the wandering nerve, the vagus nerve, the pneumogastric nerve

I have come to the conclusion trust your gut means trust your vagus nerve.  And having  butterflies in the stomach may in fact be saying something about our vagus nerve too.

Otto Loewi, a German physiologist, discovered stimulating the vagus nerve caused a reduction in heart-rate. He suspected a trigger or release of something he called vagusstoff (German for vagus substance). I note Loewi was led to this insights and eventual experiment via a dream, maybe 2 dreams actually (did he trust his gut? his vagus nerve?).  Scientists eventually identify acetylcholine (vagusstoff), a neurotransmitter.

Deep, slow breaths – in through the nose – calms (releases acetylcholine?) the vagus nerve.  I don’t know, I’m an artist….

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I revisit the Vagus Nerve these last few weeks.  I refer to it in an earlier work, now I focus and map it out life-size. I hope to detail and know its route through the organs. This is harder than I can know and it’s a good thing I don’t give it much thought before I outline the general area. General area is short for (all) organs of (entire) torso. I begin the work more realistic than usual, knowing I will loosen up and play with shapes as I move along.

The vagus nerve is one of two long (long, long) cranial nerves also called the wandering nerve. It wanders through many of our organs.  It’s also known as Cranial Nerve X (CNX). I learn it’s also called the pneumogastric nerve (less romantic).

It emerges at the back of the skull and moves down the down the body where it makes its way through the abdomen. On its journey it comes in contact with the ears, voice box, heart, lungs, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, the large and especially the small intestine.

The vagus nerve helps regulate heartbeat, control muscle movement, keep a person breathing, as well as transmit chemicals through the body. It also keeps the digestive tract working by contracting the muscles of the stomach and the intestines. Without this crucial nerve we would find it hard to speak, breath, eat and our heartbeat would become irregular.

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I think I read the vagus nerve is the one that makes us throw up….hmmm. And it can cause one to faint. I don’t know. I also don’t know if my drawing is complete. I have more to double-check. This nerve meanders and so does my mind.

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