Ever wonder exactly what IS going on inside the lower part of your stomach that causes the “butterfly” or fluttery feeling when you’re feeling anxiety or fear?

“A fluttering sensation in the lower abdomen is most likely caused by muscle contractions of the large intestine (colon),” says David D. Clarke, MD, President, Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (stressillness.com), Clinical Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology Emeritus, Oregon Health & Science University, and author of “They Can’t Find Anything Wrong.”

Dr. Clarke adds, “This may result from colon contractions that are more forceful and/or more rapid than usual, which can result from stress or conditions that cause constipation or diarrhea.”

The colon is actually a muscle, but not the skeletal type. Anxiety, whether acute or chronic, but especially acute, can cause a big wave of fluttering sensations in the lower stomach.

The fluttering is sometimes referred to as “butterflies” and is often attributed to the release of the hormone adrenaline.

But it’s not adrenaline swirling around in the lower abdomen that’s causing these uncomfortable sensations. It’s the contractions from the colon.

Since 1983 Dr. Clarke has successfully cared for over 7,000 patients with stress illness.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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