When you talk with someone, how much of your communication comes from the actual words spoken? Social scientists agree that somewhere between 7% and 30% is communicated through the words themselves. A larger percentage is communicated by the tone of voice and the way the words are spoken, and an even larger amount comes through visual clues, such as facial expressions and gestures.
A conversation is a multi-modal process: there are different aspects that come together to fully convey and receive meaning. Words give direct communication, but most communication is indirect.
As we learn more about the design of our bodies, we see that communication within the body consists of both direct and indirect means. This diversity results in a richness and complexity to signaling within the body that we are still uncovering. One of the most active “conversations” going on within the body happens between the gut and the brain.
Your gut contains over 100 million nerve cells in two thin layers lining the digestive tract — this is called the enteric nervous system (ENS). So extensive is this nerve network, surpassed only by the 500 million neurons of the brain, that the ENS is sometimes called your “second brain”. Direct communication between the “second brain” and the brain occurs via the vagus nerve. Surprisingly, this direct communication was thought not to exist for many years because scientists could only detect indirect signaling via hormones. This assumption changed when a neuroscientist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina found the connection. Published in Science, this neuroscientist was able to see “enteroendocrine cells”, which line the gut and produce hormones affecting digestion, had protrusions that resembled neural synapses. He then fashioned an animal study to see where these cells made their synaptic connections — they connected with vagal neurons, confirming direct brain signaling via the vagus nerve. These enteroendocrine gut cells released glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter prominent in the brain, which transmitted signals to the vagal neurons in 1/10 of a second. The vagus nerve then took the signals directly to the brain.
The second, less direct communication between the gut and brain occurs via the neurotransmitter serotonin, which also acts as a hormone. About 90% of serotonin is produced within the intestines. Since it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, the brain has to produce its own serotonin supply, but the neurotransmitter functions similarly in both places, transferring an electrical nerve impulse from one neuron to the next. The second brain, which its own neural cells, uses serotonin to transmit signals, both throughout its own network and then to the brain. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers at Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia used a unique neural tracing lab technique to see specific enterochromaffin (EC) cells, a subset of enteroendocrine cells, within the gut lining. These specialized cells were seen to release serotonin which diffused to nearby sensory nerves that communicate with the brain. This formed a two-way communication circuit with the brain through the intermediary of serotonin, and linked emotional and thinking centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions.
Even less direct communication occurs through hormones, such as ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY), cholecystokinin (CCK), glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), in addition to serotonin when acting as a hormone. These affect such brain-dependent signals such as appetite, sense of fullness, and nausea. Also, ghrelin can cross the blood-brain barrier, and there are receptors in many brain regions that can bind with it. Hormone communication is fast, but not as fast as direct neural communication. Gut flora, or microbiota, also produce various hormones that impact the gut-brain communication. Since the number of microbiota in the body is around 100,000 trillion microorganisms, the hormonal communication from the gut flora is major.
The microbiota can also communicate in a negative way by producing toxins. Irritating or toxic chemicals cause the “leaky gut” syndrome, with the toxins getting into the bloodstream and impacting healthy cells, firing up the immune system, and sparking inflammation. This is communication that we don’t want!
Also, there is a very fast but one-way communication from the brain to the rest of the body, including the gut: brainwaves. This is a broadcast technique, where brainwaves have no specific target or pathway directing them — they simply are sent out from the brain and picked up by receptor “antenna” within the body. We are unaware of the gut generating waveforms as does the brain, but since this “second brain” has neural connections, perhaps some EMFs are generated even there.
What direction is your brain going?
With all this communication happening between the gut and the brain, it is a mistake to treat the two as separate. The “gut-brain axis” is so named because it is a major connection within the body, affecting both the brain and gut strongly. Some digestive diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastrointestinal motility disorder, actually may originate in the brain or be amplified by the brain. That is because the brain is controlling everything from gastric secretions, enzymes, and blood flow, to muscular contractions that move the food along the digestive tract, based largely on feedback from the gut. The very thought of food triggers digestion to start. Stress tells it to shut down. It’s obvious that the brain is in control.
Some research is now focusing on the brain to solve digestive issues. In a study published in Gastroenterology, researchers at UCLA and Canada’s McGill University studied IBS patients against a healthy control group, using brain scans to determine the level of gray matter in the medial prefrontal and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior parietal cortex, ventral striatum, and thalamus areas. They found thinning of the gray matter density in those regions as compared to the control group. These areas are particularly important in cognition and sensory response. They also found increased gray matter in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex, areas dealing with emotions. Now, reduction in gray matter usually occurs through a process called “selective pruning”, where the brain removes synaptic connections it deems no longer useful or efficient. Increasing gray matter means building up of the brain. Both processes are necessary: when we are young, we are building brain cells, but as we age, we need to cull useless connections and hone what is important to retain. So these brain changes that are provoking IBS are due to the brain removing connections in the cognition (thinking) portions of the brain, while increasing the areas of emotional response.
In other words, the brain can adjust by building or removing connections as need arises. Since your brain controls your gut, as well as the rest of your body, the direction your brain is going is of vital importance to your gut and overall health. And that direction is steered by the environment your brain perceives, what it has to deal with now. If that is stress, expect those areas of the brain responding to stress to build up over time. If you have to think a lot, expect those areas to build up. If you are active, expect motor control to build up. But if an aspect of your brain is not needed, expect pruning. Since the brain has many ways to communicate with your body, expect those changes in your brain to change how it controls your body. And we see that happens quickly in the gut, the “second brain”, because of the tremendous multi-mode communication it has with the brain. Treat both your brains well for optimum health.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
Some interesting facts to consider with the brain-gut axis. First, the brain rules everything in the body including the gut and digestion. So any subconscious or conscious stress programs written on the hard drive of the brain will definitely affect the digestive tract as we saw in the irritable bowel study.
Next the gut nervous system or the second brain nervous system flows via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is also the nerve that supplies the heart. What does that mean? When you have some thing that God has placed in you, and it makes no sense to your mind, if it is strong enough it will send messages from not only your gut but also from your heart to overrule your brain. You’ve heard the term “gut feeling”, also the term “what has been placed in your heart.”
The subconscious and conscious stress programs started in early childhood and they are a product of the environment of your childhood, adolescence, teen years and the rest of your life up to today, but the most powerful influences that control the majority of your physiology come from the subconscious stress programs age 0 to 6. But there is a way to overrule these: first and foremost by releasing them, and that is a part of our Revolution New Medicine® protocol with 3D brain imaging brain mapping and Heart Brain Entrainment Therapy. The second way is to follow your heart, not your mind. To follow what is being spoken to your heart you can overrule your mind if it is strong enough and pure enough.
Since there is a nervous system in the gut then it potentially does make gut waves like the brain makes brain waves to communicate to all the cells. But absolutely the strongest electromagnetic generator in the body is the heart. It is 5000 times stronger than the brain. The heart definitely generates heart waves which will influence every cell in the body similarly to the brain waves. When some thing is spoken to one’s heart the heart waves can be strong enough and supersede the brain waves — if it is pure.
Lastly your brain grows new cells when an activity is being intensified, and prunes or gets rid of cells in areas that are not being used. If we let a mind run rampant with thoughts that are not based in truth then it will produce emotions, and those emotions will grow more neurons in the brain centers associated with emotional response. This is a negative influence because now the brain is getting developed stronger from emotions than from thoughts based in truth.
We should be developing our brain thinking on thoughts that are true, pure and right not emotions based in fear, doubt and need.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.