by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
Really think about it, have you ever had a head injury on any level in the past?
- Perhaps you fell off your bicycle when you were younger?
- Maybe a fall from a swing set?
- Perhaps you played some aggressive sports when you were younger?
- Maybe you were in an car accident at some point?
- Perhaps you fell of ladder?
- And hopefully you were never dropped as a child, but maybe?
Just because you had some past trauma to your head at some point in your life, this does not mean you were rushed to the hospital or even went to the doctor. There is a high likelihood that there was some sort of trauma, yet this was not diagnosed for you.
You simply took an aspirin or some other over the counter medication to deal with the pain and moved on.
That sound like the typical scenario for most of us.
What we do not think about though is how this will impact us later in life. Often times, those past head traumas can lead to a low level of inflammation in the brain, leading to gut/brain issues much later in life.
Perhaps you are thinking that you have addressed inflammation in the past for yourself, so why would you still have inflammation in your brain?
The reason for this is the often when we are addressing inflammation in the body as a whole, this still does not address the brain specifically.
So here you are decades later searching for the reasons for your chronic gut issues by address food sensitivity, gut infections, perhaps SIBO and the list goes on. All this time, money, effort and the gut issues are still staring your directly in the face.
If this is the case, you are more than likely dealing with a deeper brain issue. Perhaps this was due to the past head trauma discussed, brain inflammation or perhaps a mid brain imbalance.
People experience this in many different ways, such as:
- Food sensitivity
- Chemical sensitivity
- Poor mental clarity
- Chronic gut issues without logical answers
- Poor regulation of moods
- Challenged sleep patterns
- Weight gain or unhealthy weight loss
- Aches and pains
- Writing becomes less legible
- Poor memory
- Cold hands and feet
You may think your brain is all in your head?
Well, think again. Obviously it starts in your head but your brain extends into the brain stem, from there this leads to the vagus nerve which then extends throughout the gastrointestinal system. Yes that same nerve tissue that is within your brain extends into the gut and oh, what a connection!
Seriously about 90% of your brain output is directed through the vagus nerve and due to this lower brain dysfunction very often leads to digestive difficulties without any noticeable sign of neural degeneration. It is actually suggested that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), is the result of a “disturbed” neural function along the gut/brain connection.
The gut/brain connection is a parasympathetic activity and does not react well to chronic stress. When under stress there is a significant suppression of blood flow to the gut and stress has an accumulative effect on the brain. This is one of the many reasons why emotional release is so important in my practice with my clients. It has been shown that anywhere from 50 to 90% of chronic gut challenges are also dealing with psychiatric disorders. The other challenge that arises out of this is within your immune system function due to the fact that approximately 70 – 80% of your immune system function originates in the gut.
For my left brain followers, let’s take a quick look at the neurology of gastrointestinal activity. The frontal cortex excites the vagal nuclei to activate the gut motility and enzyme secretion. The insular cortex actually lets the brain know where the gut is. The vagal nuclei which is affected by both of these cortexes activates the intestinal motor cells for gut motility, regulates the gut blood flow and activates the release of intestinal enzymes. From there, the enteric nervous system generates intestinal motility, generates enzyme release and provides input to the vagus nerve. And the cycle continues…
It is also important to understand that this gut/brain connection goes both ways. You can also be living with a gut challenge that will then affect brain function. This is typically due to inflammation within the gut. Remember that gut inflammation decreases neuron function and I have found most people with health challenges are also living with chronic gut inflammation on a daily basis.
Some other keys to remember is that brain fog is a sign of neural inflammation often due to gut inflammation and if consuming a particular food affects your ability to think, it is suggested to address both the brain and the gut. Another significant factor is the result of a physical brain trauma as mentioned above.
So if you have been living with long term gut issues and you are not getting answers to your challenges, it may be due to your brain.
If you are curious if you have a deeper brain issue, feel free to complete this neurotransmitter assessment form on this link.
If you find that you check off either the number 2 or 3 on any of the categories with any consistency, there is a likely challenge to be addressed with your brain.