say, because it kind of looks like I’m was like pointing at her was sitting there. And she said, you’re pointing again. I said, Do you want mom to stay in her wise, calm brain? Or do you want to help you through this process? Or do you want me to lose it, it’d be yelling and screaming, like my parents did when they had to teach me the choice is yours. And add so. So yeah, that’s how I got through teaching my daughter to drive. But so there’s so I do it in a very physical way. Sometimes I’ll add breath in that breath work in with that too, again, I often. And you know, writing the book, I tried to give some core tools that people can walk away with, but there’s always customization that’s that’s why people reach out to work with me individually is there’s always a customization available for you. For some people just draining your adrenals is the greatest thing that they ever needed to have. Others they need the other piece with the head and the for the top and the bottom of the vagus in the breath work and the vibrational humming. Like some people we need more, right? Some that we just need to open up their extremities of their feet in their hands so they can release throughout the day to calm the vagus nerve down. And others need direct vagal work physically and in energetically. So it depends on what’s going on with you. But there’s a lot of different tools that I talked about. Because I think the vagus is such a key component. When when you’re trying so many other things and you’re just not like what is going on here. I just why is it still not working? Like why am I still not there? It should be there, I should have my life back. I’m tired of, you know, when I think about my ideal client, that somebody who’s built their full life up, and then they’re just watching life go by because they’re so paralyzed because of this back pain. I mean, you see, like you said, you’ve been there that you’re watching up, you want to go play with your kids, you want to go out with your friends for dinner, or you want to, you know, go to a charity event, like whatever it is that excites you. You want to be able to go do your your Tai Chi. And yet you can’t do any of the things that you you’ve built your life around. Because your back pain is so bad. It just robbed you of your life.

Yeah. And so when we, you know, when we can get our life back, it’s it’s there is there’s no bad. I mean, it’s, there is no monetary value that that equates to that. Like it’s so valuable to have your life back.

Iain Barker

Yeah, yeah, you’re right. And I totally agree with you that the stimulation of the vagus nerve is, is core is essential. As I say, for me that’s been through the steady focused breathing has been the way to do that. I didn’t know there were other ways to do it. So that’s very interesting.

Abby Beauchamp

Yeah, goes back to again, breathe. I think breath work is incredible. It’s just doesn’t, not everybody, will that be the right answer? For again, we’re young, you need be? Yeah.

Iain Barker

So the last chapter in the book, living your whole life fully to its best comfort, and function. So it’s, I’ve got a little excerpt from the book here, where you say you’re a whole perfect human being that’s a full system from the physical to the energetic and have new tools to support your body in finding its reverse button that your best comfort and function in a whole way.

Abby Beauchamp

That’s my dream for everybody to recognize themselves. Recognize that in themselves? Yeah.

Iain Barker

Fantastic. Okay, so as we said, In the beginning, people can find you at ortho healing center.com. And on Facebook, under the ortho healing brand, and your book reverse button, learn what the doctors aren’t telling you avoid back surgery and get your full life back is available on Amazon. Is there any anywhere else so people can find it?

Abby Beauchamp

Well, I would also Yeah, they can. You can buy it on Amazon on an E book right now, the the print book will be coming soon. But at the moment, what I really love is when people email me at reverse button book at gmail. com and just say free book, and I will send you an electronic version of the book. And we can chat. And we can chat and see if there’s something I could do to customize for you to get the most out of the book. And I absolutely, that just brings great joy in my life. So I want to encourage all your listeners to email the reverse button book at gmail. com and just say free book. And I will I’ll reach out to you and let’s make sure you get the most out of the book that’s right for you.

Iain Barker

Wow, fantastic. Yeah. I think we’re we’ve kind of come to, to, to the end, is there anything else that we’ve missed, or that you’d like to go through in more detail?

Abby Beauchamp

Not that I can think of, this has been a great interview. You’re a great interviewer.

