Courtney Snyder, MD
The proper functioning of the vagus is one of the most important determinants of physical and mental health, social communication, compassion and even creativity. If you have a psychiatric condition or a complex chronic illness (or your child does), understanding the vagus may help demystify what has likely been a confusing and demoralizing experience. In this post, I'll discuss the many roles of the vagus nerve, the many body systems it influences, and the many seemingly unrelated symptoms it can impact when it’s not working well. My hope is that the vagus will become as awe inspiring for you, as it has for me, and that you’ll want to help it help you.
There are many ways to improve vagal "tone" to access healing and wellbeing. Perhaps because they're fun and life affirming, they’re often not taken seriously. In my own journey, I spent years trying to dominate my biochemistry, improve my microbiome and avoid and remove toxins. This narrow attention held me (and my daughter) back. If this is where you’re at, then I write this for you.
by Courtney Snyder, MD
The human body is a mystery. As much and as fast as we’re learning, we still know very little. This post is about a recent discovery. I call it a “discovery,” because I’ve lived out what this theory holds to be true, as have a number of patients I work with, and perhaps some of you reading this. RCCX theory is quite complex. The best I can do is share my personal experience with the hope that doing so will help make this information more accessible.
We all have traits that make us different - whether it’s our appearance, how we react to our world or the natural abilities we possess. Some traits, we may take pride in, others not so much. Ask me why I’m flexible and I’ll tell you I did gymnastics when I was young. Why do I have low blood pressure? I exercise regularly. My flat feet? Just one of those genetic things.
As a child I worried...a lot. In my second year of college, I could have been diagnosed with depression. I’m the kind of person who can’t watch Cirque du Soleil without turning away for fear I’ll witness someone plunge to their death.
Never had I imagined each of these traits could be related, or that they would foreshadow a ten year health struggle that I’m only recently coming out of.
I'm a conventionally trained child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. My current approach to health is both holistic (pertaining to the whole person) and functional (addressing the root causes of illness). I write this blog to share what I've learned.