“Yes, the human heart, in addition to its other functions, actually possesses a heart-brain composed of about 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn and remember. The heart brain sends messages to the head brain about how the body feels and more. When I first heard about this scientific research, it intuitively made sense. I had felt for a long time that the heart has its own mysterious way of knowing.”
“When the Stomach Talks, the Brain Listens
The stomach does a lot more than dump acid on your latest meal. It also fires off signals to the brain via its own extensive network of neurons. According to Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, there are 100 million neurons in this “second brain.” This arsenal far outnumbers the neuron supply in the spinal cord or the rest of the nervous system outside of the brain.
Although not involved in conscious thought or decision making, the stomach brain enables the gut to make its own decisions regarding the behavior of the digestive system. And the stomach has plenty to tell the brain as well. Research shows that about 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve—the main nerve for the gut—carry information from the gut to the brain.”
Your Backup Brain
“The gut can work independently of any control by the brain in your head—it’s functioning as a second brain,” says Michael Gershon, professor and chair of pathology and cell biology at Columbia. “It’s another independent center of integrative neural activity.”
After five decades of groundbreaking work leading to discovery of the gut’s brain—known technically as the enteric nervous system (ENS)—Gershon reassured me that he, too, still feels the twisting of his own intestines under periods of high stress, especially whenever he calls the National Institutes of Health to find out where he stands on his newest research grant applications. “I become painfully aware of the kind of signals the gut can send to the brain,” he confides.”
Asanas for the Chakra System