Enteric Nervous System

“Behold, O LORD; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; my heart is turned within me;” – Lamentations 1:20a

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” – Colossians 3: 12

“Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.” – Philemon 1: 20

“But whoever has this world’s good, and sees his brother has a need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him?” – I John 3: 17

1.  The Bible uses this language whereby it equates the seat of emotion with your bowels or your guts

  • It associates a troubled heart, joy, compassion, having a feeling of mercy – these different emotions with being seated in your bowels or your guts
  • Even we refer to getting butterflies in your stomach, when you are under pressure or in a tense situation
  • This is because you do feel pressure in your stomach…in your intestines

2.  Sure enough, there is good science behind this.




Scientific American article headline from February of 2010:

1.  “Technically known as the enteric nervous system, it consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the end of our intestines. Referred to by scientists (and specifically gastroenterologists) as “the second brain,” the enteric nervous system is said to contain about 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.”


  • (Note: Dr. Michael Gershon is the chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the 1998 book “The Second Brain”) 1


2.  “The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. A big part of our emotions are … influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Dr. Emeran Mayer says.

  • (Note: Dr. Emeran Mayer is a bio-behavioral scientist at UCLA Medical School) 2

3.  “Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one’s moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above. For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals, Gershon says.”

4.  Summary: This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to “feel” the inner world of our gut and its contents – and thereby, impact our emotions. 3

5.  The Bible is accurate in its neuroscience.


  1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain
  2. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain
  3. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain