Have you been told you have (or might have) IBS?
Do you have digestive issues that you’re struggling with?
Have you tried everything you can think of and STILL can’t figure out why you have symptoms?
You might have SIBO!
What is SIBO?
SIBO is an acronym for a condition that stands for, “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.”
Basically, the majority of the bacteria in your gut are supposed to live in the large intestine, but sometimes too many of the good guys (and others) can end up living in the small intestine and can wreak absolute havoc and cause a ton of symptoms.
Recent medical studies are showing that when tested, a large portion of patients who have been diagnosed as having IBS, have SIBO (and this is often the root cause of the IBS symptoms!).
Why I don’t “believe” in IBS
IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome is a collection of symptoms that you’ve been experiencing for at least 6 months, and has come up at least 3 times a month for the last 3 months.
Patients experience abdominal pain or discomfort and at least 2 of the following symptoms:
- Symptoms feel better after a bowel movement
- There’s a change in the frequency of WHEN you have a bowel movement
- There’s a change in the appearance of your bowel movements
There are 3 different forms of IBS:
- IBS-A: abdominal discomfort or pain, with alternating diarrhea and constipation
- IBS-C: abdominal discomfort or pain, bloating and constipation
- IBS-D: abdominal discomfort or pain, urgency and diarrhea
Okay, it’s not that I don’t BELIEVE in IBS, but I believe that it’s a syndrome that’s been used simply as a name and collection of symptoms when doctors can’t figure out the root cause of WHY you’re getting the symptoms you are.
My goal as a naturopathic doctor of course, is to help you figure out the root cause of WHY you’re experiencing all these annoying symptoms and get it dealt with once and for all!
Could I have it?
It’s definitely possible and I’m finding it in more and more patients who are presenting with symptoms and we’re testing for it and sure enough, many are coming back positive.
There are also a number of other digestive conditions that should potentially be ruled out as well. I’ve had patients who presented with SIBO symptoms who didn’t end up having it in the end. That’s why I do require testing before we get treatment started, as it’s not a quick process to treat.
How did I get SIBO?
One of the most common ways that patients have SIBO start is after experiencing a change in the motility of what’s called the “migrating motor complex” in the intestines. This tends to happen after things like traveler’s illness or stomach bugs mess up the phases of digestion and stop sweeping and cleaning the intestines properly. This can lead to a build up of bacteria in your small intestine (aka SIBO!)
What symptoms are common with SIBO?
The following symptoms are things I commonly see in patients who have ended up testing positive for SIBO:
- Bloating: this is SUCH a common symptom
- Constipation: 1 bowel movement per day or less-> you’re constipated
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Heartburn or Reflux
- Iron deficiency
- Carb sensitivity
I’ve heard SIBO can be cured with a FODMAPs or SCD Diet?
Straight-up no! While FODMAPs or SCD diet may help with symptoms (which of course is nice), it’s a restrictive diet that I wouldn’t want you on forever that simply WILL NOT CURE SIBO!
We do use a combination FODMAPs/SCD diet during phase 3 of SIBO treatment, however it’s done as only one part of the overall protocol and treatment.
How is SIBO Diagnosed?
When I’m worried about a patient having SIBO, we use a breath test to assess for the amount of bacteria produced gas in your small intestine. You do it at home, it’s easy and results are back from the lab really quickly to tell us whether or not you’ve got bacteria that’s producing excess gas!
How do I get rid of it?
Treating SIBO is definitely a process and takes a while…that’s why I require that patients who we’re concerned may have SIBO complete a breath test. It helps us establish a baseline of how bad things may or may not be and to ensure we’re not wasting time and money treating something you don’t have!
SIBO treatment happens in phases:
Phase 1: Prep Phase– we get your body ready, as it’s going to be a bit of a process!
Phase 2: Killing Phase– even though some of them may be good bacteria, they’ve living in the wrong spot and we need to unfortunately get rid of them. The length of time we kill the bacteria will differ for everyone, depending on your labs results and symptoms during treatment.
Phase 3: Gut Optimization Phase– We work on gut healing, motility of the migrating motor complex and add in a SIBO-specific diet during this phase.
Phase 4: Re-establish the Flora– Once things are feeling good and moving well, we finally work on getting the intestinal flora properly settled and functional!
What should I do if I’m concerned that I might have SIBO?
Come to see me and book in for a visit! I love treating SIBO because we can often get such good results for patients and get them feeling so much better again. We can go through all the details of what’s not feeling good for you and see if testing for SIBO is important to rule out for your case.