Interactive Health Service Clinic
There is no one who is unfamiliar with the feeling, an ongoing agitation in the stomach when excited, nervous, anxious or in love. What happens to our bodies when we have "butterflies in the stomach"?
occurs before an exam or an important event and when we fall in love.
The excitement causes the heart rate to accelerate and we feel
something inside which has become known as a feeling of
"butterflies". These butterflies only serve to worry us more and
may cause one to wonder what is going on inside. Well, quite a bit,
we take a step back to the preceding moment we may understand some of
what occurs deep inside. It all begins from the ancient principle
called "fight or flight" which characterises the nervous system.
first researcher to describe this phenomenon was Walter Bradford
Cannon in 1929. His theory maintained that animals react to threat
via the sympathetic nervous system.
is part of the nervous system which operates automatically and over
which one has no control. When we are calm, the sympathetic nervous
system operates in "low gear." However, when faced with danger,
anxiety or excitement, the brain transmits electrical impulses to
activate the system at its full capacity.
a result of this activation substances called epinephrine (better
known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine are released from the adrenal
glands. The release of these substances is mediated by the release
of an additional substance called acetylcholine. This system is
complex and quite complicated and we will not bore you with detailed
important thing is the result of this activation - acceleration of
the heart rate and lung activity, hindrance to digestive activity,
contraction of blood vessels in various parts of the body in order to
allow more blood to flow to the muscles, hindrance of secretion from
the tear and saliva glands (thus the dry feeling when excited),
dilation of the pupils, relaxation of the bladder and hindrance of
central idea around which the body operates in times of duress is a
decrease in blood flow to the less important limbs and transmission
of oxygen-rich blood to the more essential limbs.
That is precisely what causes those butterflies in the stomach. They reflect the decreased blood flow to the digestive system. All of the digestive processes are slowed, the stomach contracts and the typical activity of the intestines (peristaltic activity, in medical jargon), decreases as well. So what is the solution? The answer is to simply relax; there is no medication to treat this phenomenon.