Iain Barker

Well, that’s verykind of you to say. So sometimes I think it goes quite well. And then other times, I think, Oh, you know, I could have done better there. I guess life’s like that, isn’t it,

Abby Beauchamp

life is absolutely like that. And we have our better day. And again, we honor the journey and the experience in the moment. And I’m grateful that I got to spend this moment with you and your listeners, and I’m looking forward to talking with some of them and, and helping them find their best comfort and function. Because we all deserve to get our full life back. It’s it’s absolutely my passion for for the whole of the world. Like I feel like, that’s how I’m going to make the world a better place. I’m not going to be able to affect it politically or anything like that. But this is one thing I can do. And that’s how people get their full life back. And it’s like they’re going to be able to navigate the world in such a better place. It’s going to make the whole world a better place. And so I look forward to talking to more people and to spreading this world, this work worldwide and realize that there’s options, we all have options. And yeah, so I’m excited. I’m excited to that this is that we did this and that this is going to spread the word even more. So thank you so much, Iain. I really appreciate our time together.

Iain Barker

Me too. I think that’s a fantastic ending. I couldn’t have done better. So thanks very much for coming on the on the podcast and lovely talking to you and all the best.

Abby Beauchamp

All right, thank you. You have a great day.

Iain Barker

You too. Bye bye bye bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thanks for Listening!

Have you tried a natural way to stimulate the vagus nerve? What was it?

Do you have any tips or tricks?

Let us know in the comments below.

All the best

Iain

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The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex nerve connecting the brain to the major internal organs.

This is how we regulate breathing, heart rate, digestion and more.

 

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

It can be confusing when people talk about

  • calming the vagus nerve
  • vagus nerve stimulation
  • ways to reset vagus nerve
  • high vagal tone

Although some of these expressions sound at odds with others, it all amounts to the same thing.

We want to restore the vagus nerve to optimal function.

In this way we spend more time in the parasympathetic nervous state of ‘rest and digest’ rather than ‘fight or flight’.

Today’s Guest

Founder of the Ortho Healing Center, Portland Oregon

and author of

Reverse Button: Learn What the Doctors Aren’t Telling You, Avoid Back Surgery,and Get Your Full Life Back

Abby Beauchamp

 

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery

Vagus Nerve the Key to Health

Good vagal tone, where the vagus nerve is functioning well, brings a host of health benefits including:

  • Relaxation of mind and body
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved communication between the brain and the gut (digestion)
  • Better recovery from stress, fear and anxiety

My guest today is founder of the Ortho Healing Centre and author of Reverse Button: Learn What the Doctors Aren’t Telling You, Avoid Back Surgery,and Get Your Full Life Back, Abby Beauchamp.

We talk about the importance of the vagus nerve for chronic back pain particularly in stressful situations.

“The vagus nerve is definitely one of my one of my passions, because I think it was one of my biggest challenges to over, overcome. And I think so many of us have this issue”

A common way to stimulate the vagus nerve is through deep, relaxed breathing which is something that I have practiced for many years.

One of the great things about having a podcast is that I learn new stuff all the time from my guests.

This time, Abby opened my eyes to some new ways to improve vagal tone.

 

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

In the end self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve Naturally

There are a number of ways to activate the vagus nerve without using any device.

Abby says:

“A lot of people do it through humming and vibrational singing and things like that, I actually I do it through a very physical exercise that I teach people”

As an extra which you won’t hear in the podcast, here are 6 ways to stimulate the vagus nerve naturally:

  1. Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing.
  2. Humming/speaking/singing – the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords
  3. Washing your face with cold water
  4. Gargling
  5. Meditation
  6. Balancing the gut microbiome (probiotics)

Most of these techniques will give a noticeable result quite quickly.

For instance, it’s fairly easy to induce the relaxation response by lying comfortably, emptying the mind and breathing deeply and slowly.

But it gets better.

As you practice vagus nerve stimulation regularly, you will improve your baseline vagal tone.

You will become more resilient to stress and less prone to muscular tension and pain.

Full Episode Transcript – BPL32

Iain Barker

So you mentioned the importance of, of community as to what we just been talking about. This is something that comes up in the book.

