21 Proven Ways to Increase Brain Blood Flow

Without a doubt, healthy blood flow is absolutely essential for optimal brain function and mental health.

Brain blood flow, or cerebral blood flow, refers to the blood supply that reaches your brain during a given period of time. 

Your brain needs almost 20% of the blood supply provided by each heartbeat.

A steady flow of blood brings oxygen, glucose and nutrients to the brain, and carries carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and other metabolic waste products away from the brain.

But when blood flow to the brain is hindered, cognitive problems can arise.

Poor brain blood flow and circulation are linked to a number of brain and mental illnesses, including:

Increasing blood flow to the brain might be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s.
— Dr. Robert Vassar

Some of the major causes of poor brain blood flow include abnormal blood pressure, poor circulation, low thyroid, infections, and stress (126-130). 

Besides addressing these major causes, there are a number of ways to directly increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain.

Researchers use neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to measure cerebral blood flow.

And they have found that the following 21 methods increase brain blood flow and circulation in humans. 

After suffering multiple concussions, I had severe depression and brain fog, and had no choice but to focus on optimizing brain blood flow and circulation.

A lot of these methods have been significantly helpful to me.

If you want to naturally increase blood flow to your brain, continue reading to learn more.

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the best and most accessible ways to increase brain blood flow and circulation. 

Research shows that moderate exercise increases blood flow to the brain by as much as 15% (1). 

And you don’t even need to work out intensely to increase blood flow to your brain.

Simply walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace, three or four times each week, is good enough to get more blood and oxygen to your brain and reap the benefits (2). 

In fact, the foot’s impact on the ground while walking sends pressure waves through the arteries, which sends more blood and oxygen to the brain (3). 

There are many studies that suggest that exercise improves brain function in older adults, but we don’t know exactly why the brain improves. Our study indicates it might be tied to an improvement in the supply of blood flow to the brain.
— Dr. Rong Zhang

Exercise has also been shown to protect against cognitive decline and dementia, promote neurogenesis, help reverse brain damage, and promote the regeneration of myelin.

So not surprisingly, exercise is recommended by many brain health experts and it’s often their number one piece of advice for optimal brain health.

My usual advice is to find a sport or exercise routine that you enjoy, so that you’ll stick with it consistently.

2. Cold Exposure

Exposing yourself to cold can also help you get more blood flowing to your brain. 

Research shows that putting your hand in ice water for one minute can significantly increase the speed of blood flow to the brain (6-8). 

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

Researchers have also found that cooling the skin during upright tilting maintains the speed of blood flow to the brain (5). 

Animal studies also show that cold exposure significantly increases cerebral blood flow (4). 

I take a cold shower every day, and often go outside with minimal clothing in the winter to increase my brain blood flow and circulation. 

You don’t have to do that right away though.

You can start out by finishing your next shower with at least 30 seconds of cold water.

See how you feel, and then work your way up to longer.

It can be a bit painful, but you get used to it and the beneficial effects are worth it.

Another way to ease yourself into it is by sticking your face, hand or foot in ice cold water.

Cold exposure also stimulates the vagus nerve and supports the endocannabinoid system

3. Sunlight

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

Research also shows that light stimulates brain blood flow and circulation.

Positron emission technology (PET) measures blood flow to specific areas of the brain.

In one study, researchers used PET scans to monitor cerebral blood flow in patients with season affective disorder (SAD) – before and after light therapy

Before light therapy, the scans show that patients had reduced blood flow to the cerebral cortex, the “executive” part of the brain.

But after just a few days of light therapy, this part of the brain started to light up, indicating greater activity and increased blood flow (9).

And this doesn’t just happen in depressed individuals.

Another study found that 10 minutes of light exposure can increase brain blood flow in healthy people (10). 

Light therapy even increases brain blood flow in pre-term infants (11). 

I personally get sunlight every day during the spring and summer months to support my brain health. It’s a simple way for me to increase blood flow to the brain every day.

Researchers have also found a positive correlation between Vitamin D levels and brain blood flow (94).

So I use this Vitamin D lamp during the winter months when there isn't enough sun.

4. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat a number of health problems.

Today, it’s one of the most popular herbal supplements in the world.

Doctors even prescribe it in Germany!

It’s most commonly used to improve brain health.

Researchers have found that it increases cognitive function, and improves memory and attention in both healthy and unhealthy individuals. It even reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (15). 

It has these positive effects mainly by significantly increasing blood flow to the brain and increasing blood circulation in the brain (12-14). 

Gingko biloba is included in the Optimal Brain supplement

Click here to subscribe

5. Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), or photobiomodulation, is a treatment that uses red and infrared light to support brain function.

The treatment involved either low-power lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit red and infrared light.

This red and infrared light is applied to the brain, and it stimulates brain cells, helping them helping them function better.

Most doctors are clueless about LLLT; but not every doctor. 

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

Dr. Norman Doidge, a physician who teaches at the University of Toronto here in Canada, discusses the amazing effects of LLLT in his book The Brain’s Way of Healing.

One way LLLT can help the brain is by increasing brain blood flow and circulation. 

One study found that applying near infrared light to the forehead can help treat depression and anxiety without side effects by increasing frontal regional cerebral blood flow (49).

Another study showed improvement in brain blood flow in healthy elderly women (50). 

Animal research has also found that light can be used to locally increase brain blood circulation (93). 

I previously wrote about my experience with low-level laser therapy here.

I use the Platinum LED Bio-450 (Combo Red/NIR) and shine the red and infrared light directly on my forehead. It’s a simple way for me to quickly and naturally increase blood flow to the brain. If you decide to buy and try this device yourself, you can use the coupon code OPTIMAL for a 5% discount.

I also use the Vielight 810, which is an intranasal device with 810 nm of near infrared light. If you decide to buy and try this device yourself, you can use the coupon code JORDANFALLIS for a 10% discount.

LLLT can also support thyroid function and mitochondria function and help with brain fog

6. Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a compound from the Periwinkle plant. 

It’s commonly used in Europe to treat cognitive decline, memory impairments, stroke recovery, and epilepsy.

Researchers have found that it increases brain blood flow in both healthy people and stroke victims.

The increase in brain blood flow leads to increased brain oxygen levels and energy production, reduced brain inflammation and improved reaction time (16-25). 

I took this vinpocetine supplement after my last concussion to increase blood flow to the brain and speed up my recovery. 

7. Meditation

Meditation is my favourite relaxation technique and it's linked to increased blood flow in the brain.

In one study, 14 people with memory problems followed a simple 8-week meditation program, and researchers found a significant increase in blood flow to the prefrontal cortex (31). 

Logical memory and verbal fluency also improved after training (31). 

Another study showed that just five days of meditation (30 minutes each day) significantly enhanced brain blood flow (32). 

I use the Muse headband to meditate. It gives you real-time feedback while you meditate. That way, you know how well you are meditating. It makes meditating much more enjoyable.

I previously wrote about it here, and you can get it through Amazon or the Muse website.

8. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

Many people know that it’s found in grapes, red wine, raspberries and dark chocolate.

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

Resveratrol is known to help prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

And researchers are starting to understand why.

Resveratrol can increase BDNF, help restore the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, and support your mitochondria.

But it can also quickly help you get more blood and oxygen flowing to your brain. 

In one study, after taking either 250 or 500 milligrams of resveratrol, study participants experienced a dose-dependent increase in brain blood flow (26). 

Even just 75 mg has been shown to increase brain circulation and cognition (27, 29). 

And a new study published just this year found that chronic resveratrol supplementation increases brain blood circulation in post-menopausal women, improving their cognition and mood (28, 30). 

I take this resveratrol supplement to support the long-term health of my brain. It’s good to know it naturally increase blood flow in the brain as well. You can get the resveratrol I take here or here

9. Dark Chocolate

Most people love chocolate, and your brain loves it too. 

Dark chocolate contains cocoa, which is known to improve blood flow. 

It's one of my favourite foods. 

Research suggests that the flavonoids found in cocoa beans increase blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours after eating them. And this leads to an improvement in cognitive performance and general alertness (33, 35). 

Certain food components like cocoa flavanols may be beneficial in increasing brain blood flow and enhancing brain function among older adults or for others in situations where they may be cognitively impaired, such as fatigue or sleep deprivation.
— Dr. Ian A. Macdonald, PhD, from the University of Nottingham Medical School in the United Kingdom

One study found that flavanol-rich cocoa significant increases the speed of brain blood flow in healthy elderly people (34). 

