Stress and anxiety play a huge role in functional gut disorders, and can be a significant trigger for bloating, gassiness and distension. Stress and anxiety can increase nerve sensitivity in the gut (our sense of bloating), cause irregular movement (causing distension and trapping of gas), reduce digestive enzyme production (creating fermentation in the gut), and even change the types of bacteria that live in the gut. Counselling & Psychological support can help stop bloating. Evidenced based interventions include:

  • Hypnotherapy: This is my go-to referral for clients on heavily restricted diets who fail to respond well to other interventions. Gut Directed Hypnotherapy has been found to reduce bloating, and improves symptoms of IBS in some trials even better than the low FODMAP diet
  • Mindfulness Meditation: This helps by reducing stress reactions in the body and cortisol which influences gut function and our gut bacteria. When we perceive a sensation as being ‘bad’ like a feeling of bloating, we can ruminate and fixate on the symptom. This increases stress hormones which make the symptom worse. Mindfulness helps teach us how to notice sensations more objectively, reducing stress hormones and thereby improving gut function. Mindfulness meditation and skills significantly helped me with my gut related symptoms and I love teaching this to help my clients.



Bloating and distention are very common problems, and for some people can cause a lot of distress and disruption to quality of life. It’s important not to suffer alone – very effective and safe treatments are available, but as always, this is best done in conjunction with your health care practitioner. Some of the best interventions I have found to be the most clinically effective have been herbal, nutritional and lifestyle factors. These can make a massive difference not just to our digestive health, but to our health and wellbeing overall. I have had so many clients come to see me who experience pain and discomfort after eating, or who blow up like a balloon over the course of the day. Appropriate testing, plus lifestyle and supplement changes, can almost always bring significant relief.


Mindfulness‐based stress reduction improves irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms via specific aspects of mindfulness – Naliboff – 2020 – Neurogastroenterology & Motility – Wiley Online Library

Randomised clinical trial: the efficacy of gut‐directed hypnotherapy is similar to that of the low FODMAP diet for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome – Peters – 2016 – Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics – Wiley Online Library


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