The Gut-Brain Connection: Healing the Whole Body at Corner Canyon

Posted on September 19, 2023 by Corner Canyon Publishing
The Gut-Brain Connection: Healing the Whole Body at Corner Canyon

The body is connected in remarkable ways, including a connection between the stomach and the brain. Treatments at Corner Canyon Health Centers take the intricacies of the body into account and help each client heal their mind, body, and spirit. The gut-brain connection is an important piece of healing from mental health challenges, substance abuse, and trauma. By utilizing the gut-brain collection in treatment, clients learn to manage challenges both currently and in the future. This sets them up for success in maintaining their happiness and health in the short term and long term. 

What Is the Gut-Brain Connection?

The gut-brain connection refers to the relationships between the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is in the stomach. It is a bi-directional link that impacts a person’s life through the gut microbiome, neurotransmitters, and hormones. As a result, it is a connection that has a wide range of influences on how a person feels physically and mentally. 

There are many circumstances that highlight the gut-brain connection. For example, having a gut feeling about something impacts how a person feels mentally and emotionally, such as a negative feeling about a person or circumstance. Another example that highlights the connection between the gut and the brain is when a person cannot or does not feel like eating when they are upset. These examples are real-life experiences that many individuals have had and are an easy way to connect to the gut-brain connection.

The Enteric Nervous System

There are many neurons that are associated with the gastrointestinal tract, which help with its multitude of functions. In fact, more neurons reside in the human gut than the entire spinal cord. The nerves that help to manage the gastrointestinal tract are part of the visceral motor system, and many of these nerves are also embedded in the wall of the digestive tract. However, a surprising amount of these nerves function independently. 

As a result, many consider this group of nerves as a separate system called the ENS. The ENS includes a number of neural circuits that control motor function in the digestive tract, local blood flow, and secretions. Additionally, the ENS manages immune functions and many endocrine functions. Endocrine functions include hormones that impact how a person feels both mentally and physically. 

The ENS functions separately and independently. However, it communicates with the rest of the body and other parts of the nervous system. As a result, the changes that occur in the ENS impact how a person thinks and feels. The foundation of this communication is through a nerve called the vagus nerve. This provides efficient and effective communication between the ENS and the brain. 

Gut Microbiome

The gut is the home of a very significant and extensive microbiome. A microbiome is a community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. The size of the gut microbiome can be difficult to visualize. Imagine a busy and crowded city street full of people bustling to work, home, or other engagements. This image is similar to the gut microbiome. 

In a healthy individual, there is harmony in the gut microbiome. Ideally, they co-exist peacefully with the highest population in the small and large intestines. However, each individual has a unique microbiome, which is a result of both genetics and environment, as a baby, child, and adult. 

The gut microbiome is not a part of the ENS. However, it is vital in helping a person to function well. The gut microbiome helps to stimulate the immune system, break down toxic foods, and provide essential vitamins to the body. While many of these actions are independent of the brain, they affect a person’s brain. As a result, the gut microbiome is an important piece of the gut-brain connection. The actions or inactions of the gut microbiome play a role in a person’s mental and physical health. 

Neurotransmitters and Hormones

Both neurotransmitters and hormones are ways for parts of the body to communicate. Neurotransmitters have the role of communicating from a nerve to a target cell, which can be a nerve, muscle, or gland. They are transmitted across a synapse, which is the gap between two cells. Hormones are also communication molecules. However, they are carried through the blood. 

The gut-brain connection relies on both neurotransmitters and hormones to create a link between the gut and the brain. Neurotransmitters are created both in the gut and in the brain. As a result, they both play a role in how the mind and body function. Hormones are also produced in both the brain and the gut. Therefore, both neurotransmitters and hormones play a vital role in communication between the gut and the brain. They provide insight into how the gut impacts the brain and vice versa. 

The Gut-Brain Connection: A Two-Way Street

Unlike many other parts of the body, the gut has a significant impact on the brain. However, the brain also has an impact on gut functioning. Therefore, the link between the gut and the brain is not a one-way street. Instead, it is a two-way connection that, when understood, can be used to help improve a person’s quality of life, mental and physical health, and happiness. 

Impact of the Brain on the Gut

A person’s brain has a significant impact on their gut. For example, thinking about food can start the process of secreting stomach juices that help digestion before food has even been consumed. Additionally, things like stress or anxiety can make an individual feel sick to their stomach, nauseated, or have stomach pain. These examples all provide insight into how the brain can quickly create changes in the stomach. 

The severity of the impact of the brain on the stomach is due to the direct connection between the two. When an individual feels stress, neurotransmitters and hormones are released that signal changes to occur in the stomach. However, the specific reaction in the gut does vary for each person. For example, when some individuals are heartbroken, they tend to not be able to eat, feel nauseous, or be unable to digest. However, others will feel a distinct craving for certain types of food. These individual reactions may change over time but are a clear example of how the brain quickly communicates with the gut. 

How the Gut Impacts the Brain

The gut-brain connection is a two-way street, and the gut also impacts the brain in a significant way. Since the ENS acts independently, it is responsible for the creation and release of neurotransmitters and hormones that set off a chain reaction. Many of these communication molecules impact various parts of the body, including the brain. 

As a result, many individuals with gastrointestinal challenges feel the pain they are experiencing in their digestive tract. However, what is not always understood is that issues in the digestive tract amplify any other challenges, such as pain. Therefore, gastrointestinal issues often play a role in chronic pain issues,

The gut also impacts the brain in a manner that affects mental health. Due to the gut producing many neurotransmitters and hormones, a person’s mood, focus, and anxiety can all be a result of the gut. Therefore, when a person is struggling with their gastrointestinal tract, they are more likely to experience mental health challenges. 

