Our 2nd brain – Surprisingly, there are over 100 million neurons in your gut, as many as there are in the head of a cat. The 2nd brain does not do a lot of complex thinking but it does get on with the essential daily grind involved in digesting food – lots of mixing, contracting and absorbing, to help break down our food and begin extracting the nutrients and vitamins we need. All those neurons lining our digestive system allow it to keep in close contact with the brain in your skull, via the vagus nerves, which often influence our emotional state.
When we experience “butterflies in the stomach”, this really is the brain in the stomach talking to the brain in your head. As we get nervous or fearful, blood gets diverted from our gut to our muscles and this is the stomach’s way of protesting. So it is no surprise that when the 1st brain has an injury the 2nd brain also suffers. This is why most children with brain injures suffer from many problems with general digestion, motility and reflux. For further information please see The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine by Michael D. Gershon.