Heart attacks, CFS, herpes virus infection and the vagus nerve

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I came across upon some very interesting research regarding the vagus nerve and chronic viral infections. This happened almost the exact same day someone very close to me had a heart attack shortly after a herpes virus infection. He is now out of danger and well into recovery, but his words stayed with me: “I think the herpes virus got a hold of my vagus nerve and that is why I had a heart attack”. I thought to myself, it is entirely possible!

The Vagus Nerve: Our Smart Wanderer

The vagus nerve is the heart of the parasympathetic nervous system, the anti-stress system. The vagus nerve is your calming and relaxing nerve which goes from your brain and down to your abdomen, dividing itself into multiple branches that reach your throat, your heart, and all your viscera.

vagus nerve

Med Hypotheses. 2013 Jun 18. Chronic fatigue syndrome from vagus nerve infection: A psychoneuroimmunological hypothesis. Vanelzakker MB.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter responsible for learning and memory. It is also calming and relaxing, and is the neurotransmitter your vagus nerve uses to send messages of peace and relaxation throughout your body. It is also a major factor regulating the immune system. Acetylcholine is a major brake on inflammation in the body and as it happens, inflammation is linked to every known disease. For instance, brain inflammation is linked to every known mood, behavior, attention, memory, or degenerative disease.

Stimulating your vagus nerve sends acetylcholine throughout your body – not only relaxing you – but also turning down the fires of inflammation. So activating the vagus nerve on a daily basis is critical to keep your brain and body healthy. By activating your vagus nerve you can reverse or stop all the negative effects of stress.

Éiriú Eolas – Stimulating the Vagus Nerve

Inflammatory molecules such as cytokines are necessary to protect us against pathogens and promote tissue repair, but excessive cytokine production can lead to systemic inflammation, organ failure and even death.

As a blessing from above, local and systemic inflammation is calmed down by the brain through what is called the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway which is a mechanism consisting of the vagus nerve and its neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

When there is inflammation, the vagus  nerve is working suboptimally.  Stimulation of the vagus nerve is already being used in epilepsy and depression, but now this anti-inflammatory pathway has extended its potential benefits to autoimmune diseases and beyond!

Lets look closer to this nerve and what else has in store for us.

20% of the fibers of the vagus nerve controls the organs of maintenance (heart, digestion, breathing). The rest 80% of the vagus nerve fibers sends information from your gut and other viscera to your brain, and the signals generated have the potential to affect the entire organism in order to achieve an homeostatic balance. This is why the vagus nerve is also known as the great wandering protector (vagus: vagare, to wander), for its protective role in our bodies.

The vagus nerve enhances neurogenesis (the creating of brain tissue) by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) output, which is like a super fertilizer for your brain cells. It helps repair brain tissue, but also helps with regeneration throughout your body. BDNF plays an important role in neuronal plasticity which is essential for learning, thinking and higher levels of brain function.

Stem cells are related to the vagus nerve as well. Activating your vagus nerve can stimulate stem cells to produce new cells and repair and build your own organs. Stem cells are mother cells, progenitor cells which have the potential to form different specialized cells in the body.

This is why the Éiriú Eolas breathing and meditation program has an amazing stress-control, healing, detoxing and rejuvenation effect in our bodies. It is based on stimulating the vagus nerve and its healing potential on all the body. For more information see Mass nervous breakdown: Millions of Americans on the brink as stress pandemic ravages society and also eebreathe.com.

    I’ve been doing Éiriú Eolas for over 6 months now and I’ve had some great results! Leading a “modern” lifestyle rapidly left me totally stressed… a busy work environment with long hours and short deadlines, three teenage children and generally trying to get ahead in life. I was overweight and not able to sleep for more than 4 hours at a go. After practicing EE for a short period of time, I found I was more relaxed and calm. It was much easier for me to put life in perspective so to speak. My sleep is now much better and I now am able to sleep for 6-7 hours without waking up. Recently while talking with a group of new friends, I asked them to guess my age. I was surprised when the nearest guess put me 5 years younger. I figure that must be rejuvenation!! By far the best benefit from Éiriú Eolas has been the ability to put my life in perspective. I feel I’m now back on track and better equipped to figure out what’s really important in life. I’d like to thank all those who developed and are helping to share this amazing program. – Kinyash, Kenya

Herpes virus infection of the vagus nerve?

So it was with interest that I read the following research “Chronic fatigue syndrome from vagus nerve infection: A psychoneuroimmunological hypothesis.” As this article states:

For years, CFS researchers have been looking in plasma and blood cells for a pathogenic agent that causes the myriad of symptoms experienced by patients with the condition. However, according to VanElzakker, they may have been looking in the wrong place (plasma) and need to search instead in the tissues of the peripheral and central nervous system. During infection, the sensory vagus nerve sends a signal to the brain to initiate “sickness behavior,” an involuntary response characterized by fatigue, fever, myalgia, depression, and other symptoms that are often observed in patients with CFS. However, VanElzakker proposes that when sensory vagal ganglia or paraganglia are themselves infected with any virus or bacteria, these symptoms would be exaggerated. He notes that many of the symptoms of sickness behavior (such as fatigue, sleep changes, myalgia, cognitive impairment, depression and zinc depletion) are also mediated by proinflammatory cytokines and observed in CFS.