Another study showed that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day for 30 days was linked to improved blood flow to the brain and better memory (36). 

Dark chocolate also increases BDNF and reduces cortisol.

It’s important to choose a type of dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa.

Here is one of my favourite high-quality dark chocolates

Click here to subscribe

10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s fatty acids are the highest quality fats for the brain.

They are essential, meaning your body cannot create them and you have to get them from food or supplements.

Making sure you get more omega-3s is one of the most important actions you can take to support your brain and nervous system.

They have been shown in many studies to significantly reduce brain inflammation; improve memory, mood and cognition; and protect against mild cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

But they also naturally increase brain blood flow and circulation. 

Research shows that higher omega-3 levels are significantly correlated with higher regional cerebral blood flow (37). 

This is very important research because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.
— Dr. Daniel G. Amen, MD, Amen Clinics

And one study found that omega-3 supplementation, in comparison with placebo, significantly increases brain blood flow (38). 

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish such as salmon, black cod, sablefish, sardines and herring.

Unfortunately, most people don't consume enough of these foods.

So supplementing with krill oil should be considered. Krill oil is a special kind of fish oil that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. I’ve tried tons of fish oil supplements, and I recommend krill oil over all the others.

I take this krill oil supplement. I feel slightly depressed when I stop taking it. I actually notice the difference.

11. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that has been shown to increase brain blood flow and circulation.

In a randomized controlled trial, 17 post-stroke patients did acupuncture or sham acupuncture for 20 minutes.

The researchers found that the speed of blood flow to both hemispheres of the brain significantly increased during and after acupuncture treatment (39, 42). 

Research has also shown that acupuncture can significantly improve cerebral blood flow and circulation in animals (40-41, 43). 

I’m a really big fan of auricular acupuncture, which is when the needles are inserted into ear.

In my experience, ear acupuncture is more effective than regular acupuncture. I’m not sure why. I just personally noticed more benefits from ear acupuncture. 

I’d recommend trying to find a acupuncturist in your area who provides ear acupuncture.

Ear acupuncture really helped me the first time I weened off antidepressants. I was surprised.

At the end of each appointment, my practitioner would secure these small black seeds on my ear. 

I also use this acupuncture mat at home to relax before bed.

Acupuncture also stimulates the vagus nerve

12. Chewing Gum

Research reveals that chewing increases brain blood flow (44). 

As a result, chewing can improve cognitive performance and brain function, including working and spatial memory, and increases the level of arousal and alertness during a cognitive task (45). 

If you chew gum, make sure it’s aspartame-free, like this one.

Chewing gum also reduces cortisol

13. Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) 

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is an acetylated form of the amino acid carnitine. 

It’s known to help reverse neurological decline by increasing levels of acetylcholine in the brain.

It’s often used as a brain booster by people of all ages because it support brain cells and increases alertness.

It’s also been shown to be very effective at alleviating chronic fatigue and improving mood by supporting mitochondrial function.

Considering it does all this, it’s not surprising that researchers found that it can enhance brain blood flow in people who have had a stroke (46-47). 

I personally find ALCAR improves my mental energy and enhances my cognitive function.

ALCAR is included in the Optimal Brain supplement

Click here to subscribe

14. Nitrates

Nitrates are both naturally-occurring compounds found in soil and plants.

High levels of nitrates are found in foods such as beets, celery, cabbage, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables.

Research shows that a nitrate-rich diet can increase blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, improving cognitive function and protecting against cognitive decline (51-52). 

Beet juice is a particularly rich source of nitrates, and studies have found that it can help widen blood vessels and increase oxygen and blood flow to the brain (53-54, 56). 

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial even found that beet juice can improve cognitive performance by increasing brain blood flow (55). 

There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain. There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age, and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.
— Dr. Daniel Kim-Shapiro, PhD

I don’t really enjoy the taste, but every so often I do drink beet juice during cognitively-demanding tasks. 

Here is a good organic beet juice

15. Drink Less Coffee (Or Take Theanine)

Coffee is generally excellent for brain health. There is a lot of research showing it is very healthy and can be protective against dementia.

However, studies also show that if you want to get more blood flowing to your brain and within you brain, you’re better off avoiding or limiting caffeine

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

Researchers have found that caffeine significantly reduces brain blood flow by 20 to 30% depending on the study and dosage (74-77). 

The good news is that taking the amino acid theanine can reduce the negative brain blood flow effects of caffeine (78-79). 

That’s why I take this theanine supplement with my morning coffee

I also sometimes take breaks from drinking coffee to normalize brain blood flow and circulation. 

Taking the herb rhodiola can make quitting caffeine much easier because it helps reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Lastly, you could also try supplementing with the whole coffee fruit, instead of drinking coffee.

The coffee bean is usually separated from the coffee fruit for roasting. When this happens, the surrounding coffee fruit is then thrown away. 

That’s a problem because the coffee fruit contains several healthy compounds not found in coffee beans themselves.

In fact, scientists have discovered that ingesting coffee fruit concentrate significantly increases brain function. 

That’s why it’s included in Optimal Brain.

16. Piracetam

Piracetam is a “nootropic”, which means it’s a supplement that enhances cognition.

It provides a mild boost in brain function, and it’s regularly used in Europe, Asia and South America to treat cognitive impairment. 

A meta-analysis found that piracetam improves general cognition when supplemented by people in a state of cognitive decline (84). 

Research also shows that it can increase brain blood flow in humans and animals (85-91). 

Here is a good piracetam supplement. I used to take it every day but I don’t need it at all anymore.

Phenylpiracetam is an advanced version of piracetam and I found it to be even better because it improves mood and reduces anxiety. It’s also been shown to reverse the depressant effects of benzodiazepines (81-83).

You can get it here

Both piracetam and phenylpiracetam work best if you take them with a source of choline, such as CDP-Choline and Alpha GPC (80). 

17. Ketogenic Dieting

A ketogenic diet is a very low-carbohydrate diet.

To follow it correctly, you need to eat less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.

This means you need to avoid all carbohydrate-rich foods, including grains, sugar, and even potatoes, legumes and fruit.

When you restrict carbs this much, your body enters ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body and brain run on fatty acids and “ketones” instead of glucose.

Researchers have found that ketones are a therapeutic option in traumatic brain injury because they can increase brain blood flow by 39% (100). 

Studies have also shown that ketones increase cerebral blood flow by 65% in animals (103-104). 

And caloric restriction also increases ketones, which preserves cerebral blood flow in aging rats (102). 

I follow a ketogenic diet every so often, but not for long stretches of time due to resulting hormone problems.

I do take Optimal Ketones every day, which are exogenous ketones that get your body into a state of ketosis very quickly. They immediately increase my mental clarity, without having to restrict carbs.

Ketones can also support mitochondria health, promote the regeneration of myelin, and increase the growth of new brain cells

18. Citicoline

Citicoline (also known as CDP-Choline) is one of the most bioavailable forms of choline.

You need to get choline from food, but most people do not get enough because very few foods in the Western diet contain it.

That’s why supplementation is often necessary.

Citicoline is a supplemental form of choline that has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.

It enhances the synthesis of acetylcholine and dopamine (two neurotransmitters that are critical for optimal brain function) and increases the number of acetylcholine and dopamine receptors in your brain (105-110). 

It’s also been shown to improve cognitive function by increasing the rate of brain blood flow (114-116). 

A double-blind placebo-controlled study concluded that Citicoline improves cognitive performance in patients with Alzheimer’s disease by increasing brain blood flow (113). 

Citicoline significantly improves my focus and mental energy. It's included in the Optimal Brain supplement

You can also find some choline in foods such as beef liver and egg yolks, but the effects of Citicoline are much more noticeable and immediate because it quickly passes the blood-brain barrier and supports your brain.  

Citicoline also promote the regeneration of myelin, support the blood-brain barrier, and help reverse brain damage.

19. Blueberry Juice

Drinking blueberry juice improves cognitive function in the elderly, according to research published this year (123-125). 

One way it improved brain health was by increasing oxygen levels and increasing blood flow to the brain.

The participants had improvements in working memory while doing cognitive testing.