Abby Beauchamp

Again, it goes back to environment, it goes back to intentional living. I love there was a report a while back that came out on how to live for longevity of life. It was called longevity of life. And not just how to live the, to be the oldest person but to actually live with the best quality of life. [Yeah], number one thing on the list of three things was community. And I thought, Wow, that’s so true. Because when, you know, as a nervous system expert, like that’s, that’s the key like we do, we need each other’s we need each other, and we read off of each other, just like all the birds in the sky know, to turn at the same time, we have that internally inside of ourselves to we need this information to to navigate the world and navigate our best comfort and function. And so yeah, number one is community. Number two is scientifically what it is a scientifically based nutrition. And number three was walking movement, but just it really came down to walking. I thought, isn’t that brilliant? You know, we we try to think it’s all these other things. And the current science in this this very large research that they did was it came down to those three things for true quality of life, long, long quality of life.

read more
Iain Barker

So what if some people are naturally extrovert, aren’t they and they naturally engage with others? What if you’re not one of these people and your kind of quite happy? maybe find socializing difficult or tiring and prefer to spend time by yourself?

Abby Beauchamp

Well, I’m a I’m an extroverted introvert. I always say, I’m right on that

Iain Barker

That sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’ve never heard that before. What’s an extroverted introvert?

Abby Beauchamp

Well, every anytime I have ever taken a personality test, I land right in the middle. It’s like I I love, you know, I love to be on a stage talking with hundreds of people and helping, you know, help them out. Right, that excites me. I love doing that. That used to exhaust me as well, like I loved it, and then I will be wiped out for a couple of days.

Iain Barker

That sounds familiar to me, actually. Yeah.

Abby Beauchamp

So that’s, that’s part of learning how to be be in present time and protecting yourself through present time. So I can now do that. And it does not exhaust me. But I also really, really, really need to take at least a couple hours every single week, and I I do a dead sea mud and salt bath every single week. And I light candles and I sometimes put a movie on sometimes I listen to a great podcast, sometimes I listen to nothing or, or just music like whatever. Sometimes I bring wine and ice cream into the bath. Whatever I need in that moment, but I need I need my reset time every every week. And my family knows very much if I miss it. Because they’re like what happened? What’s going on with you, mom? Oh, you didn’t get your bath this week. Okay. And so I and I, you know, every morning I have a I have a routine of meditation and yoga that I do every morning. I have to have that quiet time to be my best self out in the world. Otherwise, I don’t. And that’s where that balance peace comes from. For me that I’ve recognized. I can’t just always be out with people. I need both both pieces. But back to your question of, of the introverts. Like, again, I honor everybody’s journey and their own their own experience of the world. And if your experience of the world and your you know is that you need a lot more personal time. That doesn’t. You still can have a great you could still have a great life with community, even even the the introverts, I know I’m thinking of one in particular, she, you know, her happiest if she can spend 90% of her time in her garden and not talk to anybody. Like that’s her, her happy life. Right? But in that 10% she knows she can’t be there 100% of the time, like she does still reach out. She has a very small group. You know, she has very, very small group of intimate people in her life. But she still knows she needs something like that. Like there’s still something internally that makes her reach out, because she has some element of that for her to have her best life. So I think even introverts we’re all a social nervous system. We all all need other people at some point. Yes, yeah.

Iain Barker

So it’s about finding what works for you.

Abby Beauchamp

We’re all human beings we’re not there is no I think there’s curiosity and there’s intentionality there’s not black and white there’s not protocol. I mean, that’s that’s, I don’t believe in in protocol and black and white because we’re all unique.

Iain Barker

We can’t all be like George

Abby Beauchamp

George my skeleton. Yes.

Iain Barker

The perfectly aligned. I imagine I imagine when I read about George the skeleton, I imagined that George was hanging from his or her because we were not sure. head so so the all the all the bones were kind of hanging in perfect alignment. Is that kind of accurate?

Abby Beauchamp

Actually no, George is on a stand in my office.

Iain Barker

On a stand okay.

Abby Beauchamp

And I did just learn my my oldest daughter is studying anthropology and archaeology. She just came and explained to me that George actually has a head of a man and the pelvis of the female.

Iain Barker

Okay, that’s very modern, isn’t it?

