By A. Minocha MD, author: Guide to Alternative Medicine and the Digestive System
Gut has a nose and can smell! You have heard of ”gut reactions” and “my gut tells me”. Can the gut smell? Could these "gut reactions" be mediated via smelling function of the gut?
Braun and colleagues from Germany recently studied whether nasal olfactory (smell) receptors are present in human gut and whether odorants present in spices, fragrances, detergents, and cosmetics can cause release of neurotransmitters like 5HT or serotonin. As you know, serotonin regulates intestinal motility as well as secretions and is involved in pathogenesis of vomiting, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome as well as psychological conditions like depression.
These investigators found 4 olfactory receptors in human gut. Odorant ligands of the these olfactory receptors via cascade of events lead to serotonin release thus have potential to affect gut function.
The authors concluded that odorants present in the gut/intestinal lumen may stimulate 5HT/serotonin release via these olfactory receptors in gut mucosa. Some physicians especially gastroenterologoists do use antidepressants including SSRIs for the treatment of intestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, cyclic vomiting and abdominal migraine.
Now based on this article, could you also legitimately say, “my gut can smell it” in addition to “my gut reaction is” and “my gut tells me”.