SIBO Part A: A Long, Winding and Painful Saga.
This is the first part of a four part series on Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). I will cover what it is, what some experts think, the latest diets and my personal treatment program and process.
SIBO is like it says on the tin; an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Your small intestine is the bit connecting your stomach to your large intestine (colon). The bit in the middle in the picture below. The small intestine has valves at each end connecting it to the stomach and colon. The bacteria that are overgrown are not bad in themselves, they are just living in the wrong home, they should be in the large intestine.
SIBO might be one of the major underlying causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or rather in many cases IBS might actually be SIBO. The majority of people with IBS have SIBO, how large that majority is differs by studies. The fact remains it is crucial to consider SIBO in most cases of IBS. Something that is currently rarely done by GPs.
SIBO symptoms are many and varied but here are a few to wet your appetite:
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping
- Bloating and/or wind
- Acid Reflux
- Food sensitivities
- Joint pain
- Deficiencies e.g. Iron/B12
This list is adapted from the following website, which is the Australian based company I use for breath testing. They are very helpful and responsive. Breath testing is the common way to diagnose SIBO. There are more invasive ways, you need not worry about those for now. You can also take a free test on the website to get a feel for your risk.
So why might SIBO happen? This is complex and likely to be different person to person. It might be that the migrating motor complex (MMC) is faulty. The MMC is the cleansing wave that moves your food along the small intestine. It may have been damaged in a food poisoning incident. You may not even remember it. Maybe there is some sort of blockage somewhere, from surgery or some other reason (such as adhesions from endometriosis). Perhaps the valve connecting the small and large intestine (the ileocecal valve) is faulty or broken.
Therefore unsurprisingly SIBO has been linked to a number of other illnesses. Sometimes the mechanism is a little understood other times not. Just some of the many disease I have seen it linked to are:
- Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
For a list of more than 60 related or underlying conditions and research studies supporting this see: www.siboinfo.com/associated-diseases.html
The War on SIBO!
I have been raging a war on my own SIBO for many many moons, so far SIBO is winning.
As my maxim is “knowledge is power”, I decided to go to two conferences; one in Australia by mostly naturopaths and functional doctors (for practitioners) and one in America by research gastroenterologists (for patients). ‘Go to’ is a bit metaphorical as I did so via webcast. I got around 16 hours of information on the topic of SIBO from the worlds best. It was well worth the $400 (Australian).
I have decided to document some of the key things I discovered or reconfirmed in these and my other research. It is an opportunity to turn my chicken scratches into an audit trail for me and others in my unhappy boat. Also a chance to support and promote those working in the area , as clearly I haven’t shared all the 16 hours as that would take many moons (and many spoons).
If you want to know more – I refer you to the experts themselves, some have written books, some are available internationally via skype, some you will need to be referred to their clinic. Links will be given throughout the series.
The conferences are:
- The Sibo Summit – Australia. Still available for purchase here https://blog.sibotest.com/sibo-summit-2016/
- IBS and SIBO Outreach Symposium. Hosted by Dr Pimentel from Cedars-Sinai (a non-profit research hospital in LA). Unfortunately it looks like it is no longer available, but other events will happen. https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Research/Research-Labs/Pimentel-Lab
So far these SIBO blogs are still in draft – now is the time to ask me any questions or anything you would like discussed in them. Comments below appreciated. I am pleased with the comments I’m getting on fb – thank you. Apparently comments here help more with site traffic … and therefore my goal to take over the world and empower sick people everywhere 🙂 So comments here appreciated.
Meanwhile go well in the direction of your healing,
Yours as ever,