It seems to me that this is another explanation why Éiriú Eolas practitioners report significant improvements for many problems that at first may seem disconnected.

The research is unique in that rather than blaming one specific virus or pathogen as a single causative agent of disease, it focuses instead on the location of an infection: the vagus nerve.

The Vagus Nerve Infection Hypothesis (VNIH) of CFS is as follows: While the sensory vagus nerve normally signals the body to rest when it senses a peripheral infection, that fatigue signal is pathologically exaggerated when an infection is located on the vagus nerve itself. More specifically: Immune cells, including neuroimmune cells called glial cells, sense infection and launch the same basic neuroexcitatory response
regardless of infection type. When the glial cells that envelop the sensitive vagus nerve are activated by any viral or bacterial infection, their neuroexcitatory secretions escalate afferent vagus nerve signaling, which is misinterpreted by the brain as evidence of a severe peripheral infection. The brain then initiates sickness behavior, which includes fatigue and many other CFS symptoms (see Key Terms Table). Because of the way that glial cell activation may persist in a pathological positive feedback loop (as it does in neuropathic pain conditions), these CFS symptoms can persist for many years.[…]

The study of phenomena – such as sickness behavior – that sit at the intersection of behavior, brain biology, and immunology, is a relatively new field of study known as psychoneuroimmunology […]  To understand the VNIH, one must understand each part of the connection among behavior (‘‘psycho-’’), the nervous system (‘‘-neuro-’’) and the innate immune system (‘‘-immunology’’).

The VNIH offers CFS researchers and patients a specific mechanism for explaining symptoms, and it offers testable hypotheses and treatment strategies. According to this hypothesis, the major symptoms experienced by CFS patients represent pathologically exaggerated sickness behavior caused by infection-activated glial signaling somewhere along the afferent vagus nerve system. Several researchers have advanced theories that align with the VNIH of CFS. Many groups have pointed out that CFS symptoms are consistent with viral infection and ongoing immune activation. More specifically, Shapiro theorized that CFS could be caused by the common neurotropic herpes virus varicella-zoster infecting the peripheral nervous system [139]. Maes has pointed out the overlap between inflammation, depression, and CFS [140]. The vagus nerve hypothesis provides an exact mechanism to these hypotheses, as well as an explanation for many of the inconsistencies in the literature.[Med Hypotheses. 2013 Jun 18. Chronic fatigue syndrome from vagus nerve infection: A psychoneuroimmunological hypothesis. Vanelzakker MB.]

This herpes virus varicella-zoster is a very problematic virus that contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction even in its latent infection phase. As I explained in On Viral “Junk” DNA, a DNA Enhancing Ketogenic Diet, and Cometary Kicks , most, if not all of your “junk” DNA has viral-like properties and if a pathogenic virus takes hold of our DNA or RNA, it could lead to disease or cancer.

Herpes simplex virus is a widespread human pathogen and it goes right after our mitochondrial DNA. Herpes simplex virus establishes its latency in sensory neurons, a type of cell that is highly sensitive to the pathological effects of mitochondrial DNA damage.  A latent viral infection might be driving the brain cell loss in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Members of the herpes virus family, including cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus which most people have as a latent infection, can go after our mitochondrial DNA, causing neurodegenerative diseases by mitochondrial dysfunction. But a ketogenic diet – a diet based on animal fats – is the one thing that would help stabilize mDNA since mitochondria runs the best on fat fuel. As it happens, Alzheimer’s disease is the one condition where a ketogenic diet has a profound positive effect.

The role of mitochondrial dysfunction in our “modern” age maladies is a staggering one. Our mitochondrial energetic sources are essential if we are to heal from chronic ailments. It is our mitochondria the one that lies at the interface between the fuel from foods that come from our environment and our bodies’ energy demands. And it is a metabolism based on fat fuel, a ketone metabolism, the one which signals epigenetic changes that maximizes energetic output within our mitochondria and help us heal.

So with all of this in mind, it was not surprising to hear speculations such as, “what if the herpes zoster infection had a role in my heart attack via an infection of the vagus nerve?”. I thought that was pretty smart. If the vagus nerve is unable to calm down inflammation due to malfunction and/or infection within its sensory pathways, we are set up for trouble.

The more reason to welcome the idea of practicing Éiriú Eolas to balance up and heal the vagus nerve on a daily basis and so much needed dietary changes! Hopefully my old friend will introduce them soon enough as tools for his recovery.

