Could It Be SIBO?
What Causes SIBO, Why Is It So Hard To Treat, And
What Are The Effective Treatments?
by Aga Postawska, Holistic Health Coach on Sept 6th 2018

What Is SIBO?
SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It is defined as an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria living in the small intestines. 

Normally bacteria are present throughout your entire digestive tract. Their existence and harmonious function within the human body is now recognized by science as a multi-tasking organ called the microbiome. These beneficial bacteria assist in thousands of functions in the body from nutrient synthesis to immune system modulation.

In a typical healthy digestive tract the majority of bacteria live in the lower bowel. At least 1,000,000,000 bacteria per milliliter of fluid live in the colon. Fewer bacteria inhabit the small intestines, less than 10,000 bacteria per milliliter of fluid. The species of bacteria that live in the colon differ from the species that live in the small intestines. Imagine these ecosystems as drastically different from one another, as the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to the Sahara Desert. 

SIBO occurs when bacteria begin to crowd and colonize the small intestines, often the bacteria that should normally be found in the colon migrate into and populate the small intestines. Rarely is SIBO caused by a single type of bacteria, rather it is an accumulation of various types of bacteria that shouldn't be there.

This means that the process of nutrient breakdown is occurring in the wrong place. This causes all sorts of health issues, such a bloating, heartburn, nausea, not to mention the inability to absorb the nutrients consumed. Over time mineral and nutrient deficiencies develop leading to a whole host of conditions.

Dr. Amy Myers explains,

"The excess bacteria then feed off of the undigested food in your small intestine. In particular, they love to feed on sugar, simple and complex carbohydrates, starches, and alcohol – they’re real carb fiends!

As the bacteria feeds, it causes the carbohydrates to ferment, which produces hydrogen as a byproduct. Hydrogen can in turn feed single-celled organisms in your small intestine called archaea, which then produce methane as a byproduct. So when you have SIBO you have excess levels or hydrogen, methane, or both in your digestive system.

Carbohydrates feed SIBO → SIBO produces hydrogen → hydrogen feeds archaea → archaea produces methane

Depending on which gas is most predominantly produced, you can develop different symptoms and respond better to different treatments. Hydrogen-dominant SIBO typically leads to diarrhea, whereas methane-dominant SIBO is usually associated with constipation." 

Symptoms Of SIBO

Often the development of SIBO is partnered with fungal Candida overgrowth, IBS, and leaky gut. All these conditions contribute and exasperate one another and their symptoms over lap so it can be difficult to distinguish.

Since your gut is the epicentre of your well-being, if there is an issue in your digestive tract, the symptoms can appear anywhere in the body, from skin issues, mood disorders, and even autoimmune conditions. Dr. Allison Seibecker, leading specialist in SIBO, describes the typical symptoms of SIBO as:

IBS Symptoms
Abdominal bloating (gas)
    –belching, flatulence 
Abdominal pain, cramps
Constipation, Diarrhea, both

Other symptoms
Heartburn (Reflux or GERD)
Nausea

Leaky Gut Symptoms 
Food Sensitivities
Headaches
Joint Pain
Fatigue
Skin symptoms (such as eczema or rashes)
Respiratory symptoms (such as asthma)
Mood symptoms (such as depression)
Brain symptoms (such as Autism)

Malabsorption Symptoms
Steatorrhea (fatty stools)
Anemia (Iron or B12)
Weight Loss

Associated Conditions
Acne Roseacea
Anemia
Atrophic Gastritis
Autism
Celiac Disease
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia)
Cystic Fibrosis
Diabetes
Diverticulitis
Dyspepsia
Erosive Esophagitis
Fibromyalgia
Gallstones
Gastroparesis
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) 
Hepatic Steatosis
H pylori Infection
Hyprochlorhydria (low stomach acid)
Hypothyroid/ Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
    -Crohn's
    -Ulcerative Colitis
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Interstitial Cystitis
Lactose Intolerance
Leaky Gut
Liver cirrhosis
Lyme
Obesity
Pancreatitis
Parasites
Parkinson's 
Prostatitis (chronic)
Restless Leg Syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Scleroderma


Main Causes of SIBO
The causes of SIBO are quite complex and there are many risk factors that may accumulate over the years to trigger this condition. Two main factors that play a role in SIBO are your MMC, also known as the migrating motor complex, and your stomach acid levels.


1. The Malfunction Of Your Migrating Motor Complex (MMR)
The migrating motor complex is a form of peristalsis in small intestines. It's purpose is to clear the small intestines of bacteria and left over food. It functions when you are fasting and sleeping.  After you eat it's the “housekeeping wave” that clears the upper digestive tract of cellular debris.

