What is SIBO?

May 14, 2020

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND


SIBO is a condition characterized by a change and overgrowth in the number of pathological bacteria present in the small bowel. When present, SIBO causes a plethora of disconcerting symptoms such as IBS, digestive bloating, gas, nausea, reflux, malabsorption, constipation or diarrhea and pain amongst others. The cause of SIBO has been linked to food poisoning, stomach bug infections, deficient stomach acid, intestinal obstruction and the inability of the gut to move food properly through it.

Individuals who are suspected to have SIBO should be tested using a simple SIBO breath test, followed by being treated using a combined approach to help eradicate bad, and replenish good bacteria using an anti SIBO diet, probiotics, antimicrobial’s, gut motility supports as well as identifying and treating SIBO’s underlying cause.

SIBO is a condition that has been touted to impact more than 80% of people affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In the average person who deals with ongoing digestive concerns such as disrupted bowel habits, acid reflux or digestive bloating, it is reasonable to consider SIBO as a plausible cause. The issue with SIBO is that not only does it cause major digestive issues in many, but many digestive issues also lend themselves to the development and proliferation of SIBO itself. This is why accurate clinical assessment, testing, treatment and management is critical to both the identification and resolution of this condition.
When properly diagnosing SIBO beyond simple digestive symptoms, it’s critical to properly test and confirm its presence. Because pathological bacteria in the bowels produce methane and hydrogen gas that contribute to digestive issues, testing using the hydrogen-methane breath test will accurately help detect the presence or absence of SIBO. Once SIBO has been confirmed with this test, a full fledged treatment approach is required to rid the body of this overgrowth and help return it back to a balanced functioning state.


As mentioned, the treatment of SIBO includes a 3 pronged approach; eradicating the bad bacteria, replenishing the bowels with good bacteria, and then supporting the proper function and motility of the gut. Although conventional antibiotics are successful and readily employed, natural antimicrobials such as berberine, garlic and oregano can also very successfully be used. During eradication, it’s also important to replace good bacteria back into the system using very specific strains and doses of probiotics. When the bacterial milieu has been resolved, ensuring gut motility to help food move and absorb within the digestive system is supported is key using specialized prokinetics to help accomplish this task. During this entire process and long term, an anti-SIBO focused diet also plays a key role during every step of the process. Once SIBO is resolved, so should your symptoms, at which time the treatment and resolution of the underlying causative factors of SIBO should be as well.


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