Gut-Brain Connection

Most of us can relate to the experience of having butterflies in our stomach, or to a visceral gut-wrenching feeling, and how often are we told not to ignore our “gut-instinct” or “gut-feeling” when making a decision - Jennifer Wolkin

Gut-Brain Connection

image by: Kenneth Brown, MD

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Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being

The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.

Although its influence is far-reaching, the second brain is not the seat of any conscious thoughts or decision-making.

Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system, Gershon says.

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 Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being

The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat.

Dr. Michael Gershon

It seems that Dr. Gershon has made it his life's mission to discover and document the workings of the "gut-brain", or the nougaty center of truthiness that lies at the center of us all. It seems that the gut is uniquely privileged in being able to assert that the brain is not the bos


The enteric nervous system (ENS) controls effector systems of the digestive tract, consisting of the musculature, secretory glands, and blood vessels. As in the central nervous system, circuits at the effector sites have evolved as an organized array of different kinds of neurons interconnected by chemical synapses.

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