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Vagus Nerve Massage: Does it Work?

vagus nerve massage

The vagus nerve massage has gained increasing popularity over the last few decades for improving general health. The vagus has the longest of the cranial nerves on the body. It helps control different physiological functions like heartbeat, digestion, and mood. This enables people to know what they stand to gain from the vagus nerve massage and how to go about it for maximum body health.

Here we will guide you and explain what vagus nerve massages are and their possible advantages, the types of vagus nerve massage, and the way we can make it part of our daily practice for wellness. We shall rely on some literature and expert opinion to enlighten you about this mysterious therapy that only a few researchers have investigated for its effects.

What is the Vagus Nerve?

The vagus nerve, also known as the “wandering nerve,” is a crucial component of the parasympathetic nervous system. It originates in the brainstem and extends down through the neck and into the abdomen, innervating various organs along the way. The vagus nerve consists of thousands of fibres that transmit signals between the brain and different parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, and digestive system.

The vagus nerve plays a vital role in regulating involuntary sensory and motor functions. It helps control heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, and even mood. While the sympathetic nervous system triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, the parasympathetic branch, regulated by the vagus nerve, helps the body rest, digest, and relax.

Understanding Vagus Nerve Massage

Vagal nerve massage or vagal nerve stimulation is an attempt to improve vagal nerve performance. This therapy approach uses mild force on nearby aspects of the neck, shoulder and head connected with the vagus nerve. Massaging targets the surrounding tissues and muscles that indirectly affect the vagal tone. 

There are numerous physical and metabolic advantages believed to be linked to this technique of vagus nerve massage.

Improved vagal tone, achieved through regular vagus nerve massage, has been linked to better cardiovascular functioning, reduced inflammation, enhanced digestion, and even improved mental well-being. While more scientific studies are needed to establish the direct effects of vagus nerve massage, anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggest its potential efficacy.

Different Techniques of Vagus Nerve Massage

Technique 1: Vagus Nerve Targeted Massage

Vagus nerve targeted massage focuses on specific areas around the neck, shoulders, and head that are in close proximity to the vagus nerve. This technique involves applying moderate pressure and using twisting or stroking motions to stimulate the tissues and muscles. The goal is to indirectly enhance vagal tone and promote relaxation. 

Technique 2: Carotid Sinus Massage

Carotid sinus massage (CSM) is a technique used in medical settings to improve irregular heart rates. It involves applying light pressure to the side of the neck where the carotid artery pulsates the strongest. While this type of massage is beneficial for specific medical conditions, it should only be performed by trained professionals in a controlled environment due to potential risks. 

Technique 3: Soft Shoulder Massage

Soft shoulder massage is a gentler approach that involves using light strokes and gentle touches on the neck and shoulder areas. This technique does not specifically target the vagus nerve but has been shown to improve vagal tone and promote relaxation. Regular soft shoulder massages can be a beneficial alternative to targeted vagus nerve massage.

Also read: Massage Therapy for Stress Relief and Much More

Scientific Evidence and Research Findings

Studies on Vagus Nerve Massage

While scientific research specifically focused on vagus nerve massage is limited, there have been studies investigating the effects of massage on vagal tone and overall well-being. One study compared designated vagus nerve massage to regular soft shoulder massage and found that both techniques significantly increased heart rate variability (HRV), an indirect measure of vagal tone. This suggests that massage of the head, neck, and shoulder areas can positively impact vagal functioning. 

Vagus Nerve Massage and Mental Health

Thе vagus nеrvе is intricatеly connected to various aspеcts of mental hеalth,  including mood regulation and strеss rеsponsе. Whilе morе rеsеarch is nееdеd to еstablish a direct link bеtwееn vagus nerve massage and mental health benefits,  studiеs on vagus nеrvе stimulation (VNS) have shown promising rеsults in trеating treatment-resistant dеprеssion and othеr psychiatric disordеrs. VNS involves thе usе of implanted devices to stimulate thе vagus nеrvе with electrical impulses. 

Incorporating Vagus Nerve Massage into Your Wellness Routine

If you are interested in incorporating vagus nerve massage into your wellness routine, it is essential to keep a few guidelines in mind. Firstly, consult with a qualified massage therapist who is experienced in vagus nerve massage techniques. They can assess your specific needs and tailor the massage accordingly. Additionally, ensure that the massage is performed in a calm and relaxing environment to maximize its potential benefits. 

Vagus nerve massage is one of the methods used to improve vagal tone and enhance general health.ҽ This involves taking deep breaths, practicing mindfulness-based meditation, maintaining a proper diet, doing regular exercises, and applying cold water to affected areas. Such actions are expected to enhance vagal functions and lead to improved physical and mental health.

Also read: Massage Therapy for Headaches and Migraines


By providing alternative ways of enhancing vagal tone, we hope to improve health generally. Some preliminary evidence suggests that CAM has some usefulness. However, more rigorous scientific research must validate the effectiveness of CAM. Massaging of the vagus nerve may be included in your workout routine, which includes a targeted massage or a soft shoulder massage.

At Spa Utopia, we understand the importance of customized treatment services to meet the unique needs of each individual. Our highly skilled massage therapists and beauty technicians are committed to providing exceptional care and ensuring a rejuvenating experience for our clients.

Remember to consult with a qualified professional before embarking on any new wellness practices. By nurturing and optimizing your vagus nerve health, you can take important steps toward enhancing your overall well-being. 


1: Where can I find vagus nerve massage in Vancouver?

Many Vancouver spas offer vagus nerve massage therapy. Consider exploring local spas and wellness centers for specialized services.

2: Can vagus nerve massage reduce anxiety?

Yes, vagus nerve massage has been shown to help reduce anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system through specific massage techniques.

3: What are the mental health benefits of vagus nerve massage?

Vagus nerve massage contributes to improved mental health by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and potentially lowering blood pressure.

4: Are there any contraindications for vagus nerve massage?

Individuals with certain medical conditions or those undergoing specific treatments should consult with a healthcare professional before considering vagus nerve massage.

5: Can I learn vagus nerve massage techniques for personal use?

While it’s recommended to seek guidance from a trained therapist, individuals can learn some basic vagus nerve massage techniques for personal well-being.

6: Is vagus nerve massage a common practice in Vancouver spas?

Yes, Vancouver spa like Spa Utopia offer vagus nerve massage as part of their therapeutic services. Check with local spas to inquire about their specific offerings.

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