When we eat our food, the stomach muscles and small intestine allow the food to pass from stomach through intestine and then it reaches the colon. This muscular activity will continue even if there is no presence of food in the stomach. This activity is necessary for food digestion and also drive out bacteria from small intestine.
Usually, the concentration of bacteria is quite low in the upper gut and it is due to Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) low bacteria are maintained in small intestine. If there is anything that blocks the normal muscular activity through small intestine then it may cause Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
What causes SIBO?
Mostly the cause of SIBO is due to acute gastroenteritis or in simple language due to food poisoning. Besides that, SIBO can also be caused due to following conditions:
- After effect of a surgery
- Due to side effects of any medication like Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI), which is prescribed to treat secretion of stomach acid
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
In simple words, any type of condition that obstructs muscular activity of the intestine may allow the bacteria to stay longer and get multiplied in the small intestine. Also, due to less muscular activity, the bacteria may spread backward from colon and spread in the intestine. Now let us talk about various SIBO symptoms and treatments.
What are the symptoms of SIBO?
Following are few common symptoms of SIBO that you must be aware of –
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Gas formation
- Abdominal pain
SIBO can also cause many other problems which may be any one or more of the following –
- Food intolerance
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Joint pain
- Acne Rosacea
- Chronic Prostatitis
- Celiac disease
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- H pylori Infection
- Hypothyroidism/ Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Ulcerative Colitis
If any of the above syndromes is observed then treatment for SIBO may be considered.
Following are few approaches how SIBO can be treated.
Most of the general medical practitioners prescribe antibiotics which has a 2-week course. Sometimes antibiotics alone may be ineffective and hence it must be combined with low carbohydrate diet.
- Herbal antibiotics
Herbal medicines such as Golden seal, Enteric coated peppermint, Oregano or Grapefruit Seed extract combination is very effective. This must be continued for a longer period of time.
- Specific carbohydrate diet
Certain diets will make the bacteria to starve and this should be continued for a longer period till the symptoms are fully cured.
- Elemental diet
There are few liquid diets containing predigested foods, which can be quickly absorbed by the upper part of the intestine. This will only feed the patient and not the bacteria. Continuing with such diet for about 14 days will be very effective.
Each of the above SIBO treatments can be tried individually, but if you adopt two approaches together then you may get better results.