SCIENTISTS BELIEVE THAT our gastrointestinal tract is essentially a second brain. It’s deeply linked to the brain in your head by a large network of neurons, and they both pass a flood of chemicals and hormones back and forth constantly. The gut is filled with just as many complex nerves as the spinal cord, and can operate independently from our central nervous system.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut shed a little more light on the remarkableness of the gastrointestinal tract when their recent study discovered that the gut has receptors that react to hot chili pepper ingestion by creating a compound called anadamide. This chemical works to regulate the gut immune system and bring it into balance, and is also related to the cannabinoids found in marijuana. The brain similarly has anadamide receptors, and these are what get activated and make you feel high when marijuana is used.