My interest in the vagus nerve began when I damaged it through taking a powerful–too powerful–antibiotic (ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic – you can read about my journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity on Lisa’s Story–Floxie Hope). Not only did the ciprofloxacin wipe out my infection, it also wiped out my gut bacteria, and I suffered from a variety of musculo-skeletal and nervous system health issues after I took it. My symptoms included:
- Fatigue/loss of energy – I felt like I had the flu for a year.
- Digestive dysmotility – I experienced indigestion, malabsorption of food and nutrients, heartburn, loss of appetite, and constipation.
- Muscle weakness – I lost my endurance and strength.
- Brain fog – I couldn’t think straight, and my memory and reading comprehension levels declined.
- Anxiety – My anxiety and stress levels were heightened for years, and I also experienced adrenaline rushes at random times throughout the day and night.
- Autonomic nervous system dysfunction – Dry mouth, inability to sweat, rapid heartbeat, and more.
- Peripheral neuropathy.
Yes, an antibiotic caused all those symptoms. Our guts are intimately connected to all other areas of health. Also, antibiotics are far less benign than most people think. Many of them are dangerous and have serious, long-term adverse effects.
In researching the digestive system, the autonomic nervous system, inflammation, and other areas having to do with my mysterious illness, I became interested in the vagus nerve. I started studying how the vagus nerve affects all of those systems, and I realized that vagus nerve health (or, rather, a lack of vagus nerve health) is connected to many chronic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, MS, ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, autism, POTS, SIBO, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.
My journey involved many twists and turns, and I tried multiple methods of healing. Many things helped. The healing methods and practices that helped the most happened to be methods and practices that toned my vagus nerve. Meditation, mindfulness, stress reduction, breathing exercises, chiropractic care, acupuncture, support and social connectedness, sound/music therapy, and yoga were healing exercises that I used before I even realized the connections between those healing exercises and the vagus nerve. After studying and researching my illness, I realized the connection between my ciprofloxacin-destroyed-gut and vagus nerve health. I also discovered that many other illnesses of modernity are also connected to vagus nerve health, and it is my hope that this book helps many people to use the power of their vagus nerve to get through their illness.