C&B Notes

A Gut Check for Many Ailments

The complexity of the human body continues to challenge scientists.  We expect this reality to endure.

The gut — considered as a single digestive organ that includes the esophagus, stomach and intestines — has its own nervous system that allows it to operate independently from the brain.

This enteric nervous system is known among researchers as the “gut brain.”  It controls organs including the pancreas and gall bladder via nerve connections.  Hormones and neurotransmitters generated in the gut interact with organs such as the lungs and heart.

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“The brain is a CEO that doesn’t like to micromanage,” says Dr. Gershon.  The brain receives much more information from the gut than it sends down, he adds.

Many people with psychiatric and brain conditions also report gastrointestinal issues.  New research indicates problems in the gut may cause problems in the brain, just as a mental ailment, such as anxiety, can upset the stomach.

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