Your body is complex. It’s a wonderful array of systems, working together to help you fulfill the needs to sustain life. The very fact that you are reading this, processing it and (hopefully) understanding these words speaks to how amazing YOU are.
The various systems within your body work together to make you the person you are. And there is still a ton that we don’t understand.
What if I told you that your body had more than just the brain in your head. You (sort of) have a brain in your gut too.
The Enteric nervous system (ENS) is your second brain.
The ENS is a system of neurons that regulate gut function.
There are over 100 million neurons within the ENS. That is, five times the number of neurons in your spinal cord.
The enteric nervous system works hand in hand with the brain. It has also been demonstrated to work independently of the brain.
>90% of the body’s serotonin comes from the ENS (neurotransmitter).
>50% of the body’s dopamine comes from the ENS (neurotransmitter).
You read that right. Your body releases dopamine when you are feeling happy in your belly.
The ENS is sensitive to your body’s short term needs. It interacts with your brain to control catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine) to effect motility, digestion and localized muscle movements.
Common ENS diseases and maladies are tied in very closely with Central nervous system disorders. One instance is Parkinson’s Disease. As the neurons in the gut become effected by the disease there is evidence of gastrointestinal dysfunction.
Another disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, is laden with complications related to bowel motility, pain, bloating and irritation.
Not only does the ENS help with digestion and normal body functioning, the addition of probiotics via supplementation worked well in reducing stress-related depression by stimulating serotonin in patients with stress-related depression.
So with all of this information, I don’t know what you can do. But know that there is an amazing connection between you and your gut. There is an endless amount of information to digest (pun intended) about your body and understanding the ENS will give us a more clear understanding in improving the human condition!