SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)

SIBO occurs when forward gut movement slows down, allowing bacteria to backwash into the small intestine that should not be there. The small intestine houses most of the immune system and is where we absorb most of our nutrients so it is crucial to keep things moving. Forward gut movement of bacteria, toxins, and food is called gut motility. When we have problems with gut motility, we usually have a problem with the migrating motor (myoelectrical) complex also referred as the MMC. The MMC is comprised of cells and nerves that create a series of electrical waves in the gut to sweep stuff out that we do not want in there and moves it down to the colon to be excreted. When the MMC becomes damaged, bacteria can be backwashed into the small intestine and this gives them an opportunity to feast on food. As the bacteria feed, they excrete gas which can cause bloating and abdominal pain. There are three types of bacteria that produce gases: hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. Someone with a hydrogen dominant SIBO tends to have more diarrhea, someone with a methane dominant SIBO tends to be constipated, and someone with sulfur dominant SIBO has egg smelling gas and breath. There are two other things that happen with SIBO: 1) Intestinal permeability occurs, also known as leaky gut, leading to food sensitivities. 2) A reduced ability to break down carbohydrates. Slow gut motility gives bacteria time to ferment carbohydrates because they are not broken down properly, leading to more gas and bloating.

Causes

  • Food poisoning

  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders

  • Narcotic use

  • Diabetic neuropathy

  • Physical obstruction

  • Certain medical conditions, including Crohn's disease, radiation enteritis, scleroderma, celiac disease, diabetes

  • Medications

Symptoms

  • Daily gas and bloating "feeling pregnant"

  • Diarrhea

  • Acid reflux

  • Belching

  • Abdominal pain or cramping

  • Constipation

  • Undigested food in the stool

  • Possible diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Food intolerances such as gluten, casein, lactose, fructose, and particularly histamine intolerance

  • Chronic illnesses such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Parkinson's, Infertility, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Autoimmune Diseases

  • Fat malabsorption (signified by pale, bulky, and malodorous stools)

  • Egg smelling breath or stool

  • Rosacea, eczema, and other skin rashes

  • Fiber worsens symptoms

  • Chronic low iron

Tests

  • SIBO Breath Test (3 hour) to test for hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulfide gases

Allopathic Treatment Options

  1. Rifaximin or Neomycin antibiotic

  2. Low FODMAP or Elemental diet

Naturopathic Treatment Options

  1. Starve overgrown bacteria with Low FODMAP or Elemental diet

  2. Treat infections naturally with herbal antibiotics

  3. Remove food allergies, intolerances, and environmental toxins

  4. Support elimination and drainage pathways

  5. Manage stress effectively

  6. Regulate nervous system

  7. Increase joy

Dr. Felty can be your natural medicine and self healing guide. Call her office 773-472-0560 to schedule an appointment. Her front desk will take good care of you. 

Dr. Felty is not a medical doctor. She is a naturopathic doctor and in the state of Illinois, naturopathic doctors are not licensed. She does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. She works with you and your primary care team to provide holistic care and education that supports overall wellbeing.