What causes butterflies in our stomaches???

If anyone shares the same nerves as I do, you know the constant flutter in your stomach, creating an anxious and overwhelmed kind of mood. Whether it arises from nerves for a game or date, or excitement for something about to happen, the feeling rushes immediately, and I could never explain what it is or why it happens. Can we control them? Does everyone get butterflies? Could they be due to reverse causation?

In a recent article written by Kristine Lockwood, she explains the science behind this inevitable flutter of our stomachs. The human body has a special reaction called the fight or flight response which is our body’s reactions to certain stimuli. It is the way we were wired as similar to a defense mechanism or a spark from the Central Nervous System. This reaction can be connected with stress, anxiousness, or just a triggering reaction to something unfamiliar. It usually pairs up with reactions like increased breath rate, higher heart rate, stiffening of the body, and of course, the butterflies.

The nervous system as the master, speaks to the other glands and hormones in the body and causes these immediate physical reactions to arise in the body. During this experience, stomach muscles are weakened and the body is tense, giving some creation to why the stomach flutters like a swarm of butterflies on a flower bush. Additionally, the stomach is a very sensitive organ in the human body, vulnerable to change and external reaction and stimulus, just like our brains. We cannot control the receptivity of these parts of the body, the neurons speak for us. Brain-Gut Axis is a known name of the stomach that contains all this stimulus, so as we feel certain feelings that differ from the norm; nervousness, anxiousness, uneasiness, and fright, the flutter begins.

In serious cases of butterflies, like for example, before I am about to run a track meet, or have an interview, or get that “call me” text from my mom, that when the nerves and butterflies are at their peak. In this case, butterflies create a knot, a ball of nauseous sickness. The arises from adrenaline, which can give one a feeling that everything is unstoppable, however too much of this can actually halt one’s ability to use our digestion system, and can even lead to serious cases of anxiety.

In that case, stating the obvious that we cannot control our neurons and our signals in our stomach or brain, we are unable to control this feeling from rushing through the stomach. Everyone gets this feeling one way or another, in a series of stimuli and reasons.

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2 thoughts on “What causes butterflies in our stomaches???

  1. Ryan Gregory Blank

    Can things known to calm people prevent getting butterflies in your stomach? Things like deep breathing, yoga, and marijuana is known to help calm people. Conducting a study of people who are either doing these activities or have recently done these activities and seeing if they get “butterflies” in their stomach would be very interesting. You would have a group of people who do nothing, people doing breathing exercises, people who do yoga, and people who are under the effects of marijuana are put into a situation with high-stress or anxiety and record whether or not they got butterflies in their stomach from it. The high-stress situation could be to complete a task in short period of time, give a presentation in front of a large group of people, or try performing in a high-stakes situation, etc. There could be other variables that could effect this study though. Certain people do not get nervous in these kinds of situations so that would be something that would need to be accounted for.

  2. Candace Burke

    This was a very interesting post! I definitely get butterflies when I’m nervous or anxious and I had never thought about what they were or why they were happening. I was wondering I you came across research as to why they re in the stomach rather than the heart. I feel like it would make more sense for the heart to race when experiencing nerves, rather than feeling nauseous.

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