Epilepsy Talk

VNS Results Improve with Deep Breathing | May 18, 2010

Several components contribute to the profound influence of deep breathing upon the nervous system.

One of the chief connections between the respiratory and nervous systems is the vagus nerve. Since the vagus nerve carries information from the body to the brain, deep breathing makes a lot of sense. Because it stimulates the vagus nerve, bringing balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

So, the longer you exhale (through pursed lips), the longer the vagus is stimulated and the greater impact it can have.


Alan S. Keller, M.D., Psychiatry





  1. I have had a VNS since 1991, I believe. It has it’s pros and cons. Reading the articles that are attached made me realize that you really don’t need a VNS if you apply the deep slow breathing which learn in Yoga. You apply your breathing when you walk or run. When I am tense I note that I am holding my breath and my shoulders are tense.

    The stimulator has helped me. I notice that my seizures are not as dramatic. I would like to turn it off because I have discomfort that goes up my left side of my neck and at times into my left chin and ear. I also have has swallowing large pieces of things and make smaller bites. It is not constant which is confusing to me. Asthma has occured and I have nodules just below my chin. I thought it was coinsidental.

    I feel the other information that is given about the Vagal Nerve was interesting in the aricle was interesting and I thought it was from medication but to apply that to the vagal nerve was interesting!


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 19, 2010 @ 1:55 AM

  2. I’m sorry about the complications of your VNS. On the whole, do you think the VNS is worth it? Myself, I’m a deep breathing girl, I do it to the count of 10 however many times I need it. It really helps de-stress me. Maybe because of all that counting! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 19, 2010 @ 3:37 AM

  3. I looked up the first article to find out how the the vagus nerve works.

    It is a bundle of fibers composed of 80% afferent nerves. That means it mainly carries information from the peripheral body (that part of a nervous system that branches out from a central nervous system) to the brain.

    The vagus becomes active upon exhalation, when the heart rate slows. It is the primary nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system, vagal activation.

    It results in a calming effect. The longer the exhalation, the longer the vagus is stimulated and the greater impact it can have.

    I never got the VNS. According to this information, a good exercise routine will accomplish the calming effect.


    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 19, 2010 @ 3:50 AM

  4. WHen I am walking everyday from an hour to a 1/2 hour it really helps. Starting slowly like on the treadmill and making sure I am not holding my breath, I note that my shoulders stay up. I take a deep breath and consciously lower my shoulders. My blood pressure went down and my seizures did too. It took me 1 year to walk outside w/ confidence that nothing would happen. I found by putting my music in the ears I kept a good pace. I went to 5 miles a day. I started to run but my breathing was harder and the seizure activity increased so I went walking w/ a friend who walked every day in the morning it was great mentally and physically.

    My asthma is back and I am having trouble swallowing and the VNS is on but the doctor said just do it and see if it is the stimulator. I find at times it is and other times I question it.


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 19, 2010 @ 4:11 AM

    • FIVE miles a day! You sure have me beat. I’ve been doing 3 miles a day for 20 years with my walking partner. A neighbor says we’re like an old married couple. The really funny part is that she’s 4’11” and I’m 5’9″!

      Music is good company when you’re walking alone. (Although I prefer walking with Maria.) And running is a very bad idea. I used to run when I was in my 20s. It’s hard on your joints, your heart (Remember Jim Fixx?)and worst of all,I ended up with bronchitis, which is certainly the last thing you need with your asthma!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 19, 2010 @ 4:48 AM

  5. Hi, I had a real good exercise routine until I had pneumonia. I was walking at least 4 miles a day and doing a 1/2 hour of DVD exercises.

    I have been trying to get back up to walking even one mile. I never tried running.

    I have asthma, as well. My doctor has put me on Advair for it. It works for me. Toni, can you ask your doctor if there is something that can be prescribed for you?

    I hope you get well fast.