Abby Beauchamp

…nose shape on his head. I thought, Oh, that’s so I had no idea. So I’m always learning and growing. So George, yeah, George is in our family George is both a female and a male name. So we decided George was the right name. But yeah, I don’t. I don’t believe anybody should look like George. I don’t think that I don’t, I don’t want somebody walks in and they’re hunched back, I’m going to say, how was your comfort and function? I’m not going to say What’s wrong with you? Right? Because it’s so I don’t believe there’s anything wrong, I don’t believe. And this is this is another big paradigm shift. I think that in every moment that we think that there’s a problem, there’s also an equal solution at that exact same moment in time. [Yes]. Right. So it’s just learning how you know, is that glass, full glass empty? They, [yes], the pain that we’re going to be upset about, and we’re going to walk down and we’re going to fall apart and not fall apart. But we’re going to let our whole life slip away because we’re so focused on the pain, or are we going to, at that same time, maybe learn about something new, and we we become friends with the pain, and we have new options come into our life. And I and I recognize I mean, I’ve been somebody who’s had extreme pain, like, when I was after my car, my last car accident I was hit by a semi truck going 55 miles an hour a log truck.

Iain Barker

I was actually hit by a truck carrying logs a couple of years ago, fortunately didn’t get injured, but it was it was not pleasant, shall we say? They’re massive aren’t they? And if you just in a car, there’s only going to be one winner in that confrontation.

Abby Beauchamp

Exactly, exactly. Yeah, mine ended up being a four car pile up. And it was just unbelievable that we all were able to walk away

Iain Barker

Modern cars are fantastic, aren’t they all the effort and design that’s put into them to protect the people inside is that we should be grateful for that?

Abby Beauchamp

Yes. Although I learned actually in that accident was that you know like I was talking about.. I didn’t know ortho-bionomy me back then. And I What happened was six months after the car accident, I was getting worse. And I was seeing an osteopath at the time. And he was talking about he had shoe lifts in for me and he was talking about surgery and and I was just miserable. And I didn’t know what else to do. And my oldest daughter was having some anxiety and I was referred to this this woman that she did a work called EFT a type of tapping and and

Iain Barker

so this is Emotional Freedom Technique.

Abby Beauchamp

Yeah, Emotional Freedom Technique. And some sort of she was some sort of energetic, gifted woman. I don’t even know what else she did. But she really was helping my daughter with with her anxiety. And I was looking at her flyer one day, and I saw that she helped with pain. And I thought what the heck, I’m willing to try anything at this point. [Yeah]. And I really didn’t want the surgery. And what that What was that? And so I went in and in one appointment. The pain was all gone. And I went back to my osteopath. And we told him what happened. And he said, He’s like, Oh, my gosh, can I have a card? And I said, Wait back up, like, what did she do? I used to have somebody I referred to, but she moved and I really been looking for somebody who does this type of work. She’s he said, she just got you out of trauma. When you were in the car accident, your body locked down into this trauma loop. And you’ve been stuck there. I’m like, but wait a minute. He said, Yeah, you won’t need to see me again. Now. She’s got you out of it. Now you’re done. And I know, but you are going to cut on me. And he’s like, yeah, yeah, you know, but that was, you know, I don’t have the tools she has, like, you’re done, you know, won’t need to see me ever again. I’m like, what about the shoe lifts? . He’s like, Oh, yeah, you can take those out now to just like, but but but you were going to cut on me. You told me these are the only options. And yet I have this one appointment with this one woman at one point, and she just unlocked my trauma. And now it’s gone. Like, like, I was so baffled until I went into my ortho-bionomy training. And I went, this makes so much sense. Like, this is what they’re talking about. I’ve experienced this in my own body. Absolutely. You know, yeah, when you can unlock somebody’s trauma, it can happen in one session, it could, you know, sometimes it takes longer, but it can also incredible things I’ve seen happen in just one session. It’s It’s unbelievable when you can get out of the trauma loop.

Iain Barker

Yeah, the constant, the chronic pain, you get to a desperation stage where you’re willing to try anything up to and including surgery. I saw years ago, an orthopedic surgeon and just being worn down by constant pain, I would have actually, if he’d have said yeah surgery would help, I would without a doubt I would have I would have done it. Fortunately, he said, No, it’s not suitable for you. And I was forced to try other things, you know, explore all different options. And I found something else that worked for me, which which was really mind body training, basically, first yoga, and then Tai Chi and Qi Gong, which was life changing for me.