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  1. neil  January 16, 2015

    hi,this info is interesting to myself,as i suspect i have herpes,but not have done any testing.im currently doing a diet strong in anti-ox herbal,and soon ozone water to ozone sauna.i experience heart palipatations,sleep is very rough,short bouts of sleep is as good as i can get it for now
    Any insights to offer ?


    • Gabriela Segura, MD  January 17, 2015

      Make sure you’re having enough magnesium supplementation, i.e. magnesium citrate or malate. Supplementing with potassium citrate is a good idea too, at least for a short period of time. The magnesium I will keep indefinitely though. Do check out the keto diet, either “Ketoadapted” by Maria Emmerich or even “Primal Body Primal Mind” by Gedgaudas. I suspect the diet you’re eating might not be the ideal one for your condition. Ozone therapy is a very good idea.

      • elaine m wheeler  February 17, 2015

        I had a gut instinct about the magnesium, thanks for the info I feel it has confirmed my thoughts and I do believe it will help. There is hope for the better.

      • Robyn  April 11, 2016

        I think Citrate is the one of the worst you can take! I think you need to do the right Labs and I think most people are Iron Overloaded and Low on Copper!

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  April 17, 2016

        For the keto diet, it has proven to prevent kidney stones in predisposed people.

        More on iron overload:

        The Iron Elephant – The Dangers of Iron Overload

        Zinc deficiency is also a big one.

  2. elaine m wheeler  February 17, 2015

    just want to say thanks. Seeking answers and this information has given me hope of healing without surgery.

  3. Bruce Bosland  March 31, 2015

    Is it possible for the Herpes HSV 1 o HSV 2 to attach your vagus nerve and give you Peripheral Neuropathy of feet, arms, hands, etc.?

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  April 1, 2015

      It is possible, although I would look into more common causes such as gluten sensitivity. Gluten is infamous for causing neurological damage, either central or peripheral. Trying a gluten free diet is worth it. See “Wheat Belly” by cardiologist William Davis.

  4. Joan V.  May 7, 2015

    Thank you so much for this post,
    I was afflicted with genital herpes about 9 months ago in what was a very strange way. I never fully knew how I got it as my partner tested negative consecutively through blood test.
    For about the same time of my diagnosis, I have suffered with tachycardia that abruptly starts in the middle of the night and is only ever relieved through breathing exercises (that stimulate the vagus nerve). This leads me to believe that herpes can very well affect the vagus as I do not have a history of cardiac, hormonal or thyroid issues. I will try the Érirú exercises as I’m desperate for relief and sleep.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  May 7, 2015

      I do believe it is going to help you. You might want to try a low cab diet, as fat is known to stimulate the vagus nerve. You can check out “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas or any resource on the topic. Much healing your way!

      • Damon  August 11, 2016

        I ordered a copy of this and the other diet book you recommended. Thanks again!

        Any herbs and vitamins you like and recommended for people with these conditions?


      • Gabriela Segura, MD  August 12, 2016

        There are several but it depends on each person’s personal history. At least, consider magnesium, minerals without iron, vitamin C if there is no iron overload, and other vitamins and nutrients such as Coenzyme Q10, NAC and alpha lipoic acid. If you start cleaning up your diet, a lot of supplements become unnecessary unless you have specific conditions or vulnerabilities. Happy researching and healing!

  5. Jay  May 20, 2015

    Hi Dr. Gabriela.
    I really admire you. You are a doctor who has decided to think outside the box. In 2013 I came down with what seemed like a horrible flu. It lasted three weeks and was extremely severe. After the flu I felt so weak I could not walk. Then I started to recover slowly. Then all of a sudden I went into chronic fatigue. Extreme. I have not worked since December of 2013. I have had every single test u can imagine. I am told there is nothing wrong with me. Mind u at the height of my illness somewhere around MArch 2014 I even felt like I was going crazy. I would try to put thoughts together and they won’t come. My vision was fading and I was very very very ill. I little walk would break me down to a point where i needed two weeks to recover. I saw a neurologist, gastroenterologist, internist, eye doctor…..I saw every kind of doctor. After that I ended up spending all my savings $20 on alternative doctors and special diets, organic and so on. No result. Then I met a Doctor in Atlanta, A regular doctor who has a side practice where he thinks outside the box, he did my reverse t3, cortisol, T3, T4..etc and decided that I had cfs and could be helped by hormone therapy. I started slowly and as we speak I have built up to 25 mg hydrocortisone and 112 mcg of T3 both compounded. Now I am still not well. Granted there has been a 25% improvement and I can function like a normal human say 40% of the time. Good days and bad days. Prior to a my illness i got a very abnormal EKG(ECG) that scared the crap out of the doctor and sent me straight to admission. Did so many heart test. Nothing wrong. ( this was in June 2013). Still till this day ecg is abnormal and I am always told I need to stay in the hospital anytime a doctor does an ekg on me. I have had an endoscopy with nothing found. Yet every morning after I have a bowel movement, I get so weak that I lay down in bed the whole day. This is what let me to your page because my research is telling me it could be a vasovagal episode. Dr. what I am describing is debilitating. I have also had stomach issue.I would be so happy if I could call u and get some ideas. I am not asking that u treat me but rather point me in the right direction. So the question is that is my CFS caused by an underlying heart condition, a vagus nerve issue, a hormonal issue……….
    Dr. what I am describing is debilitating. I have also had stomach issues. I would be so happy if I could call u and get some ideas. I am not asking that u treat me but rather point me in the right direction. Either way a response would be greatly appreciated.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  May 20, 2015

