When my patients show symptoms of a gut-brain breakdown, I start thinking about SIBO.
If you have persistent abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation you may have been told you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). But if your recommended treatments—and you may have been sent along your way without any recommendations at all— aren’t delivering results, you may actually suffer from something else.
The symptoms of SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth, are so similar to signs of IBS that the two conditions are often confused. The causes of SIBO are simple: when the mechanisms that contain naturally occurring colon bacteria to the colon break down, these bacteria back up into the small intestine and wreak havoc on your digestion. The damage makes it difficult for your body to digest foods and absorb essential nutrients and, if left untreated, can damage your stomach lining, too. Recent medical studies have made it clear that up to 80 percent of patients diagnosed with IBS actually have SIBO.
IBS isn’t the only chronic condition SIBO can contribute to or hide behind. Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and many autoimmune disorders are correlated with SIBO. In my practice I am currently treating a young woman who found herself unable to bounce back from a brutal episode of food poisoning that had damaged her digestion and drained her energy. She had been diagnosed with auto-immune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) a year ago but wasn’t responding to treatment in the way her doctors expected.
As I do with so many patients, I asked her to take a simple breath test for SIBO as part of our initial consultation. (I always need to rule out SIBO from the start. If it’s there, I won’t be able to successfully treat IBS symptoms or other stomach and digestion problems—I will need to start SIBO treatment first.) Sure enough, she tested positive and we began a natural SIBO treatment right away. Her bowel movements began to regulate and the mental fog she’d been living with began to lift almost immediately!
So, what are effective naturopathic remedies for SIBO?
SIBO can be difficult to treat, but natural remedies like herbs and essential oils can be as effective as antibiotics. As a naturopath, I help my patients bring their bodies back into balance with a series of minimally invasive, all-natural remedies. These include:
- Activated charcoal for bloating and diarrhea
- Raw apple cider vinegar (with ‘the mother’) for acid reflux
- Digestive enzymes and bitters for indigestion
- Probiotics, insoluble fiber and healthy fats for constipation and diarrhea (no matter whether you are going too often or not enough, these dietary adjustments can smooth things out)
- Ginger for persistent nausea, and for that weird feeling that your food is stuck in your belly, just sitting there
In addition to helping patients relieve SIBO symptoms, I am also able to help them incorporate the lifestyle changes
SIBO is a chronic condition and recurrences are common. If you aren’t seeing relief from your symptoms or getting the results you want, it’s time to talk to a licensed naturopath. You can schedule a personalized online doctor visit …
The information provided in this blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. It is not intended to substitute for the treatment and/or diagnosis of an in-person visit with a medical professional. This information does not provide a second opinion or in any way attempt to alter the treatment plans or therapeutic goals/recommendations of your personal physician. It is my role to partner with you to provide ongoing support and accountability as you create an action plan to meet and maintain your health goals.