The way to man’s heart is through his stomach.

Stress can affect digestion leading to chronic indigestion, ulcers, spasms or even diarrhea. Likewise cheese is also known to cause nightmares.

Some researchers are now coming to an understanding that a complex relationship exists between digestion and mental states and that Myenteric and Auerbach’s plexuses plays a key role in many psychological disorders.

For example:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as being an illness of the Myenteric and Auerbach’s plexuses involving excessive blood levels of serotonin.
  • Osteoporosis and autism have also been associated with elevated intestinal levels of serotonin.

Dysfunctional serotonin metabolism may also explain why many depressed people are obese. Some researchers have also successfully treated depression using electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve hinting at a possible link to Myenteric and Auerbach’s plexuses.

Just as with the Central NS, the nerves of the Enteric NS can also be damaged by a poor blood supply which can be worsened by atherosclerosis and this can become a progressive vicious circle of injury as the circulation and nerves slowly becomes damaged.

Patients taking antidepressants such as Fluoxetine often experience digestive problems as a side-effect. These drugs are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cause an increase in free serotonin levels which is associated with an elevation in mood.