      Hello Jay,

      I would invest every resource on staying on a gluten free and at least moderately restricted carb diet. Make sure you know what to eat and what to avoid like the plague (i.e. GMOs, grains, excitotoxins). You can read “Grain brain” by David Perlmutter or “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas for some ideas.

      There are several supplements you can experiment with, but they don’t amount to much if the diet is not clean.

      At eebreathe.com, you can find breathing exercises that will help you balance the autonomic nervous system. Ultimately, an imbalance of the sympathetic vs parasympathetic response might be the problem, whether it is caused by an autoimmune disease or a viral infection.

      There are other things you can try. A good resource to have is “Treating and beating Fibromyalgia and CFS” by Dr. Rodger Murphree. It will give you ideas as to which supplements to try as resources permit.

      Just some ideas! Hope you get some much needed relief. At least do the breathing exercises, the program is available online at eebreathe.com.


    • Tanja  May 20, 2015

      Jay, it is not ok to ask for a free service. I have pretty much the same condition as you and I understand how desperate you are, but don’t ask professionals to donate their time. If each of us asked for a free “advice” when will the doc find time to actually work?

    • Mk  September 21, 2015

      I have similar symptoms and was diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency and placed on fludrocortisone. My adrenals were not producing enough aldesterone. I was also placed on the low does hydrocortisone which helped with my energy levels. I also have been treating myself like I have a herpes family viral infection. I take 1000 mg of lysine every day. I take Reishi mushroom. I eat no nuts or foods high in L-Argenine. I take coconut supplements to kill off any herpes family virus virus. I have also had positive results with valacyclovir.

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  September 22, 2015

        Thank you for sharing Mk. DMSO is also very good in case of herpes. I was recently researching the anti-virals, it seems they work pretty well on the acute phase. After awhile, it is better to use natural supplements such as colostrum, beta glucans, olive leaf extract and the like. I will keep in mind the valacyclovir worked for you though.

    • Liz  July 21, 2016

      Your symptoms sound SO familiar that I had to reply. Has any physician ever tested you for Lyme Disease? I would rule that in or out. If you think you have Lyme, ask for a test and be sure that your doctor only uses IgeneX laboratories and is a Lyme literate doctor. I am suggesting this because I have Lyme and although I don’t share all your symptoms, I know other ‘ lymies’ that do- our symptoms vary based on genetics. I’ve lost much of my vision, I have horrible pain, collagen synthesis has been disrupted, heart palpitations and neuro symptoms. Do a little research on Lyme but don’t go to the CDC website for symptoms. I’m in late stage Lyme and I have been diagnosed with Neurological Lyme and Babesia. I’m currently being treated by a Lyme specialist. I found this website because it’s very common for Lyme patients to suffer neurological damage to the Vagus nerve. I’m having all sorts of neuro issues that mimic other neuro diseases but I have Lyme.-.not ALS or MS. Pain is what differentiates Lyme from those diseases. I have severe pain at times and it migrates around my body. My father had Lyme though it was not diagnosed until after his death upon autopsy. He was finally diagnosed with ALS after suffering over 30 years with pain, GI and neurological symptoms. Anyway, his neuro symptoms began many years before his death and then he had a heart attack. He was given a statin drug which I suspected may have contributed even more to his neurological decline and then he passed away.
      I was very blessed that the ER doctor who treated me when I was at my worst, was familiar with Lyme and he was the one who enlightened me. G-d bless him!
      Well anyway, I don’t want to jump to conclusions but I do believe it would be in your best interest to research Lyme and its coinfections. Watch videos, refer to Dr. Horowitz’s video lectures and read blogs related to Lyme symptoms. Oh and Dr. Neil Spector of Duke University is a Lymie who had to get a heart transplant due to Lyme. There are many patients who suffer for years and get told that it’s all in their head. Don’t give up!

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 21, 2016

        I second all of this. I treated myself for stealth infections, a protocol which is basically the same as Lyme’s and suddenly felt much better than ever before. The iodine research was a plus in my health as well. Stealth infections, always keep them in mind when you’re having trouble healing. That and heavy metal toxicity.

