Tuesday, 8 July 2014

What is the Gut-Mind Connection? (Part 1)

More and more we are hearing doctors speak of a gut-mind connection. What they are speaking about is the connection between our mind/emotions and our digestive system - so much so, that the gut is now being hailed as our second brain! Who would of thought we had two brains? 
Yet colloquially, we speak of: 
“having guts’, 
“spilling our guts’, 
“having a gut feeling about something”
“following our guts” 
“that took guts”
“a misery guts”
“hating their guts”
“my guts are telling me”

So I ask the question - Why “Guts”?

Is  science finally catching up with what our language 
has intuitively been telling us all along?

Could the idiom "you are what you eat" really be true?

So let me try and answer a few questions you might have in what I hope is easy to understand language:

Question 1
  • Is there Biblical evidence of a  Gut-Mind Connection?
Question 2
  • What is the scientific evidence of a  Gut-Mind  Connection?
Question 3
  • What are the Implications for us if there is a Gut-Mind Connection?

Is there Biblical evidence of a Gut-Mind Connection?

You may ask why I am starting here? It is because the Bible is God’s Word to us about life on this earth, how we came to be here, what went wrong and what we need to do to fix it. It is infallible. If the science is correct about there being a connection between our gut and our mind, then I would expect there to be some clue to show us if we are on the right path.

So let’s have a look.
The Bible is written in two languages: Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. We will look at each language individually, specifically looking for support of a gut - mind connection. The numbers in brackets after the words correlate to Strong's Concordance.

  • Leb  (3820) and it’s synonym Lebab  are translated as “heart; mind; midst”  according to Vines. Together these words appear 860 times in the Old Testament. “The ‘heart’ “could be regarded as the seat of knowledge and wisdom and as a synonym of ‘mind’.” (p108) It can also refer to one’s personality, the seat of desire, emotion, inclination or will. It refers to the inner being of a man.This word is used for the first time in Gen 6:5 to describe man’s heart or mind. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart (mind) was only evil continually.”
  • Rehem (7358)  or Rehamim (7356) are translated as “bowels; womb; mercy”According to Vines, this word is used figuratively to describe deep emotion, compassion, mercy and tender love. Here are a few examples: 1 Kings 3:26 “Her bowels yearned upon her son” or Gen 43;30 “His bowels did yearn upon his brother” when speaking of Joseph’s feeling towards his brother Benjamin.
  • Meeh  (4578) is defined by Strongs and Vines as “intestines; abdomen; uterus; bowels; heart; womb; internal organs; inward parts; belly”.This word is translated in scripture figuratively as the seat of emotions, with words like “feelings; heart; soul; spirit; sympathy”. It is also used literally to refer to particular organs.

Although this is only a precursory look at the Hebrew words, it is clear that in biblical Hebrew, words that literally refer to the gut are figuratively translated as emotions.


  • Splagchnon (4698) is defined by Strongs as “bowels; compassion; pity’. Literally it refers to the inward parts like the bowels, heart, liver, lungs but figuratively it also is used to describe the emotions.  According to Strongs “In the Greek poets from Aeschylus down, the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion; equivalent to our heart (tender mercies, affections etc)." In Philemon we have several perfect examples of this.  “ For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.” (7) KJV “Whom I have sent again; thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels.” (12).KJV Verse 20 is the same again. The NIV on the other hand translates the literal word “bowels” figuratively as “hearts” in these verses. The NIV text notes states here that  “hearts [is] the English equivalent of the greek for intestines - the part of the body that is figurative for the emotions of pity and love.”

These are just a few quick examples to show that there is biblical evidence of a gut -mind/emotions connection.
In part 2, I will discuss the remaining two questions:
  1. What is the scientific evidence of a Gut-Mind  Connection?
  2. What are the Implications for us if there is a Gut-Mind Connection?

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