In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.
— Dr. Joanna Bowtell

The amount of juice in the study was equivalent to 230g of blueberries.

The researchers believe that the flavonoids in blueberries were responsible for the positive effects.  

 

20. Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a vitamin-like enzyme and potent antioxidant found in plant foods that can improve cognitive function.

Researchers have found that supplementing with PQQ can increase blood flow to the prefrontal cortex (117-118). 

One study found that PQQ can prevent the reduction of brain function in elderly people, especially in attention and working memory, by increasing brain blood flow (119). 

I cycle this BioPQQ supplement with my other mitochondrial-support supplements

21. Intranasal Insulin

Insulin is one of the hormones that significantly affects brain function.

It's been shown to pass the blood-brain barrier and act on insulin receptors directly within the brain.

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen

In a new therapeutic approach, commercially-available insulin (Novalin R) is prepared and added to nasal spray bottles - like these ones - and sprayed and inhaled through the nose to support brain and mental health.

Intranasal insulin has been reported to significantly enhance memory, increase mental energy, reduce brain fog, improve mood, and lower anxiety and stress levels.

One possible mechanism is by increasing brain blood flow and circulation.

Research shows that intranasal insulin increases regional cerebral blood flow in the insular cortex (120, 122). 

And in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, intranasal insulin improved brain blood flow in older adults (121).  

If you’re interested in learning more, I previously wrote a full article about intranasal insulin.

22. BONUS: Other Promising Nutrients and Herbs

Researchers have found that the following compounds can increase cerebral blood flow in animals, but I couldn’t find any research showing that it will do the same in humans. However, they are worth experimenting with as many of them have supported my brain and mental health over the years.

21-proven-ways-to-increase-blood-flow-to-the-brain-get-more-circulation-problems-poor-symptoms-foods-head-supply-cerebral-in-frontal-lobe-low-head-diseases-exercise-disorders-through-improve-treatment-home-remedies-how-best-function-herbs-naturally-study-help-oxygen
 

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

References:

(1) http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/Archive/2011/9.html

(2) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412131921.htm

(3) http://www.nmhu.edu/research-shows-walking-increases-blood-flow-brain/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/754495

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12070190

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8706113

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22104537

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27206903

(9) https://goo.gl/NKCSF1

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819153/

(11) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2004.tb00460.x/abstract

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12905098

(13) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25966264

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163160/

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679686/

(16) https://examine.com/supplements/vinpocetine/

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15760651

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12498034

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12460136

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1429914/

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12044859

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274818/

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23289173

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25548768

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19135345

(26) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357044

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27105868

(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28054939

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27420093

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27005658

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20164557

(32) http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00212/full

(33) http://www.medsci.org/press/cocoa.html

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518374/

(35) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461

(36) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-08/aaon-cmh073113.php

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527220

(38) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051111002584

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26569545

(40) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19358505

(41) http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0056736

(42) https://goo.gl/XZqLQd

(43) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24006668

(44) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9134116

(45) http://www.medsci.org/v11p0209.htm

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2068049

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2387659

(48) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1673537407600383

(49) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19995444

(50) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25277249

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575935/

(52) http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20101103/beet-juice-good-for-brain#1

(53) https://goo.gl/oeTwfb

(54) http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20101103/beet-juice-good-for-brain#1

(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26037632

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27630836

(57) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16912655

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17459424

(59) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12614590

(60) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0026286207000258

(61) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.410150507/abstract

(62) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085116.htm

(63) https://goo.gl/x39wBK

(64) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1038/jcbfm.2011.85

(65) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/

(66) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22447676

(67) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320509004627

(68) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19925811

(69) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12466053

(70) https://goo.gl/JLo2KP

(71) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23685189

(72) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28325558

(73) https://goo.gl/ffuYWA

(74) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748160/

(75) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15132312/

(76) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2122148/

(77) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3677118/

(78) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4480845/

(79) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25761837

(80) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7301036

(81) https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/11319230-000000000-00000

(82) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21689376

(83) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6403074

(84) https://examine.com/supplements/piracetam/

(85) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3556550

(86) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183904

(87) https://goo.gl/Uf4XQU

(88) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4026900

(89) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8876930

(90) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10978039

(91) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17523446

(92) https://goo.gl/JYEMNd

(93) https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14191

(94) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22773150

(95) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3810733

(96) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3446252

(97) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20096732

(98) https://goo.gl/rHW2KD

(99) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27156064

(100) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8967461

(101) https://ccforum.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/cc10020

(102) https://goo.gl/KRZ9oy

(103) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16001018

(104) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1038/sj.jcbfm.9600177

(105) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695184/

(106) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11796739

(107) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1430829/

(108) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1839138

(109) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1098982

(110) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19351232

(111) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011061/

(112) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16055952

(113) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10669911

(114) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1098982

(115) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7820960

(116) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7913981/

(117) https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-38810-6_29

(118) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27526146

(119) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26782228

(120) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23907764

(121) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5391232/

(122) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hbm.22304/abstract

(123) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28249119

(124) http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_572581_en.html

(125) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170307100356.htm

(126) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20453669

(127) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539653/

(128) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246784/

(129) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15118175

(130) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757593

(131) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28155036

(132) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28506213

(133) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15929050

(134) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17088679

(135) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10867218

(136) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9682941

(137) http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/481961

(138) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12742675

(139) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9373423

(140) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21167506

(141) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7496746

(142) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1919689

(143) http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/jnp.15.3.326

(144) http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/783869

Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Blake Gibb, MD

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer

How to Improve Your Brain Function with An Oxygen Concentrator

Insufficient oxygen means insufficient biological energy that can result in anything from mild fatigue to life threatening disease. The link between insufficient oxygen and disease has now been firmly established.
— Dr. W. Spencer Way, Journal of the American Association of Physicians

Oxygen is absolutely essential for life, and your brain depends it more than any other part of your body.

Your brain weighs about 2% of your body weight.

But it consumes about 20% of the oxygen you breathe.

Your brain cells need to get enough oxygen to produce energy and function optimally.

If they don’t, they can start to deteriorate, leading to poor memory and concentration, low mood, lack of energy and drive. 

I personally use oxygen therapy with an oxygen concentrator to support and optimize my brain function. 

This post discusses oxygen therapy, the benefits, how I use it, and how it could help you. 

It’s a great way to boost cognitive function, memory and energy.

Read on to learn more. 

Types of Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy is the use of supplemental oxygen to treat a variety of medical conditions.

Air is typically 21% oxygen by volume, but oxygen therapy increases the amount.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the most well-known type of oxygen therapy, and it allows patients to inhale 100% pure oxygen in a total body chamber.

Oxygen-therapy-for-brain-damage-injury-cures-treatment-tbi-benefits-improve-increase-lack-of-health-intake-saturation-levels-blood-supply-more-effects-stroke-normobaric-memory-recall-cognitive-performance-reaction-time-energy-traumatic-exercise-fog-target-swelling-head-trauma

HBOT is often used by professional athletes for recovery and performance.

But it’s expensive and not available to most people. 

Luckily, it’s not the only option available to you. 

Normobaric oxygen therapy (NBOT) is much less expensive, and it’s easily accessible and non-invasive. I personally use NBOT at home. 

Similar to HBOT, NBOT brings a higher percentage of oxygen into the body and can bring major benefits to your brain and cognition.

Researchers have found that both normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the blood and brain (1-2). 

With normobaric therapy, oxygen can be delivered via an oxygen concentrator

An oxygen concentrator is a machine that separates oxygen from room air, and then delivers the concentrated oxygen through a nasal cannula or mask.

I use this oxygen concentrator. You can get it here or here.  

Make sure you read the “My Experience” section below where I discuss how to use it. .

Why You Might Need Oxygen Therapy and How It Works

Hypoxia is a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

If this happens to you, you can end up with mitochondria dysfunction and poor brain function. 

But how do you know?

You can use an oxygen saturation monitor to measure and monitor your blood oxygenation levels. I use this monitor. It’s the best and most accurate oxygen saturation monitor that is often used by medical professionals, and freely available to the public.

Your blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) should measure 99-100% if you want to feel optimal.  

Oxygen-therapy-for-brain-damage-injury-cures-treatment-tbi-benefits-improve-increase-lack-of-health-intake-saturation-levels-blood-supply-more-effects-stroke-normobaric-memory-recall-cognitive-performance-reaction-time-energy-traumatic-exercise-fog-target-swelling-head-trauma

There are a number of reasons why your body and brain might not be getting enough oxygen:

  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise

  • Shallow breathing – Most people today don’t breathe well and are shallow breathers.