  6. Jay  May 20, 2015

    Dr. Segura,
    I just saw your skype consultation page. At this time I am not in the position to have that service. Any words of advice would be appreciated.

  7. Michael  May 27, 2015

    Hi Dr. Segura,

    Thank you for this informative article!

    I have a question about a semi-popular, but underground treatment for HSV using food grade Hydrogen Peroxide: When done safely (I’m comparing “safely” to the relative safety of chemo treatment, and I’m considering a diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, plenty of water, and keeping a tight dosage schedule), is H2O2 treatment for HSV a worthwhile endeavor (either topical and/or ingested)? Considering of course how HSV is incurable, what is the likelihood that a treatment such as this can calm the nervous system and contribute to a healthier circulatory system in regards to HSV in the bloodstream and artery walls?

    Thank you,

    • Michael  May 27, 2015

      I wanted to add that the topical treatment requires the use of DMSO, which I just noticed you wrote an article on (THANK YOU!). I tried the topical treatment of the H2O2 with the DMSO for a time, but I don’t think I was stringent enough, and I am curious about ingesting the H2O2 while also keeping the topical treatment going simultaneously. Regardless, the time-period I used the topical treatment including the DMSO, it was quite something.

      Thanks again!

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  May 28, 2015

        I think topical can be kept during your experiment. In case of any discomfort, stop right away. Good luck with your experiments!

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  May 28, 2015

      I’ve read testimonials within the context of anti-fungal treatments, but I never experimented with H2O2 myself. Sorry I cannot help, but if you think it is worthwhile, you could experiment safely with the lowest dose. Make sure you do your homework thoroughly to get an idea of what to expect.

      Keep in mind that a diet high in fruits is very unhealthy, specially if you eat lean meats. You might want to read “Grain brain” by Dr. David Perlmutter to get an idea as to why. The diet is the pillar to any treatment, everything else is just complementary. Hope you deal with this virus effectively. Best!

  8. Amanda Scott  June 2, 2015

    Reading your website and I thought I came across a reference to a forum I’ve recently started doing the ketogenic diet as I have chronic fatigue syndrome . I would be interested to share with others in the context of a forum if possible please.

    Thank you. Kind regards


  9. Samantha  July 2, 2015

    Ok, so I have recently had a stool test done which shows severe dysbiosis…I have very low diversity of bacteria! It also indicates that my gallbladder isn’t functioning properly, and I am not producing a lot of bile.
    I have developed food sensitivities to foods that I used to be able to ear before without a problem. (This all started 3 months ago after a course of antibiotics, however I believe alcohol consumption among many other things has contributed to the dysbiosis).

    The question I have is can all these things cause inflammation of the vagus nerve? As I have experienced a few vagus nerve ‘attacks,’ where I get a racing/pounding heart, dry mouth, shivers, sweating etc mainly after eating a food that doesn’t agree. However, I also find if I am the slightest bit nervous or stressed, my heart really races, a lot more than it ever did before all these problems started. I wouldn’t say I am a nervous/anxious person just a little shy, but this has never caused me any problems in the past. I have never experienced a panic attack.

    So, can an inflamed vagus nerve cause exasperate feelings of stress or nervousness? Or do you think perhaps the dysbiosis and ovegrowth of bad strains of bacteria also contribute to this?

    I have had 2 ECG’s done and it shows my heart as normal, full blood test which all came back clear. I am due to have an Echocardiogram and a 24hr ECG within the next few weeks.

    Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 2, 2015

      Oh yes, it definitely has to do. The second brain in the gut along with its intestinal flora, influence the brain through the vagus nerve. I urge you to read “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas so you can learn and understand how to heal your gut and your mood. There is much you can do and it is all very cost effective. You’ll feel so much better! Best!

  10. Sean Anderson, RN  August 4, 2015

    Dr. Gabriela Segura, MD,

    I happened upon your web page about the Vegas nerve problems and I’m trying to understand more about conditions associated and how to approach treatment.

    I have had multiple problems over the last couple of years including respiratory arrest two times with one of those times resulting in cardiac arrest, loss of taste sensation ( that I thought was attributed to Levaquin antibiotic and steroid use after hospitalization), occasional radiating pain in the shoulders and arms, fire like pain in my upper left arm forearm and apneic episodes. I also had an episode of syncope about seven years ago and went and had MRIs done and found out I have a Chiari malformation. It appears that because of the Chari malformation I believe there is some interrelated issues with my Vegas nerve. I’ve read that cranial nerves IX, X and XI can be affected by Chari malformation.

    My biggest concern obviously is the respiratory arrest episodes I have been having. Most of the episodes have occurred at night while sleeping and I’m currently trying to get a CPAP machine to alleviate this. There must be some central apnea episodes going on. But I did have one episode at work where a very stressful event ( that may have been Vagus stimulated ) led to a severe respiratory episode.

