The Natural Health Guide to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

A bottle of supplement. Sibo is a condition that causes harmful bacteria to grow in the small intestine.

If you frequently have gas, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, you might brush off your symptoms or blame it on something you ate. But if those symptoms linger, chances are you’ve thought about another health condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut syndrome, or candida yeast overgrowth.

In recent years, researchers have uncovered another sneaky condition that can cause GI distress and threaten the gut and overall health: small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. Experts say not only is the amount of people with SIBO on the rise, but it’s still a misunderstood condition and it often goes undiagnosed.[1, 2]

So what is SIBO? What are the symptoms of SIBO? And are there natural therapies? Here, we’ll provide all the answers you need with the natural health guide to SIBO.

What Is SIBO?

SIBO, which stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is a condition that causes harmful bacteria to grow in the small intestine. It’s unclear how many people have SIBO, but studies show between 2.5 and 22 percent of people are likely affected.[2]

Your microbiome is a community of 100 trillion microbes, or microorganisms, that live in or on your body, but mostly in your gut. The idea of being covered in bacteria might not sound appealing but your body actually need bacteria, a class of microbes, to strengthen your immune system and keep you healthy.

When all things run smoothly, the food you eat is digested in the gastrointestinal (GI) or digestive tract. Healthy bacteria in the digestive tract known as gut flora, aid digestion. Your gut also uses digestive enzymes to break down food and muscles, nerves and neurotransmitters like serotonin to move the food through the GI tract.

As food makes its way into the stomach, it’s broken down by digestive juices so that nutrients can be absorbed into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body. Waste makes its way through the large intestine, or colon, and is eliminated in stool.

Healthy gut flora help our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals and fight off harmful bacteria. When the intestine is disrupted and stool from the colon moves into the small intestine, bacteria flourish and the result is SIBO.

Symptoms of SIBO

Symptoms of SIBO can include the following:

It’s important to note however, that it’s not necessary to have all of the symptoms to be diagnosed with SIBO.[2]

Since SIBO can also cause malabsorption issues particularly with protein and fats and nutritional deficiencies, the condition can look much like IBS. In fact, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences more than a third of patients who had IBS were also found to have SIBO.[3]

What Causes SIBO?

It’s unclear what causes SIBO but experts believe it might be due to a lack of stomach acid, damage to the intestines from toxins, disorders of the small intestine, gut immune function or abnormalities of the anatomy of the digestive tract.[1]

People with certain conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease and type-2 diabetes have an increased risk for SIBO.[1] It also can affect those who are lactose intolerant. SIBO is also more commonly seen in older adults and women.[2, 4]

How Is SIBO Diagnosed?

Since SIBO often mimics other conditions that affect gut health, it may not be the first condition your doctor thinks to test for. If you have difficulty absorbing proteins, fats and vitamins, or have vitamin deficiencies, anemia or an electrolyte imbalance, SIBO should be considered.

To diagnose SIBO, your doctor may use a breath test to measure the hydrogen and methane gases that are produced by bacteria in the intestines. There are two types of breath tests: glucose and lactulose breath test.

According to one study, the lactulose breath test is more often found to be positive than the glucose breath test.[5] Yet the authors note because of certain factors, the glucose breath test may underdiagnose SIBO and the lactulose breath test may overdiagnose SIBO.

An endoscopy, a test that uses a scope to look at and biopsy tissue from the small intestine, may also be used to detect SIBO.

What Can Be Done About SIBO?

The first line approach to control SIBO are antibiotics; Augmentin and Xifaxan are two of the most commonly prescribed. Although a course of antibiotics for one to two weeks is the standard approach, some people will relapse and have to repeat the treatment.

Natural Approaches to SIBO

Dietary changes along with natural supplements, probiotics and lifestyle are all key to addressing SIBO.


Altering your diet is an easy and natural way to start alleviating SIBO. There is a specific food regimen that was developed just for this purpose called the SIBO diet. The SIBO diet is a low carbohydrate, low fiber and low sugar plan made up of the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) or the gut and psychology diet (GAPS) which calls to eliminate all beans, grains, starchy vegetables, lactose and sweeteners except honey.

The SIBO diet also includes the fruit and vegetable guidelines of the low FODMAP diet, excludes foods with fructose like apples and pears and polyols like cauliflower, for example.

Other helpful strategies include following a gluten-free diet since gluten can cause intestinal hyperpermeability and consuming probiotic-rich foods to help restore gut health.

Herbal Remedies for SIBO

Herbal therapy may be an effective way to treat SIBO. In fact, according to a one study, 46 percent of people diagnosed with SIBO who used a natural, herbal therapy were negative for SIBO compared to 34 percent of those who were negative after using antibiotics.[6]

Supplements for SIBO

Supplements that contain herbs such as oil of oregano, thyme, berberine extracts and wormwood are ideal for treating SIBO. Tumeric, which has soothing qualities may also ease SIBO symptoms and support gut health. Depending on your nutritional deficiencies, you may also need supplementation. Vitamin B-12 deficiency, for example, is a common issue experienced by people with SIBO.

Probiotics for SIBO

A supplement containing both probiotics and prebiotics are beneficial for SIBO because they support gut health, keep harmful organisms in check, and soothe irritation and redness.

In fact, one study found that probiotics relieved abdominal discomfort and were an effective approach for SIBO.[7] What’s more, another study found that probiotics were more than 30 percent more effective than antibiotics at remedying SIBO.[8]

Avoiding SIBO

If you can avoid SIBO altogether, you’ll be better off. To promote a balanced gut, help rid your body of toxins, and boost your energy, try Oxy-Powder®. It’s a safe and effective colon cleanse supplement that uses the power of oxygen to gently cleanse and detoxify your entire digestive tract, and relieve bloating, gas and occasional constipation.

What’s Your Story

Have you been affected by SIBO? How did you find out you had it? What did you do about it? Leave a comment below and share the details of your experience with us.

The post The Natural Health Guide to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


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