The Little-Known Chemical that Has a Big Impact on Healthy Aging

Yesterday I told you about the impressive mental agility of SuperAgers. I think it’s safe to say we’d all like to keep our minds sharp as we age. And Big Pharma knows it. Which is why they’ve spent millions of dollars over the past several years developing a class of “smart drugs” called nootropics that they claim can help improve mental performance.

While it’s possible some of these products might work, there’s still a significant lack of research showing their true effectiveness—and safety.

Meanwhile, one key, natural neurotransmitter—called acetylcholine—could make a big difference in your physical and mental health as you age.

And today I’ll tell you how to boost your levels without taking a single pill.

Acetylcholine 101

Over the years, researchers have come to understand that acetylcholine plays a critical role in each moment of our day.

Every thought that leads to a physical action—running, walking, lifting a mug of tea, etc.—depends on acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is found in all the brain cells that help your muscles contract. Which means it also plays a key role in vital physical actions you don’t think about—like blinking, breathing, and your heart beating.

It also plays a key role each time one of the billions of synapses fire off in your brain. Unfortunately, reduced levels of this neurotransmitter have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

But as I mentioned above, the good news is that there’s an easy, pill-free way to boost your acetylcholine levels: Stimulating your vagus nerve.

Make more Vagusstoff

Back in the early 1900s, scientists had just discovered the vagus nerve and began to notice that it produced a liquid-like substance. Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Otto Loewi called it “vagusstoff,” but today we know it as acetylcholine.

And as it turns out, stimulating your vagus nerve is your body’s “built-in” way to support the production of this all-important chemical.

Here’s an easy exercise you can do daily to stimulate your vagus nerve and, in turn, boost your acetylcholine levels:

  1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and get comfortable.
  2. Take a moment to note how you feel physically and mentally.
  3. Use YouTube or a music streaming app to play one of your favorite songs with lyrics.
  4. During the singing parts you may either sing along with the words or simply hum along with the melody.
  5. During any instrumental parts without singing, take a few slow, deep breaths.
  6. Repeat these steps for as many songs as you like.
  7. When you’re finished, take note of how you feel.

Always remember that it’s not important whether you’re in tune or not—or have a “good” voice. The benefits come from the process of making your own vocal sound.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of vagal nerve stimulation in more detail, check out my Whole Body Sound Healing System. I guide you through 30 video tutorials and will teach you a variety of exercises you can do anywhere, at any time. Simply click here to learn more or to get started right away.


Breit, S., Kupferberg, A. Rogler, G., and Hasler, G. (2018). Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Frontiers of Psychiatry. 9:44. Retrieved from:

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About the author

Jim Donovan M.Ed., is a professional musician and educator. He's an Assistant Professor at Saint Francis University where he teaches music and how the power of sound can help you experience a healthier life.