If you’ve heard me speak on any topic, thyroid, detox, cholesterol, hormone imbalances, or even lost productivity, hopefully you took away one message.  Your nervous system is the master coordinator and organizer of your life experiences.  Your nervous system is going to organize life into either protection mode or growth mode.

Something you would have also heard multiple times is a paraphrased quote from Dr. Bruce Lipton PhD, “You can’t be in growth and protection at the same time.”

What does this mean?  It means based on what is happening in your life at any current moment, the nervous system is trying to play triage whether you are in danger or not.  The nervous system will ALWAYS favor survival over sex and life over legacy.  If your body has to sacrifice your digestion, fertility, and happiness to keep your legs moving to escape a bear, it will do this 100 times out of 100.

Vagus NerveWhere we run into trouble is our nervous system is also plastic.  Imagine trying to bend a plastic fork lightly without breaking it.  It will return to its normal shape.  Keep doing this over and over again and eventually you can create a bend in the plastic.  Your nervous system is no different.  The more it uses the protection side, the more survival becomes your default setting.  The more you use logic over emotions, logic becomes your default.

What does survival look like long term?  High blood pressure, indigestion, auto-immune flare ups, chronic ear infections, constipation, headaches, hypothyroid, weight gain, inflammation, fatigue, insomnia, blood clots, infertility, PCOS, anxiety, ADHD, autism, allergies, learning disorders, memory, concentration, emotional imbalances, anger, low T, and list continues.  Survival long term drives you away from growth and repair.

Why would you be in survival long term?  It’s called modern civilization.  I wouldn’t trade our conveniences of today to go back to hunter gatherer days.  But we have to realize virtually everything we do on a daily basis today is foreign to our DNA requirements for health, longevity, and growth.  We sit too much, eat too much, worry too much, and use our healthcare system to mask the ill effects of our lifestyle too much.

If the majority of your life is spend in protection mode, how do you help the growth side of your nervous system express?


Before the grammar police flood my inbox, you know who you are, I’m not talking about Vegas the city, I’m talking Vagus the nerve.  Vagus Baby!!

The vagus nerve starts in the brain stem and exits the skull just above the 1st vertebrae.  It travels down both sides of the neck, across the chest and down into the abdomen.  The vagus nerve has branches that give neurological input to virtually all organs.  It connects the brain to your thyroid, stomach, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, and intestines.  It also helps in speech, eye contact, facial expressions, and even your ability to tune into other people’s voices.

What’s the main role?  Calming you down.  It helps coordinate the growth and repair side of your nervous system.  It’s the brake pedal to your floored gas pedal of protection.

Think of the protection side of the nervous system like your gas pedal.  If you drive with your gas pedal floored all the time, you will have 2 outcomes.  You will either run out of gas too early or you will crash.  The growth side of the nervous system is the brake pedal.  This keeps you from running out of gas or crashing.  The vagus nerve has whole body systemic input into building up that brake pedal.

Can this be measured?

You can measure the vagal tone (the strength of your vagus response) through measuring heart rate.  I do this through Heart Rate Variability.  Every time you breath in, your heart beats faster in order to speed the flow of oxygen in your blood through the body.  When you breath out, your heart rate slows.  The bigger the difference in your heart rate compared to when you breath in versus when you breath out the stronger the vagal tone.

The better the vagal tone, the better you are at adapting to life.  The better your vagal tone, the better you will recover.  The better your vagal tone, the healthier you are.

The problem is that you’re going to start to hear more and more about this topic with the solution being drugs or implanting an electrical device like a pacemaker extending into your neck.

I say there’s no need.  Your chiropractor already has a solution.  It’s called an adjustment.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Sachin Patel says, “The majority of scientific research that’s being done today is not innovation but instead validation of ancient truth and knowledge.”

Your chiropractor has been assessing and addressing vagus nerve imbalances since inception.

At our office, this is why so many parents bring in their kids.  Think of everything that happens to a kid in his first 2 years of life that shift his nervous system to protection when he needs to be in growth mode to stimulate brain and cognitive ability.

C-Sections:  The baby is grabbed by the head and yanked out of a contracting uterus.  This is a trauma that shifts the nervous system.  Any birth trauma can have this effect, suction, forceps, or even excessive pulling.  From a physical stressor, torquing the head will torque that joint between the head and first vertebrae where the vagus nerve exits.  This is why I recommend Colorado Mountain Doulas for those in Southern Colorado.  They can help guide your family to have an easier pregnancy and delivery.

