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There seems to be more and more evidence pointed towards this gut-brain relationship.  And if you think about it from a laymen’s perspective, what happens when you think of something that is really stressful? Does this thought / recall trigger anxiety in your gut?  Does your stomach begin to churn and fill sick? This connection seems to be real and should not be dismissed as a fanciful new theory. Even kids experience these sensations.  I recall my 8 yo starting a new school. He looked miserable and when asked if he “had butterflies in his stomach”, replied “no, mummy they are crocodiles”.

Our thoughts can set off a reaction

Our language has long indicated this connection, “it was a gut wrenching experience”. How can a thought produce a feeling, a sensation in our stomach?  Love, has the same effect as we know from the excitement we feel in the pit of our stomach. Butterflies of excitement may rise for our new love. Our gut reacts to our thoughts and our thoughts seem to be influenced by what we feel in our gut.  Is this intuition that some speak of? A gut feeling?  A feeling in my gut?

It seems that there is a link of communication between our intestine, sending messages to our brain.  The brain of course reciprocates sending messages to our stomach. There seems to be a connection and this connection is getting more attention, as we look to our gut health.

If we look at this relationship further, it is not difficult to identify that mental health and stomach may go hand in hand. For those that have stomach or Gastrointestinal (GI) problems, healing the gut may require investigation of other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and the list goes on.

Gut health and anxiety

Gut health is now becoming more recognised in treating mental health as this relationship is becoming more acknowledged.  For example, you feel great, in fact on top of the world and then suddenly your teacher calls upon you to give an impromptu address to a class. The thought may set of a reaction of immediate nervousness in your stomach.

Unfortunately, mental health implications are not restricted to one part of our body as the toll may negatively impact on our gut with gut problems impacting on other organs.

Treating Problems around Mental Health

When medicos look at our gut problems, they take into consideration many triggers and many conditions that may be the cause of the issue.  Our stress levels as they rise produces cortisol and this in itself can impact negatively on our health over extended periods of time.

However, when looking at mental health, it is also important that the gut is looked at. Often, the relationship of what is happening in our head is not recognised by the health profession on what could be happening in our gut.

For more information on the relationship between mental health and the gut refer to

There is still so much to be learned in the area of health.

Written by Kathie Baker

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