SIBO is short for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. Just like it sounds, when bacteria overgrowth in the small intestines occurs, you can have undesirable digestive symptoms. Some of the symptoms that people with SIBO experience are gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach cramping without a known cause. If this sounds like you, you may have been diagnosed by a gastrointestinal specialist with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The newer evidence is finding that SIBO is the true cause of a majority of IBS cases. The term IBS has been used as a catchall term for patients having the gastrointestinal symptoms listed above, after a specialist has run the tests to rule out a pathological disease process; and all of the results come back normal or negative. The vague diagnosis of IBS has been frustrating people for years. Naturopathic physicians are well trained and have many solutions to help patients with gastrointestinal disorders, we understand how stress plays a roll with digestive complaints, which foods may be contributing to the overall discomfort and how to resolve an unbalanced microflora of the gastrointestinal tract to help regain a feeling of overall wellness.
People who are most likely to have SIBO are those with any of the symptoms above. Many people who have SIBO also have associated conditions, like fibromyalgia, anxiety, and ulcerative colitis to name a few. It is prudent to work with a doctor who is SIBO literate and knows when to suspect and test for SIBO as an underlying cause of the total symptom picture.
IBS and SIBO symptoms can include any or all of the symptoms below depending on the severity and how long you have had the symptoms.
- Common GI symptoms: Gas, Bloating, Heartburn, Nausea, Intestinal cramps
- Diarrhea, Constipation or Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Food sensitivities
- Brain fog, Fatigue, Headaches
- Weight loss. Nutritional deficiencies
- Skin issues
- Respiratory issues
When SIBO is suspected, the first course of action is to do a trial of either the low FODMAP diet (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fodmaps-101#section1) or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (https://scdlifestyle.com/about-the-scd-diet/) and notice if you have any improvement. If you do have a reduction or resolution of symptoms it doesn’t mean you are destined to live on the restricted diet forever. It does however, indicate that testing and doing a full naturopathic protocol is worthwhile. Testing can be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home. The treatment protocol is often a round of antibiotics, followed by antimicrobial herbs along with a month or two of a specific diet. This protocol is going to give you the best chance of resolving the SIBO.
If these symptoms sound like something you are experiencing on a daily basis or you have specific food triggers that make you feel terrible, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Meghan to discuss SIBO further. She would love to support you on your journey to wellness and eating the foods that make you feel great!