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Gut-Brain Axis & Visceral Hypersensitivity

What is the gut-brain axis?

The gut brain axis is bi-directional flow of info between the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This reflex circuit regulates all basic GI functions such as motility, secretion, blood flow.

What is the visceral hypersensitivity?

Visceral hypersensitivity is when the nerves in and around the gut are hypersensitive. As such the info which they would normally collect on digestion is "over communicated" to the brain. Visceral hypersensitivity plays a key role in chronic gut conditions particularly functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) eg irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional abdominal bloating/distension, functional heartburn, functional constipation etc

Psychological factors and visceral hypersensitivity?

Psychological factors such as stress and anxiety can influence gut symptoms via their effects on gastrointestinal motility, pain threshold, and the mucosal secretory and barrier functions of the gut. Alongside dietary therapy, psychological therapies (evidence-based) have a key role to improve GI symptoms and psychological state. Some of which include:

  • Gut-directed hypnotherapy

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

  • Diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal/ deep breathing

  • Mindfulness meditation

👉🏼 Ensure you take note of stress and anxiety levels in relation to your gastrointestinal symptoms.

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