What Is SIBO?
SIBO is a condition where some of the trillions of bacteria that normally reside in our lower bowel have migrated up to the small intestine. The small intestine is where our nutrient absorption takes place and these unwanted bacteria interfere with normal small intestinal function, and they create the symptoms associated with IBS.
When we eat certain carbohydrates those bacteria have an absolute feast. They use the carbs as fuel and in turn produce hydrogen and/or methane gases. It is these gases, and the bacteria themselves, which create the SIBO issues that trouble so many:
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation
- Abdominal cramps
- Burping and acid reflux
- Food sensitivities
- Fructose malabsorption
- Restless leg syndrome
- Acne rosacea
- Bad breath
How Is SIBO Diagnosed?
The Gold Standard for SIBO testing is the Hydrogen / Methane breath test.
Breath testing measures the hydrogen and methane gas produced by bacteria in the small intestine that has diffused into the blood, then the lungs, for expiration. The gas is measured via the breath every 20 minutes for a total of 3 hours.
This test is accurate, non-invasive and can be performed yourself at home. The results are available within 1-2 weeks.
Why Did I Get It?
There are many causes of SIBO. Some of the most common include:
Insufficient digestive enzymes
Intestinal motility issues:
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Bowel strictures and adhesions
- Endometrial adhesions
How is SIBO treated?
Clear and successful protocols exist in the treatment of SIBO that involve dietary modification and nutritional and herbal supplementation. A certain antibiotic is also an option in some cases (this can be discussed with your practitioner).
There are 3 specific goals of treatment:
- Kill the bacteria residing in the small intestine
- Restore proper function of the small intestine (nutrient absorption, migratory motor complex)
- Prevent a recurrence
Dietary modifications are based on a low FODMAP / GAPS style diet where specific carbohydrates that fuel the bacteria are eliminated.
Treatment to eliminate the bacteria may last from 3 – 6 months. Ongoing treatment to prevent recurrence may continue for 12 months or more and may also involve addressing any underlying causes.