The way that I deal with my on-an-off relationship with anxiety is mostly through research. It helps me to know what my body is up to and lessens the feeling of thinking I’m going insane.
Today I came across an article as I was skimming the interwebs for what the link is between Anxiety and the Digestive System.
Many already know that the two are linked in some way, both by experience and being told by doctors. The usual is “Oh yes, the two go hand in hand,” but I wanted to know a little more.
Like the brain, the digestive system is made up of complex nerve connections. The before mentioned article explains from a documented source that “‘A hundred million neurotransmitters line the length of the gut, approximately the same number that is found in the brain…’ If we add the nerve cells of the esophagus, stomach and large intestine, there are more nerve cells in the gut than there are in the entire remainder of the peripheral nervous system. Nearly every chemical that controls the brain in the head has been identified in the gut, including hormones and neurotransmitters.”
*It’s no wonder that NLP and Hypnotherapy can work so well for sufferers of IBS.
The article then mentioned Serotonin. That lovable hormone that helps us to be happy. Due to that good ol’ online Wikipedia I can see that Serotonin does a lot for both your mood and your digestion.
There are two places in the body that need Serotonin – The Brain & The Gut.
The Brain Serotonin is responsible for your mood, energy and actually stimulates the HPA Axis.
The Gut Serotonin is suggested to be responsible for how fast or slow food is passed through your digestive system.
Medical science says that the two are not interchangeable by the body (Gut Serotonin cannot reach the Brain and vice versa,) but interestingly research shows a possibility that the skin, brain and gut all shared a common embryonic origin – which some suggest is why the gut may over-compensate lack of Serotonin in the brain.
So how does Serotonin work in the gut? In the right amounts, it helps the “worming” motion of the gut. In excessive amounts (such as from venom, seeds that contain Serotonin) or redirection of Serotonin, one would experience symptoms such as: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, anxiety and insomnia to name a few. This is why for a couple of weeks starting (or finishing) SSRI medication, or other anti-depressants, you may experience an elevated level of physical symptoms – and perhaps get new ones.
From what I can understand from this is that your body works on a certain level of Serotonin. As with anything in the human body there is a set range that is deemed “normal” by medical standards, however it may differ slightly from person to person. In order to help your body regain balance without aid of medication there are a few things you can do on a daily basis.
1. Increase your mood in whatever way you can
2. Increase the amount of time you spend outdoors during the day
3. Exercise – even if you are exhausted (this can include simple stretching, yoga or other “soft” forms of exercise.)
4. Some types of food are suggested to raise Serotonin via Tryptophan. (Interestingly bananas are said to be measured highly in Serotonin, which may be why people with Crohn’s Disease or other digestive-related trouble cannot eat bananas without their symptoms flaring – possible that Serotonin levels are unbalanced in the gut.)
If you would like to read more about the article suggesting more study of natural methods of increasing Serotonin, click here.