Thursday, February 3, 2022

The Vagus Nerve As A Biomarker For Vata Dosha Activity


In honor of February being American Heart Month, the ChayaVeda team has decided to create a series investigating new studies on the heart, or associated tissues, and complimentary Ayurvedic theory and practices. 

For many years there have been a common belief that Eastern and Western medicine practices are separate entities, that do not overlap, or relate to one another. However, with emerging research and studies, it is coming to light that not only are they related, but they also have a symbiotic relationship where one affects the other.

 Therefore, for this week’s “Did You Know” series, we will be highlighting the interconnected relationship between the Vagus Nerve and Vata Dosha in the digestive system as major koshta, koshtasthavata or “gut” regulators. 

Firstly, not only does the vagus nerve innervate the heart, but it also serves as a regulator for both the respiratory and digestive systems. In the digestive system, afferent vagus branches send information concerning “appetite, stress, food intake, and food composition” via the gut-brain link to the brain. Once the information is processed, the efferent vagus nerve branches signal, either directly or indirectly, other organs and tissues to maintain the gut homeostasis, inflammation, and other processes that directly affect an individual’s immune system.

 In Western Cultures, it is believed that the vagus nerve is solely responsible for this maintenance, however, in recent research studies, it is shown that the vagus nerve stimulates Vata Dosha in the digestive system as well. The gut-brain link we have seen before with the vagus nerve, is also seen involved with Prana and Apana, two of the major sub-groups of Vata Dosha. When these sub-groups are affected, there is a noticeable difference in gastrointestinal motility, which is in turn interpreted by the vagus nerve. Additionally, the integrity of the Koshta (GI Tract) and Pakwashaya (large intenstine) are critical in maintaining the Prana and Apana Vata sub-groups, which in turn ensures the gut’s homeostasis. As you can see both the Vata Dosha and Vagus nerves work interconnectedly to maintain the digestive system’s homeostasis and are not so different after all. 

Chaya delves into Vata Dosha and the sub-doshas of vata in both the Marma Chikitsa and Sinus/SANS modules of the Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork Program, as well as her Yoga Teacher Training and Ayurvedic Yoga Immersion, since it is a foundational component of both Yoga and Ayurvedic Treatment. 

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1 comment:

  1. I'm confused by the title -how is the vagus nerve a biomarker for vata dosha activity?