What is SIBO? What causes SIBO? How can it be treated with natural medicine?

What is SIBO?

SIBO stands for "small intestinal bacteria overgrowth", which is basically excessive bad bacteria that grows in the small intestine. 

Healthy bacteria is of utmost importance when it comes to the proper functioning of our small intestine, and plays an important role of absorption of nutrients, our immune system,  lymphatic system,  nervous system and other systems. This good bacteria is needed to protect the small intestine for nasty pathogens or bacteria and yeast that we ingest from our foods and over use of certain medications. There are usually less healthy bacteria that reside in our small intestine than our large intestine or colon. 


What causes SIBO form?

SIBO is excessive bacteria that tend to increase over time which cause different strains of bad pathogen, these are usually found in the colon but tend to migrate back into the small intestine, and cause an overgrowth.

Over a period of time SIBO has shown to decrease the mechanics of the small intestine, due to the bad bacteria that builds up, after a long period of time "leaky gut" can appear, which then allows unwanted bacteria to leak through the mucosa, causing  unwanted protein molecules and amino acids circulating in our blood stream. Which can lead to illness and inflammation, including excess ammonia, having unwanted ammonia circulating in our blood stream is not ideal for our detoxification pathways. Which further disrupts our digestive system, and inhibits nutrients being absorbed especially vitamin B and B12, and important fat nutrients like A and E, and K, which are essential for energy, healthy skin, and blood clotting.

Proper stomach acid production is important in prevention of SIBO and leaky gut, as stomach acids job is to help destroy the bad bacteria that we ingest.  A good functioning Ileocecal valve is also essential, this lies between the small intestine and large colon, one of its key roles is it controls the bad bacteria from re entering back up into our small intestine, keeping well hydrated,  proper diet, exercise and managing your stress levels, can help with prevention.

Excessive alcohol consumption, oral contraceptives, antacids, low stomach acid, IBS, Crohns, excessing antibiotic use, Coeliac disease, liver issues, kidney problems,  parasites, medications, obesity, and diabetes have found to be a cause for the condition.

Symptoms are:

- abdominal pain, bloating.

- constipation and alternative diarrhea.

- weight loss can be a problem due to lack of nutrients.

- gas, belching.

- allergies, skin disorders.

- inflammation.

How can it be treated?

SIBO is usually undiagnosed in some cases. Studies show at least 80% of people who suffer from IBS may be suffering from SIBO. It can be difficult to treat, as it depends on the person and there condition, and finding the right protocol. SIBO is usually treated with antibiotics, but as a naturopathic or a nutritionist perspective this can be detrimental to the bowel, as it is already not functioning efficiently due to bad bacteria. 

By addressing treatment for SIBO, a good place to start is first getting tested for it, which is a simple test called the "Hydrogen breath Test". This test measure hydrogen and methane in the system by a breath test over a couple of days, reliability of this test is good, but you need to follow instructions of what to avoid before you have this test. If the results are elevated these are good indication of SIBO, the reason for this is based on carbohydrates, (lactose) and how they are been processed, our gut microbiome job is to process these efficiently, when they are not, methane and hydrogen is elevated and expelled via our lungs, due to fermentation of these substrates. 

A stool analysis is another great tool in assessing underling conditions that maybe causing your SIBO or digestive issues,  this test can look at the health of your microbiome, any parasites, bacteria and malabsorption problems.

SIBO support and treatment through diet,  nutrients, antimicrobials,  specific probiotic strains,  a LOW FOD map diet for short period of time,  proper digestive enzyme support have shown great results. Research has shown that incorrect probiotics, can cause problems with SIBO and recovery.

It is important to get a proper diagnosis of SIBO, so proper treatment is put in place.

As a holistic perspective SIBO can be prevented, it is becoming quite a problem with our gut. 

At Natural Rhythm Wellbeing I can test for SIBO including stool analysis testing through Nutri-path pathology.



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Hua Chu, Mark Fox, Xia Zheng, et al., “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Clinical Characteristics, Psychological Factors, and Peripheral Cytokines,” Gastroenterology Research and Practice, vol. 2016, Article ID 3230859, 8 pages, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/3230859