Your Solar Plexus Is an Important Part of Your Nervous System—Here’s How to Keep It Healthy (2024)

The solar plexus, which is sometimes called the celiac plexus, is comprised of numerous nerve fibers that radiate out from the center of your abdominal area. These nerves help keep your abdominal organs functioning properly.

For those who practice yoga or Ayurvedic medicine, the solar plexus also represents one of the seven chakras. Known as the third chakra, this part of your body is considered the place of fire, or Manipura Chakra, and is often associated with the color yellow.

When your solar plexus is injured or out of balance, you not only feel abdominal pain, but also can feel out of sorts. You may even have an uncomfortable feeling in your gut as well as experience fatigue, weight gain, and digestive issues. Here is what you need to know about your solar plexus, including why it may be painful and what you can do to keep it healthy.

Your solar plexus, which looks like a cluster of nerves, sits just behind your stomach and the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs. Meanwhile, it is in front of the aorta—the largest blood vessel in your body.

The solar plexus consists of both parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves. Consequently, many of your body's abdominal organs—including the liver, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, small bowel, and the first two-thirds of the large bowel—receive their supply of nerves and impulses (or autonomic innervation) from the solar plexus.

What Does the Solar Plexus Do?

The solar plexus is an essential part of your body's nervous system. Not only does it keep your organs functioning, but it also prepares your body for stresses by making changes to your metabolism and digestion. Sometimes these changes are fight, flight, freeze, or fawn responses.

Even though these responses are autonomic—or outside of your control—their primary responsibility is to slow down or inhibit your digestive system, especially during something traumatic or stressful. The norepinephrine and epinephrine released by your body when you are stressed cause your body to redistribute your blood volume away from your digestive system so that your body can conserve your brain's supply of blood.

Solar plexus pain can be caused by everything from pancreatic cancer to anxiety and trauma. What's more, research suggests that solar plexus pain can lead to a lower quality of life and even higher mortality. Here is a closer look at some of the more common causes of solar plexus pain:

  • Anxiety: Because anxiety is sometimes associated with the fight or flight response, it can cause pain in the solar plexus. When anxiety is high, it also can cause difficulty breathing which can contribute to solar plexus pain as well.
  • Trauma: Having the wind knocked out of you is a common injury to the abdomen and occurs when you receive a blow to the solar plexus. When this happens it results in a temporary paralysis of your diaphragm. Usually, there is not much intervention that is needed, but not being able to breathe may cause a great deal of distress and pain.
  • Pulled muscle: Sometimes when you turn the wrong way or a workout is too hard, you can pull or strain an abdominal muscle. This often impacts the solar plexus area and is a common cause of severe pain.
  • Pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis: Conditions affecting the pancreas as well as the treatment options used to address these medical conditions can cause pain in the solar plexus. Sometimes this occurs when a tumor is blocking the digestive tract or is pushing against the nerves in the area.

Treatment for Solar Plexus Pain

It is not uncommon to experience solar plexus pain, especially if you have a disease like pancreatic cancer or experienced trauma to the area from a sports injury or accident. Fortunately, there are several ways solar plexus pain can be treated.

For instance, if you experienced an injury to the solar plexus while you were playing sports or engaged in another activity, you may be advised to rest, take anti-inflammatory medications, and apply ice for the first 24 hours. As you recover, gentle stretching may be incorporated as well. If your healthcare provided suspects a more severe injury, imaging may be ordered.

Meanwhile, people with diseases like pancreatic cancer often have intense abdominal pain and are often prescribed strong pain medications like opioids. But many still experience breakthrough pain as well as side effects like constipation.

In these situations, a celiac plexus block may be used to help control the pain. A block is used to keep the nerves in the solar plexus from sending pain signals. While the block does not eliminate the pain, it may reduce the need for pain medications and lessen the likelihood of addiction.

