Butterflies in my Tummy - Are they an Indication of Something Bigger? - Healthy Mind Magazine

By Vrindavan dasi (Margaret Doyle)

Consider the following.

Scenario 1. I’ve got to stand up in front of 200 delegates and give a talk on something I feel totally unqualified to do.  How do I feel?

Scenario 2: I’m back at school and I’ve just handed in a late note supposedly written by my mother but in reality written by me. How do I feel as I watch the teacher reading it?

Butterflies in the tummy!

We are all familiar with that feeling in our tummy when we are nervous about something. I’d be really astounded if there was any adult on the planet who had never experienced them but I wonder how many of us have ever wondered what the heck they are. I must say I never wondered, I just accepted that they come when you’re nervous.  Then I came across an article which explained what was actually going on and how they can actually be a symptom of other problems.

The first thing I discovered which opened my eyes in wide wonderment at the amazing unseen workings of a very complex living system was that there are 100 million neurons embedded in the walls of the large intestine.

 These neurons run a vast highway of information to and from the central nervous system governing reactions to changes in both our internal and external environments. Messages are carried along our gut-brain axis by neurotransmitters which are made by the trillions of microbes that live in the gut.

These gut microbes produce 95% of the dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters that control our mood, mind and emotions. Some of the messages go from the gut to the brain while others reach the gut from the brain.

In the case of nervousness as in the two scenarios mentioned above there is an external stimulus which brings about a stress response. This stress response first starts in the mind as worried anticipation. Next, hormones are released from the brain causing what is known as the sympathetic nervous response. The sympathetic nervous system gives us a boost to help cope with the supposed danger which it thinks we need to cope with.

This boost of hormones sends messages around the body to prepare for ‘war’ and as in war time when all available hands are needed in the war effort, all but the essential services either close down or work on lowered capacity. Therefore the majority of our energy is channelled into our brain to think quickly, our muscles to act quickly and our heart to pump the blood to the muscles and brain.

The digestive system, which has no part to play in the danger scenario, receives a reduction of blood flow. This reduction causes the digestion to slow and the stomach muscles to tighten which produces that fluttery feeling we call butterflies in the stomach.  Under severe emotional stress a vast quantity of stress transmitters like serotonin are produced in the gut to help cope with the stress. In fact so many are produced that they tend to clog up the transporting system much like the traffic jams in rush hour traffic.  According to researchers this excess serotonin in the gut irritates the mucous membranes there and is thought to be responsible for inflammatory bowel conditions such as Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS), reflux and stomach ulcers.

Some people experience these fluttering feelings even when they are not experiencing something stressful and researchers have linked this to a variety of catalysts like changes in digestive enzymes; food allergies and the intolerance of specific foods; eating fast foods and those that are spicy, oily or high in fat; hormonal changes; some medications; low blood sugar and vitamin deficiency.

Therefore if we are experiencing frequent feelings of fluttering in the tummy, whether it is due to anxiety and stress or not, it would be wise to take a good look at our lifestyle and see if there are things we may need to address such as diet, exercise and stress coping techniques like relaxation, meditation practice and yoga.

You have to adopt a completely different journey so as to deal with daily situations coming your ways in life we got to find ways to handle all those and satisfy our need to comfortable, relaxed and deeply happy… you have to adopt a set of integrated habits and practices pertaining to body, mind and soul. For instance, these stress coping techniques also work as deterrents to the nervous stomach syndrome so that when we are about to enter an emotionally or mentally confronting situation we can meet it calmly with the clarity born of a mind at peace.

As part of relaxing and calming the mind, you can listen some meditational music or Kirtan song. This will help you relax and de stress. So next time, you feel some butterfly, you can just think of what changes you can make in your life, do a justice to your lifestyle and just tune into some meditational music 😉

So good luck.