A number of things cause your MMC to malfunction including diabetes, hypothyroid, pharmaceutical drugs such as opiode pain killers, and even food poisoning from a bacteria. Car accidents, surgery, abnormal anatomy, adhesions to small intestines can also prevent the normal flow movement of bacteria through the small intestines.

According to Dr. Allison Seibecker's research and on-going practice, the most common cause for the slowing of your MMC are opiates. A slow MMS allows for a build up of bacteria to grow in the small intestines.

The second cause for a sluggish MMC is pathogenic bacteria that secrete CDT toxin. A portion of this toxin looks like a protein on the nerve cells of the MMC. Through molecular mimicry an autoimmune reaction occurs as your immune system is triggered to fight against the nerve cells of your migrating motor complex.

Food poisoning and bacterial gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, can create fertile grounds for SIBO, or “post infectious IBS.” If you can recall a time you had a bad stomach bug and your digestion has never been the same, you may be experiencing SIBO.


2. Inadequate Gastric Acid Secretion
Maintaining an acidic environment in your stomach is your #1 prevention system against bacterial infections and conditions like SIBO. Low stomach acid causes bacteria and fungus to grow in the upper portion of the digestive system and in turn Candida, Clostridia, H.pylori, and other parasites in the stomach secrete toxins that can further stunt stomach acid secretion as a survival mechanism.

Today, an estimate 90% of Americans produce too LITTLE stomach acid! The condition is called Hyprochlorhydria.

Stomach acid with a pH ranging from 0.8 - 3.0 plays a key role in sterilizing the food you killing pathogenic opportunistic pathogens like Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacterpylori, Enterobacteria, Candida yeast, Salmonella, E.coli., and Streptococci.  An overgrowth of these species can cause the above mentioned SIBO symptoms while also contributing to the development of stomach cancer, ulcers, and gastritis.

 Adequate gastric acid secretion helps to keep their numbers in check preventing their proliferation in the the stomach and gut lining.

A proper acidic environment in the stomach also activates the release of bile and enzymes that continue to kill and prevent bacteria from inhabiting the small intestines. If you have had your gall bladder removed you may be at risk for developing SIBO.

If you have a history using proton pump inhibitors, stomach acid blocking medications
that prevent the production of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), you are also at risk of developing SIBO.

To learn if you have low stomach acid and how to heal this issue continue on to this previous article: 10 Ways To Heal Low Stomach Acid


Contributing Causes:

- Poor MMS function
- Low stomach acid and the use of proton pump inhibitors
- Alcohol consumption
- Multiple courses of antibiotics
- Oral contraceptive pills 
- Poor diet consisting of processed foods, sugar and overconsumption of starchy carbohydrates
- Parasite infections


Testing For SIBO
SIBO is largely under-diagnosed because most doctors aren't aware of it. Many people don’t seek medical care for their SIBO symptoms, and testing for SIBO has proven to be difficult. Even the go-to breath test which measure levels of hydrogen and methane gas often gives false negatives.

"Unfortunately there is no perfect test. The small intestine (SI) is a hard place to get to. If we want to see or sample the SI, endoscopy only reaches into the top portion, and colonoscopy only reaches into the end portion. The middle portion, which is substantial (about 17 feet) is not accessible, other than by surgery. And stool testing predominantly reflects the large intestine (LI). Luckily, there is a non-invasive test which is commonly used in SIBO research; the Hydrogen & Methane Breath Test. Additionally there is a blood test validated to diagnose SIBO from food poisoning, otherwise known as Post-Infectious IBS." - Dr. Allison Seibecker

SIBO Breath Test
This is a 3 hour procedure that tests for overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine measuring levels of hydrogen and methane.
 

Checking for IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
You can do a blood test that checks for antibodies for CDT-B and the protein on the nerve cells with Quest and Commonwealth Lab.

A Test For Leaky Gut
Cyrex Labs test, Cyrex Array 2, screens for a molecule called LPS, lipopolysaccharide. LPS is an endotoxin, a toxin that comes from within a pathogenic bacteria such as H pylori E. coli, and Salmonella, which induces an extreme inflammatory response in humans. Normally LPS is blocked from entering the blood in a health digestive system. If you have leaky gut, this toxin makes it into your bloodstream. High levels of LPS indicate a leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth, and severe systemic inflammation in the body.


A Safe & Natural Treatment
Scientifically Proven To Be MORE Effective Than Prescription Antibiotics
CUSTOM JAVASCRIPT / HTML
Our 4 week SIBO treatment pack has everything you need to treat SIBO safely and naturally at home.

