The Enteric Nervous System and Vagus Nerve Function

The ENS (enteric nervous system) is composed of the largest accumlation of nerves in the human body. Yes. Even more than your brain!!!🧠
What and where is the ENS? The ENS is one of the three branches of the autonomic nervous system. It consists of a nerve plexus embeded in the intestinal wall that extends across the entire gastrointenstinal tract from the esophogus to the anus.
Due to it’s massive network of neurons that are similar in structure, function, and chemical coding to it’s upstairs companion (the brain) – it has often been termed ‘the second brain’.
But perhaps calling it the ‘second’ brain is not entirely correct, and perhaps even insulting to the ENS, as it has been demostrated in controlled animal studies that changing the information in the ENS directly influences the Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Adrenal axis (further upstairs) and has a significant effect on anxiety and stress behavior. Similar findings have been found in humans – albeit through more observational means.
80-90% of this this bottom up communication occurrs via that wandering wonder, the Vagus Nerve – not the other way around.
So it kind of makes you wonder…who is controlling who? Which part of us is the ‘first brain’ and which is the ’second’? How much of our reality is composed of top down executive thought processes and how much of those thought processes are actually controlled by bottom up information sent by the ENS via the Vagus Nerve?
Makes me contemplate my younger years when I found myself obsessed with Egyptian history and feeling a bit confused that such an advanced civilization would essentially throw out the brain but preserve the heart and other internal organs for all eternity.
It also makes me deeply appreciate the wisdom of Yoga Asana. Yoga Asana is the only physical practice that I know of that specifically addresses the nervous system via the digestive tract and vagus nerve.  The very purpose of Yoga Asana isn’t just to make you more flexible or twist yourself into various forms to impress family and friends.
The aim and purpose of Yoga is first and foremost to create SPACE. Space around the joints, space in the digestive tract which results in space around the enteric nervous system which then results in an increase in Vagus nerve tone leading to greater space between the breaths and finally space between thoughts. And that space between thoughts is where the ability to perceive the reality beyond the illusion of Maya (psychological conditioning) begins.
Maybe these Yogi’s and Egyptian priests knew something that we are only now begining to uncover…
Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-out Asis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders (2018)
Effects of intestinal microbiota on Anxiety-like behavior (2011)
The human enteric nervous system (2004)
Control of gastrointestinal motility by the ‘gut brain’ the enteric nervous system (2005)
The enteric nervous system and gastrointestinal innervation: integrated local and central control (2014)

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