  • Chronic stressStress and anxiety can also affect your breathing. If you're stressed and anxious, you end up taking more shallow breaths. Your sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system is chronically active, and this reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain.

  • Abnormal blood pressure – Both high and low blood pressure can be problematic and may suggest that blood is not optimally flowing to your brain. If blood flow to your brain is poor, oxygen levels in your brain will also be suboptimal.

Normobaric oxygen therapy can help you if you’re struggling with any of these problems.

It can also help if you’re recovering from a concussion or brain injury or some sort of toxic exposure (e.g. mold). 

Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis require oxygen, and increasing the delivery of oxygen to the body and brain supports the healing process of damaged tissue.

Normobaric oxygen therapy has been shown to work by increasing brain blood flow, reducing permeability of the blood-brain barrier, and it may even have cholinergic properties (3-8). 

Researchers have concluded that the “neuroprotective role of normobaric oxygen therapy is extremely promising” (9). 

They have also found that it can lead to a number of positive cognitive outcomes, which I'll explore below. 

Click here to subscribe

1. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Improves Memory and Recall

In their book Advances in Natural Medicines, Nutraceuticals, and Neurocognition, Dr. Andrew Scholey and Dr. Con Stough state that normobaric oxygen therapy is an effective memory enhancer

Research has shown that oxygen administration leads to improved long-term memory compared to a control group of normal air-breathing.

Several clinical studies also show that concentrated oxygen significantly enhances memory formation and recall in adults (10-11, 16-17). 

In one study, inhalation of oxygen immediately prior to learning a word list resulted in a significant increase in the average number of words recalled 10 minutes later (14). 

In other studies, subjects who received oxygen remembered shopping lists and faces better than subjects that didn’t receive oxygen (12-13, 18). 

Researchers have also found significant positive correlations between changes in oxygen saturation and memory performance (15). 

2. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Improves Cognitive Performance

Research shows that concentrated oxygen significantly enhances cognitive performance (19-20, 29). 

And it doesn’t just improve cognitive function in the elderly; it also enhances cognitive processing in young adults (21-23). 

In one study, students that inhaled oxygen while playing a computer game performed much better compared to students who didn’t inhale any additional oxygen (26). 

In two other studies, researchers found that the inhalation of 30% oxygen improved cognitive functioning and performance by activating several brain areas (24-25). 

Oxygen administration appears to facilitate cognition most effectively for tasks with a higher cognitive load.
— Advances in Natural Medicines, Nutraceuticals, and Neurocognition

They concluded that breathing a higher concentration of oxygen increases blood oxygen levels in the brain, which then supports cognition (24-25). 

And other researchers have found significant correlations between blood oxygen levels and cognitive performance (27-28). 

3. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Enhances Accuracy

Several studies have found that normobaric oxygen therapy can also increase your accuracy when doing tasks. 

Two studies found that 30% and 40% oxygen administration significantly enhanced accuracy rates compared to 21% oxygen (normal air). It did this by increasing oxygen levels in the blood, which then stimulated activity in the brain (31-32). 

As the difficulty of the task increased, the difference in the accuracy rate between 40% and 21% oxygen administration also increased (33-34). 

And researchers found a positive correlation between task performance and oxygen levels in the brain (33-34). 

Other research has found that 30% oxygen administration enhances accuracy rates during verbal tasks by activating specific areas of the brain (35-36). 

Click here to subscribe

4. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Reduces Reaction Time

People who receive normobaric oxygen therapy also have faster reaction times (37-38). 

In one study, participants performed visual matching tasks under 43% oxygen or 21% oxygen (normal air).

Researchers reported a significant decrease in reaction time in the presence of 43% oxygen (39).

The researchers hypothesized that normobaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen levels in the blood, which then leads to more available oxygen in the brain (39). 

Another follow-up study confirmed that response time decreases during normobaric oxygen therapy due to the increase in blood oxygen levels (40). 

Normobaric oxygen therapy has even been shown to reduce reaction time in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (41). 

5. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Increases Energy

Despite comprising only 2 percent of the body’s weight, the brain gobbles up more than 20 percent of daily energy intake.

All cells within your body need oxygen, particularly your brain cells.

They require a lot of oxygen to produce energy. 

In fact, your energy levels depend on how much oxygen you have and how well your mitochondria utilize it.

If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it simply won’t function properly, and you’ll end up feeling tired. 

But normobaric oxygen therapy can increase energy.

Research shows that it "decreases fatigue and reduces feelings of sleepiness" (51). 

6. Normobaric Oxygen Therapy Improves Neurological Function After Stroke

Researchers say that normobaric oxygen therapy is a promising therapy for stroke patients. 

It’s been shown to reduce brain swelling and blood-brain barrier permeability and increase brain blood flow after stroke (42-43). 

One study found that normobaric oxygen therapy significantly improved neurological functions in patients with acute ischemic stroke (44). 

Other researchers have found that normobaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen supply to damaged tissues and improves outcomes after stroke, in both animals and humans (45-46). 

As a non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive treatment, normobaric oxygen therapy is “worthy of notice” (47). 

Click here to subscribe

7. Oxygen Therapy May Help Reverse Brain Damage After Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers found that a combination of normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy reversed brain damage in 2-year-old girl who nearly drowned in a swimming pool.

She received normobaric oxygen treatment (twice daily for 45 minutes by nasal cannula), and doctors witnessed significant improvements in her neurological function (48-49). 

Normobaric oxygen therapy alone improved the girl’s neurological function before she started hyperbaric oxygen therapy (48-49). 

She eventually made a full recovery with both types of oxygen therapy. 

Researchers have also said that the “neuroprotective role of normobaric oxygen therapy is extremely promising” for traumatic brain injury (50). 

I’ve also seen multiple studies with rats and mice showing that normobaric oxygen therapy reduces brain swelling and brain damage.

8. Other Possible Benefits (with Less Research Behind Them)

  • Increases attention and vigilance – Oxygen administration significantly improved performance on several measures of attention and vigilance (52).

  • Reduces inflammation – Oxygen levels play a critical role in determining the severity of the inflammatory response and ultimately the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs (53-54).

  • Improves hand-eye coordination (55).

  • Increases positive sense of wellbeing (56).

My Experience with Normobaric Oxygen Therapy

If you use oxygen for 20 minutes, muscles become loosened, headaches and stress seem to disappear, there is a renewed energy and a feeling of relaxation.
— Dr. Richard de Andrea

 

I was first introduced to oxygen therapy through an integrative doctor I know.

At the end of each appointment with him, I would use his oxygen concentrator for about 15-20 minutes. He used this oxygen concentrator

I eventually decided to buy my own oxygen concentrator and now regularly use it at home. 

There is a dial for adjusting the flow of oxygen and the port is located on the upper right of the machine.

There is a dial for adjusting the flow of oxygen and the port is located on the upper right of the machine.

I bought this oxygen concentrator. You can get it here or through Amazon. I'll discuss how it has helped me below.

The oxygen from the concentrator is supplied through an nasal canula. It’s completely non-invasive and painless, and it’s become one of my favourite tools for supporting my brain.

I use it for about 20 to 30 minutes, a few times each week. I often do this while exercising on this indoor stationary bike. Sometimes I use it without exercising on the bike. 

I also use it for about 3 to 5 minutes as needed, usually when doing work. 

During a session, I use this oxygen saturation monitor to measure my blood oxygenation levels. 

Your blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) should measure 99-100%. I see mine increase and max out while using the concentrator

My oxygen concentrator delivers up to 5 litres of oxygen per minute. I usually set mine somewhere between 3 and 5 litres per minute. 

But I would recommend starting lower and working your way up. 

Similar to low-level laser/light therapy, oxygen therapy is somewhat experimental. You need to find the right “dosage” for yourself.

Benefits and What I’ve Noticed

IMG_0046.JPG

I've had good results with concentrated oxygen therapy and it has surprisingly increased the quality of my life. 

One of the main things I notice is that it feels like it puts energy back into my body every time I use it.

One of my clients uses it whenever she gets brain fog, and it clears it up. Another client uses it when she gets a headache and the headache disappears within 10 minutes.

