Mental Health Is Gut Health

The human gut is lined with over a 100 million nerve cells. 80% of the  information exchanged with the brain starts in the gut.  The main highway for this communication is the Vagus Nerve, referred to as the Yoga Nerve.

It has long been known by aware Yoga teachers that many of their students get well from both digestive disorders and mental issues like depression and insomnia, by practicing Yoga and Meditation. In the beginning Yoga was meant to be used as a meditation by  doing Asanas to reach a meditative state, or Dharma, in silence and blindfolded for absolute stillness of the mind. However, very few do Yoga like the first Brahmans did. When it is done in this way, in particular in silence, it has the same effect as meditation has with the added value of improved health, strength and flexibility, and a higher awareness of the body.

vagus nerve

The gut is like a brain of itself releasing hormones into the bloodstream to tell us how hungry we are, or that we shouldn’t have eaten that cake. The Vagus Nerve also passes the lung and the heart, picking up information from a lung on an inhaled toxin, or a heart that isn’t pumping so well. It alerts the brain which reacts to the warning.

A new super cool study reveals that the gut has a more direct connection to the brain than previously known. It allows it to transmit signals in mere seconds. These findings question mental disease, their origin and treatments. What if obesity, eating disorders, autism, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia and depression are symptoms of a malfunctioning gut due to harmful substances or inhaled detergents and perfumes? Or the opposite, what if a trauma can compromise the digestion?

This is not surprising to us at Olive Retreat. We have many years experience with regard to how our guests get well very fast by getting rid of all the toxic stuff they inhale, absorb through the skin and eat, or by getting rid of a toxic thought. We observe the bodies and in particular the gut of each guest carefully and we give it all the attention and care it needs, many times at the owner’s surprise. Most health issues vanish or get much better in only 7-14 days, the normal length of a stay.

Neuroscientist Diego Bohórquez of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, made a startling discovery. “My focus has been to figure out how a sensory signal from a nutrient is transformed into an electrical signal that alters behaviour,” Bohórquez says. He found that enteroendocrine cells sitting in the lining of the gut, that spur digestion and suppress hunger, resemble the synapses neurons (brain cells) use to communicate with each other. Bohórquez knew the enteroendocrine cells could send hormonal messages to the central nervous system, but he also wondered whether they could “talk” to the brain using electrical signals, the way that neurons do. In September his study showed that it probably can.

“For instance, clinical observations have suggested that some children with anorexia may be hyper-aware of the food they ingest from an early age,” says Bohórquez. Those who can feel what’s going on “in there”, often trigger anxious feelings. Most likely in combination with stress when told how they should feel and what they should do, as finish their plate or eat less. With this knowledge, scientists may better understand other disorders that have been thought to be solely psychological but where now we know it may actually start in the gut or beyond the gut. He points out, the lining of our body’s organs — including our lungs, prostate and vagina — all possess sensor cells similar to enteroendocrine cells. “Future exploration will continue to uncover how the brain perceives signals from these organs and how they affect how we feel,” he says.

If this is the case the function of the so called Yoga Nerve is finally explained. All the organs connected to it, would have to send the signals through the vagus nerve, passing the gut to the brain stem. To have a healthy stretched spine where the Vagus Nerve passes, allowing this communication to happen freely can never be wrong. At Olive we’ll continue to teach Feel for Real Yoga, work on flexibility and our good posture.

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