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Chakras are your body's energy systems and radiate specific colors and energies. Each of the seven chakras coincides with a gland in your body and plays a role in your overall well-being. When one of your chakras is blocked it can lead to physical, psychological, or emotional disorders. But by being aware of each chakra and focusing on balancing it, you can impact your health and well-being.

The Manipura Chakra is considered the third chakra and regulates your fears, sense of power, and gut feelings. When it is in balance, you likely feel confident and have a sense of purpose. But if your life is filled with stress, or you are overwhelmed, this chakra can get out of balance and cause low self esteem and other issues. Imbalances also can cause fatigue, weight gain, and digestive disorders such as hypoglycemia and diabetes.

Tips for Keeping Your Solar Plexus Healthy

If you are interested in promoting the health and balance of your solar plexus, fortunately there are things you can do to that will impact the well-being of this important body part or chakra. Here are some suggestions that may prevent illnesses but also keep you balanced.

Utilize Breathing Exercises

Experimenting with breathing exercises can help ease your anxiety and ensure that your abdominal area gets the oxygen it needs—especially when you are feeling fearful, anxious, or overwhelmed. Deep breathing not only expands your diaphragm where your solar plexus is located but it also can keep the area free of pain and discomfort. What's more, regularly engaging in breathing exercises can help reduce stressors that could lead to digestive issues if left unchecked.

What's more, diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing, can help lower heart rate and blood pressure. It can even reduce stress hormones, increase blood oxygenation, improve sleep, and activate your body's relaxation response—all of which help keep it healthy.

Experiment With Yoga Poses

There are certain yoga poses that can focus the energy in your core and restore balance to your solar plexus. For instance, the boat pose helps strengthen your abdominal muscles. It also is useful in balancing your digestion and promoting personal empowerment. Meanwhile, the classical forward bend helps improve blood circulation, prevents constipation, and helps improve the absorption of nutrients.

Another helpful pose is the bow pose. This pose provides intra-abdominal massage to your internal organs particularly your liver and pancreas. It also can promote the removal of toxins and benefit your thyroid. You could even try the half spinal twist to encourage detoxification and improve digestion.

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Focus on Nutrition

Certain eating patterns can lead to issues like acid reflux or other digestive issues that can cause pain in the solar plexus. But by focusing on a balanced diet with plant-based foods and foods that are less acidic, you can prevent acid reflux.

Likewise, because the solar plexus is considered the energy center of the body and associated with the color yellow, many believe that eating yellow foods can keep the solar plexus healthy, or help to balance it. Some examples of yellow foods include bananas, pineapple, lemons, yellow lentils, sweet corn, yellow potatoes, cheese, chamomile, and cumin.

Use Meditation and Affirmations

Repeating positive affirmations as well as implementing meditation may be particularly useful in helping you maintain the health of your solar plexus. For instance, research indicates that meditation not only relieves stress, but that it also could lead to better sleep and muscle relaxation. There is also some evidence that meditation allows you to find your inner peace, which could prevent chronic stress.

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Your solar plexus, or celiac plexus, is a compilation of nerves and ganglia that is located in your abdomen near the diaphragm and behind your aorta. This nerve center is responsible for the functioning of your abdominal organs like the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder as well as mediating your body's stress response. When your fight or flight response is activated it will slow your digestive processes so that blood can be conserved for your brain.

For those who practice yoga or Ayurvedic medicine, the solar plexus is considered the third chakra and the body's energy source. It is often associated with the regulation of your fears, sense of power, and gut feelings. To keep your solar plexus balanced and healthy, you can engage in breathing exercises, certain yoga poses, and balanced eating.

Experiencing pain in the solar plexus is not uncommon can be related to everything from digestive issues and anxiety to trauma and pancreatic cancer. If you are experiencing pain in the solar plexus there are a number of ways this can be addressed including stretching, applying compresses, and even a celiac plexus block which helps reduce pain in the are and minimizes the need to pain killers. If you are experiencing continued pain in the solar plexus, it is important to see a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.

Your Solar Plexus Is an Important Part of Your Nervous System—Here’s How to Keep It Healthy (2024)
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