Our Second Brain: More Than a Gut Feeling
The May, 2023, edition of the University of British Columbia Magazine carried the article linked in this TORC topic.
The human brain/gut connection has long been an intersection understood intellectually and emotionally, but Canadian scientists doing research on Parkinson's disease weigh in on the connection with the research described in
Our second brain: More than a gut feeling
The human gut contains more nerve cells than the spinal cord and exerts significant influence on the brain.
OUR ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Comprised of 100 million neurons, the network of nerve cells lining the digestive tract is so extensive that it is sometimes called the “second brain.” Technically known as the enteric nervous system, this network of neurons is often overlooked – yet it contains more nerve cells than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.
This resemblance to the brain in our heads doesn’t end with neurons. The mass of neural tissue in our gut produces over 30 different neurotransmitters, which are signalling molecules typically associated with the brain. This includes a staggering 95 per cent of the production and storage of serotonin, the neurotransmitter famously known as the “happy chemical” due to its role in regulating mood and wellbeing.
So how do the brain and gut actually talk to each other? A thick cable of neurons runs between the base of the brain and our gut forming the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in our body. The vagus nerve serves as a bidirectional information highway, with the brain and gut sending messages to each other within the order of milliseconds.
The vagus nerve isn’t the only way the brain and gut communicate. Our guts are home to trillions of bacteria and microbes that inhabit the intestines and form the gut microbiota. The gut microbiome is so enormous that there are 100,000 times more microbes in your gut than there are people on Earth.
Visit the original site for the rest of the copyright article, and scroll down to find related articles about the Gut-Brain Axis and another one called Common Herbicide Affects Mouse Behavior, how glyphosate alters human gut bacteria.