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SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Our gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria, which are essential to our digestive and overall health. However, issues arise when we have an imbalance or an overgrowth of bacteria. 

The small intestine is where most of our digestion takes place and nutrients are absorbed. When we have an improper balance of bacteria or an overgrowth, this can result in a malabsorption of nutrients. The bacteria itself can actually digest the nutrients, resulting in some of the common symptoms we see like gas and bloating.

SIBO risks

  • Microbiome dysfunction
  • Metabolic disorders (i.e., diabetes) 
  • Reduced gut motility
  • Other health conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, diverticulosis, chronic pancreatitis, and scleroderma.
  • Infections
  • Overuse of certain medications like antibiotics, antacids or other heartburn medications
  • Aging

One of the challenges with SIBO is that it has similar symptoms to other GI conditions, which can make it difficult to diagnose. It is common for people who have had SIBO in the past to have a recurrence.

Common symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Gas/bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes/eczema/rosacea/acne
  • Depression
  • Asthma

Breath test

The SIBO breath test is the best and most accurate way to determine whether you are suffering from SIBO. Although other GI tests such as stool tests are commonly used, they are not nearly as definitive as the breath test.

When undigested carbohydrates reach the large intestine, they are fermented by bacteria in the colon, which produces gas. Under normal circumstances, only a negligible amount of gas is produced. However, if you have an overgrowth of this bacteria in the small intestines, as food passes through it, this bacteria interferes with the healthy digestive and absorptive process, actually consuming some of the food itself. The result leads to SIBO symptoms such as gas and bloating, particularly associated with carbohydrates.

The SIBO test challenges the system by supplementing carbohydrate intake prior to the test and measuring the amount of gas produced. Results showing an excessive rise in methane and/or hydrogen gas is indicative of a positive SIBO diagnosis.

SIBO treatments

SIBO can be difficult to eradicate and as mentioned, recurrence is common. Therefore, a comprehensive and layered approach is required to achieve a successful resolution.

This may include a combination of the following treatment options:

  • Natural antibiotic herbs and natural compounds: There are a variety of herbal and botanical therapeutics that naturally fend off bacterial overgrowth such as berberine, oregano oil, wormwood oil, and others. 
  • Antibiotics: In some cases, antibiotics like rifaximin are required, even if just initially to jump-start this rebalance of the gut microflora.
  • Repopulating and healing the microbiome: A targeted regimen of probiotics to repopulate the gut, prebiotics, and postbiotics to feed the microbiome and help it flourish again are key to the healing process. A healthy gut microbiome is essential in preventing the recurrence of SIBO. There are numerous botanicals, nutrients, and other supplements such as glutamine, slippery elm, and marshmallow, as well as immunoglobulins which naturally restore the heal and integrity of the GI tract. 
  • Peptide therapy: Some peptides such as BPC-157 are effective for treating several GI conditions. BPCs are primarily produced in the gut and the stomach, and they function to protect and heal the digestive tract. BPC-157 is anti-inflammatory, helps to alleviate pain, and is very effective at combating leaky gut, and GI pain and reversing damage to the mucosal layer of the GI tract. 
  • Nutrient support: Given the digestive dysfunction and malabsorption associated with SIBO, additional nutritional support to address any deficiencies is important.
  • Diet and lifestyle changes: There are certain foods which can aggravate symptoms such as gas and bloating, as well as foods which are highly nourishing for both the microbiome, as well as being nutrient dense. Eating a diet that is healthy, naturally anti-inflammatory, and also supports overall gut health is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to reversing SIBO.