If your chronic digestive problems have led to cull through alternative health websites and wellness books, you may have heard the name Dr. Datis Kharrazian. He is one of the leading educators on brain and gut health, the author of bestselling books, and the developer of a line of cutting-edge supplements used by holistic practitioners.
Without Dr. Kharrazian’s knowledge and research, John and I would, perhaps, not have created our own brain support at Meo Energetics. John Tjenos is a respected and innovative health practitioner and educator, and it was partly due to his training with Dr. Kharrazian that he realized brain care was the missing piece for the majority of his clients.
“If a person has a brain-to-gut axis disorder, they’re not going to fix it with digestive supplements.” Datis Kharrazian
John experienced the truth of those words in his nutrition practice. He would give his clients hydrochloric acid supplements or bitters, for example, to support stomach acid production. This would ameliorate the symptoms of poor digestion, but the clients would need to continue taking these supplements to keep the symptoms at bay.
That’s because the root cause is in the brain, not the stomach. The brain isn’t sending the signal to the stomach to turn on gastric juice production.
Doling out digestive enzymes is a similar band-aid approach. It is often necessary to support the absorption of nutrients, but enzymes don’t fix the root cause. The brain continues to fail in turning on enzyme production in the pancreas.
The brain turns on digestion. If the brain can’t send the ON signal to the gut, digestion isn’t going to happen.
The Vagal Nerve is The “Digestion Muscle”
That ON signal travels from brain-to-gut via the vagal nerve. The vagal nerve is like a muscle – if your vagal nerve is weak, it can’t do the heavy lifting of turning on digestion. Yes, I’m calling a nerve a muscle, but stay with me through this analogy. It is the most accessible way to understand this concept. If you think of the vagal nerve as a muscle, it can have strong vagal tone (like a toned muscle) or weak vagal tone.
With strong vagal tone, the brain delivers the ON signal to the following processes of digestion:
- In the stomach, strong vagal tone stimulates stomach acid, for optimal digestion.
- In the intestines, strong vagal tone triggers peristalsis, the muscle contractions that move food through the intestines.
- In the pancreas, strong vagal tone triggers enzyme production and release for digestion.
- In the liver, strong vagal tone triggers bile synthesis, detoxification, and blood sugar functions.
- In the gallbladder, strong vagal tone triggers the release of bile, which rids the body of toxins and breaks down fat.
When vagal tone is weak, all those processes don’t get properly fired up.
How to Get Strong Vagal Tone
If you have weak biceps, you know that the solution is a regular workout routine. You wouldn’t expect a magic pill to bulk up without exerting effort and perseverance (well, you could inject some testosterone but at the risk of messing up that precise choreography called all your hormones.)
Similarly, if you have weak vagal tone, you can’t expect a digestive supplement to be your magic pill. You need to exercise your vagal nerve.
When you do practices to strengthen vagal tone, you are actually building new brain pathways. This is the science of neuroplasticity at work: you are building new, healthy neural pathways in your brain. Good digestion is your brain traveling healthy brain pathways.
In the below interview and in his book, Dr. Kharrazian popularized the following exercises to strengthen vagal tone:
- Gargling aggressively multiple times a day, to the point of tearing.
- Engaging your gag reflex by using a tongue depressor, many times a day (it’s like “pushups for your vagal nerve”)
- Coffee enemas, which are retained as long as possible. The caffeine stimulates movement in the colon, and the suppression of the bowel movement urge is working out the vagal nerve.
I’ll be the first to say it: these techniques are neither comfortable or convenient. I knew about these recommendations for years, but was never motivated enough to stick with them.
John’s Formulation of Vagal Tone™
John wrote a post for the Meo Energetics’s blog explaining why he developed Vagal Tone™. He said, “In the first 15 years of my nutritional practice, I probably sold more Betaine HCL (a supplemental form of hydrochloric acid) than anyone else in the Northwest […] As I continually delivered solemn warnings to clients and students of not eating in a Sympathetic state, and taught regimens for slow eating, I looked for all techniques for increasing vagal tone.”
He would recommend the gargling and gagging to his clients, but found clients were not eager to comply with these uncomfortable techniques. Because he couldn’t find an accessible, affordable, and convenient alternative, he created his own formulation using essential oils.
Vagal Tone™, available here, was the first formulation he created for our company Meo Energetics.
How Does Vagal Tone™ Work?
The most cutting-edge approaches to brain healing are described in a book The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Norman Doidge, which partly inspired our work at Meo Energetics. In the book, Doidge “describes natural, noninvasive avenues into the brain provided by the forms of energy around us—light, sound, vibration, movement—that can pass through our senses and our bodies to awaken the plastic brain’s own transformative capacities without surgery or medication and their unpleasant side effects or risks.”
John found that essential oils can be one of those gentle energetic avenues into the brain, and that very specific combinations of oils can support specific brain functions and brain pathways.
John’s clinically-based method of formulation stems from his 25 years as a renowned practitioner and his comprehensive studies in bodywork, craniosacral therapy, nutritional therapy, kinesiology, Functional Neurology, and various forms of energy medicine.
Meo Energetics also gathers results and feedback from a wide range of nutritional therapists, acupuncturists, meditation and yoga instructors, bodyworkers, and energy medicine practitioners to ensure the efficacy of the formulas. To ensure the efficacy of Vagal Tone™, we conducted a Pilot Study, gathering feedback from 100 nutritional therapy practitioners who tested the oil with their clients.
My experience with Vagal Tone™
I’ve been using Vagal Tone™ since John first began formulating it. It is now the only digestive support I use.
It’s important to understand that the significant effects of Vagal Tone™ are cumulative – not immediate. You don’t build a muscle overnight – you build it overtime, with many workouts. But once that muscle is developed, maintaining it is much easier than getting it in shape.
After six weeks of regular use, the bloating which I had experienced, and which had been completely non-responsive to any dietary or supplemental change, disappeared. With two months of regular use, my “traveler’s constipation” was corrected (halleluja!). I had been regular at home, but traveling always seemed to throw off my rhythms. After a few months of use, I no longer needed any other form of digestive supplement such as the HCL or enzymes I was taking.
I can’t wait for your order at Meo Energetics!
I look forward receiving your order at Meo Energetics. As we get Meo Energetics off the ground, John and I will be working with our part-time team member Sarah to send you products. My home office is packed to the ceiling with inventory and shipping boxes. Each bottle is going from my home to yours.