Vaccines:  I don’t care what your stance is on vaccines.  The truth is that in order for a vaccine to trick your body into having an immune reaction, they have to be loaded with ingredients called adjuvants.  These ingredients are irritating to the nervous system.  They are inflammatory.  When there is inflammation, there is an immune response.  Inflammation shifts the body into protection mode.  1 vaccine may not be that harmful but 36 by 18 months has your child’s nervous system flooring the gas pedal with both feet.

Sugar:  Unless your child is breast fed, your only real options to feed him are sugar based formulas.  You may not like those so you transition to food as quick as possible.  This timing can be a stressor on top of the food available.  These foods are typically corn, rice, and dairy based.  Sugar, sugar, and more sugar.   Sugar is rocket fuel.  It burns fast.  Fat is diesel fuel.  It burns slow.  If you keep giving a kid rocket fuel, they will want to go faster.  This means more nervous system gas pedal and sustained shift.

Posture:  The first 5-6 years of life filled with freedom and lots of play time.  The next 12 – 60 years are filled with sitting still for 8 hours per day, 10-12 months out of the year.  In the natural world, play is an essential part of any significant learning process. All intelligent animals play. The more intelligent the animal, the more it plays. Chimps, dolphins, and dogs play more than snakes, turtles and bugs. Humans are the smartest animals and play the most.  Sitting is a daily bear attack on your nervous system.  It’s no wonder they are equating chronic sitting as dangerous as smoking.

You can throw in many more factors that will shift a kid’s nervous system away from growth and into constant protection.  How much the kid’s nervous system is overloaded will depend on the kid.  What I can say is that if your kid has asthma, allergies, ADHD, autism, sensory processing, and any other condition, it’s a sign of weak or imbalanced vagal activity.

Get your kids checked by a chiropractor regularly.  It’s not about pain control, it’s about Vagus Baby!

I don’t care how clean your nutrition is, how well you move, and how loving your family is, you have stress.  Optimize your body’s ability to handle that stress with a balanced nervous system.  If you’re in Colorado Springs, our door is open.  If you’re in another part of the country, put a comment below with a few of the closest zip codes and we’ll try and connect you with providers in your area that eat, drink, and breath vagal tone.

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    • Hi Dr. Kurt, Interesting article! I have been recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. No genetic history in my family. I am 49, active, at a healthy weight, and eat a relatively “clean” diet. I feel like there is a connection between my afib, my lungs and the vagus nerve, but I haven’t been able to find too much information. I only go into afib around 3:30am – waking up with arrythmia, shortness of breath and dizziness. It will last for 27-41 hours. My cardiologist has me on meds, but I feel like it has gotten worse, not better, since I started the meds…. Any insights? Zip code is 18938, but I can easily travel to Philly or NYC. Thanks! Lisa

      • When the body gets disrupted, it often has a sequence of disruption in 3 body systems: Neuroendocrine, Gut/GI, Liver/Detox. With your arrhythmia, breathing, and dizziness, that would definitely fall under the category of neuroendocrine and the Vagus nerve will have play. It’s probably not the only player though. My friend and colleague Dr. David Bennett has a location close to you (Willow Grove) that can help you in your quest. https://empoweredlivinginst.com/

  1. 37421.

    Wish you were in TN! Keep up the good work; the world needs your voice!! Loved your article on vaccinations that was a response to your Mom. It was loaded with powerful facts/stats, and gave me several chuckles since I can relate with my own mother and her tendency to debate me on natural health subjects, like vaccines!

  2. Having numerous problems that have been diagnosed and treated separately. No real results. Just learned of the possible Vagus nerve connection and possible Chiropractic solutions. Please help me find a chiropractor that you would recommend.

  3. 98501, 98506, 98513 Our family has been doing research about the Vagus nerve. My wife has digestive issues she hasn’t been able to find a solution for and my son has similar digestive issues as well as sensory issues. We have tried all kinds of treatments with only small improvements. Recently we came across this subject of the Vagus nerve. Finding a chiropractor that is familiar with all this would be awesome.

  4. If you could please help and direct me to a chiropractor who can help me with a vagus nerve problem. It’s affecting my entire body. I am full-time caregiver for my Alzheimer’s mother and can’t go on feeling this way

    • Sorry to hear about your mom. We’re going through the same struggle with my father. What are some surrounding zip codes for your area?

    • I’ll be honest, I haven’t found anyone that looks like they address this. The next best bet is to ask your local peeps if any of their chiro contacts see kids?