Is there a connection between the brain an the gut?

Often when you are upset about something you don’t feel like eating or you over eat to compensate for your upset feelings. When you are nervous about something or you feel anxiety you don’t feel like eating right? Or when you are going on a first date with someone and you feel butterflies in your stomach?

All these examples indicate that there is a connection between the gut and the brain. This connection seems to go both ways. So the other way could be, if you are having intestinal distress this could lead to anxiety or even depression which is a symptom of the brain.

The gastrointestinal track can sense emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, happiness, joy, elation, worry which then triggers feelings in the gut.

My son has had intestinal issues his whole life and now he suffers from anxiety and depression. Now we have the typical question; did the chicken or the egg come first? Did he have intestinal issues that lead to his anxiety or did his proneness to anxiety lead to intestinal issues. It all started when he was 2 years old which can be a stressful time for both child and parents during ‘the terrible twos’. He was never one to take ‘time out’ easily and that caused us all distress to get him to listen. Ok so perhaps we could connect bad parenting to the mix but let’s not go there right now.   

No matter what the original cause, to heal the gut it is necessary to consider the role of stress and emotion in his life. Often people say that the gut issues are “all in the head” and yes it could have stemmed from the head but the discomfort and even pain is very much a reality for many people.

Inflammation of the gut could also create other issues. Research has suggested that people with a dysfunctional GI tracts are also much more susceptible to pain and they may feel chronic pain in their whole body. Full body chronic pain is becoming rampant in today’s fast paced society where people eat too much processed foods and are too stressed out because of their working environment or toxic relationships. Gut inflammation can also make you more susceptible to other infections and illnesses.

It therefore would seem important to treat the psychological symptoms along with the gut symptoms to get a more successful treatment of Gastrointestinal issues.

based on the Harvard article The Gut Brain Connection


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