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If you’ve ever had your stomach in knots before speaking in public, then you know the stomach listens carefully to the brain. In fact, according to William Whitehead, PhD, a professor of medicine and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, the entire digestive system is closely attuned to a person’s emotions and state of mind. People with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer symptoms during times of stress and anxiety, and even perfectly healthy people can have an increase of stomach pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhea during stressful life events.
In recent years the link between the nervous system and the digestive system has been recognized. There is a constant exchange of chemicals and electrical messages between the two systems. In fact, many scientists often refer to them as one entity; the brain-gut axis. Therefore, what affects the stomach will directly affect the brain and vice versa.
Medications designed to target the brain can also cause nausea, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal upset because the body actually has two brains – one encased in the skull, and a lesser known but vitally important one found in the human gut. Fat-soluble drugs penetrate the gut wall and can injure the natural balance of the digestive system. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills are all fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve in fat and not water.

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