Gut and brain are constantly talking to each other via the vagus nerve. It is a two-way network connecting the brain and gastro-intestinal tract, which has an enormous surface area and a lot of ‘sensors’. The GI tract is 100 times larger than the surface of the skin, and it sends more signals to the brain than any other organ system in the body.
Vagus nerve operates as a two-way circuit that carries top-down messages from the brain to the body, as well as bottom-up messages commonly described as gut feelings. These gut to brain signals exert a powerful influence on emotions and behavior, especially in response to worrisome or threatening stimuli and events. Our gut literally influences our brain function.
High-fat diet, for example, can cause a low-grade inflammatory response in GI tract, possibly exacerbating symptoms of anxiety, depression or other disturbed mental states. Evidence shows that modifying the diet, perhaps by consuming probiotics, can have an impact on your mood.
Messages from the brain, in turn can influence and aggravate GI tract functioning. When intense, especially unresolved feelings are transmitted from the brain to GI tract via the same pathway, the result is gastrointestinal discomfort, burning or pain. Research finds that acupuncture is more effective than drugs for the treatment of abdominal pain and abdominal burning. Sedation of Vagus Nerve via acupuncture points alleviates gastrointestinal pain and burning.
In contrast, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve helps alleviate clinical depression. People who don’t respond well to prescription drugs or other therapies have positive reaction to vagal nerve stimulation that changes signals received by the brain.
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