SIBO is the acronym for “Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth”. SIBO can cause symptoms of excessive gas, bloating, and belching that occurs quickly after meals and worsens throughout the day. Constipation, heartburn and reflux, abdominal pain, bowel cramping and spasm are other symptoms that are associated with SIBO.
SIBO, as its name implies, occurs when there is too much bacteria in the small intestine. Our small intestine is supposed to have minimal or no bacteria in it. In SIBO, bacteria colonize the small intestine, causing the symptoms described above. The bacteria that are now present in the small intestine do their thing -fermentation. If food is not properly broken down by chewing and digestive processes, there is more matter to ferment, creating more gas, bloating, distension and discomfort.
So how does one develop SIBO? The conditions in the body have to be friendly for SIBO to occur. If stomach acid pH gets too high (alkaline) from the use of acid blocking drugs such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) then SIBO may occur. Antibiotic use, poor diet and nutrition, stress, frequent meals and continuous grazing are all additional factors can contribute to the development of SIBO.
In addition to irritable bowel syndrome, SIBO is associated with other conditions including restless leg syndrome, rosacea, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Treatment for SIBO can be a lengthy process, but can be achieved using natural herbal antimicrobials. Treatments typically last a minimum of 8-12 weeks but sometimes longer if the SIBO is persistent. Probiotics may cause an exacerbation of symptoms and may be used later in the treatment process. Relapses are common, so lifestyle changes and dietary changes are key to preventing relapses.