The GI Tract and Microbiome

The Recent Discovery of a New Organ and Our Rapidly Expanding Knowledge of Another…

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 The definition of a mesentery is a fold of tissue that attaches organs to the body wall. The small intestinal mesentery specifically, was previously thought of as just a collection of fragmented tissues attaching the small intestine to the abdominal wall. It has recently been discovered that it is actually an organ and has a much more complex function than we previously thought. Yes that is correct, the physiology and anatomy books are being rewritten! It is not fragmented connective tissue but rather one continuous organ that includes blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels that branch throughout the mesentery to supply the gut. 

Why is this so important?  In my opinion, for two reasons. First, many holistic and alternative practitioners know that to heal many conditions in the body we must first heal the gut. We know that the gut mucosa is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body. Compromisation of the gut can cause a myriad of other health conditions, even if gastrointestinal symptoms themselves are not being experienced. This discovery and research surrounding this new functional human organ will hopefully guide conventional and alternative practitioners to new discoveries and therapies. For example, In inflammatory bowel conditions surgeries are unfortunately common.  But cutting through once what was thought of as just tissue should (hopefully) now be treated like an organ in such processes.  There is a lot more to learn about mesentery function (and GALT function - the Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue), and therefore a whole new area of exploration and research has opened up. 

The second reason for these new and important GI tract discoveries involve our mental health and the communication pathways throughout our entire bodies. Early fetal studies show that in embryonic development the gut and brain develop from the same embryonic tissue. As fetal development continues they begin to separate into the central nervous system (CNS) and enteric nervous system (ENS) which are connected by the vagus nerve. The ENS actually contains the same amount of neurons as your CNS (brain and spinal cord) which are all embedded throughout the lining of the intestinal tract - Amazing! Our microbiome (which means the organisms inhabiting our GI tract) can directly affect our nervous system and therefore also our brain. Now we have the mesentery, yet another functioning organ, connecting the gut to the body and communicating with the body through the blood and lymph. 

I hope I’m beginning to paint a picture of how important our intestinal health is to our overall state of health and how integrally it’s connected to the brain. This means that our gut health also has a direct effect on our mental health, our emotional and cognitive abilities. 90-95% of our serotonin (a key neurotransmitter for mood regulation) is stored in the GI tract, and our microbiome is responsible for producing other neurotransmitters as well.  Check out more information on this and a list of related studies at  

www.connectwc.org/what-is-the-gut-brain-connection.html     


"All dis-ease begins in the gut." ~ Hippocrates