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  • Writer's pictureAnna Rathbun, NC

SIBO Simplified - 2 Step Process

In a healthy body, the large intestine is designed to be full of good bacteria. The good bacteria keeps us healthy by using fermentation to create vitamins and healthy bowels. SIBO occurs when this good bacteria from the large intestine backs up into the small intestine, colonizes and ferments. Fermentation trapped in the small intestine can cause bloating, cramping, irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhea and food or histamine intolerance. These can be symptoms of any type of IBS.

How do I know if it's SIBO or something else?

If the information below rings true - you may have small intestine bacterial overgrowth:

  • If the traditional, gut healthy, high fiber foods make your symptoms worse.

  • If you have ever taken antibiotics and noticed your symptoms temporarily disappeared.

  • If your regular diet causes severe bloating and distention in the abdomen.

  • If you follow one of the low fermenting diets listed below and your symptoms improve.

Your medical doctor can do a breath test for a formal diagnosis of SIBO.

In order to alleviate SIBO we must remove the bacteria from the small intestine and correct the underlying problem that allowed bacteria to back up into the small intestine. Motility issues, stress, weak digestion, infection or structural issues can cause SIBO to recur.

Remove Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth

To alleviate symptoms by removing bacteria you can use diet, nutritional supplements or medications.

  • The diet to immediately alleviate SIBO symptoms removes all fermentable foods. The most common diets are SCD, low FODMAP and Cedars -Siani low fermentation diet. Each of these diets removes all grains, beans and highly fermentable fibers. The diets vary on some details so you can pick and choose among the non fermenting food plans to find the one most enjoyable for you. Usually a strict low fermenting diet will alleviate SIBO symptoms within a week. The diet won't fix SIBO; it just alleviates the symptoms because there's nothing to feed bacteria in the small intestine.

  • Herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics are useful to kill the bacteria colonized in the small intestine. Berberine is a gentle and effective herbal antibiotic for SIBO. Your medical doctor has access to special antibiotics which are helpful for SIBO.

Address Motility to prevent recurrence

SIBO has a high recurrence rate. There is always an underlying factor which allowed bacteria to back up into the small intestine. If the underlying factors aren't addressed then SIBO will relapse over and over again.

  • Stress weakens the whole digestive system in a variety of ways. We can always use a variety of supplements to compensate for stress weakened digestion, but the way to get your own system working on it's own is to reduce stress. I've seen SIBO symptoms spontaneously disappear with a good vacation or a meditation practice.

  • Low stomach acid can be caused by stress, nutritional deficiencies or H pylori infection and can contribute to SIBO relapse. This low stomach acid causes a ricochet affect, weakening the stomach and intestines that allows SIBO to occur. H Pylori is a bacteria that resides in the stomach and wreaks havoc, lowering stomach acid and damaging the stomach and intestinal lining. Your doctor can test for H Pylori and herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics are used to eradicate it.

  • Constipation causes SIBO and SIBO can cause constipation (or diarrhea) in a vicious cycle. After eradicating SIBO, improve gut health to keep bowels moving and prevent relapse.

  • There is a valve between the small and large intestine that is designed to open and close, to keep things moving in the right direction. When this valve is weakened by surgery, trauma, stress or low stomach acid, it can allow bacteria to back up into the small intestine. A body worker can massage that area and close an ileocecal valve to help contents move in the right direction.

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth is a complicated form of irritable bowel. The simple solution is herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics to remove the bacteria, but this doesn't last long. There is a structural issue underlying SIBO, that must be addressed to prevent relapse. Whether it is stress, nutritional deficiencies, H Pylori or ileocecal valve malfunction, the underlying issue that allowed bacteria to back up into the small intestine has to be addressed.

Are you struggling with confusing and painful bowel issues? Click here and set up a time to talk.


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