Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

SIBO is a condition where normal gut bacteria have overgrown in the small intestine. While they are normal inhabitants of the bowel, they are in the wrong place. These bacteria love to take carbohydrates (sugar, starch, fiber) and ferment them. The gasses that they produce cause bloating, pain and also change the motility of the gut – making it too fast (diarrhea) or too slow (constipation). This bacterial overgrowth also creates inflammation in the intestines which can lead to food sensitivities and nutrient malabsorption.

Some key clues that you may have SIBO:

  • chronically low ferritin or B12 levels
  • “IBS” symptoms that started after a food-borne illness (food poisoning) or taking opiate medications (morphine, codeine) that was constipating
  • “IBS” symptoms that are temporarily better after you take antibiotics for any reason
  • symptoms worse with probiotics containing “FOS” or inulin
  • celiac disease symptoms that do not get better when gluten-free

Key steps to treating SIBO:

  • accurate diagnosis with a breath test  – I use SIBO Canada’s 3 hour lactulose breath test
  • anti-bacterial drugs or herbs to reduce the bacterial population in the small intestine
  • healing the gut (this phase is very important to prevent relapse)
    • special diet to prevent bacterial regrowth
    • prokinetics (prescription or herbal) to normalize bowel motility
    • probiotics

Most of my extra training in SIBO was taken with Dr. Allison Siebecker.  She has a great website about all things SIBO if you would like more information.