Butterflies in your stomach, a gut feeling, and a case of bad nerves. These are common expressions we use to describe emotions that we feel in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is no co-incidence that you feel emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness in your “gut.” Your GI tract is speaking to your nervous system at every moment of the day. In simple terms, your brain has a direct effect on your gut and your gut has a direct effect on your brain.
Stomach pain or intestinal distress, e.g., bloating, reflux, indigestion, gas, diarrhea or constipation, can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress and depression. Stress, depression and other psychological factors can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract. Chronic stress, depression and anxiety will create inflammation within the lining of the gut, cause tissue breakdown, and deplete essential hormones that you need to maintain a good healthy gut.
The happy hormone serotonin that we use in our brain is also used in our gut. Remember, the gut is the second brain. Because of the intricate relationship of the brain and gut, it is not uncommon that conventional doctors will use SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). SSRIs are typically used to treat depression. Rather than being reliant on an external source of serotonin from medication, patients have great success in boosting their own production of this hormone when they treat the digestive ailment. Due to the intricate nature of the gut-brain connection, you must treat anxiety and digestive issues together for success.
Source: Dr. Elyse Tursi, of One Integrative Wellness—a Pollack Wellness Center (100 Manetto Hill Rd., Ste. 307, Plainview). For more information, call 516-299-9313.