Healing Mental Health Challenges With the Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain connection is an important thing to understand when considering the best way to go about helping an individual heal from mental health challenges. It can help a person in healing from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While every person’s path to healing is unique, treatments that are founded in this connection address mental health in a unique manner, which has a lasting impact on a person’s mental health and quality of life. 


As a mental health disorder that is incredibly common, it is important that individuals have an opportunity to heal from depression. However, for many, healing from depression is a long and frustrating road. Fortunately, the gut-brain axis and communication can provide information that helps individuals heal and manage their mental health long term. 

Research has found that individuals who struggle with depression generally share a certain set of microbial markers in their stool, which highlights the similarities they have in their gut microbiome. These markers can be used to help explain depressive symptoms as well as measure the severity of depression. The connection between the gut microbiome and depression is still in the early phases of understanding. However, it provides information on how a person’s gut microbiome influences their mental health and an opening for potential intervention. 

The most common medication used to treat depression is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are a type of medication that helps to improve the level of serotonin, stabilizing a person’s mood and mental health. The gut-brain axis helps SSRIs to do their job. This is because the vagus nerve communicates the changes that the SSRIs are having to the brain. Therefore, the gut-brain connection helps improve depressive symptoms through medication. 


When a person is struggling with anxiety, it can be a result of a variety of challenges. However, one of the reasons someone will feel anxious is due to the gut-brain connection. When an individual is having issues in their gut, it is likely that they will feel anxious. These challenges can be related to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, inflammation due to food intolerances, or irritable bowel syndrome. 

In addition, when a person is struggling with anxiety for other reasons, they are more likely to have challenges with the gut. For example, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common in individuals with anxiety. This is a direct result of the gut-brain connection because stress and anxiety activate this connection, creating changes in the gut due to anxiety. 

Due to the interconnection between anxiety and difficulties in the gut, interventions that take this connection into consideration can be highly effective. The specific interventions necessary are unique for each person. However, changes in diet, stress, and lifestyle can all help improve issues in the gut and challenges with anxiety. 


Individuals with PTSD struggle with a variety of challenges. The mental health difficulties due to PTSD vary for each individual but are commonly a combination of both anxiety and depression symptoms with additional trauma symptoms. Each person struggling with PTSD has a unique history of trauma that has caused it. However, the gut-brain connection is tied to PTSD symptoms and, therefore, can play an important role in managing them. 

Both depression and anxiety symptoms associated with PTSD have been found to be connected to alteration in the gut microbiome. These changes may be a result of trauma and stress, which impacts the gut in a significant way. While it is not confirmed why individuals with PTSD struggle with these gut microbiome imbalances, they do play a role in the symptoms and severity of symptoms that a person experiences. 

Due to the gut-brain connection and the challenges that many individuals with PTSD face in their gut microbiome, treatments that address these imbalances can help manage symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life. Changes in diet, stress, and lifestyle can all help to rebalance the gut microbiome. Alongside other treatments, individuals struggling with PTSD can manage symptoms and heal. 

Reducing the Risk of Mental Health Issues with the Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain connection helps to explain many phenomena in life, like getting a stomach ache when nervous, being unable to eat when upset, or changes in mood based on what a person eats or doesn’t eat. However, the gut-brain connection is also a powerful tool that can help reduce the risk of mental health issues. 

Many individuals with IBS and other gut issues develop mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Therefore, while anxiety and depression can influence a person’s gut, their gut also impacts their mental health. 

Healing the gut with a diet that improves the gut microbiome and reduces stress on a person’s entire system can help reduce mental health symptoms. However, it is also a way to protect a person from developing more challenges with their mental health. For individuals who are already struggling with trauma or their mental health, this is incredibly important. In addition, it helps a person to feel better on a daily basis, both in the short term and long term. 

Healing the Gut-Brain Connection at Corner Canyon

Many individuals know that they are struggling with their mental health and that the gut-brain connection has something to do with it. However, knowing what steps to take in order to heal the gut-brain connection can be a challenge. Corner Canyon Health Centers offers treatments that allow a person to learn about the gut-brain connection, heal it, and create lasting habits that protect their mental health in the future. 

One of the primary methods to heal the gut-brain connection is through nutritional psychiatry. This is a type of treatment that involves addressing issues in the gut in order to improve mental health. In practice, nutritional psychiatry involves both cooking and eating a healthy diet that consists of the following:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Food high in fiber
  • Fermented foods
  • Foods to boost mental health, like omega 3s

In addition to adding certain foods to a person’s diet, nutritional psychiatry also involves reducing the consumption of foods that are likely negatively impacting mental health. For example, common foods to decrease include:

  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Foods that cause gut irritation 

Nutritional psychiatry takes an individual’s needs into consideration. Therefore, not every person’s diet is the same. Individuals’ specific mental health challenges, dietary preferences, and challenges with their guts are considered in the process of designing the ideal diet that will benefit their mental health. 

The gut-brain connection is a link between the brain and the gut that is becoming more and more commonly researched. Scientists are learning that changes in diet, the gut microbiome, and stress can all have a significant influence on a person’s mental health. At Corner Canyon Health Centers, we believe in helping clients to heal in every facet of their lives. We offer nutritional psychiatry, which helps our clients to learn about the value of proper nutrition in their lives and how it can help them to manage their mental health in the long term. If you are struggling and interested in learning more about our treatment programs, call us today at (877) 717-6237.