    On top of all these issues I’ve had – I’m also asthmatic, which may have confused most of the medical professional that my problems are strictly asthma related.

    I went to one neurologist and told her of these episodes and she did not seem to understand or even know about this possible Vagus connection (although I forgot to mention the Chari Malformation). She just brush brushed it off as apnea and that I needed a CPAP.

    As you can see I have many issues that I’m trying to understand how they are interrelated. Any help, suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated.


    Sean Anderson, RN

  11. Julie Koehler  August 7, 2015

    Hi! I had vagus nerve inflammation last weekend that I thought was a heart attack! It was horrific crushing pain that started in my right jaw, down to shoulder and neck into chest and then across to my heart. It would not let up so I went to the ER. It finally let up after a good half hour. (well it wasn’t good, lol)

    I have multiple cranial neuropathies. TN, GN, had temporal arteritis once, bells palsy thrice. Yes 3 times. This was my first Vagus nerve involvement. I also had multiple flare ups of burning mouth syndrome. All are thought to be from inflammation from my lupus in blood vessels and nerves.

    I have long thought there is a complicated relationship between herpes simplex 1 and TN and possibly lupus.

    Seeing your post come up in a search is exciting!!!!!

  12. Julie Koehler  August 7, 2015

    To be more precise I know that bells palsy is caused by herpes zoster which is reactivated from cranial nerve 7. And it’s almost established that herpes simplex1 is sitting dormant in the trigeminal ganglion & it’s reactivation means TN. So it makes sense (to me at least) that the virus can also be sitting dormant in the tenth cranial nerve- the vagus nerve. (and in my case also in the glossophagal nerve-which is what I think when reactivated causes my burning mouth syndrome).

    As far as the gut connection..my own personal experience will probably complicate the issue-but your a doc so I’ll just spell it out. Was on steroids and cellcept and in slipped salmonella 2012 which gave me reactive arthritis- which flares up with sacroillitis, conjunctivitis and pink eye. Don’t know if it’s related, but there it is in my case.

  13. Julie Koehler  August 7, 2015

    And did I mention that herpes simplex 1 loves me like flies love flypaper. I’m the queen of cold sores from as far back as I can remember.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  August 16, 2015

      Julie, thank you for sharing your experience. I’m currently researching conditions such as the one you have. It involves chronic stealth infections including viruses in latent nerves and ganglia which makes management of any autoimmune disease very difficult. Have you tried dietary changes (i.e. keto diet, gluten and diary free), FIR sauna, detox supplements and so forth?

      Doing breathing exercises at eebreathe.com will help you balance your autonomic nervous system. Dealing with stealth infections is paramount to heal though. Best!

    • Mike Richter  March 21, 2016

      I used to get Cold Sores if out in the wind or sun for 15 minutes, or scratching my lip from the skin of an apple ! No Cold Sores for the last 6 years, since I started taking Zinc Supplement.

  14. Davec  August 23, 2015

    Thank you so much! Last November, I was admitted to the hospital with what seemed like a peptic ulcer. They scoped me top and bottom and found nothing and gave me omeprasole which seemed to start my recovery, but all the time I felt horrible like I had a bad flu. My liver function was up, my blood sugar was high (350 when admitted but an hba1c of 5.2). My blood pressure fluctuated from 160/95 to 110/66. In the month that followed, I hopped from doctor to doctor. They told me I was fine and suggested I had depression. Then six weeks from the start of this, I got shingles around my mid section, Except that both feet started burning with the same pain. They told me I was nuts that shingles only affects one dermatone. I figured if this was in fact depression, I’d go see an actual psychologist, instead of trusting my primary care physician’s word on it. He did not think it was depression, but did think it was an anxiety disorder. Then in week 11, I laid down for a nap and my arms and torso began feeling this terrible pain washing over me. This was just the onset of fibro and Cfs. Now, it’s 10 months later. I’m taking gabapentin and nortriptaline and it helps somewhat, but my stomach still hurts and they want to take out my gallbladder. I have a lot of phn from the shingles and my stomach and my phn seem to improve and worsen in lock step. To get through the day I’m taking thyrosine, dhea and about 12 cups of coffee. I also started takin 3G of lysine each day and that has slowed the resurgence somewhat. I started reading and have totally eliminated gluten and have started eating the keto diet. Week 2 on that and I have to say I still feel lousy but I’m starting to have much more energy. This article makes so much sense As I go back over how all this happened.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  August 24, 2015

      Sounds like an ordeal, Davec! Let us know how it goes and if you recover your energy levels or not. Best!

  15. Eric  September 14, 2015

    Hello Dr.

    I have had hiccups for the last 5 days. They are very persistent. the longest they have gone away is 3-5 hours and then they come back. But, mostly they are on all day and night. I have had herpes out breaks and wonder if this could be related to damage of the vagus nerve?

