SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is a health condition where certain bacteria in the small intestine can grow beyond normal levels, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms such as malabsorption, maldigestion, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and a host of other GI symptoms. It has also been associated with more chronic, systemic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis, anemia and fibromyalgia. Antibiotics such as rifaximin are commonly used to treat SIBO, but there are natural treatments for SIBO also that have been researched to be as effective.
We typically think of the large intestine as being the major reservoir of bacteria, while the small intestine has relatively few due to pancreatic enzymes and hydrochloric acid influencing the environment. Subsequently, low levels of both stomach acid and digestive enzymes can contribute to SIBO. Definitely bacterial imbalance in the large intestine should be evaluated too (which can be done via a comprehensive stool analysis), but SIBO should be considered in any case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), digestive upset without any other known cause, and in cases where one cannot tolerate starchy foods, fiber and/ or probiotics.
Testing for SIBO is typically done through a breath test that measures hydrogen and methane gases in the breath. We use a lab called Genova Diagnostics for this although others offer it too. One breath sample is taken, then a solution of lactulose is ingested. Several more samples are collected after the drink.
Rifaximin is one of the commonly given antibiotics for SIBO. It can be a little hard for some to tolerate, so it is good to know of alternative, more natural protocols. I have used the following protocol with good results; it’s created by a company named Biotics, who make excellent supplements.
A.D.P.® – Standardized extract of oregano, emulsified in a sustained release form. Useful in toxic bowel syndrome, parasites, candida and other fungal/yeast problems of the bowel and genital-urinary tract.
FC-CIDAL™ – An herbal supplement designed to accompany A.D.P.® in cases of difficult dysbiosis, yeast/fungal overgrowth and some types of amoebic parasites.
DYSBIOCIDE® – A proprietary blend of Stemona sessilifolia, Artemisia absinthium, Brucea javanica, Pulsatill chinensis, Picrasma excelsa, Acacia catechu, Hedyotis diffusa, Yarrow and Dill. Dysbiocide® is an effective adjunctive support product for intestinal parasites and lower bowel bacterial infections.
Berberine HCL – Berberine is well known for its natural antibiotic function, especially with intestinal bacterial overgrowth, for its ability to reduce fever, but most especially for its ability to help lower blood glucose, blood tryglycerides and Hemoglobin A1c with Type II Diabetics. Several studies have shown berberine to be as effective as Metformin for increased A1c.
I dose these supplments at two, three times daily (of each), for 2 weeks on then one week off, for a total of eight weeks. That might seem like a lot, and I admit it is an intensive protocol, but I have seen it work really well. It has the added benefit of being anti-fungal too, so if a person has bacterial and yeast overgrowth (as is often the case), it can help with both. People who are really sensitive will want to start with lower doses and build up gradually.