    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 19, 2010 @ 4:24 AM

  6. DON’T run! It’s bad for your asthma. Besides, Ruth, you did get back to walking and I’m proud of you for that. Start slowly and the rest will take care of itself! (End of lecture.)


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 19, 2010 @ 4:50 AM

  7. I an on 2 liquid nasal medications. Emergency Xopenex, to me it works faster, used to be maxair and now my inhaler is Proventil. I used to take Advair but my asthma was under control for a year when I was walking once in a blue moon I took maxair.


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 19, 2010 @ 7:27 AM

  8. Hi Toni, I am glad that you have a medicine that works for your asthma. That is why there are so many medications. What works for one does not work for another person.

    I like to share what works for each one of us.


    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 20, 2010 @ 3:26 AM

  9. That’s what we’re here for…to help… support…and learn from one another. So far, I’ve learned a bundle! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 20, 2010 @ 5:46 AM

  10. I had seen my Epileptologist about 2 weeks ago and he said it might be time to replace the machine. Then I saw him again and stated I will see you if you want to increase the impulse on the machine. I breifly told him of my left sided headache, left side of my face and neck being uncomfortable. He asked if I would graph all my symptoms.
    Two days later I asked my local Neurologist to check me I am having trouble w/ discomfort on my left side of my shoulder, neck and head. He felt I should be in contact w/ the VNS person.
    I saw a day later. She immediately told me the wiring needs to replaced along w/ the timer which is a lot smaller.

    I initially had been feeling crazy but talking to someone else can be beneficial. I seemed to comprehend things better for some reason.


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 23, 2010 @ 10:31 AM

  11. Well, I guess in this case, 3 heads are better than one. But I’m sorry you had to get the run around and go through all that pain to have your VNS problem resolved. Don’t these guys talk to one another?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 23, 2010 @ 10:25 PM

  12. Referal information sometimes, I learned a long time ago. When my Neurologist decided to leave his position at a University. He said I really liked working there but he was under demand of doing research and special projects, he mentioned have to go out of town doing presentations. He wanted to slow down because of raising a family and be with his patients. He was still working w/ the University but not as an employee. In one way I understand the Epileptologist, but I kept getting confused and was afraid of saying the wrong thing.

    Each physician has to deal w/ things we have no idea about. I remember my old boss having to go to court. He told me that this is also part of the job. He told me the insurances started to go up and he was a 2 man office. He had to go in another building that was less expensive and have more Neurologist in the office.

    Each situation w/ ourselves and others is different. The more I listened the more I understood.


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 23, 2010 @ 11:14 PM

  13. Toni, are you going to have your VNS replaced? You said that you wanted the impulse to be raised. Is the doctor going to do that.

    Are you doing deep breathing exercises to help you?


    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 24, 2010 @ 10:02 AM

    • Good question! The surgeon is going to look at the area involved and try to remove it. They mentioned if it was not permenantly damaged they will replace it.
      I would like it out.

      The Neurologist and Epileptologist thought it was helping. THe other kicker is the doctor is changing my Vimpat to Tegretol and I had a reaction to Tegretol. I am a little screwy at this time.

      Thank you for the note. I really would like it all out!


      Comment by Tonialpha — May 24, 2010 @ 10:26 AM

      • Have you told your doc about your reaction to the tegretol? Are there any other suggestions he can make as far as meds?


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 25, 2010 @ 12:24 AM

  14. I am going to do that you, are the 3rd person mentioning that! They gave me Carbatrol instead of Tegretol… So far so good!

    Thank you


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 25, 2010 @ 8:22 AM

  15. […] https://epilepsytalk.com/2010/05/18/deep-breathing-improves-vns-results/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]


    Pingback by VNS Results Improve with Deep Breathing « epilepsyconnection — July 12, 2012 @ 2:01 PM

  16. You’re basically getting your info from a book on Kundalini? Not exactly a medical source.


    Comment by Lola — September 17, 2016 @ 12:25 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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