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  September 14, 2015

      It could be. It could also be an irritation of the phrenic nerve, the nerve that goes to the diaphragm. I suggest you practice these breathing exercises:


      All of them minus “Beatha” which should only be done once per week at the most. See if that helps.

  16. Bob Deschner  September 22, 2015

    Thank you for your interesting insights. You might find Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory a useful model for a wide range of dysfunction related to the Autonomic Nervous System. We treat veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress and chronic pain and find that those with recalcitrant extreme pain which temporarily get worse with energy-based treatments (and without other toxins such as smoking or other chemical neuroirritants in their systems) have a high incidence of shingle/herpes outbreaks in their history. If in fact, a shingles/herpes infection (with or without skin eruptions) irritates a sympathetic ganglia, then a wide range of symptoms would result beyond localized postherpetic neuralgia such as radicular neuropathies, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), hypertension-based heart disease, and more general inflammatory conditions and anxiety/mood disorders.

    • Bob Deschner  September 22, 2015

      Forgive me, I just read your earlier posting about Stephen Porges. Thanks.

      • Bob Deschner  September 22, 2015

        We have used Efamol brand Evening Primrose Oil, lysine (400-800 mg twice a day) and monolaurin (1100 mg 2 or 3 times a day).

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  September 24, 2015

        Very good supplements! I’m currently following the track of a protocol which several fellow researchers, including myself, are doing. It is quite a list of anti-viral supplements, but also anti-microbials. The role of chronic stealth infections cannot be emphasized enough. I think that a good introduction is “Plague Time” by Paul Ewald. Some critters are so evil!!

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  September 24, 2015

      Thank you for sharing the experience Bob. Yes, I have reviewed the polyvagal theory in the context of the eebreathe.com program for which I’m an instructor. It has had excellent results in people of all backgrounds. I recently researched Garth Nicolson’s material on “Gulf War Syndrome” where veterans deal with all sorts of chronic infections which make them predisposed to chronic illnesses like the ones you mentioned. It has given refreshed hope for those who are very sick. So far, the results are very promising! In conjunction with “Why Can’t I Get Better” by Richard Horowitz, Garth Nicolson’s material is very helpful and hopeful. Do check it out, if you haven’t. It is a great piece for the puzzle. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Donna  October 9, 2015

    I’ve been on the meds for over 8 years – very high dose. Without it, I have spinal & joint pain, sciatica, cold sores++, shortness of breath and palpitations, chronic nausea, etc. I also take Sterol 117 which helps immune function. Even with supplements, many lifestyle, dietary, etc. modifications, I can’t function without the meds; not even on low dose.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  October 10, 2015

      Hello Donna,

      I highly recommend you read “Why Can’t I Get Better” by Richard Horowitz, it has very important clues.

  18. Dina Walters  January 31, 2016

    Hello Dr.
    Was hoping to get some advice. I was diagnosed with mono then EBV & CFS 25 years ago which still exist today. Ever since, I’ve had a plethora of crazy symptoms – evtreme fatigue, trouble breathing, Joint pain, menopause at age 33, sores in mouth when I’m run down, heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, and the list goes on. Any advice for me? Do you think it’s my Vagas Nerve? Is Craniosacral a good therapy for me to try? I appreciate your knowledge & feedback.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  February 1, 2016

      I do think that your autonomic nervous system is involved. Other than craniosacral thereapy, you will benefit from a multi-level holistic approach. I would do research and/or choose a practitioner familiarized with Garth Nicolson’s material on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You might also want to read “Why Can’t I Get Better” by Richard Horowitz and “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It” by Dr. Brownstein.

      There is hope!

  19. Mark Silva  February 21, 2016

    Hello doc?

    Have u read Medical Medium by Anthony Wiiliam (November 2015?

    Linking EBV, Shingles and others to to the ANS and nerve ganglia is right on track. Cure the virus and all other strange symptoms evaporate. The key takeaway from the book are the amount of strains of EPV and Shingles that are not recognized by medical community and miss labeled as other illnesses such as lyme and therefore treated incorrectly as a bacterial infection instead of a viral infection.

  20. Kelly MacNutt  April 22, 2016

    Dr. Segura-

    I have a very strange thing happen to me which I asked a cardiologist about once, but he reacted like I was crazy. I get an irregular heartbeat, that is, an intermittent “thump” sensation in my chest right before I have to have a bowel movement and then it goes away. I was told it is an extra beat and nothing to worry about. Could this have anything to do with the Vagus nerve?

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  April 27, 2016

      It could be, Kelly. Valsalva maneuvers could trigger the vagus nerve. In fact, some people have vasovagal reactions when they are in the toilet. The trick is to stimulate your smart vagus nerve. You can do that through eebreathe.com


      • Kelly MacNutt  April 29, 2016

        Thank you for your response, Dr. Segura! I will look into eebreathe.com.

