Can your Gut make you happy?

The most recent research now finds that Yes….it can!

We now know that IBS is linked, in the main, to stress.

Many people nowadays associate good levels of Serotonin (the happy factor) with improved mood.

Did you know that an estimated 90% of Serotonin, is produced in our gut?

How does Serotonin work?

Serotonin carries signals between nerves and is attributed with affecting mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep and memory as well as sexual desire and function. Most modern scientists now state that a deficit of serotonin can lead to low mood or depression.

So, in short, its responsible for how we feel in a wide variety of ways.

Those old saying turned out to be true

Have you ever felt a funny feeling in your stomach when you were upset, nervous or just felt something was wrong? All those old sayings like ‘butterflies in my stomach’, gut feeling’, ‘sick to my stomach’, have turned out to be true.  Our forefathers were wiser than we realised.

Hypnotherapy can help reduce the cause and symptoms of Stress and Anxiety that can be the case of IBS

We now know that the stomach directly receives information and sends signals (messages) to the brain. So….if you have ever had an upset stomach or even suffer from IBS then it is probably due to stress, anxiety or feelings of being upset or that your life is not in balance. When feelings are being affected, we now it is because the stomach acts just like a brain and sends messages so that your body reacts accordingly.

Its not surprising then, that so many people get an upset stomach and even IBS as a result of stress or anxiety.

It is now also thought that people on Anti Depressant medication may be suffering, in some cases, from an overload of Serotonin which in turn causes the gut to react and develop IBS.

Latest Research

Exciting new research has shown that bacteria in the gut directly produces serotonin, which transmits information from the gut to the brain and directly affects mood. Until very recently, it was thought that the brain only sent signals to the gut. Recent research has changed all that. We now know that it isn’t just the brain that sends messages to the gut but the gut sends messages to the brain. The gut sends messages to the brain via the Vegas so the old saying related to emotions, ‘gut feeling’ or ‘butterflies in your stomach’, can now be supported by scientific research.

Prof Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles says; “The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon. A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut”

Taking this new research into account, depression treatments that target the mind can unintentionally impact the gut. The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and as I have already mentioned, 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels and Irritable bowel Syndrome can arise, in part, from too much serotonin in our entrails.

Because antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, the medication meant to affect mood can often provoke Gastro Intestinal issues as a side effect.

Where is this leading? This research means that Serotonin in the stomach is just as important as the Serotonin produced in the brain. Bacteria create Serotonin in the gut and our understanding of the emotional relevance of the gut in mood is only touching the tip of the iceberg. What we do now know is that Serotonin in the gut is a pre-requisite for a healthy digestive and excretory system as well as maintaining the communication between the gut and the brain.

How can I help my gut to recover?

One obvious way is to change your diet.  But you can also look at having Hypnotherapy to help manage your stress levels and reduce the cause of your IBS in a cognitive way.

Our modern diets are less rich in the fermented foods needed to create the bacteria rich, micro environment required to produce Serotonin.

Fermented, means that the ingredients have been left to sit until their sugars and carbs become bacteria-boosting agents. Foods like:

  • Pro-Biotic Coconut Yoghourt (not as acidic as dairy – enhances digestion and nutrient absorption)
  • Sauerkraut and pickles for example, offer a healthy dose of probiotics
  • Kimchi (spicy Korean dish of fermented cabbage, enhances digestion and nutrient assimilation)
  • Miso (fermented soybeans and grains – just add a dollop to hot water, is full of essential minerals, like potassium, and consists of millions of microorganisms giving us strength and stamina
  • Kombucha (a tea made from edible kelp that contains a variety of micro-organisms that give your gut a boost)

Eating 4-6oz daily of fermented foods not only nourishes your gut microbiome but also:

  • Contain high amounts of vitamin K2, which help prevent heart disease
  • Produce B-vitamins
  • Improve your immune system, especially in the digestive tract
  • Boost your mood and mental health
  • Detoxify and remove heavy metals from the body
  • Inhibit obesity and diabetes
  • Control dietary fat absorption

Experts are currently fascinated by how these fermented foods boost the good bacteria in your digestive tract and can heal a range of health issues such as leaky gut and IBS, boost the immune system and even lead to weight loss.

All these additional factors are part of why it is so important for your therapist to look at the whole picture, take a medical history and understand the possible physical aspects that can contribute to your individual therapeutic needs.

It is in that all important first therapy session that your therapist builds up a comprehensive picture of you, and helps them to create an effective treatment path.




  1. American Psychological Society, Article by Dr. Siri Carpenter, September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8, Print version: page 50
  2. Elaone Hsiao, Caltech
  5. ‘Second Brain”, Scientific American, Adam Hadfbury, 12 February 2010
  6. Dr Mercola, Your Gut Bacteria Affects Your Brain Function, Study Confirms, 20 June 2013


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