Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or with its shortcut – SIBO is defined as excessive bacteria in the small intestine. The bacterium naturally happens throughout the digestive tract. In the small intestine there are low levels of bacteria. The levels of bacteria are highest in the colon. When bacterium are in proper balance, then the bacterium in the colon helps digest food and the body absorb essential nutrients. But when the bacteria invades and takes over the small intestines, then it could lead to poor nutrient absorption, symptoms which are commonly associated with IBS and they can lead to damage of the stomach lining. When some person suffers small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, then the food he consumes passes through the small intestine and the bacterial overgrowth interferes with the healthy digestive and absorption process. The bacterium which is associated with this condition, consumes some of the nutrients and foods which is leading to pain, bloating and gas. The symptoms of SIBO are very similar are very similar to the symptoms of other conditions, such as IBS. The most common symptoms of SIBO are rosacea; depression; asthma; eczema; acne; rashes; fatigue; joint pain; weight loss; malnutrition; diarrhea; vomiting; bloating and nausea. One of the biggest concerns with SIBO is the bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine which leads to malnutrition. Talk with your doctor if you suffer from SIBO before you start using some of the below mentioned home remedies for this condition.
Home remedies for SIBO
Lifestyle changes: When you want to heal your digestive system, then a few lifestyle changes can be helpful. When you are having both phase 1 and phase 2 of the SIBO diet, then you should eat smaller meals, ideally 3 – 4 hours apart. It is very important to chew your each bite thoroughly. You should remember that the digestion starts in the mouth. You should drink lot of water throughout the day because it is very important to stay hydrated. Also it is very important to manage your stress during the healing process. Some exercises which you can use in the natural treatment of SIBO are regular exercise, Tai Chi, Barre, Yoga and acupuncture because these exercises can reduce your stress levels and they can keep you motivated to stay on track with the SIBO diet. When you are treating the symptoms of this condition, then it is very important to give your body time to repair while it is fighting against the bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine. When you are eliminating FODMAPS from your diet in a period of 2 weeks and then you are transitioning to the GAPS diet and protocol, then you can start the healing process and you can feel well on your way to kill the bacteria that is cause for your SIBO symptoms.
Essential oils: You can use essential oils as your natural treatment for the symptoms of SIBO. There was one study in which was shown that the peppermint oil can give you a relief from some gastrointestinal symptoms, such as IBS. Also other patients have said that peppermint oil has helped them in the treatment of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and IBS but lot more studies need to be done in the future to approve or disapprove the effectiveness of peppermint oil in the natural treatment of SIBO. Also there are other essential oils which can be used in the natural treatment of SIBO, such as clove oil, frankincense oil, tarragon oil and oregano oil. You should use only high – quality and food – grade essential oils. You can add a drop or two in your glass of water prior to your meal because it can help to reduce the gas and bloating, as well as other symptoms associated with digestive upset.(1)
Supplements: There are some supplements which you can use in the natural treatment of SIBO. Zinc, iron, digestive enzymes, probiotics, Vitamin K, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 are supplements which are recommended to be consumed in the natural treatment of SIBO. Talk with your doctor for the right dosage that you should consume about the mentioned supplements.(2)
Natural treatments for SIBO
The SIBO diet: You should start with a FODMAP elimination diet in a period of 2 weeks because in this way you will start ridding your small intestines of bacteria overgrowth. FODPAMS are foods which are not fully absorbed in the body and they end up fermenting in the digestive tract. The fermentation feeds the bacteria which is making more difficult to fight against SIBO and its symptoms. There are two phases in this diet and below we will describe them:
- Foods to avoid during phase 1: You need to avoid the following foods:
- Polyols: Here are included erythritol, xylitol, maltitol, lactitol, isomalt and sorbitol which are commonly found in mints, sugar – free gums and some medications.
- Galactans: They are part of soy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and legumes so you need to avoid eating these foods.
- Fructans: They are part of cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, leeks, asparagus, onion, garlic and wheat. You should not eat these foods.
- Lactose: This component is taking part of conventional dairy and processed products with added lactose and dairy.
- Fructose: You should avoid the fructose which is found in some fruits and fruits juices, processed sugars, maple syrup, high – fructose corn syrup, baked goods, processed cereals and honey.
It is very important for your natural treatment of SIBO to stick with a total elimination of the foods which are given on to avoid list for this period. When you are reading the “avoid” list, you think that there are not many things which you can eat during your natural treatment of SIBO, but you are wrong. There are many foods which you can consume.
- Foods to enjoy during phase 1: Here are some foods which you should consume during your natural treatment of SIBO:
- Sprouted nut butters
- Cantaloupe and honeydew melons
- Leafy greens
- Almond or coconut milk
- Raw hard cheeses
- Free – range poultry and eggs
- Grass – fed beef and lamb
- Wild – caught tuna and lamb
The goal which is on the SIBO diet is to repair the intestinal lining, get rid of bacterial overgrowth, ease inflammation and to eat a diet which is rich in the essential nutrients that your body has not been absorbing. When you are in your elimination phase, you need to keep a supply of foods from the enjoy list on your hand. If you slip and consume any FODMAPS, then doctors are suggesting to start the 2 – week period again. You should consume eggs, free – rage poultry, grass – fed beef and lamb, wild – caught tuna and salmon. All of the mentioned products are high – quality clean proteins. They are easy to digest. They will give your body the needed energy and essential nutrients. When you are limited during the FODMAPS elimination, you can enjoy in some fruits, such as pineapple, melons, honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas and tomatoes.
- Phase 2 – GAPS diet: After two weeks have passed and you have avoided FODMAPS, then you should transfer to GAPS diet plan and protocol. This type of diet can help to repair leaky gut syndrome, prevent toxins entering the bloodstream and rebalance bacteria throughout the digestive tract. This nutritional plan is also heal IBS, reduce anxiety and depression, boost the immune system, improve neurological function and reduce food sensitivities. There are many foods which you should continue to avoid. You should avoid dairy, non – organic meats, processed foods, high – starch foods, processed sugars and all grains. The system is still healing from the SIBO. It is repairing your digestive tract and also it is trying to get you back in balance.
- You should include one tablespoon of fermented vegetable juice with each meal.
- You should not eat store – bought yogurt. You should consume only raw dairy fermented 24 hours or longer.
- You should slowly start consuming probiotic – rich foods, such as natto, kombucha and cultured vegetables.
- You should eat fruits between meals, not with your meals.
- You should use coconut oil or ghee for cooking.
- You should drink one cup of bone broth with each meal.
You should not let the guidelines and protocols of the GAPS diet to intimidate you. You will get into the swing of it in no time and you will notice that your digestive tract will continue to heal from the SIBO. You should incorporate organic coconut oil whenever possible during this stage.
- (1)Kerlin P, Wong L. Breath hydrogen testing in bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine. Gastroenterology. 1988 Oct;95(4):982-8.
- (2)Pimentel, Mark, Chow, Evelyn J. & Lin, Henry C. Eradication of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2000, 95 (12), 3503-3506.
- (3)Shindo K, Machida M, Miyakawa K, Fukumura M. A syndrome of cirrhosis, achlorhydria, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and fat malabsorption. Am J Gastroenterol. 1993 Dec;88(12):2084-91.