This is a sequel to the
Connection that explains the vagus nerve and the circuitry connecting our
is shed on the circuitry between the two brains, researchers are beginning to
understand why people act and feel the way they do. The brain and gut are so
much alike that during our sleeping hours, both have natural 90-minute cycles.
For the brain, this slow wave sleep is interrupted by periods of rapid eye
movement sleep in which dreams occur. For the gut, the 90-minute cycles also
involve slow waves of muscle contractions but, as with REM intervals, these are
punctuated by short bursts of rapid muscle movement. Could it be that both
brains influence each other? The answer is probably yes. REM sleep is a sleep
phase characterized by arousal, altered activity of the autonomic nervous system
and altered colon (large intestine) function.
We also know that patients with bowel problems
tend to have abnormal REM sleep. Poor sleep has been reported by many perhaps a
majority of, patients with irritable bowel syndrome (lBS) and non-ulcerative
dyspepsia (also known as "sour stomach") who complain of awakening
tired and unrefreshed in the morning. Even after patients awake from what they
describe as a "sound sleep," they report a general feeling of
tiredness and fatigue.
Abnormal REM sleep is reduced by low-dose
treatment with the anti-depressant amitryptiline, which has also been shown to
be effective in treating lBS and non-ulcerative dyspepsia. Many drugs designed
to affect the brain also affect the gut. For example, the gut is loaded with the
neurotransmitter serotonin. In fact, more serotonin is produced there than
anywhere else in the body. Serotonin is linked with initiation of peristalsis.
Notes taken from, Patient Heal Thyself by Jordan S. Rubin, NMD,
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