It also does an incredible job of getting rid of hangovers. They essentially go away if you use the concentrator the morning after drinking. You just immediately feel like a completely new person.

Here are some other benefits I’ve experienced:

Keep in mind that this is my personal experience (and the experiences of a couple of clients). There really is no guarantee that you’ll experience the same results, but it’s worth a try if you’re sick and other therapies aren’t improving your brain function. 

Click here to subscribe

Combining Oxygen Therapy with Other Therapies

I also combine oxygen therapy with other therapies and supplements for their synergistic effects. 

Researchers have found that combining normobaric oxygen therapy with the following therapies leads to better results (57-59):

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23317164

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5234199/

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023418/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110143/

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28931617

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25804925

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27177548

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580/

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922270

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8740047

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18322865/

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9600580/

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9694523/

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9862412

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9694523/

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15522765

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15684544

(26) https://goo.gl/h9o5Aj

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17662686/

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17053947/

(32) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17395994/

(33) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18569150/

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20080151

(35) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16678926

(36) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15929498

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15627418/

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10604851/

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19429029/

(40) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/

(41) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22285726

(42) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26416428

(43) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25804925

(44) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28931617

(45) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110139/

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4146175/

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110139/

(48) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510296/

(49) https://goo.gl/m2CbrR

(50) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19922270

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15627418/

(52) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9694523/

(53) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131202121536.htm

(54) https://jlb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1189/jlb.0912462

(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11258587

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11258587

(57) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27458543

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27177548

(59) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26416428

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer

16 Powerful Ways to Effectively Lower Homocysteine

Lowering and normalizing homocysteine levels is another key way to improve the health of your brain and manage your mental health. 

In fact, keeping homocysteine levels within normal range is good for overall health in general. 

But what exactly is homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body as a by-product of methylation.

In healthy people, it’s properly metabolized and normal levels are maintained. 

But when homocysteine isn’t properly metabolized, it can build up inside the body and levels can become too high.

And that’s when homocysteine becomes dangerous and unhealthy. 

At high levels, homocysteine is inflammatory and neurotoxic, and increases oxidative stress and free radical damage in the brain by reducing levels of cysteine and glutathione (89-95, 138-139). 

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

It’s also been shown to contribute to mitochondrial damage and reduce energy production in the brain (96-98). 

Researchers have found that high levels of homocysteine disrupt the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which allows substances that are normally kept out of the brain to cross over and contribute to neurological problems (99-102). 

And studies have found that people with high levels of homocysteine have lower levels of serotonin and SAMe, a nutrient involved in the production of many neurotransmitters that improve mood (103-104). 

Considering all this, it’s not too surprising that high levels of homocysteine have been linked to many chronic neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases, including:

  • Depression (105-111)

  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment/dysfunction/decline (119-133, 143)

  • Headaches and migraines (112-118, 148)

  • Hearing loss (136-137)

  • Brain atrophy (134, 144, 151)

  • Parkinson’s disease (145)

  • Stroke (154-155)

  • Postpartum depression (135)

  • Postmenopausal mental decline (146)

  • Schizophrenia and other affective disorders (147, 153, 156)

  • Alcoholism (149)

  • Brain damage and neurotoxicity (152)

  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder (157)

  • Multiple sclerosis (158-161)

People with nutritional deficiencies and MTHFR gene mutation are at an increased risk of high homocysteine levels. Homocysteine levels gradually increase as you age, and men are more likely than women to have high levels of homocysteine (140-142). 

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to lower homocysteine.

Here are 16 ways to keep your homocysteine levels in check. 

1. Trimethylglycine

Trimethylglycine (also known as betaine) is an amino acid derivative that can be found in plants such as beets and spinach. 

Trimethylglycine plays an important role in methylation, a process that is involved in the synthesis of melatonin, coenzyme Q10, and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. 

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

Several studies show that supplementing with trimethylglycine can significantly lower homocysteine levels (1-5). 

One study found that the more trimethyglycine a person consumes, the lower their homocysteine levels (6).

According to the research, it appears that you need to supplement with at least three grams of trimethyglycine daily to significantly reduce homocysteine. Doing so will reduce homocysteine levels by 10% in persons with normal levels or by 20 to 40% in persons with elevated homocysteine levels (7-9).

However, even 500mg seems to lower homocysteine slightly (10). 

I took this trimethylglycine supplement after coming off psychiatric medication and noticed an improvement in mood and energy. 

2. Folate

The best way to lower homocysteine is by making sure you consume enough B vitamins on a regular basis.

Folate is one of the most important B vitamins because it helps metabolize homocysteine into methionine (51). 

When your body doesn’t have enough folate, elevated levels of homocysteine are the result (52). 

LeafyGreenVegetablesHow-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

Good dietary sources of natural folate include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, avocado, beef liver and poultry. These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain Health.

However, folate-rich foods may not be enough to lower homocysteine. In fact, many people do not get enough folate from food because cooking and food processing destroy natural folates (57). 

That’s why I recommend supplementation. 

Supplementing with 800 mcg of folate has been shown to lower homocysteine by at least 28%. Even supplementing with just 113 mcg daily lowers homocysteine by about 15% (53-56, 58, 62). 

If you decide to supplement with folate, avoid synthetic folic acid, which is commonly found in standard multivitamins. Instead, you should take a biologically active form of folate (methylfolate, or 5-MTHF). 

5-MTHF is the most effective supplemental form of folate. Many people have genetic mutations in the enzyme that converts folic acid into methylfolate in the body. Therefore, folic acid is a waste and can actually cause harm if you have this genetic mutation.

Methylfolate supplements are almost seven times more effective than synthetic folic acid at increasing folate levels and lowering homocysteine levels. Regular synthetic folic acid has been shown to be quickly cleared from the central nervous system and poorly transported into the brain (59-61). 

5-MTHF is included in this B vitamin complex that I take regularly. 

3. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is another nutrient that plays a role in methylation. It's also a necessary cofactor in the metabolism of homocysteine (75-77). 

Research shows that Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to rising homocysteine levels (78-80, 83-84). 

But in those with elevated homocysteine, supplementing with 1,000 mg of B12 per day can significantly lower and normalize blood levels of homocysteine (81-82).

Ordinary B12 supplements don’t always cut it though.

If you decide to supplement, you should avoid the semisynthetic version of B12 (cyanocobalamin) and take the methylated form (methyl-B12) instead, which is better absorbed and more biologically active.

Methyl-B12 is included in this supplement. Or you can take it separately

Vitamin B12 is also found primarily in animal foods, and beef liver is a really good source. I take these beef liver capsules because I don’t like the taste of liver. 

Click here to subscribe

4. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is another homocysteine-reducing nutrient that boosts mood, deepens sleep, and supports your entire nervous system. 

It accomplishes this by playing a key role in the production of many neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin, GABA and dopamine.

Vitamin B6 is also a necessary cofactor in the metabolism of homocysteine, and having a deficiency can cause homocysteine levels to increase (14).

In fact, low blood levels of B6 are common, especially in people with higher homocysteine levels (15). 

Thankfully, supplementation has been shown to help lower and normalize homocysteine levels (11-13). 

Vitamin-B6-How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

However, it’s important to point out that it’s best to supplement B6 along with both folate and B12 if you want to dramatically lower homocysteine levels. 

Supplementing with B6, B12 and folate has been shown to significantly lower homocysteine levels and reduce symptoms of depression (87). 

One study found that within three weeks, homocysteine levels could be reduced by 17% using folate alone, 19% using B12 alone, 57% using folate and B12, and 60% using folate, B12 and B6 (86). 

Another study found that combining B6 and folate reduces homocysteine 32% within five weeks (85).

That’s why I highly recommend supplementing with a high-quality B complex that contains all three B vitamins. 

I take this B complex.

Symptoms of Vitamin B6 deficiency include weakness, mental confusion, depression, insomnia and severe PMS symptoms.

Some of the best food sources of Vitamin B6 include potatoes, bananas and chicken. 

5. Taurine

Taurine is an organic compound found in foods, particularly animal products. It has a wide variety of health benefits.

It can cross the blood-brain barrier and produces anti-anxiety effects, and acts as an antioxidant in the brain, protecting it from various substances including lead and cadmium (16-25). 

It’s also been shown to lower homocysteine. 

