Vomit Centre is perhaps the coolest name of any part of the human body.
It is located in the stem of your brain, in an area called the medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata is old, meaning it is also found in the brains of other critters not so closely related to humans, such as fish. Old parts of the brain tend to do the the really important stuff that animals with brains have been doing for millions of years, such as breathing and maintaining a beating heart.
The Vomiting Centre collects information from across the body and when this part of the brain becomes excited (in the neurological sense, not the 'I can't wait for the next episode of True Blood' sense) people vomit.
Signals INTO the Vomiting Centre
From other parts of the brain: You know these parts are talking to the Vomiting Centre when you want to vomit because you see someone else vomit. Or when my Nanna smells really ripe bananas and her stomach tries to empty itself.
From organs: You know organs are talking to the Vomiting Centre when you eat so much that your stomach expands and you throw up. Or when you have an intestinal blockage and you vomit.
From the inner ear: You know when your balance system is talking to the Vomiting Centre when you get get off a roller coaster feeling very dizzy, and vom.
From chemoreceptor trigger zones: These trigger zones are also in the medulla oblongata. They detect chemical abnormalities and poisons throughout the body, meaning it's chuck time.
Signals OUT OF the Vomiting Centre
Regardless of how the Vomiting Centre becomes excited (spending too long on a roller coaster, blocked intestine, being vomited on) the final action is the same: vomition.
Why does chemo = nausea and vomiting?
The way chemotherapy drugs make the body vomit isn't as straight forward as you might think. The next blog post will explain why chemotherapy makes the body vomit.
And it doesn't involve the stomach (well, not at first, as we all know the act of vomiting is ALL stomach).