What is SIBO and how do you treat SIBO?
You’ve probably heard of IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and leaky gut, but have you heard of the condition SIBO? SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, which simply means that there is an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in the small intestine, often accompanied by low levels of beneficial bacteria. This leads to poor digestion and limited absorption of essential nutrients and can eventually cause ‘leaky gut’ (damage to the lining of the digestive system).
The role of the gut
When you think about the health of the digestive system, it is impossible not to consider the bacteria that are present. The digestive tract contains over ONE KILOGRAM of microscopic bacteria, usually made up of normal bacteria (e.g. lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) and other bacteria that don’t provide benefit or cause harm. Certain bacteria, however, are considered harmful to our health. It is these ‘bad’ bacteria that are present in SIBO. SIBO has been found to be an underlying cause of other conditions, such as IBS, nutrient deficiencies (iron and vitamin B12), osteoporosis, and kidney stones.
What are the symptoms of SIBO?
SIBO often causes IBS-like symptoms, as the bad bacteria actually consume the food that is passed through (meaning less nutrients are absorbed by your body!).
Common symptoms caused by SIBO include:
- Excess flatulence
- Digestive pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Malabsorption as a result of damage to the gut lining
- SIBO can also present ‘silently’ meaning you may not have any signs and symptoms.
Often, consulting with medical practitioners explaining these signs and symptoms results in a simple stool test (that usually only looks for common parasites and a few species of ‘bad’ bacteria), which means that things can be missed and the cause of the problem is still not identified. It can be very frustrating, especially considering the impact that digestive signs and symptoms can have on our everyday life.
Clients often benefit from both a SIBO test (to assess small intestinal bacteria) and a Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) to assess the microbial balance in the lower gut.
What causes SIBO?
There are many causes of SIBO, causing it to be a very common condition. Poor dietary choices, celiac disease, diabetes, some medications (such as antacids), and ageing can all contribute to the development and worsening of SIBO.
“The goals of treatment for SIBO are threefold:
1) correct the underlying cause; 2) provide nutritional support, if necessary; and 3) treat the overgrowth.”
Dr Dukowicz et al., Gastroenterology & Hepatology. The Independent Peer-reviewed Journal.
While this sounds like a complex condition, there are many natural treatment methods, including antibacterial herbs that are specific for SIBO, a dietary overhaul, and some lifestyle changes. Using a specialised diet and proven naturopathic treatment, SIBO can be resolved and you can get back to feeling your best.
We welcome all new clients to request a FREE Naturopathic Assessment Consulting in either our Brisbane Naturopath Clinic or our Sunshine Coast Naturopath Clinics (Buderim or Caloundra Naturopath Clinic) or via phone or skype.