Friday, January 24, 2014

A gut reaction . . .

From Psychology Today, Nov 2011
Have you ever noticed the gut rules?   The gut is our second brain and from my perspective my gut demands so much attention that it is coming in first place as a brain goes.  Psychology Today published an article in November 2011 titled "Your Backup Brain" by Dan Hurley.  This article can be accessed at  This article discusses the enteric nervous system being a mind-body connection that is considered to be a branch of the autonomic nervous system, which actively communicates with the brain in our head.  The gut "sends signals north to the brain that directly affect feelings of sadness or stress, even influence memory, learning, and decision-making.  It relies on, and in many cases manufactures more than 30 neurotransmitters, including serotonin, that are identical to those in the brain.  What's more, tinkering with the second brain in our gut has lately been shown to be a potent tool for achieving relief from major depression."  (Psychology Today, Nov 2011)  The gut actually affects our emotions and that's why we feed it comfort food.  Food influences our mood and behavior.  The bacteria in the gut actually communicate with the brain in our head so when we are stressed our gut influences us to eat high fat foods.  "From birth on, there is constant cross talk between gut bacteria and the brain.  During infancy, that communication plays a significant role in shaping how the brain is wired.  It affects not only anxiety but also memory, creating changes in both the amygdala, the brain's center regulator of fear, and the hippocampus, the region deep in the brain that is essential for memory and learning."  (Psychology Today, Nov 2011)  That may be where the fibro fog and other cognitive difficulties related to fibromyalgia come from.

When considering that bit of information it is no wonder we have so many issues with fibromyalgia when our gut is messed up and not functioning as it should.  No wonder the neurotransmitters are in short supply and our nutrition isn't what it should be.  Our gut has an awesome responsibility to nourish our bodies and keep us in tip top shape, so if the gut isn't working well then we aren't working well.  My gut is to the point that it rebels no matter what I put in it and it can't take too much food at one time.  My day actually revolves around taking good care of my gut.  My gut is overloaded with sensory information and it sends me signals that something isn't right and other alarms that are disporportionate to the situation at hand.  That's when my first brain takes over and serious self-talk calms the storm that is brewing.

 Fibromyalgia is such a complex disorder and that complicates treatment, because one medication to treat one symptom can interact with another medication.  For example, I take Reglan to get my gut working better, which interacts with ropinirol for the Willis-Ekbom Disease symptoms.  The two don't mix well and Reglan counteracts ropinirol so my symptoms are worsened.  Fibromyalgia isn't a simple problem to manage.

So as I fight this war, I take good care of my gut because when push comes to shove the gut rules!  I think I'll eat some comfort food tonight . . .   Blessings to you and your second brain.
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