How to Optimize the Power of Your Digestive System
There are between 100–600 million neurons that line our digestive system that work independently of our brain, called the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system contains more neurons than those that make up our spinal cord, and about 25% of the neurons that make up our brain. This is such a large amount of independent neurons that scientists call this network or neurons the “second brain.”
The enteric nervous system is an anatomically complex group of neurons that begin in our esophagus and go throughout our digestive system through the anus. We are learning more and more about the power this unique metropolis of neurons has in our health and wellness.
The digestive system is made up of hollow organs that connect the mouth to the anus. As food travels through the digestive system, it is broken down into smaller parts that the body can use to absorb nutrients, thereby nourishing cells and ultimately providing cells with the molecules necessary to create energy.
The digestive process begins with the controlled act of swallowing—after that, everything else is involuntary and controlled by the enteric nervous system.
Remarkably, we are finding that the neural signaling molecules that are responsible for happiness, love, excitement, and pleasure are produced and stored by the enteric nervous system. This may help explain why people with healthy, easily digestible diets are less likely to be depressed. Furthermore, this may also help explain why our appetite and digestive track are so closely tied to how we feel. For example, when people are nervous they experience diarrhea, or the butterflies in the stomach, suggesting that the abundance of serotonin may be released into the digestive track causing the disruption. Interestingly, people with irritable bowel syndrome tend to have more serotonin absorbed into their digestive track, causing the difficulties they have controlling their bowel movements.
The delicate enteric nervous system plays a significant role in controlling both our emotions and our immune system as well. Nearly 70% of our immune system is modulated by the relationship between our enteric nervous system and the good bacteria that live in our digestive system. Nutrient absorption varies for each of us. Our enteric nervous system controls how much, how often, and which nutrients to absorb.
Just as with any system of our body, we must properly supplement to optimize its health. Imagine an enteric nervous system that isn’t functioning properly.
- Poor mental health – improper balance of serotonin and dopamine
- Poor immune system – unhealthy gut flora ecosystem
- Poor nutrient absorption – unstimulated response of nutrients
So how do we control and support our “second brain” when it functions autonomously?
It was this question that led me to research how we can more fully absorb key compounds into our body—something we thought was inherently voluntary before.
So, to answer this question, I designed a “mock” digestive system by creating the lining of the large intestine through a plate of cells called CaCo-2 cells. These cells work autonomously— similar to one’s own digestive system—to absorb certain nutrients, compounds, and respond accordingly.
Creating this system, I was able to determine that there are certain essential oils that actually stimulate the enteric nervous system to allow for greater absorption. This was a breakthrough, showing for the first time that there are certain Clinical Grade essential oils that can help absorption of nutrients and other essential oil compounds. These oils were then combined together in a product called Cell Health³ and distributed by Zija International.
This gives hope as we understand more and more the power of the enteric nervous system in controlling our health and wellness. There are things we can do that help control what was once thought of uncontrollable.