When it comes to health of the brain, you might be surprised to hear that the gut and the immune system are major players! Yes, even though the gut resides far away from the brain, and the immune system seems to be in its own league of influence they are important to talk about when we talk about the health of the brain.
In fact, the entire craniosacral system is in dynamic relationship with the gut and the immune system. Understanding these relationships can help us understand how to promote longevity and go so far as to reverse debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
But before we go that far, let me start simply by talking to you about the brain, the gut and the immune system.
As we all know, advanace in anatomy do not come at a very fast rate, at least not typically. In the last few years, however, there has been some exciting developments worth sharing here. Researchers at the University of Virginia found that there is evidence of a nerve tract which extends from the meningeal system in the brain all the way to the gut! The meningeal system lines the inside of the bones protecting the brain a bit like a shower cap and closely relates and works with the craniosacral system.
For quite a long time it had been thought there must be some correlation between the information and communication between these two but up until now solid scientific support has not existed, you can only imagine the excitement in the discovery.
Are you wondering why noting this connection is important? Before I connect these dots, let me introduce the immune system.
Just as the meningeal system acts like a shower cap for the brain, so there are protective barriers that exist inside to gut to protect the food we intake and keep it isolated so it doesn’t flow inappropriately into other parts of the body. A common condition occurring when the barrier fails is called leaky gut syndrome. But how could it fail?
The largest cause seems to be the types of food we eat or when inflammation occurs. Processed foods and sugars are one such food. Both causes leave more acid in the mucosal lining of the gut. This acid creates microtears, or holes. And these holes cause a leaky gut.
But wait! The plot thickens. Food particles move through the holes, or pores, and enter the body cavity. Since the food is not where it is supposed to be, it is spotted by the immune system and believed to be an invader. In a way, the food is an invader so the response of our bodies is appropriate. In order to protect the body, the immune system turns its attention to gobbling up the food particles. Resources are drained from the immune system and the resilience of the one suffering declines.
So here the immune system is strained, the gut is experiencing trauma and the brain is in the loop because of the connection through the hard wire tract providing connection.
This set the stage for our next article when I connect the dots, not only on how the connection of these three can increase stress in the person but even better, how the powerful technique, Craniosacral Therapy has a way to reach all three at once.