Abby Beauchamp

Now you podcast it to teach others and give give options to other people. This is it.. you went you went through the journey for a purpose.

Iain Barker

I really did. Yeah. And I will as did you. Yeah,

Abby Beauchamp

Absolutely. Which is why I write the book. It’s not it couldn’t just be for the, you know, 20 people I see a week in in Portland and needed to be beyond just like you’re you’re reaching out with your story.

Iain Barker

Exactly. Exactly. Right. Yeah. So chapter nine, why it’s so hard to get rid of back pain. And you mentioned the that you spent a lot of time you realize now looking back with your vagus nerve turned on. So what’s that about?

Abby Beauchamp

The vagus nerve is definitely one of my one of my passions, because I think it was one of my biggest challenges to over, overcome. And I think so many of us have this issue. So the vagus nerve is your 10th Brain, Brain nerve and it it actually controls your fight or flight system. And what I think happened at some point, maybe even in utero was a baby, the stress response locked on and my body. My body worked from a stress response. Going forward, if, for example, it showed up like I was diagnosed with PTSD at one point I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue blowing out my my adrenal cortisol flooding, all of these conversations that had been happening. And then at one point, I started gaining weight and I had gained, I was gaining about one to two pounds a week. And I gained over 50 pounds. And I was like the best time of my life, traditionally like when you when you think of diet and exercise, like it was my best time I was eating so clean, I was exercising five days a week, an hour at a time, I should not have been gaining weight in any way. And my my doctor, my, my hormone levels were great. My doctors, like I don’t know what to tell you, other than maybe you need to, you know, exercise seven days a week, like, this is craziness, there’s got to be something

Iain Barker

This is not working, do more of it.

Abby Beauchamp

Please, and, and so I went to an ortho-bionomy class on trauma was my first one on trauma that I learned specifically about the vagus nerve. And that you have, in this functionality of the fight or flight system, you have below flight fight or flight is freeze and your body can actually kind of freeze its functionality on the inside and often that looks like disease and, and dysfunction in your body. And so, in that weekend of getting about eight hours worth of work done with just my vagus nerve. That’s where I first came up with the term reverse button, it felt like somebody hit the reverse button. And the sudden, I had lost 10 pounds that weekend, I just just doing the exact same thing, the weight started coming back off my my energy increase my my functionality, and my whole body shifted. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, there’s something here. And then not shortly after that my husband at the time was a dual citizen of New Zealand and we were driving in New Zealand and looking for retirement property. And he, you know, we’re, as far as I was concerned, we were driving on the wrong side of the road, you know, my nervous system was already a little bit not sure it feels uncomfortable to be on the other side of the road. And we’re in a camper van and and we’re in this dirt road, country road and and as a log truck comes flying down the mountainside at us. And he pulls to the side of the road. And all I see is that the ocean below us. And I’m instantly upset. And he’s instead he’s instantly upset because he thinks I’m criticizing his driving ability. And

Iain Barker

Yeah,that we’re a bit touchy about that.

Abby Beauchamp

So we have little thing that happens. And he keeps going and it happens the second time and I said I need you to pull over. So he pulls over, I drain my adrenal, I get myself back in present time, I I’m able to get my vagus nerve to calm down and I get back in the car. And I said, you know, we’re looking for retirement property right now. Like what are we doing on this road? I don’t want to live on this road. Let’s go look at that other place we were talking about. Instead, he’s like, okay, he wasn’t attached. He so he, he gets in the car and he starts driving the other direction. And he turns to me 10 minutes later, and we have been together 16 years at this point. And he says, You’re better. I’m like, I know. Yeah, we’re going the other way. He’s like, No, no, you’re better. 10 minutes, this usually something like this would have had you kind of upset and his words jacked up for like, a couple days. And I was like, Oh, my vagus nerve worked. Oh my gosh, like, my first recognition of what it felt like to turn it off. Like, back into present time and true what they call homeostasis to true calm in my body. I was totally calm. And it was like, wow. And I think, like, so many of my clients that I see, I see this, this is the core element of the problem is that there? I think we just live in such a fast paced life. We live in stress state that we have to work from this higher intensity. But if it blows up our body, or we’re not really meant to live in fight or flight and freeze all the time, we’re not supposed to be like there and then come back off. And,

Iain Barker

Exactly.