BERBACIN COMPLEX
This exclusively developed Berbacin Complex contains two herbal ingredients, Berberine and Allicin, blended together into one easy to take capsule formula. 

There are two different types of bacterial overgrowth – hydrogen dominant and methane dominant SIBO. This is why we have blended the two scientifically proved natural antibiotics, Berbacin Complex addresses both types of bacteria at once.

Berberine is a natural compound found in certain herbs around the world. This extract is a specific treatment for the hydrogen dominant bacteria. Our Berbacin Complex provides 4000 mg of berberine a day which is the medically recommended amount for SIBO treatment.

Allicin is a compound found within garlic in very small amounts. We extract the equivalent of 60 garlic cloves of allicin for every Berbacin Complex capsule and this addresses any methane dominant bacteria.

NEEM BACTERIAL CLEANSE
Accompanying the Berbacin Complex are capsules of our Neem Bacterial Cleanse. Neem is scientifically proven to enhance the effectiveness of both Berberine and Allicin in removing SIBO bacteria. This makes it a vital part of the treatment package to ensure the best result with Berbacin Complex.

Neem is a fever reducer, expels parasitic worms & anti-parasitic, antiseptic, anti-bacterial & anti-fungal. It is one of the most powerful natural herbal blood-purifiers & detoxifies known. It cools a fever & clears the toxins involved in most inflammatory skin diseases or those found in ulcerated mucous membranes such as the gut. Neem enhances overall health, improves immune system response & supports healthy bowel function.

EM-PRO
EM-Pro is a probiotic supplement that aids in the detoxification of the digestive system, helping to supply bio-available nutrients to the body while supporting the growth of beneficial microbes in the digestive system – it DOES NOT feed the SIBO bacteria.

The detoxifying agents (metabolites) include naturally synthesized vitamins, digestive enzymes, and other antioxidant compounds and the microbes that are known to break down various toxic compounds, for comprehensive digestive health. This prevents toxins and pathogens from contaminating and producing negative effects on the body while boosting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and antioxidants.

More on EM-PRO here: What Is Em-Pro?

Combining these two scientifically proven herbal extracts creates a formula that many studies have found to be MORE effective than prescription antibiotics in treating SIBO infection.

Learn more about the SIBO Treatment and get started on your protocol today: SIBO Cleanse and Treatment Instructions 



Healing From SIBO
If you suspect that you have SIBO do not take prebiotics. 

Make sure the probiotics you are taking do not include prebiotics. This will aggravated SIBO by providing food for the bacteria living in the small intestines while encourage their continual growth. 

Start by taking on a Low FODMAP Diet for 2 weeks, this will help you to gain control over the symptoms, and then move into the GAPS Protocol to start healing leaky gut. 

Eat smaller meals, filling up the stomach and having large amounts of food sit int eh digestive system can aggravate the condition. Longer periods  between meals, fasting, and intermittent fasting to allow for the migrating motor complex to move food, derbis, and bacteria through the small intestines.

Incorporating digestive supplements such as Betaine HCL and digestive enzymes can also be beneficial to help restore adequate gastric secretions to begin to properly assimilate nutrients.

SHOULD YOU USE ANTIBIOTICS?
Antibiotics are often used to treat SIBO, Rifaximin is the most common. However, studies show that despite treatment with antibiotics, recurrence develops in almost half of all patients within one year.

Botanical antimicrobials, such as Neem and Berbaine, show better outcomes than pharmaceutical antibiotics. Researchers have even found that herbal remedies such as these are as effective as 3 courses of antibiotic therapy in patients who don’t respond well to Rifaximin. 

What studies and anecdotal evidence are showing is that treatment of the overgrowth alone is not enough for most people to make a long term recovery. Addressing the underlying cause, or predisposing factor, is necessary for a full sustained recovery.


PROKINETICS
If you learn that you have a slow moving MMC, Dr. Allison Seibecker recommends Prokinetics. This as a motility agent is used to stimulate MMC in the small intestines, it doesn't stimulate bowel movements. 

Aga Postawska, 
In-House Holistic Health Coach

READ NEXT: What Comes Out of People After a Parasite Cleanse


1. https://www.amymyersmd.com/2018/04/10-signs-small-intestinal-bacterial-overgrowth-sibo/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18802998

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24891990

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25498346

5. https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2012-12/clinical-applications-berberine

About Aga Postawska

Aga is a certified holistic health coach and yoga instructor who recently joined the Candida Cleanser team after developing The Gut Rehab Program - a comprehensive how-to video and resource guide to repairing Leaky Gut and reversing the damage done by Candida overgrowth. She loves guiding people in their healing process and helping them find healthy dietary changes that work combined with powerful stress-reduction and lifestyle improvements.