Research shows that taurine supplementation significantly reduces plasma homocysteine levels (26-28).

Taurine is included in the Optimal Zinc supplement

6. Creatine

Creatine is a molecule produced in the body and found in some foods, particularly meat, eggs, and fish.

Creatine is also available in supplement form. Athletes, bodybuilders, wrestlers, sprinters often take creatine supplement to gain more muscle mass. It’s an incredibly well-researched supplement and safe to take regularly. 

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

Supplementing with creatine can also support the brain. It's been shown to have neuroprotective effects and it rapidly produces energy to support brain cell function (29). 

Research shows that creatine supplementation can also lower homocysteine in humans (32, 34). 

Animal studies show the same (30-31, 33).

I take this creatine powder every day on an empty stomach. I take more when I’m lifting weights regularly. 

7. Green Coffee Extract

Green coffee extract is a supplement that is derived from green coffee beans. 

Green coffee beans are similar to regular coffee beans. However, they contain much more chlorogenic acid in them.

Chlorogenic acid is a phytochemical with cognitive health benefits

One study found that 140 mg of chlorogenic acid, which is 28% of the content of green coffee extract, can significantly lower homocysteine (39). 

Here is a good green coffee extract

Click here to subscribe

8. Reduce Stress

I highly recommend you try to do something every day to manage your stress because psychological stress has been shown to significantly increase homocysteine levels (70-71). 

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

My favourite ways to reduce stress include neurofeedback, meditation (using the Muse headband), massage, acupuncture, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), emotional freedom techniques (EFT), heart-rate variability (HRV) training, and this acupressure mat

Some supplements that can help you reduce stress include zinc, magnesium, ashwagandha and phosphatidylserine.

This anti-anxiety supplement also includes a number of natural compounds that have personally helped me manage my stress over the years. You can use the coupon code FIVE$45496275 for a 5% discount.

And here is an article with 20 other ways to lower your stress hormone, cortisol.

9. Estrogen

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone and responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system.

Research shows that higher estrogen levels are associated with lower homocysteine levels, independent of nutritional status and muscle mass (72). 

And individuals on estrogen replacement therapy have significantly lower homocysteine levels (72-73). 

I recommend both men and women get their hormone levels checked regularly and optimize them because it can really improve your quality of life. 

10. Choline

Choline is an essential B vitamin that most people don’t consume enough of, because very few foods in the Western diet contain it.

Research shows that high homocysteine levels can be lowered with choline (40-42). 

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

One study found that increased intake of choline led to lower levels of circulating homocysteine (43). 

And other studies have shown that choline deficiency in mice and humans is associated with increased homocysteine levels (44). 

Citicoline (also known as CDP-Choline) is my favourite source of choline for the brain. 

Citicoline also supports the blood-brain barrier and promotes the regeneration of myelin

Another good source of choline for brain health is Alpha GPC.

Both Citicoline and Alpha GPC are included in the Optimal Brain supplement

You can also find some choline in beef liver and egg yolks, but Citicoline and Alpha GPC have more noticeable effects on cognition. 

11. N-Acetyl-Cysteine

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a modified form of the amino acid cysteine. It’s also the precursor to glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant.

I’ve previously discussed how NAC can help treat six different mental illnesses.

And it turns out that it can also help lower homocysteine levels. 

Research shows NAC supplementation can cause a “rapid and significant decrease” in homocysteine levels (49). 

Studies have found that NAC can decrease homocysteine anywhere from 25 to 45 per cent (47-48, 50).

Researchers believe NAC displaces homocysteine from its protein carrier in the blood, which lowers homocysteine and promotes the formation of glutathione (45-46). 

12. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Is there anything omega-3 fatty acids can’t do?

They can promote the regeneration of myelin, stimulate the vagus nerve, help reverse brain damage, and support the endocannabinoid system

And now it appears they can also lower homocysteine levels. 

A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial found that consuming three grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily for 2 months significantly decreases levels of homocysteine (63). 

Other researchers have reported that omega-3s can lower homocysteine by 36 to 48% (64-65). 

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

And studies have also found that people using B vitamins to lower homocysteine should also have enough omega-3s to improve brain function. In fact, some clinical trials using B vitamins to improve brain function show benefits only in people with higher omega-3 levels (143-144). 

It’s important to eat enough omega-3s because they are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in cold water fish such as salmon, black cod, sablefish, sardines and herring.

Unfortunately, most people don't consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet.

That’s why I recommend people supplement with krill oil, a special kind of fish oil that contains omega-3s. 

I take this krill oil supplement. I feel slightly depressed when I stop taking it. I actually notice the difference.

You can also order very high-quality seafood and krill oil supplements here

And you can read more about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids here.

Click here to subscribe

13. Probiotics

Research suggests that probiotics may also be able to lower homocysteine.

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies

In one interesting study, researchers gave the probiotic VSL#3 to subjects with high homocysteine.

The researchers found that the probiotic increased the number of good bacteria in the gut, which then naturally increased Vitamin B12 and folate production in the gut. As a result, homocysteine levels dropped (66). 

You can get the VSL#3 probiotic used in the above study here.

I personally created and take the Optimal Biotics supplement to support my brain and mental health. 

Probiotics have also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve and help with depression

And here are five other ways to increase the good bacteria in your gut. 

14. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is a neurotoxin that wreaks havoc on the brain by raising cortisol levels, disrupting the blood-brain barrier, and increasing inflammation and oxidative stress (67).

It also increases homocysteine. 

One study found that alcohol significantly reduces Vitamin B12 and folate levels and increased homocysteine levels (68). 

And another study found that alcohol consumption increased homocysteine levels regardless of Vitamin B levels (69). 

There are ways to protect your brain from alcohol, but you’re better off avoiding it completely or significantly reducing your consumption if you’re trying to heal. I personally don’t drink alcohol at all anymore.

If you do decide to drink it, this post explains that some types of alcohol are better than others

15. Eat “Head to Tail”

Whole plant foods tend to be much healthier when they’re left whole, as they tend to have various nutrients that work together synergistically. 

The same can be said about animal food.

Muscle meat (chicken breasts, lean beef) shouldn’t be your only source of animal protein. Our ancestors didn’t eat this way, so neither should we.

Your body prefers and expects to receive a balance of amino acids from different parts of whole animals.

That’s why I recommend “head-to-tail eating” – consuming a wide variety of proteins from the entire animal. 

Along with muscle meat, you should regularly cook and eat organ meats, such as liver, and bone broth.

One of the main reasons I recommend this is because lean muscle meat is high in methionine.

Methionine is an essential amino acid, but too much methionine increases homocysteine levels and increases your need for Vitamin B6, B12, folate and choline (74, 88, 162). 

But bone broth contains collagen, gelatin, and amino acids such as glycine and proline, which balance out the methionine in muscle meat, and helps your body better metabolize it. 

Bone broth can be inconvenient to make all the time, so I drink this pre-made, organic chicken bone broth

And if you’re actually interested in learning about how to cook and incorporate more whole animal proteins into your diet, I recommend checking out the book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal by Jennifer McLagan.

16. Limit Medications and Compounds That Increase Homocysteine

A number of prescription drugs and natural compounds have been shown to increase homocysteine by interfering with folate absorption, or metabolism of homocysteine, including (35-38):

How-to-Lower-Homocysteine-For-Better-Brain-Health-ways-to-reduce-high-elevated-raised-levels-natural-naturally-what-your-do-does-mean-you-treatment-diet-folate-folic-acid-lowering-reducing-foods-reduction-vitamin-b12-plasma-treat-mthfr-blood-methionine-methylation-remedies
  • Cholestyramine

  • Colestipol

  • Fenofibrate

  • Levadopa

  • Metformin

  • Methotrexate

  • Niacin

  • Nitrous oxide

  • Pemetrexed

  • Phenytoin

  • Pyrimethamine

  • Sulfasalazine

Conclusion

High levels of homocysteine can be problematic and increase your risk of many brain and mental health disorders.

But fortunately, you can do something about it!

Implementing the above 16 strategies can provide powerful protection against homocysteine’s negative effects and improve your quality life. 

I’ve found great benefit in lowering my homocysteine levels, and I hope you experience the same. 

