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  • James Bartlett

The Second Brain


Tuesday 30th June 2020

Have you ever had that sinking feeling in your stomach when something goes wrong? Or when you’re worried about something, you have that physical feeling of nausea? Have you heard the phrase ‘sick to your stomach’ or ‘go with your guts?’ The ancient Chinese understood this and saw our ‘guts’ as the powerhouse of our minds.

Did you know that the ancient Chinese didn’t classify the brain as an organ? They saw it as an extension of the bone marrow, and so falls under the control of the Water Element. In Classical Chinese medicine, long term memory is the responsibility of the Water Element.

So where did thoughts come from? In Five Element theory, the process of thinking is looked after by the Earth Element. The Spleen and the Stomach are in charge of taking in information, processing it and then distributing it to the right places. Someone with an imbalance in the Earth Element may struggle with overthinking and worry and may be unable to process thoughts and information.

What I find so fascinating is that these organs or our ‘guts’ are also considered our ‘second brain.’ What the Chinese understood years ago is only relatively recently being recognised by science. Millions of neurons connect the brain to the enteric nervous system. This part of the nervous system controls the gastrointestinal system. The ‘second brain’ can control the gut all by itself. It still needs to communicate with the brain of course, but it just goes to show how important it is to look after our ‘guts.’

Eastern medicine, meditation, yoga, martial arts and fitness regimes place an enormous amount of importance on our guts and our centre. This area has many names, such as the ‘solar plexus’ and ‘hara.’ In the West, we tend to define our fitness or strength by having ‘rock hard abs.’ While this may look nice, having a more conscious awareness of the area will inevitably bring better grounding, focus and a much clearer mind. We don’t often think about the centre of our bodies being the hive of activity it is, as we believe that all of our thought processes come from the grey mass in our heads.

Looking after this area is critical to our wellbeing and having a ‘grounded centre’ is the framework for a healthy, balanced life.

Five Element Acupuncture can help to identify which of the Five Elements is the cause of imbalance. By correcting the cycle of the Elements within a person, all of the Elements and their associated organs can work together as nature intended. This can help to bring relative balance back to the mind, body and spirit, ensuring that thoughts and emotions are processed in a much healthier way.

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