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What happens when bacteria go where they shouldn’t?

Sep 25, 2020

 The small intestine normally contains only a tiny number of bacteria 

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when harmless bacteria that normally inhabit the large intestine move up into the small intestine. Once there, the bacteria begin fermenting food that would normally be digested and absorbed. This can cause the malabsorption of nutrients and fats, which triggers diarrhoea. SIBO also causes the production of hydrogen and methane gases, which triggers bloating, discomfort, abdominal distention and flatulence. This condition also causes inflammation in the small intestine, which then results in abdominal pain and nutritional deficiencies.

 SIBO is normally diagnosed using a breath test, which gives an indication of how many hydrogen and methane producing bacteria are present in the small intestine..

 What causes SIBO? 

Bacteria normally don’t grow in the small intestine due to high levels of gastric acid produced in the stomach, and rapid movement of food materials through the small intestine. Conditions or medications that reduce stomach acid production, such as antacids and proton pump inhibitors (PPI), can impair this process and so contribute to the development of SIBO. Similarly, medications or conditions that slow intestinal motility and cause constipation, such as opiate medication or gastrointestinal diseases, can allow SIBO to develop. 

 Holistic management may help 

Scientific studies have found that numerous herbs can help with SIBO management. For example, some commonly used medicinal herbs that may help with this uncomfortable condition include:

  • Garlic
  • Pomegranate 
  • Black cumin or Nigella
  • Oregano essential oil
  • Berberine-containing herbs such as Phellodendron, Barberry and Golden seal

 The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 has been found to prevent the development of SIBO.

 Probiotic supplementation can also be a highly effective treatment for SIBO; however, results have been conflicting. It seems that the results depend on the specific strain of probiotic bacteria used. The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 has been found to prevent the development of SIBO in patients taking antacid PPI medication, and to inhibit both hydrogen and methane producing bacteria in the intestine. 

 SIBO is a common and uncomfortable condition, but fortunately help is easy to come by! Natural medicines can provide considerable relief for sufferers. If you think you may have SIBO, talk to your healthcare Practitioner today.



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