You know that ‘gut feeling’ you get ever so often throughout your life, when you feel you know what you know and it’s most probably true?
Well, ironically your gut can actually think for itself and it’s been touted as a second brain, says a recent study.
Your gastrointestinal tract contains millions of neurons that are capable of controlling the movements of your muscles in your colon, states a study published in the journal JNeurosci.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) is known as the ‘second brain’ or the brain in the gut because it can operate independently of the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system (CNS), according to a press release on the matter.
The ENS and the CNS together help control the majority of your bodily activities. The ‘second brain’ (ENS) has its own circuitry that helps it communicate with the CNS and also control the digestive tract by itself.
The ENS is also being called as the ‘first brain’ because of mounting evidence suggesting that the ENS evolved before the CNS.
“The unique feature of the GI tract is that it is the only internal organ with its own complete nervous system that can operate totally independently of the brain and/or spinal cord,” says Prof. Nick Spencer, a neurophysiologist from Flinders University in Australia.
“Until this new study no one had any idea exactly how large populations of neurons in the ENS lead to contraction of the intestine,” adds Spencer.
“Too often in medicine there is a demand to cure disease, without understanding how the organ in question actually works,” states Spencer. They hope to understand how patterns in the colon cause diseases. Chronic constipation, for instance, occurs due to improper transit through your colon.