Abby Beauchamp

And I think I talked to some, like high achievers that get worried like, well, if I were, if it wasn’t that way, then would I do nothing like, what does it look like to have your biggest like, there’s fear around that sometimes. [Yeah.] And I can very honestly say I’m still a very, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a doer, I have three companies. I’m a single mom now. And like, I, I live a full life, I do a lot of things, I enjoy my life fully. But I do it from a state where I’m where my body can, can be in good comfort and function. So I still accomplish just as much probably more, I would say now than I did when I was when I was running around. I mean, in some ways, it just sounds like I felt like I was running around with my foot on the gas and the brake at all times. [Yeah], it was like, doing doing but not getting anywhere doing doing and not getting, like, yeah. And, you know, if you look back at my history, I accomplished, you know, like, a traditional person’s look like I’ve accomplished a lot in my life already in my mid-life. But I did that at a huge cost to my health. Yeah, and I’m not that way anymore. I still am accomplishing and now, you know, I’m accomplishing more. And I’m in a good alignment in in support of my health because I support my vagus nerve. Yeah.

Iain Barker

So when, when we talk about the vagus nerve response, I think about the relaxation response, I think about deep breathing effectively, is this what you mean? Or is there another way that you can stimulate the vagus nerve,

Abby Beauchamp

A lot of people do it through humming and vibrational singing and things like that, I actually I do it through a very physical exercise that I teach people how to do so from draining your adrenals to your I was talking about earlier, when I drive I check in with my master fascia point on my head, neck and shoulders is also in acupuncture, you would call your third eye. And that’s that I have a very physical way to, to feel through that. And make sure that it’s all opened up that you’re getting the blood flow you need to your brain that you’re getting your consciousness level from, from being opened up. So we do that on our on the head. And we also do that on around the stomach with the gut brain and all the intelligence there. And together that supports the vagus nerve. I also use a referral point to the adrenals just to get the adrenals to calm down enough that your vagus nerve can reset. When I when I had to teach my oldest daughter to drive that was like, my best gift ever.

Iain Barker

I can imagine, but my kids are still too young to drive. But I can imagine that it’s going to be quite a stressful time.

Abby Beauchamp

Especially after being in a car accident. So many car accidents [Yeah], to sit there in not being in controll in any way, with your life. in your daughter’s hands, and she’s [inaudible] right? she has to she has to make mistakes to learn. And yeah, and it’s terrifying. And so I would there’s an adrenal point. So if you take your, your thumb and your, your second finger, and you put it belly button, and it is a measuring tool, and you go out about an inch on each side and up about two on each side, just under the rib cage. Yeah, theory, it’s a referral point to your adrenal. So it’s in the back. And so by holding your hand, there, not pressing, but just acknowledging that, and I keep my other fingers open as a drain, drain for the energy. And then sometimes I’ll even shake my other hand, or I’ll wiggle my toes, so my body can let go through my extremities, that that can that will keep your cortisol levels down, it’ll keep your adrenaline level down. So you can actually think and that’s, she would say, because it kind of looks like I’m was like pointing at her was sitting there. And she said, you’re pointing again. I said, Do you want mom to stay in her wise, calm brain? Or do you want to help you through this process? Or do you want me to lose it, it’d be yelling and screaming, like my parents did when they had to teach me the choice is yours. And add so. So yeah, that’s how I got through teaching my daughter to drive. But so there’s so I do it in a very physical way. Sometimes I’ll add breath in that breath work in with that too, again, I often. And you know, writing the book, I tried to give some core tools that people can walk away with, but there’s always customization that’s that’s why people reach out to work with me individually is there’s always a customization available for you. For some people just draining your adrenals is the greatest thing that they ever needed to have. Others they need the other piece with the head and the for the top and the bottom of the vagus in the breath work and the vibrational humming. Like some people we need more, right? Some that we just need to open up their extremities of their feet in their hands so they can release throughout the day to calm the vagus nerve down. And others need direct vagal work physically and in energetically. So it depends on what’s going on with you. But there’s a lot of different tools that I talked about. Because I think the vagus is such a key component. When when you’re trying so many other things and you’re just not like what is going on here. I just why is it still not working? Like why am I still not there? It should be there, I should have my life back. I’m tired of, you know, when I think about my ideal client, that somebody who’s built their full life up, and then they’re just watching life go by because they’re so paralyzed because of this back pain. I mean, you see, like you said, you’ve been there that you’re watching up, you want to go play with your kids, you want to go out with your friends for dinner, or you want to, you know, go to a charity event, like whatever it is that excites you. You want to be able to go do your your Tai Chi. And yet you can’t do any of the things that you you’ve built your life around. Because your back pain is so bad. It just robbed you of your life.