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16197300

(2) http://doi.org/10.1271/bbb.70791

(3) http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/904501

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12730412

(5) http://atvb.ahajournals.org/content/25/2/379

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16600945

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399266

(8) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11849459

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15720203

(10) https://examine.com/supplements/trimethylglycine/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10926922

(12) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19967264

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10475885

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10926922

(15) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/97/5/437

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4407108

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8915375

(18) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00210-003-0776-6

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1846756

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11598776

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18676123

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18823590

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16540157

(24) https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/107687

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15240184

(26) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19398656

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19239173

(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11535574

(29) https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11595668

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15218538

(32) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15168891

(33) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079843

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25853877

(35) http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00003495-200262040-00005

(36) https://goo.gl/DUKdcj

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11893229

(38) http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/11/4/330.pdf

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15785008

(40) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.70791

(41) https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/904501/

(42) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15699233

(43) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16600945

(44) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15699233

(45) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17991199

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20538838

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8929261

(48) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18214123

(49) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12113295

(50) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/10/07/ajcn.114.101964

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078648/

(52) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11553056

(53) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15983288

(54) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15883442

(55) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19967264

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19766902

(57) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12493090

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12600857

(59) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5314166

(60) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14769778

(61) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17522618

(62) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17654449

(63) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475309000970

(64) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8269183

(65) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9187021

(66) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25453395

(67) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17241155

(68) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2572692/

(69) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16584970

(70) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10374899

(71) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14751454

(72) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/152/2/140

(73) http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9622279

(74) http://www.pnas.org/content/100/25/15089.full

(75) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10926922

(76) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25456744

(77) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10475885

(78) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11553056

(79) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10926922

(80) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20198596

(81) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19967264

(82) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18206175

(83) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3340005

(84) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2407253

(85) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10353328

(86) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11981084

(87) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21771745

(88) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19204075

(89) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078648/

(90) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26318987

(91) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4326479/

(92) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23237596

(93) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25804098

(94) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24867323/

(95) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24867323/

(96) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9804859

(97) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10995836

(98) https://goo.gl/LscmdT

(99) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16189268

(100) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18080868

(101) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23237596

(102) https://goo.gl/vqa9P5

(103) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24309856

(104) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10896698

(105) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078648/

(106) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15585771

(107) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24309856

(108) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12601225

(109) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15545331

(110) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1952251-overview

(111) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27035272

(112) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17986270

(113) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18545927

(114) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19054516

(115) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19619240

(116) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24613517

(117) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24613517

(118) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25657748

(119) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078648/

(120) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa011613

(121) http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0012244

(122) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19224340

(123) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26318987

(124) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10746355

(125) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11589919

(126) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11844848

(127) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23224755

(128) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16155278

(129) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15250847

(130) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15694902

(131) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa011613

(132) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11844848

(133) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27732886

(134) http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0012244

(135) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24309856

(136) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17200216

(137) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15041049

(138) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3872065

(139) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9372907

(140) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22421956

(141) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10448523

(142) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17093148

(143) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757190

(144) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/102/1/215.full

(145) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27840145

(146) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25822709

(147) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4186289/

(148) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19384265

(149) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11205139

(150) http://fxmed.co.nz/homocysteine-and-brain-health/

(151) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3192851/

(152) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001457930600545X

(153) https://goo.gl/AqKptM

(154) https://goo.gl/n65tzT

(155) https://goo.gl/n65tzT

(156) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2326409817701471

(157) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164291/

(158) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077571/

(159) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16421120

(160) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22421956

(161) https://goo.gl/2ARLyh

(162) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16155267

Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Blake Gibb, MD

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer

How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Better Mental Health

By developing an understanding of the workings of your vagus nerve, you may find it possible to work with your nervous system rather than feel trapped when it works against you.
— Dr. Arielle Schwartz, Clinical Psychologist

Stimulation of my vagus nerve has played a key role in the management of my anxiety and mental health over the years. 

What exactly is the vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body.

How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

It connects your brain to many important organs throughout the body, including the gut (intestines, stomach), heart and lungs. 

In fact, the word "vagus" means “wanderer” in Latin, which accurately represents how the nerve wanders all over the body and reaches various organs.  

The vagus nerve is also a key part of your parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system. It influences your breathing, digestive function and heart rate, all of which can have a huge impact on your mental health.

But what you really need to pay special attention to is the "tone" of your vagus nerve.

Vagal tone is an internal biological process that represents the activity of the vagus nerve. 

Increasing your vagal tone activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and having higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress.

In 2010, researchers discovered a positive feedback loop between high vagal tone, positive emotions, and good physical health. In other words, the more you increase your vagal tone, the more your physical and mental health will improve, and vice versa (5).

It’s almost like yin and yang. The vagal response reduces stress. It reduces our heart rate and blood pressure. It changes the function of certain parts of the brain, stimulates digestion, all those things that happen when we are relaxed.
— Dr. Mladen Golubic, MD, Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic
How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

What’s interesting is that studies have even shown that vagal tone is passed on from mother to child. Mothers who are depressed, anxious and angry during their pregnancy have lower vagal activity. And once they give birth to their child, the newborn also has low vagal activity and low dopamine and serotonin levels (1-3). 

Your vagal tone can be measured by tracking certain biological processes such as your heart rate, your breathing rate, and your heart rate variability (HRV). 

When your heart rate variability (HRV) is high, your vagal tone is also high. They are correlated with each other (53-55). 

You can increase your HRV by using the EmWave2 device

Some researchers actually use the EmWave2 to measure vagal tone in their studies. 

If your vagal tone is low, don’t worry - you can take steps to increase it by stimulating your vagus nerve. This will allow you to more effectively respond to the emotional and physiological symptoms of your brain and mental illness.

Stimulating the vagus nerve and increasing vagal tone has been shown to help treat a wide variety of brain and mental health conditions, including:

For people with treatment-resistant depression, the FDA has even approved a surgically-implanted device that periodically stimulates the vagus nerve. And it works (6-9). 

But you don’t need to go down that route.

You can enjoy the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation naturally by following these 13 steps. 

1. Cold Exposure

Acute cold exposure has been shown to activate the vagus nerve and activate cholinergic neurons through vagus nerve pathways (10). 

cold-exposure-shower-baths-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

Researchers have also found that exposing yourself to cold on a regular basis can lower your sympathetic “fight or flight” response and increase parasympathetic activity through the vagus nerve (11).

I often take cold showers and go outside in cold temperatures with minimal clothing.

Try finishing your next shower with at least 30 seconds of cold water and see how you feel. Then work your way up to longer periods of time.

It's painful to do, but the lingering effects are worth it.

You can also ease yourself into it by simply sticking your face in ice cold water. 

2. Deep and Slow Breathing

Deep and slow breathing is another way to stimulate your vagus nerve. 

How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

It’s been shown to reduce anxiety and increase the parasympathetic system by activating the vagus nerve (51-52). 

Most people take about 10 to 14 breaths each minute. Taking about 6 breaths over the course of a minute is a great way to relieve stress. You should breathe in deeply from your diaphragm. When you do this, your stomach should expand outward. Your exhale should be long and slow. This is key to stimulating the vagus nerve and reaching a state of relaxation. 

The best way to know if you’re on the right track is by using the EmWave2 device. It’s a biofeedback device that assists you in pacing your breathing. I previously wrote about the benefits of using the device here. You can get it through Amazon or the HeartMath website

3. Singing, Humming, Chanting and Gargling

The vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat. 

Singing, humming, chanting and gargling can activate these muscles and stimulate your vagus nerve.

And this has been shown to increase heart-rate variability and vagal tone (12).

I often gargle water before swallowing it. This is discussed more in Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s book, Why Isn’t My Brain Working?

Click here to subscribe

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is another alternative treatment that has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve (46). 

ear-acupuncture-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

I’m a really big fan of auricular acupuncture. Auricular acupuncture is when needles are inserted into ear. I’d recommend trying to find a health practitioner in your area who provides it, especially if you’re weening off psychiatric medication. It really helped me the first time I came off antidepressants. I was surprised.

Research shows that ear acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve, increases vagal activity and vagal tone, and can help treat “neurodegenerative diseases via vagal regulation” (45). 

In my experience, ear acupuncture is more effective than regular acupuncture. I’m not sure why. I’ve just personally noticed more benefits from ear acupuncture. 

At the end of each appointment, my practitioner would secure these small black seeds on my ear. 

I also use this acupuncture mat at home to relax before bed. 