  21. Taylor  May 5, 2016

    I was on a tens unit a month ago. The unit was on my back but I was feeling vibrations in the front of my body. I took a very deep breath in and felt and heard a pop in my upper abdomen to the left of my sternum under the rib. Since then I have developed lower motility issued where my sphincter doesn’t relax and waste is not pushed along, as well as a loss of gag reflux. Bloodwork showed high cortisol, and low low testosterone for me as a 27 year old male. I feel like I damaged my vagus nerve but no doctor is interested in that theory. All the MRI imaging comes back normal. Do you have any insight or thoughts? My left belly droops a little now and I have a hard time making myself burp because it feels like the muscles aren’t responding.

    Lower GI motility issues causing constipation
    Can’t relax, always anxious
    Loss of gag reflux
    Hard to burp
    Low blood pressure

    Could I have damaged a nerve? Any thoughts on healing?

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  May 10, 2016

      I always encourage a holistic approach, starting with diet and detox and then moving up towards more individualized protocols based on each person. I would start with “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas and some breathing exercises via eebreathe.com The breathing exercises stimulate healing through the vagus nerve.

  22. Liz  July 21, 2016

    Such a very informative article! You probably already read my post to Jay about my Lyme Disease so I won’t elaborate except to say that my Neurological Lyme Disease is complicated by Herpes virus AND many of my nerves are affected. Last week I had Trigeminal Neuralgia ( the worst!!!). The two viruses tend to commingle and cause a lot of damage. I found your wonderful website when I was researching different neuralgias. It’s so refreshing to hear from a physician that isn’t a corporate zombie. Keep up the good work and thank you!

  23. Damon  August 10, 2016

    Thanks for this great information. I have been dealing with Vagus Nerve issues for 4 years. I’m 48 now and until 4 years ago, I was very healthy and active. The first 2 years, I had 3-50 palpitations a day, stiff neck, blurred vision, stomach issues, fingers and toes getting numb. Spent 30k at hospitals, only to tell me it’s acid reflx and take meds, which helped, but then things got worse.

    Got a great natualpathic doc, did blood work, I have high EBV (Epstien Barr Virus), so I’m taking numerous anti-viral herbs. Now today, I’m on a 90% gluten free diet. No caffeine, very low sugars and I am feeling 1,000x better.

    Vision is getting better, energy is way up, totally different person. Still not 100%, probably 70%, but I can funcion and work now. Thank god I owned my own company, there was a time I was on the couch for 8 months with head / eye pressure, ect, ect.

    I am CONVINCED the Vagus Nerve has been my issue, and that the EBV virus got a hold of it and messed me up. My question is, will i ever be 100% again? If so, what needs to be done to make this debilitating issue more mainstream?

    Thanks for helping people be aware of your breathing program and those recommended books, I’m going to order them today. Money is no issue, I just want to be done with this crap, 4 years of misery :(

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  August 11, 2016

      Thank you for sharing, Damon. It makes me realize how important this subject is. I’ve seen very popular health programs which have been commercialized for the masses of people. They address common problems which have the vagus nerve at its root, but the health programs always leave the vagus nerve science out of the discussion. What is up with that?

      I hope Stephen Porges’ book “The Polyvagal Theory” will get more recognition in mainstream medicine and psychology. I’m sure it will help bridge the gap between several different areas. I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better and I hope you’ll feel much better as you continue to learn and make progress.

    • Liz  August 12, 2016

      After reading your post my mind is spinning. You have the same exact symptoms that I’ve had and I was diagnosed with neurological Lyme disease. However, I am also a ‘ Floxie’ in that I had a very severe, almost lethal, reaction to Fluorquinolones in 2003 and the symptoms are almost identical to Lyme and it’s coinfections! My Vagus nerve has also been significantly infected which happens in neuro-lyme patients. I was given Tequin which has since been banned. But, Cipro and others in that class have caused the identical symptoms for many patients. Did you ever get a Lyme test or get tested for Lyme’s coinfections like Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichiosis? I have Lyme Borellia, but I also have Bartonella and Babesia. I also have HSV. Just writing this depresses me! Is there any hope?
      I’m doing both antibiotic and herbal therapies and I have improved greatly but these diseases are quite complicated to treat . Anyway, I was just curious if you had ever been tested for vector born infections and if you had taken a Fluoroquinolone.

  24. Damon  August 10, 2016

    Also, unless you need surgery, it’s imperative every gets a “great” naturalpathic doctor first, your body can heal itself with the right foods, herbs and naturally. Looking forward to your recommended books and the breathing program. The Vagus Nerve and the EBV virus is no joke and there are a LOT of people dealing with this and the regular doctors are not helping people!!!

    Sites like this should be the norm! Thanks Gabriela!!!


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