Achieving Optimal Healing and Wellness Through Integrative Care

At Kirkland Health Institute in Kirkland, WA, we strive to educate our patients on chronic health conditions and the ways that natural healing can help them. Our blogs provide reliable information on how you can lead a more active lifestyle and take steps toward healthy living.


June 8, 2017

Do you have Persistent Digestive or I.B.S. Symptoms?

It could be S.I.B.O.

What is SIBO and Could You Be Suffering From It?


If you have recurring constipation or diarrhea or a combo of both that has been resistant to treatment you may have more than just Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may have a more complicated condition that causes a subset of I.B.S problems called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is the presence of excessive, non-contagious bacterial infection in the small intestine.

When you think of bacteria you conjure up all kinds of negative thoughts, because we have always been taught that all bacteria is bad and we should avoid it at all costs. But in fact, modern day research has proven that in order for the body to work properly, it needs certain kinds of “good” bacteria present.

Why we need bacteria in the gut:

  1. It breaks down carbohydrates to enable absorption
  2. It fights bacteria that is actually bad for your body
  3. It helps in the development of the gut’s immune system
  4. It helps convert vitamin K¹ to vitamin K² which promotes good bone health [1]
  5. To communicate to the brain and make neurotransmitters

We need to understand just how important the small intestine is to healthy digestion. The small intestine is where food is broken down so that its nutrients can get into our bloodstream. [2]

With that in mind, we need to realize that our digestive tract needs a certain amount and a certain kind of bacteria in order to do its job. With SIBO infection, bacteria that should be in your large intestine is sitting in your small intestine where it causes problems and you may also have a general overgrowth of too many good bacteria in the small intestine. As a by-product of theses excess or abnormal placed bacteria they produce excess stomach and bowel gas.

Symptoms of SIBO

Due to the fact that every part of our body is linked to the gut, SIBO is not a one symptom condition. It’s symptoms can affect you physically and mentally, through the Gut-Brain connection. The Gut is known as your second brain.

Other Symptoms

  • Extreme bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Acid reflux
  • Constipation (connected to Methane)
  • Diarrhea (connected to Hydrogen)
  • Intolerance to such foods as gluten, casein, fructose or lactose
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Malnutrition
  • Diagnosis of IBS
  • Abdominal Pain
    • results in vitamin deficiency
  • Skin problems [3]
    • Acne
    • Eczema
    • Rashes
    • Flaky Skin
    • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Neurological problems
  • Psychological problems [4]
    • Increased stress
    • Brain fog
    • Poor memory
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
  • Osteoporosis/penia [5]
  • Chronic Illness
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Diabetes
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Possible Causes of SIBO

There are several mechanisms that contribute to S.I.B.O

The small intestine is relatively clean, but when certain conditions exist, problems can arise.

  • Decreased movement of your bowels due to interruption of nerve supply of the vagus nerve. Poor movement results in the small intestine not sweeping out food waste and excess bacteria out of the small intestine into large intestine.
  • Increased emotional/metabolic stress resulting in weakening of the immune system and opportunistic infection.

Because stress is a major cause of SIBO, you can understand why, even after it’s treated and seems to be gone, it recurs. Stress can lead to inflammation, weakened immunity, infection and an overgrowth of bad bacteria. [4]

Although SIBO is potentially associated to so many diseases, it is particularly linked with Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.

SIBO is a complicated condition because of the variety and quantities of bacteria that could be involved, and if not treated correctly will more than likely recur.

There are a variety of tests used to try to diagnose SIBO, but it has been determined that breath tests are the best. The gases that are produced by bacteria, find their way into the bloodstream, and from there travel to our lungs. As we exhale, the hydrogen/methane levels are able to be detected and measured. Although it’s not a perfect way to diagnose SIBO, and not all breath tests are as accurate, it is inexpensive, noninvasive and easy.

If you are having digestive issues that can’t be resolved, ask your doctor to test for SIBO, with emphasis on a 3 hour Lactulose breath test for hydrogen and methane. This is the most accurate test.

Treating SIBO

Antibiotics are not usually effective in treating SIBO, because antibiotics eliminate bad bacteria and good bacteria, that balance of good v.s. bad is now disrupted and the bad quickly returns. Antibiotics do not improve motility.

An effective S.I.B.O. treatment plan may involve all or some of the following:

Herbal antibiotics, which don’t develop antibiotic resistance like the pharmaceutical antibiotics can.

Improvement in overall digestive function, increasing stomach acid if deficient, supporting gallbladder and pancreatic digestion, calming overall inflammation in the gut( food sensitivities), eat a whole food diet, decrease stress, probiotics to increase good and inhibit bad bacteria.

Improve gut motility with spinal and cranial care to increase vagus nerve function and specific supplements that promote motility.

Participate in a Low Food Map Diet. This diet restricts foods that contain carbohydrates and fibers that intestinal bacteria feed off of increasing gas.

[1] “Small Intestine.”—MicrobeWiki. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

[2] DiBaise, John K. “Nutritional Consequences of Small In-testinal Bacterial Overgrowth.”Virginia Medicine. 1 Dec. 2008. Web.

[3] “Optimizing Your Gut Bacteria Can Help Reduce Acne.” Mercola. 21 July 2011. Web.

[4] Foster, Jane A. “Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain.” The Dana Foundation. 1 July 2013. Web.

[5] Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2007 Feb; 3(2): 112–122.

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