You may have heard people use the phrases that connect the mind and the emotions to the gut, such as “you have to have guts to do that” or “I have butterflies in my stomach.”
Well as it turns out, science has discovered that the neurons that manage your gut from esophagus to anus, the enteric nervous system (ENS), can operate independently from your brain. Just like your brain, it has cells that take in information, cells that process it, and cells that tell your digestive system what to do.
Even if the connection between the enteric nervous system and the brain is cut, or your brain stops working, the gut keeps functioning. When the gut ceases to function, though, the brain also ceases to function. That’s why the ENS and its related cells are called “the second brain,” or “the gut brain.”
The brain and the gut brain come from the same embryonic tissue during development. the gut brain matures much earlier than the brain however. The vitally important ENS is fully functional at birth, while the brain continues to mature even into the teenage years.
In fact the ENS has the most cells of any part of the nervous system outside the brain. While the brains in our heads have about 100 billion cells, the gut brain has about 300 to 500 million – about five times the number in the spinal cord. The function of our gut is so important that it has a direct line to the brain via a cranial nerve called the vagus nerve. There are over 2000 neural fibers connecting our brains with our gut brains.
Through this close connection, these two brains can communicate closely and rapidly. The ENS can tell the brain whats going on in our guts and the brain, the body’s master control, can send signals so that the digestive system can work together with the rest of the body. That’s why, when a problem develops in the intestines, it affects the brain immediately, and, conversely, when a problem develops in the brain, problems develop in the intestines. Have you ever had a stomachache or indigestion when you heard bad news or were nervous? Have you ever had a headache when you had gas or constipation? These cases show us the tight connection between the intestines and the brain.
The influence of our gut brain on the conditions and functioning of our head brain goes even deeper. For example, the neurons and hormone-producing cells in the gut generate chemical signals that affect our emotions. Approximately 50 percent of our dopamine, the neurotransmitter that enables us to feel happiness, is created in the gut brain.
Over 90 percent of our serotonin, the neurotransmitter that gives us feelings for well-being, is also created in the gut, while only three precent is made in our brains.
Depression and anxiety, which develop when we don’t have enough serotonin, may be strongly influenced by problems of the intestines. Consequently, improving the health of the intestines can increase serotonin secretion, enabling us to maintain a positive mood and causing us to feel satisfaction and motivation.
In traditional Eastern medicines, it is said that “clear intestines make a clear brain,” emphasizing the importance of gut health for overall well-being. And the intestines are believed to handle “emotional” digestion. Emotions like anxiety, anger, and fear cause contraction of the intestines, reducing intestinal function. By releasing tension in the intestines, according to energy theory, it is possible to release undigested, stagnated emotions.
In addition to our emotions, our gut health has other effects on our brains. Most children with conditions like ADHD or autism have issues with their gut. Some adult brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, have been found to have a strong correlation with gut condition too. Many of these brain condition have been shown to get better when the patients gut condition improved. Sometimes, this was more effective than traditional treatments that target the brain directly.
The intestines coil in a counterclockwise direction, centered on the belly button, where the most nerves are also distributed. Your nerves are activated when you press your belly button with gentle and rhythmic movements. then, when you stop this motion, your nerves instantly relax, bringing further release of tension in the intestines and relaxation of body and mind. The belly button works like a trigger point to stimulate the entire ENS. Additionally, while your doing Belly Button Healing, you focus on exhaling. Focused exhalation increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system which helps your body to establish a more relaxed resting state ideal for the health of your gut.
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