- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Later Printing Used edition (November 17, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060930721
- ISBN-13: 978-0060930721
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 86 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine Later Printing Used Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Persuasive, impassioned... hopeful news [for those] suffering from functional bowel disease." -- -- New York TimesBook Review
"Persuasive, impassioned... hopeful news [for those] suffering from functional bowel disease." -- New York TimesBook Review
About the Author
Michael D. Gershon M.D., is chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
A great book!
In Part I, the author discloses that he rediscovered that human beings have essentially a third nervous system or rather nervous/motor system. The first one is the voluntary skeletal one whereby your brain essentially controls all your voluntary actions through orders transmitted with the acetylcholine neurotransmitter among many others. The second one is the involuntary automatic one that controls most of your physiological necessities and responses (breathing, cardiovascular system functioning, glands, visceral muscles, etc.). It is governed by the peripheral central nervous system (spinal cord, etc.). This system is subdivided into two. One is the sympathetic one that responds to the neurotransmitter noripenephrine (a precursor of adrenaline) and is responsible for the flight-or-fight mechanism among many other reflexive reactions. The other one if the parasympathetic nervous system that responds to the acetylcholine neurotransmitter that governs many physiological activities. In addition, the author’s contribution to the field is his rediscovering a third and pretty independent nervous system: enteric nervous system governing your digestive system (your gut) through the neurotransmitter serotonin. He states that he “rediscovered” the enteric nervous system because it was first discovered by an earlier set of scientists a long time ago. Bayliss and Starling came up with the “Law of the Intestine” in the 1890s; Langley publishes his seminal book on the subject “The Autonomic Nervous System” in 1921. Both treaties described the workings of the enteric nervous system in detail. And, Gershon graciously gives them full credit for their work.
If you find the above paragraph too heavy going, this book is not for you. The above paragraph is a piece of cake compared to the real thing: an 80 page Part I with many more details describing cellular level physiological reactions entirely unfamiliar to a lay public. Also, the author imparts some drama regarding the rather Galilean reception he got from other neuroscientists for re-advancing the theories of the gut having its own independent nervous system. Later, when he is able to turn things around and finally convince the world that the enteric nervous system is real, he spends an entire 33 pages on a single event, a neuroscientist convention workshop that took place in Cincinnati, where he presented his theories and they were finally well accepted. He describes in extensive details his friends and foes participants at this convention. It is interesting to a certain point. Lay readers will probably feel that this topic warranted no more than 8 pages instead of 33.
The remainder of the book, beyond Part I, continues to read as something like a graduate school biochemistry textbook. The New York Times Book Review that is quoted on the cover page as stating regarding this book: “Persuasive, impassioned… hopeful news [for those] suffering from functional bowel disease” has most probably had no staffer actually reading this book. That’s because it has very little practical health advice. It mentions that modern anti-depressants (SSRIs) are really bad for your intestine because their reuptaking serotonin does reduce the amount of serotonin generated by your intestine and greatly affects your digestive function. Also, dietary fiber is really good for you because it enhances the muscular fitness of your colon. And, that’s it as far as practical health advice goes. As far as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the author goes on an entire chapter (chapter 8. A Bad Bowel) how that disease is really ill-defined and is a catch all for all sorts of digestive ailments that the medical profession does not understand and does not know how to cure. In view of that the anthological comments by The New York Times Book Review are really inaccurate.