The 3 Amigos: Our 3 Brains and Inflammation

Sep 4, 2018


Welcome to Muir Diablo Occupational Medicine, where we believe in understanding the intricate connection between our brains and inflammation. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the concept of the 3 brains and how they affect inflammation in the body. By gaining a deep understanding of this relationship, you will be empowered to make informed decisions about your health and well-being. Let's dive in!

The Three Brains

When we talk about the 3 brains, we are referring to the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system. Although each of these systems plays a unique role, they are interconnected and have a profound impact on the inflammatory response.

The Central Nervous System

The central nervous system is like the command center of our bodies. It includes the brain and spinal cord, which are responsible for processing and transmitting information throughout the body. When it comes to inflammation, the central nervous system plays a crucial role in regulating the immune response and releasing necessary chemicals to combat inflammation.

The Enteric Nervous System

The enteric nervous system, often referred to as the "second brain," resides in the gastrointestinal tract. It controls digestion, absorption, and nutrient distribution. Interestingly, the enteric nervous system also communicates bidirectionally with the central nervous system. Research suggests that disruptions in the gut-brain axis can lead to inflammation and various health issues.

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. This system is divided into two branches: the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Both branches influence the body's inflammatory response. Chronic stress, which activates the sympathetic branch, has been linked to increased inflammation, while the parasympathetic branch promotes a state of relaxation and decreased inflammation.

The Relationship Between Our 3 Brains and Inflammation

Now that we understand the role of each brain, let's delve into how they influence inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection and typically helps in the healing process. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can contribute to various health conditions such as autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Stress and Inflammation

Chronic stress, when experienced for prolonged periods, can disrupt the balance between our 3 brains and lead to increased inflammation. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system releases stress hormones like cortisol, triggering an inflammatory response. This continuous activation of the inflammatory process can harm the body's tissues and organs.

Gut Health and Inflammation

The enteric nervous system, closely intertwined with the gastrointestinal tract, plays a significant role in gut health. Poor gut health can lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, which can trigger inflammation. Studies have shown that gut dysbiosis, characterized by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, can contribute to chronic inflammation throughout the body.


Neuroinflammation, inflammation occurring within the central nervous system, is a significant contributor to various neurological disorders. Conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis have been linked to chronic neuroinflammation. The intricate relationship between our 3 brains highlights the importance of addressing inflammation at its root cause.


Understanding the connection between our 3 brains and inflammation is essential for maintaining optimal health. As you have learned, the central nervous system, enteric nervous system, and autonomic nervous system all play vital roles in regulating the inflammatory response. By prioritizing stress reduction, gut health, and overall well-being, you can promote a healthy balance within these systems, leading to decreased inflammation and improved overall health.

Contact Muir Diablo Occupational Medicine

If you have further questions or would like to learn more about the 3 brains and inflammation, don't hesitate to reach out to Muir Diablo Occupational Medicine. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing comprehensive information and personalized care to help you navigate your health journey. Contact us today for a consultation!

Charles Gedge
Fascinating topic!
Oct 16, 2023