5. Yoga and Tai Chi

Yoga and tai chi are two “mind-body” relaxation techniques that work by stimulating the vagus nerve and increasing the activity of your parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system.

How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

Studies have shown that yoga increases GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in your brain. Researchers believe it does this by “stimulating vagal afferents”, which increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (13-18). 

Researchers have also found that yoga stimulates the vagus nerve and therefore should be practiced by people who struggle with depression and anxiety (19). 

Despite all the great research, I’m personally not a big fan of yoga. A lot of people swear by it but it’s just not for me. I prefer tai chi. 

Tai chi has also been shown to increase heart rate variability, and researchers think this means it can “enhance vagal modulation” (20).

6. Probiotics

It’s becoming increasingly clear to researchers that gut bacteria improve brain function by affecting the vagus nerve (27).  

probiotics-bacteria-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

In one study, animals were given the probiotic Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, and researchers found positive changes to the GABA receptors in their brain, a reduction in stress hormones, and less depression and anxiety-like behaviour. 

The researchers also concluded that these beneficial changes between the gut and the brain were facilitated by the vagus nerve. When the vagus nerve was removed in other mice, the addition of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus to their digestive systems failed to reduce anxiety, stress, and improve mood (25). 

Another study found that the probiotic Bifidobacterium Longum normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice by acting through the vagus nerve (26). 

Both Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium Longum are included in the Optimal Biotics supplement

I previously wrote about some other ways you can increase the good bacteria in your gut. You can read about that here.

And here are 7 other probiotic strains that can help treat anxiety. 

Click here to subscribe

7. Meditation and Neurofeedback

Meditation is my favourite relaxation technique and it can stimulate the vagus nerve and increase vagal tone.        

Research shows that meditation increases vagal tone and positive emotions, and promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself (22, 23). 

Another study found that meditation reduces sympathetic “fight or flight” activity and increases vagal modulation (21). 

“OM” chanting, which is often done during meditation, has also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve (24). 

I couldn’t find any research demonstrating this, but in my experience, neurofeedback significantly increased my heart-rate variability and vagal tone as measured by my EmWave2

Now that I’m done neurofeedback, I use the Muse headband to meditate. Similar to neurofeedback, it gives you real-time feedback on your brainwaves. I previously wrote about it here, and you can get it through Amazon or the Muse website.

 

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself. They are found primarily in fish and are necessary for the normal electrical functioning of your brain and nervous system.

They often appear in most of my posts because they are so critical for brain and mental health and affect so many aspects of wellness. 

They’ve been shown to help people overcome addiction, repair a “leaky brain”, and even help reverse cognitive decline.

But researchers have also discovered that omega-3 fatty acids increase vagal tone and vagal activity (35-37, 40). 

Studies shown that they reduce heart rate and increase heart rate variability, which means they likely stimulate the vagus nerve (34, 38, 39). 

And high fish consumption is also associated with “enhanced vagal activity and parasympathetic predominance” (35). 

That's why I eat lots of wild-caught salmon, as well as supplement with this krill oil

9. Exercise

I’ve already discussed how exercise increases your brain’s growth hormone, supports your brain’s mitochondria, and helps reverse cognitive decline.

But it’s also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve, which may explain its beneficial brain and mental health effects (28). 

exercise-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

Many brain health experts recommend exercise as their number one piece of advice for optimal brain health. 

This is my exercise routine:

  • Lift heavy weights 1-4 times per week

  • High-intensity interval sprinting 1-2 times per week

  • Walk as much as I can (ideally 30-60 minutes every day)

Walking, weightlifting and sprinting are the best forms of exercise, but you should choose a sport or exercise routine that you enjoy, so that you’ll stick with it consistently. 

Click here to subscribe

10. Zinc

As I’ve discussed before, zinc is an essential mineral for mental health, especially if you struggle with chronic anxiety

One study shows that zinc increases vagus nerve stimulation in zinc-deficient rats (41). 

It’s estimated that 2 billion people in the world are deficient in zinc, and six different studies show that subclinical deficiency of zinc impairs brain function in children and adults (42-44).

So, if you struggle with a brain or mental health disorder, it’s quite possible that you’re deficient.  

Some of the best food sources of zinc include oysters, grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, cashews, mushrooms and spinach. 

However, I still recommend at least short-term supplementation to ensure you get enough.

I created and take the Optimal Zinc supplement to make sure my zinc levels are optimal. 

Check out my previous post about zinc and copper if you’re interested in discovering more steps you can take to increase your zinc levels. 

11. Massage

Research shows that massages can stimulate the vagus nerve, and increase vagal activity and vagal tone (31-32). 

massage-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

The vagus nerve can also be stimulated by massaging several specific areas of the body.

Foot massages (reflexology) have been shown to increase vagal modulation and heart rate variability, and decrease the “fight or flight” sympathetic response (29). 

Massaging the carotid sinus, an area located near the right side of your throat, can also stimulate the vagus nerve to reduce seizures (30). 

I personally get a massage from a registered massage therapist every couple of months. 

12. Socializing and Laughing

I’ve already discussed how socializing and laughing can reduce your body’s main stress hormone.

Laughing-socializing-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

And now I’ve learned that they are likely doing this by stimulating the vagus nerve. 

Researchers have discovered that reflecting on positive social connections improves vagal tone and increases positive emotions (47, 48). 

Laughter has been shown to increase heart-rate variability and improve mood (49). 

And vagus nerve stimulation often leads to laughter as a side effect, suggesting that they are connected and influence one another (50). 

So my advice is to hang out and laugh with your friends as much as possible. Although I should probably be taking my own advice here, as I’m an introvert and often avoid socializing too much. 

13. Intermittent Fasting

On most days, I don’t eat breakfast at all, and then "break my fast" by eating my first meal of the day around 2 or 3 p.m. That means I eat all my food for the day within an 8-hour window.

intermittent-fasting-How-to-Stimulate-Your-Vagus-Nerve-for-Better-Mental-Health-brain-vns-ways-treatment-activate-natural-foods-depression-anxiety-stress-heart-rate-variability-yoga-massage-vagal-tone-dysfunction

There are many health benefits to doing this. As I’ve discussed before, intermittent fasting can boost your brain’s growth hormone, improve mitochondrial function, and may help some people overcome brain fog and cognitive decline

Research also shows that fasting and caloric restriction increase heart rate variability, which is an indicator that it increases parasympathetic activity and vagal tone (33). 

The best way to start fasting is simply by eating dinner around 6, not eating anything after that before bed, and then eating a regular breakfast the next day. That should give you about 12-14 hours of fasting time. 

Conclusion

You don’t have to be controlled by your body and mind. You have the power to tell them what to do. 

By stimulating the vagus nerve, you can send a message to you body that it’s time to relax and de-stress, which leads to long-term improvements in mood, wellbeing and resilience. 

Increasing my vagal tone has allowed me to overcome anxiety and depression, and better manage them when they arise.

Overall, I hope you implement some of the above steps into your daily life, and they allow you to live more optimally.

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12768648

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12521495/

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556849

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705176/

(5) http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/05/06/0956797612470827.abstract

(6) http://www.webmd.com/depression/vagus-nerve-stimulation#1

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990624/

(8) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204111728.htm

(9) https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/new-non-invasive-form-of-vagus-nerve-stimulation-works-to-treat-depression

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11447037

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18785356

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705176/

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111147/

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12568274

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12090812

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2176143/

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16641939

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15750381

(19) http://www.bu.edu/news/2012/03/07/researchers-find-yoga-helps-ease-stress-related-medical-and-psychological-conditions/

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18991518

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546358/

(22) http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/09/why-kindness-can-make-us-happier-healthier/?iid=hl-main-lead

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23649562

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099099/

(25) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21876150

(26) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3413724/

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/

(28) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20948179

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314629

(30) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23962632

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133856/

(32) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844909/

(33) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16581971

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17326331

(35) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3217222/

(36) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16616012/

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18461305

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3483717/

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17134636

(40) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653417/

(41) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19158231

(42) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22664333

(43) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21939673

(44) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673824

(45) https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/786839/

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24359451

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23649562

(48) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797612470827

(49) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22894892

(50) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12959437

(51) http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever

(52) https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/743504/

(53) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/118/8/863.long

(54) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate_variability

(55) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagal_tone

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer