The human body is a machine that is full of wonders. Consider this fact – our stomach has neurotransmitters (nerve cells) similar to the brain means our stomach is our second brain.
Second Brain in Human Stomach:
According to Dr. Michael Gershon, M.D., author of `The Second Brain’ (HarperCollins, 1999), and a neurobiologist at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the stomach is our second brain with an independent network of over 100 million nerve cells in the gut, that not only signals our bodies to stress but causes ailment. With the collection of around 100 million nerve cells, the stomach in fact contains the second largest accumulation of nerve cells in the human body after the brain.
What’s more, researchers have found all the typical cell characteristics and biochemical reactions of brain cells in the stomach cells.
Scientists state that our body has two brains – the one everyone knows about which is encased in the skull, while the other one is lesser known but vitally important one is found in the human gut. These two brains, like Siamese twins, are interconnected; meaning when one gets upset, the other does, too. Common experiences like people getting “butterflies” in the stomach before going on stage or an attack of intestinal cramps before a job interview are attributed to this connection between the two brains.
Another logic cited in this regard is the occurrence of nausea or abdominal upset amongst people who take anti-depressants targeted for the brain. This second brain in the gut, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. Although considered a single entity, it is said to have a complex circuitry that allows it to act independently, even learn, remember and produce gut feelings
(as the saying goes).
In fact, this second brain located in our gut is said to play a major role in two contrasting emotions of mankind – happiness and misery. For years, people who had ulcers or chronic abdominal pain were told that their problems were imaginary / emotional and hence were asked to see a psychiatrist for
treatment. Dr. Gershon said that such diagnosis was partially correct to the extent that these ailments were caused by the brain, but by the second brain. Many gastrointestinal disorders like colitis and irritable bowel syndrome originate from problems within the gut’s brain, he said. Furthermore, it has now come to be acknowledged that most ulcers are caused by a bacterium and not by hidden / pepped-up anger as believed till very recently.
A new US study has added to existing knowledge that not only does our gut have brain cells but it can also grow new ones, a finding that can pave the way for developing new drugs for gastrointestinal disorders.