Yeah. And so when we, you know, when we can get our life back, it’s it’s there is there’s no bad. I mean, it’s, there is no monetary value that that equates to that. Like it’s so valuable to have your life back.

Iain Barker

Yeah, yeah, you’re right. And I totally agree with you that the stimulation of the vagus nerve is, is core is essential. As I say, for me that’s been through the steady focused breathing has been the way to do that. I didn’t know there were other ways to do it. So that’s very interesting.

Abby Beauchamp

Yeah, goes back to again, breathe. I think breath work is incredible. It’s just doesn’t, not everybody, will that be the right answer? For again, we’re young, you need be? Yeah.

Iain Barker

So the last chapter in the book, living your whole life fully to its best comfort, and function. So it’s, I’ve got a little excerpt from the book here, where you say you’re a whole perfect human being that’s a full system from the physical to the energetic and have new tools to support your body in finding its reverse button that your best comfort and function in a whole way.

Abby Beauchamp

That’s my dream for everybody to recognize themselves. Recognize that in themselves? Yeah.

Iain Barker

Fantastic. Okay, so as we said, In the beginning, people can find you at ortho healing center.com. And on Facebook, under the ortho healing brand, and your book reverse button, learn what the doctors aren’t telling you avoid back surgery and get your full life back is available on Amazon. Is there any anywhere else so people can find it?

Abby Beauchamp

Well, I would also Yeah, they can. You can buy it on Amazon on an E book right now, the the print book will be coming soon. But at the moment, what I really love is when people email me at reverse button book at gmail. com and just say free book, and I will send you an electronic version of the book. And we can chat. And we can chat and see if there’s something I could do to customize for you to get the most out of the book. And I absolutely, that just brings great joy in my life. So I want to encourage all your listeners to email the reverse button book at gmail. com and just say free book. And I will I’ll reach out to you and let’s make sure you get the most out of the book that’s right for you.

Iain Barker

Wow, fantastic. Yeah. I think we’re we’ve kind of come to, to, to the end, is there anything else that we’ve missed, or that you’d like to go through in more detail?

Abby Beauchamp

Not that I can think of, this has been a great interview. You’re a great interviewer.

Iain Barker

Well, that’s verykind of you to say. So sometimes I think it goes quite well. And then other times, I think, Oh, you know, I could have done better there. I guess life’s like that, isn’t it,

Abby Beauchamp

life is absolutely like that. And we have our better day. And again, we honor the journey and the experience in the moment. And I’m grateful that I got to spend this moment with you and your listeners, and I’m looking forward to talking with some of them and, and helping them find their best comfort and function. Because we all deserve to get our full life back. It’s it’s absolutely my passion for for the whole of the world. Like I feel like, that’s how I’m going to make the world a better place. I’m not going to be able to affect it politically or anything like that. But this is one thing I can do. And that’s how people get their full life back. And it’s like they’re going to be able to navigate the world in such a better place. It’s going to make the whole world a better place. And so I look forward to talking to more people and to spreading this world, this work worldwide and realize that there’s options, we all have options. And yeah, so I’m excited. I’m excited to that this is that we did this and that this is going to spread the word even more. So thank you so much, Iain. I really appreciate our time together.

Iain Barker

Me too. I think that’s a fantastic ending. I couldn’t have done better. So thanks very much for coming on the on the podcast and lovely talking to you and all the best.

Abby Beauchamp

All right, thank you. You have a great day.

Iain Barker

You too. Bye bye bye bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thanks for Listening!

Have you tried a natural way to stimulate the vagus nerve? What was it?

Do you have any tips or tricks?

Let us know in the comments below.

All the best

Iain

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