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Mood, Insula, and Gut Feelings

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Visceral emotional response and gut feelings – is your gut actually guiding your behavior or are you executing full, emotional control over physiological inputs and consciously over-riding the system?

How many of our ‘conscious’ behaviors in fact stem from physical, gut reactions?

How often do we succumb to what ‘feels right’ compared to logically and systematically weighing the pros & cons?

Behavioral Responses and the Gut

From birth, we are hardwired to respond to signals from our gut: changes within the gut trigger behavioral responses – for example, hunger initiating crying or suckling. These systems are imperative for survival.

However, do these physiological triggers and subsequent behavioral responses begin engraving neurological patterns that will continue to express themselves throughout the lifespan?

The Gut-Brain Connection

As adults, we have all experienced something physiologically in our guts – nausea, pain, cramping, hunger, satiety – prompting a certain behavioral or emotional response.

To expand on that concept further, what about the feeling when you are looking for a new home – knowing instantaneously if it’s the one: the “I know it in my gut” feeling.

Those split-second decisions that trump piles of analytical data are often accompanied by our physiological sensations. This is the gut-brain connection. We have all experienced the phenomenon at one time or another. You are likely familiar with the associated feeling: sinking, stress, clenching – or expanding, vibrant, uplifting.

Insula and Gut Feeling – How Gut Affects Your Mood

Contemplating how emotions, memories and actions develop based on these gut inputs is fascinating.

When we encounter a person or place that triggers that 6th sense, there are actually anatomical structures and neurochemical responses which provide some explanation.

The gut-brain connection, involving the vagus nerve, is a powerful signaling superhighway, leaving very little untouched by its influence. Interestingly, inflammation within the gut can initiate activation in the hypothalamus and limbic system, creating social withdrawal via this pathway.

But also, the gut and brain interface at the insula, a specialized region of the brain which receives a conglomerate of visceral, sensory, olfactory and gustatory inputs. The insula has been shown to become activated in response to disgust, ‘intuitive decision making’ and social response – areas where the gut feelings and emotional thoughts collide.

 

So the next time somebody tells you they made a gut decision, you can affirm the neurobiological basis behind it!

 

References

Mayer, E. A. (2011, August). Gut feelings: The emerging biology of gut–brain communication. Retrieved April 15, 2016, from http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v12/n8/full/nrn3071.html

 

Clinical Contributor

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Connie Shoemaker, ND

Connie Shoemaker, ND

“Educating Sanesco’s clients is the culmination of a life’s work.” Beginning when she left the hospital environment to manage a functional laboratory, Genova Diagnostics (formerly Great Smokies Laboratories) in 1987, Dr. Connie Shoemaker has continued to increase her knowledge of herbs and biochemistry as a journey of love. With her bachelor’s in science from Western Carolina University, she had worked in hospital laboratories for the first twelve years of her career. Then, personal health challenges led her to discover a new approach to her health and a determination to share it with others. In 1991, she began teaching and educating innovative practitioners in the U.S. and internationally as a manager of marketing, sales, and customer service.

The addition of her Doctor of Naturopathy degree to her existing knowledge base expanded her knowledge and her respect for a more natural approach to healing through balance. At Sanesco, she initially served to oversee technical development of products and services.

Now, she educates Sanesco’s clients on application of the CSM™ model for their specific patients and how to integrate the CSM™ model with other modalities they offer in their practice. In her personal life, Connie educates private clients on various health topics.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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